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Ukraine conflict: UK to donate AUVs to Ukraine for mine clearance

The UK is donating six AUVs to Ukraine to help with mine clearance. (UK MoD/Crown Copyright)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced plans to donate mine-hunting autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to Ukraine to help the country clear its coastline of Russian mines.

Ahead of delivery, Ukrainian personnel are also being trained to operate the systems, the MoD said.

Since the United Nations brokered a deal with Russia and Ukraine in July to enable commercial ships to safely export foodstuffs from Ukraine through the Black Sea, a small number of ships carrying grain have left Ukraine. However, the effort continues to be hampered by sea mines laid by Russian forces along Ukraine's coast.

To support Ukraine's efforts to conduct mine clearance of its waterways, the MoD said six AUVs will be donated for mine detection, including three that will be provided from UK stocks and three that will be purchased from industry.

The MoD has declined to name the type of AUVs being donated, but said all six will be of the same type, and capable of operating effectively in shallow-water environments at depths of up to 100 m to detect, locate, and identify mines.

Training of the first tranche of Ukrainian personnel is under way. The three-week training course is being delivered in the UK by the Royal Navy's (RN's) Diving and Threat Exploitation Group and the US Navy's Sixth Fleet. During the course, Ukrainian personnel are being taught to launch and recover the AUVs at sea and how to interpret the incoming data to identify mock mines.

Meanwhile, the RN is also training Ukrainian sailors to operate Sandown-class minehunter vessels. Ukraine was scheduled to receive two former RN Sandown-class minehunters, ex-HMS Ramsey and ex-HMS Blyth

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