A new U.S. defense strategy unveiled in January calls for a resized, refocused military. Proceedings asked the leaders of the world’s sea services: In an era of austere defense budgets and rapidly increasing technologies, what are the strategic objectives for your naval force over the next 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
Captain Rimants Štrimaitis
The Latvian Navy has been significantly affected by budget restrictions over the past three years. Fortunately, the navy’s largest projects, such as the small-waterplane area/twin-hull (SWATH) boat and its sea coastal surveillance system (SCSS), were started before those budget cutbacks were initiated; they are thus ongoing and will be completed in the upcoming years.
We were able to continue the projects in part because contracts had been signed; halting the work would have resulted in substantial termination fees.
Our two biggest challenges in the recent past have been retaining capabilities and quality personnel, which will remain challenges in the years ahead as well. Beyond that, our objectives for the future are as follows:
Five-year goals—Continued implementation of the SWATH project and the commissioning of five Skrunda-class patrol boats, which we hope will be completed by 2014. Another big program, SCSS, should be finished and fully operational by the end of this year. A mine data center is now running, and the aim is to update that annually.
Ten-year goals—A middle-age maintenance and update is planned for the Imanta-class minehunter, which is to include upgrades to the mine-countermeasure and command and control systems. We also are looking at the development and implementation of antisubmarine warfare and area air defense systems for Skrunda-class vessels. Additionally we will be working on concept development for new MCM, while on other fronts increasing search-and-rescue and oil-spill recovery capabilities.
Our largest long-term goal will be the implantation of new MCM concepts and technologies.