Baltic Workboats Heads Consortium to Develop Next-Gen Naval Platform, Supported by €95m European Defence Fund

Baltic Workboats Heads Consortium to Develop Next-Gen Naval Platform, Supported by €95m European Defence Fund

Estonian shipbuilding company, Baltic Workboats (BWB), is leading a consortium that has been granted €95 million in funding from the European Defence Fund. This funding will be dedicated to the creation of a new type of naval platform for use across European fleets, named EUROGUARD.

EUROGUARD is an innovative project aimed at creating a semi-autonomous, modular surface vessel platform that can be remotely controlled. The next-gen design will be adaptable to various mission requirements, enabling different naval command and support roles across Europe.

The consortium consists of 23 companies and research institutions from key European maritime nations including France, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, and Denmark. Of the total €95 million funding, €65 million comes from the European Defence Fund, while the remaining €30 million is sourced from countries and companies involved in the project.

Baltic Workboats, based in Nasva, Saaremaa, Estonia, will be responsible for constructing the test vessel in its Nasva factory. Sea trials for the prototype will be carried out in Estonian waters in cooperation with the Estonian Navy.

The project aims to develop a prototype vessel capable of performing various tasks autonomously, including navigation, obstacle and threat detection, collision avoidance, and other mission-specific tasks. Emphasizing the principles of modularity and environmental sustainability, the vessel will be adaptable to specific needs or tasks and will feature innovative enhancements in its propulsion system.

Margus Vanaselja, CEO of BWB, said of the funding, "This funding is a recognition of our company's strength and dedication. We are extremely pleased to participate in such an ambitious project, but we also feel a great responsibility... Entrusting the consortium leadership to a company from Estonia definitely signifies an important quality mark for us."

The preparatory phase of the project, which began in 2021, was guided by the Estonian Ministry of Defence and the Estonian Navy. Their collaboration with the consortium helped establish project outcomes, with cost-effectiveness and multifunctionality as key aspects. The prototype is expected to be completed by 2027.

Commodore Jüri Saska, Commander of the Estonian Navy, stated that the navy is closely monitoring the project's progress and is prepared to support and utilize the vessel upon completion. "The combined use of unmanned and manned systems is something that all armed forces are moving towards, including us," he added.

Kusti Salm, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, underlined the importance of the EUROGUARD project to Estonia. He said, "It brings the revolution of autonomy and modularity to the maritime field."

The European Defence Fund, aimed at strengthening the European defense industry and promoting research and development, supports the creation of unified defense capabilities across Europe.