Two Ukrainian minehunter ships, recently transferred from the Royal Navy to Ukraine’s navy, are currently not able to enter the Black Sea due to the terms of the Montreux Convention, which restricts passage of military vessels through the Bosporus Strait at times of war.

The two former Royal Navy ships now serving with the Ukrainian Navy will be a frequent sight in the waters off the South Coast as they operate from their new temporary home in Portsmouth Naval Base.

The Sandown-class minehunters, Cherkasy and Chernihiv, formerly HMS Shoreham and HMS Grimsby have arrived in Portsmouth on Thursday April 11 and will start preparing for their first operational exercises since their transfer to the Ukrainian Navy was fully completed.

Despite the fact that the two Ukrainian Navy ships are blocked to access the Black Sea amid Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, they “will form a critical capability for Ukraine in its future defence of its coastlines as the UK looks to support the longer-term capabilities of the Ukrainian Navy, while they look to protect commercial shipping by detecting and disabling sea mines,” UK ministry of defence says.

The ships will be based in Portsmouth for the foreseeable future as they prepare for exercises with the Royal Navy alongside the US Navy in UK waters, which will help Ukraine understand how to operate with NATO navies.

This exercise is believed to improve the ability of Ukraine’s navy to operate alongside NATO nations.

Eventually, the plan is for Cherkasy and Chernihiv to operate in the Black Sea after the war in Ukraine ends, clearing mines from vital sea lanes.

Commodore Paul Pitcher, the Royal Navy’s Commander Surface Flotilla, said: “There are huge amounts of Russian mines across 800 square kilometres of the Black Sea and Ukraine’s economy is heavily based on exporting grain through the same sea.

“Key to the post-conflict stability of Ukraine and economic recovery is the safe passage of traffic. These vessels will be crucial in providing safe sea lanes for the Ukrainian economy.”

“The ships will be based here for as long as they need, and we will be here to support them. The training of their people is important, and they can get out on the sea and work on maritime skills,” noted Naval Base Commander, Commodore John Voyce.