The UK will transfer two Royal Navy minehunter ships to Ukraine as part of a wider effort to bolster the country’s capabilities at sea, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

Ukraine’s procurement of two Sandown Class mine countermeasures vessels (MCMVs) comes as the MoD said the UK will lead a new maritime capability coalition alongside Norway to increase support for the eastern European nation, which is engaged in an ongoing war with Russia.

The coalition will deliver long-term support, including training, equipment and infrastructure to bolster security in the Black Sea, the MoD said.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “These minehunters will deliver vital capability to Ukraine, which will help save lives at sea and open up vital export routes, which have been severely limited since Putin launched his illegal full-scale invasion.“This capability boost marks the beginning of a new dedicated effort by the UK, Norway and our allies to strengthen Ukraine’s maritime capabilities over the long term, enhancing their ability to operate in defending their sovereign waters and bolstering security in the Black Sea.

“As an island nation with a proud maritime history, the UK and Royal Navy are particularly well-placed to support this endeavour, which will form part of a series of new coalitions formed between allies to ensure an enduring military commitment in support of Ukraine.”