>The Bulgarian news portal novinite.com reported that Bulgaria was planning to but two second hand minehunters from Netherlands in 2014.
Currently Bulgarian Navy has one Tripartite class minehunter 32 BNS Tsibar in active service. The ship originally destined for Belgian Navy was decommissioned in 2007 after 20 years of service. She was re-activated and transferred to Bulgaria in 2009.
The minehunters Bulgaria intents to purchase from Netherlands are Tripartite class as well. Therefore there will be no problems with logistics and infrastructure in blending the news minehunters into the Bulgarian service.
Tripartite class was a co-operation between France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Hence the name. According to Wikipedia, Tripartite class of minehunters were conceived in the 1970s and built in the 1980s. France built the mine-hunting equipment, Belgium provided the electronics, and the Netherlands constructed the propulsion train. France and the Netherlands originally bought 15, with Belgium buying 10.
There is one other very important bit of information in novinite’s news however:
Rear Admiral Manushev, commander in chief of Bulgarian navy, welcomed Divisional Admiral Jean-Paul Robyns, CinC of Belgian Navy, in the Bulgarian Navy headquarters in Varna, who came for the signing of an agreement for the technical maintenance of the four used vessels that Bulgaria purchased from Belgium over the past couple of years.
A major issue with the use of the four ships has to do with the lack of transformers for the voltage of the electricity that they receive when they are on anchor. Thus, the vessels have to use their diesel-powered electricity generators the entire time, even when they are at port, wasting tonnes of diesel each month.
In a recent interview for the 24 Chasa Daily Bulgaria’s Defense Minister Anyu Angelov said his institution could not afford to purchase the transformers at the current prices in Bulgaria, and said it planned to seek providers from the entire EU.
“I don’t want to blame my predecessors but I will say that the Belgians offered them such transformers at a twice cheaper prices but they were refused,” Angelov said.
I believe that there a few lessons to be learned from this incident:
1. It clearly demonstrates how difficult it is to adapt and imported piece of military hardware in to your own existing infrastructure. It is more difficult in Bulgaria’s case as they have to change from old Warsaw Pact equipment and infrastructure to NATO standards.
2. This incident also clearly shows that sometimes buying cheap second hand military hardware can create unpredicted hidden costs which if they have been know prior to the purchase might have been changed the purchase decision fundamentally.
3. And lastly, importing military hardware increases one’s dependence on the country that sells the hardware. The more you buy from abroad; more you are dependent on them which of course can be a big risk for your sovereignty.
Photo courtesy of http://www.netmarine.net/ via Wikipedia