Update On Breeze 2014 Naval Exercise

With the exception of Bulgarian participants I have more or less the complete list of the participants to this exercise:

Number Name Type Country
P-266 HS Machitis Patrol Craft Greece
F-582 ITS Aviere Frigate Italy
M-5561 ITS Rimini Mine Hunter Italy
F-222 ROS Regina Maria Frigate Romania
M-30 Alexandru Axente Mine Sweeper Romania
M-270 TCG Akçay Mine Hunter Turkey
P-1200 TCG Tuzla Patrol Craft Turkey
P-332 TCG Mızrak Fast Attack Craft Turkey
S-352 TCG Dolunay Submarine Turkey
M-37 HSM Chiddingfold Mine Hunter UK
CG-72 USS Vella Gulf Cruiser USA

In addition to the above mentioned naval units one P-3 Orion from US Navy and one CN-235 from Turkish Navy are also taking part in the exercise.

Photos From Breeze 2013 Exercise

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The participants of the Bulgarian Naval exercise Breeze 2013 together in Varna. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

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Turkish submarine TCG Birinci İnönü in Varna. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

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Turkish frigate TCG Salihreis outside of the Spanish frigate Blas De Lezo. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

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Turkish mine sweeper TCG Sığacık outside of the Turkish fast attack craft TCG Bora. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

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Bulgarian mine sweeper Priboy entering the Port of Varna. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

Mr. Nikolay Zlatev who creates the very informative blog Sea Dog, kindly shared his photos.

Russian Warship Arrives In Bulgaria For Repairs

 

Tsezar Kunikov, arriving in Varna. Photo Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

158 Tsezar Kunikov, arriving in Varna. Photo Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

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158 Tsezar Kunikov, arriving in Varna. Photo Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

As reported earlier, the Ropucha class large landing ship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet 158 Tsezar Kunikov arrived in Varna, Bulgaria for a refit at Bulgarian Naval shipyard.

 

Breeze 2013 Naval Exericse

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P-338 TCG Bora will take part in the Bulgarian naval exercise Breeze-2013 in the Black Sea.

Bulgarian Naval Forces are hosting an international naval exercise called Breeze 2013 between 6 and 15 July 2013.

According to Turkish Navy Turkish Gür class (Type 209/1400 Mod) submarine S-360 TCG Birinci İnönü is taking part in the exercise as well as the fast attack craft TCG Bora and the minesweeper TCG Sığacık.

NATO’s SNMG-2 will take part in this exercise along with Bulgarian units.

As Bulgaria decommissioned its last submarine in 2011 Turkey is the only NATO nation in the Black Sea that can provide submarines for the naval exercises.

Bulgarian Frigate To Participate Operation Active Endeavor

F-41 BS Drazki during her northbound transit in Bosphorus on 3 June 2011.

According to the excellent Black Sea News website, The Bulgarian Navy is sending the frigate F-41 BS Drazki to NATO’s Operation Active Endeavor.

The frigate has left her home port Burgaz Naval base on 5th October 2012 and may have passed through the Bosphorus today. It is not clear however how long this deployment will last.

This is not the first time Bulgarian Navy is participating to NATO’s operations but the Bulgarian government found it hard to find the necessary funding for prolonged deployments.

Bulgaria Decommissions Her Last Submarine

Bulgarian Navy servicemen at the ceremony for the retirement of the last operational Bulgarian submarine Slava. Photo by BGNES

Yesterday, just as expected and reported, the last submarine was decommissioned from Bulgarian Navy.

The decommissioning of Romeo (Project 633) class BNS Slava means the termination of Bulgaria’s submarine force after 94 years.

The Romeo class, derived from the German Type XXI submarine, by Soviet Union in 1950. BNS Slava was given to Bulgarian Navy in 1986. She is well beyond her useful life. If you look to the photo left you will see just standing on her rusty hull is alone an act of courage.

The ceremony was attended by Read Admiral Plamen Manushev, Commander-in-Chief of the Bulgarian Navy, navy servicemen, and veterans, reported BGNES.

The commander of the submarine division of the Bulgarian Navy Capt. Kamen Kukurov delivered the flag of the Slava submarine to the Varna Museum of Military History.

Even though in August 2009, the Bulgarian Navy had an open-door day dedicated to the 55 years since the restoration of its submarine force, a year later the Bulgarian Defense Minister said the Navy will most likely do away with itssubmarine unit, according to Defense Minister Anyu Angelov.

The life of the only operational Bulgarian submarine “Slava” (i.e. “Glory”) expired, and it is to be retired in the coming months which will mean shutting down altogether Bulgaria’s submarine force.

The only other Bulgarian submarine that was operation in the recent years was the Nadezhda (i.e. “Hope”); it has practically been retired for ten years because it lacks a battery. At the beginning of 2009, the Bulgarian Navy considered turning it into a museum.

Bulgaria used to operate 4 submarines at the height of  the Cold War.

I do not believe that submarines will be introduced to Bulgarian Navy in the near future given the economical constratins Bulgarian armed forces are facing.

Bulgarian Warship Drazki Returned Home (UPDATED)

F-41 BS Drazki during her northbound transit in Bosphorus on 3 June 2011.

The Bulgarian contribution to NATO’s Operation Unified Protector, the frigate F-41 BS Drazki returned home from Libya.

She has left Bulgaria on 28 April 2010 and served 37 days in Mediterranean, patrolling the  seas of the coast of Libya. As of the first week of May she was not given the task to inspect cargo ships or fishing boats. Later she has interrogated 46 vessels to check if they are complying to the UN Sanctions against Libya.

The Bulgarian government has approved sending a frigate for three months to the Mediterranean Sea to take part in the NATO operation, but the ships will be rotated so that each ship will spend  one month in Mediterranean. It is expected that one of her sisters, BS Gordi or BS Verni to replace her.

UPDATE: Well, unfortunately my expectations turned out to be wrong. According to Bulgarian news portal novinite.com, with the return of BS Drazki, there will be no other Bulgarian ships off the shores of Libya.

The Bulgarian government approved sending the frigate for three months to the Mediterranean Sea to take part in the NATO operation, but Defense Minister, Anuy Angelvo, announced at the end of May that there is no funding to extend its mission.

Somebody should have told them before hand,  that joining NATO was an expensive affair.

>Ukraine Sends A Warship To Libya While Romania And Bulgaria Prepares One

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U-402 Konstantin Olshansky. NATO photo.

Exactly at midnight of 23th March 2011, the Ukrainian Ropucha 1 class landing ship U-402 Konstantin Olshansky Sevastopol to conduct Non-Combatant Evacuation of Ukranian citizens trapped in Libya.

She has passed through Bosphorus on 24 March 2011 early in the morning and left Turkish territorial waters late at night.

According to Ukrainian Goverment Portal the ship can accommodated 500 to 600 evacuees on board.

Large landing ship Konstantin Olshansky has all the necessary stores, including fuel and lubricants, and foodstuffs. To ensure the safety and security of citizens of Ukraine except the crew aboard the ship there is the unit of Marines with standard weapon, doctors from the Military Medical Clinical Centre of Crimean region and psychologists, interpreters with knowledge of Arabic.

It was not stated on the portal how long the NEO will last.

Ukraine is not the only Black Sea country that sends a warship to Libya. Both Bulgaria and Romania have announced that they each will send a frigate to participate NATO’s Operation Unified Protector.

Romania decided to send the frigate F-221 Regele Ferdinand. The Type 22 class frigate was purchased from UK in 2004. The Romanian government decided to increase the defence budget by 4,5 million Euros from reserve funds in order to pay the participation of the frigate.

Bulgaria, too will send a frigate to Libya. Bulgarian Defense Minister Anyu Angelov has issued orders to prepare the F-41 Drazki  of the Bulgarian Navy for participation in the NATO naval operation of Libya’s coast.

Both Regele Ferdinand and Drazki are currently in Black Sea and did not passed though Bosphorus yet.

>Bulgaria Allows Women To Serve In Submarines And Decommissions It’s Sole Submarine

>Bulgarian defense ministry allowed women to serve in submarine force but the Bulgarian parliament slammed the door as it decided to decommission the country’s only submarine.

The Romeo class (Project 633) class submarine, Slava was inoperational since 2000 anyway, and as reported earlier, she has been slated for decommissioning.

Bulgaria’s defence ministry on Thursday lifted a ban on women serving aboard submarines just as parliament decided to mothball the country’s only submarine.

“There is no such ban anymore,” Defence Minister Anyu Angelov told journalists, adding that women would be free to apply for jobs on submarines and in the national guard — which was also banned previously — as early as next month.

In effect, however, women wishing to serve on submarines will have no such opportunity, as parliament on Thursday also passed a plan to reform the armed forces that involved mothballing the nation’s lone sub.

Click here to read the original story.

H/T: Kobus

>New Ships For The Russian Black Sea Fleet

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The Russian naval website rusnavy.com reports that Russian Black Sea Fleet will receive six Admiral Gorshkov class (Project 22350) frigates, six Lada (Project 677) diesel submarines, two Ivan Gren class (Project 11711) large landing ships, four ships of other projects, modernized bombers Su-24M instead of obsolete versions, and ASW aircrafts, Il-38 instead of amphibious aircrafts Be-12 till 2020.

This reinforcement of Black Sea Fleet will be conducted under State Arms Program 2011-2020.

This statement, the latest in a series of similar announcements of semi dubious seriousness was made shortly after, Russian and Ukrainian defense ministers signed a document providing that Russia will inform Ukraine about manpower, arms, and strength of Black Sea Fleet.  Russia’s Defence Minister Anatoly Serdiukov pointed out that the significant agreement signed is the first step to renewal of Black Sea Fleet.

I have expressed my personal opinion of the news about the rejuvenation of the BSF previously herehere,  and here. The continuations of these statements show me a few things:

  • Two of the former allies of Russia in the Black Sea basin Romania and Bulgaria rejuvenated their fleets with second hand warships from NATO. By buying cheap ships from NATO countries these two states improved their navies’ operational capabilities and gained access to NATO standards and operational procedures. There are rumors that Ukraine may follow their lead and buy second hand ships from German Navy. The road of Ukraine to join to NATO is a long a winding one. But this is not a hindrance for this country to buy NATO equipment. Ukraine regularly cooperates with NATO and send warship to NATO’s Operation Active Endeavor. Recently an EU military delegation visited Ukrainian Navy to discuss Ukraine’s participations to EU led Operation Atalanta among other things.
  • Romanian and Bulgarian navies and if Ukraine buys warships from Germany then Ukrainian navy will have warships that are younger and have better C3I suites, modern sensors and capable weapons compared to most of the BSF.
  • The current state of the ships in the BSF is not bright and most of them been in service for over 35 years and the Russians are very well aware that current status quo is not sustainable and replacements are vital. As explained above if Russia does not replaces its old ships she will witness a further weakening of her naval authority in the region. This would a blow to Russian national pride and to the political ambitions of the Kremlin.
  • The flow of reports about the new ships joining BSF in the future is an indication of the realization the need for a replacement and an indication of intentions getting rid of old ships. But the number and the classes of the new ships is almost different in every official statement. A few months ago the BSF was to get 15 new frigates and submarines. But the in the latest announcement it is 6 frigates and 6 submarines. This shows that although the Russians have an intention to build new ships their long and mid term acquisitions programme is not clearly prepared. The lack of a concrete programme will leave the whole new ship building projects open to economical and political threats.
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