Friendship Bridge 2015 Naval Exercise

Egyptian supply ship A-230 Shalatein in Istanbul.

Egyptian supply ship A-230 Shalatein in Istanbul in March 2013.

Last week the Russia and Egypt conducted their first joint naval exercise named Friendship Bridge 2015.

The 8 day long drills started when all participant arrived in port of Alexandria on 6  June 2015. As part of the exercises, Russian and Egyptian warships, working with air support, are expected to protect shipping lanes from various threats and conduct live fire tactical training.

This is the second naval drill involving Russian warships in Mediterranean. The previous one was with PLAN.

The list of the ships taking part in Friendship Bridge 2015 is below:

Number Name Type Nationality
230 Shaladein Tanker Egypt
604 18. June Fast Attack Craft Egypt
605 25. April Fast Attack Craft Egypt
916 Taba Frigate Egypt
961 Damiyat Frigate Egypt
110 Alexander Shabalin Landing ship Russia
121 Moskva Cruiser Russia
616 Samum Corvette Russia
MB-31 MB-31 Tug Russia
Ivan Bubnov Tanker Russia

Status Update on Russian Warships In The Black Sea


Russian training ship Perekop making a northbound passage through Bosphorus in July 2013.


The informative and excellent Ukrainian website Black Sea New reported that the Russian training ship Perekop is being repaired in Varna Naval shipyard.

Training ship of the 1st rank “Perekop” (200) complete repairs on the Bulgarian shipyard “Naval Arsenal” (Varna) in July 2015, reports . At present, Russian designers are beginning to test samples of hull structures and cables to determine the remaining life of the ship.
As reported BSNews , “Perekop” (200) arrived in Varna 20 August 2013.

Mooring factory testing of the Criminal Code “Perekop” 877 project is expected to begin in the summer of 2015. This information is placed in the record of procurement “51 Central Design and Technological Institute of ship repair” the Defense Ministry, establish the technical documentation for the repair and modernization of the ship.”

In the mean time the Krivak class frigate Ladny, made a post repair acceptance sail.

“Patrol ship “Well,” returned to base in Sevastopol with its maiden voyage after repairs to the “13 ship-repair factory of the Black Sea Fleet.”
Sources Central Navy Portal on the Black Sea Fleet told that TFR “OK” in the morning of December 17, 2014 from 12 mooring berth of Sevastopol and went on his first outing in the sea after the repair.
Head of Press Service of the Black Sea Fleet, Vyacheslav Trukhachev confirmed that the plan “OK” has already had to start the combat training missions.
The base ship returned on 19 December. Thus, the campaign ship lasted 1.5 days. TSVMP learned that for many sailors the access to the sea was the first. “Well,” made ​​a trip along the Crimean coast line, in which the sailors worked actions during various alarms and got acquainted with the equipment of the ship. In 2013 – 2014 years in the “13 ship-repair Factory Black Sea Fleet “was held in Sevastopol ship repair, which was completed in the summer of 2014.”

Kaliningrad Back In Her Home Waters


The Russian Ropucha class landing ship Kaliningrad passing through Öresund on 28 November 2014. Photo: Per Körnefeldt. Used with permission.

The Ropucha class large landing ship of the Baltic Fleet, Kaliningrad returned to her home port at the end of November. For 12 months she was assigned to the Black Sea Fleet and made several transport runs for the so-called Syrian Express operations.

Another Ropucha class landing ship from the Baltic Fleet, Alexander Shabalin replaced Kaliningrad.

The photo was sent by Mr. Körnefeldt from Helsingborg, Sweden.

Vitse Admiral Kulakov In Marmaris


Russian sailors in Marmaris. Photo: iha.

On 28 October 2014, the Udaloy class destroyer of Russian Northern Fleet, Vitse Admiral Kulakov has arrived in Aksaz Naval Base for a port visit.

The ship sailed away from her home port Severomorsk, on 15 April 2014. Since then she has been deployed in the Mediterranean. She was in Black Sea for a small overhaul between 14 August and 27 September.

No information was given how long the ship will stay in Turkey.

From The Archive (3)

My captured picture

This is Soviet replenishment tanker Berezina, making a northbound passage through Bosphorus. This photo was taken in August 1991.

Russians Doubled Their Submarine Force In The Black Sea


The existing Russian Varshaviyanka (project 877) class submarine Alrosa on left and the newly gained Russian Foxtrot (Project 641) class submarine Zaporizya on right. Photo: Anton Blinov.

Last weekend on 22 March 2014, a second submarine joined the Russian Black Sea Fleet. This Foxtrot (Project 641) class submarine, launched in 1970 is not among the new constructions to strengthen the Black Sea Fleet. It is more or less adopted.

According to RIA Novosti the half of the crew of the Ukrainian submarine Zaporizya decided to join the Russian Navy.

Captain 1st Rank Anatoly Varochkin, the commander of the Black Sea Fleet’s submarine flotilla, told RIA Novosti that half of the Zaporizhzhia’s crew, including the captain, refused to serve in the Russian Navy and left the vessel. “Half of the submarine’s crew is ready to serve [Russia] and fulfill their tasks. They know their vessel and will continue service,” Varochkin said adding that the submarine was in a poor technical condition.

Well the submarine is old and she can probably cannot dive deeper than her periscope depth which might be between 12 to 15 meters. But it is not important what the Russians got it is important how they have got it.

The Russian blogger Anton Blinov has an excellent set of photos taken at the re flagging ceremony of the old Soviet, old Ukrainian new Russian submarine.


For further reading:
The Ukrainian Submarine Zaporizya Made Her First Dive
The Ukrainian Submarine Is Back In Regular Service
The Sole Ukraine Submarine Conducted Sea Trials In Black Sea
Russians Teach Ukrainians How To Escape From A Sunken Submarine
Turkey To Train Ukrainian Submariners?
Renewal of Naval Relations Between Russia and Ukraine
Russia Is Helping Ukraine To Maintain A Submarine

Russia Sees The US Navy’s Bet And Rises One


Russian Kashin class destroyer Smetlivy returning to the Black Sea on 7 February 2014. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.


Russian Kashin class destroyer Smetlivy returning to the Black Sea on 7 February 2014. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.


Russian Kashin class destroyer Smetlivy returning to the Black Sea on 7 February 2014. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

The show down between Russia and USA on the Black Sea is continuing and it seems that it will not end before the Olympics.

While the US Navy warships LCC-20 USS Mount Whitney and FFG-50 USS Taylor are doing circles or “doughnuts” off the coast of Sochi, the Russians have called their Kashnin class destroyer Smetlivy back from the Mediterranean.

The large anti-submarine ship Smetlivy was laid in 1966 and commissioned in 1969. She is the sole remaining Kashin class destroyer and is attached to Russian Black Sea Fleet. She was refitted from 1990 till 1996. Though she is one of the oldest vessels of the Black Sea Fleet, she is still very active and made frequent deployments to the Eastern Mediterranean.


USS Mount Whitney and USS Taylor off the coast of Sochi.

As Smetlivy belongs to the Russian Black Sea Fleet her return to the Black Sea may be just the end of her regular deployment or and counter move to the two circling US navy warships off the coast of Sochi. It depends largely to your perspective and your perception of the news.

As I have said before and again, I believe the deployment of the two US Navy warships to the Black Sea is more political rather than practical as both ships lack the necessary means to conduct a civilian evacuation operation properly. They do not have (as far as I know) any marine detachments to provide security on shore around the civilians waiting for their evacuation at the deployment site nor enough boats or helicopters to ferry the civilians to the ships.


USNS Spearhead, doing her circles in the North Aegean. Will she pass through the Turkish Straits?

Russia made it very clear that the US Navy presence is legal but not welcomed much. Well if Russians are unhappy about the US Navy ships off the coast of Sochi, I believe Russians are to blamed for this. If they have called in the multinational maritime security task force BlackSeaFor, to support them to secure the Olympics it would may prevented non Black Sea nations to mingle.

The BlackSeaFor consists of warships from Black Sea nations and the task force is activated twice a year (in April and in August). The main purpose of the BlackSeaFor was to cooperatively promote security and stability in the Black Sea maritime area and beyond. Fighting against terrorism was added when the scope of the BlackSeaFor was extended. With three NATO navies  (Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania) among the participants, the BlackSeaFor is has the capability and the means to help the Russians to secure the maritime front of the Olympics and assure other nations to help their citizens if needed.

In the mean time another US (war)ship is making her doughnuts in the North Aegean: JHSV-1 USNS Spearhead. She  is the first ship in the Spearhead class Joint High Speed Vessel (a very fancy name for ferryboat), to be operated by the Military Sealift Command and christened on 17 September 2011. Vessels similar to USNS Spearhead, from the same shipbuilder, are being used by Istanbul Fast Ferries to carry passengers and vehicles around Marmara Sea. If deployed to the Black Sea the USNS Spearhead would provide means to US Navy to mass evacuation of civilians.

Finaly: US Navy Warships On Black Sea

After week of discussions and very cold war like tug of words between Russia and USA, two US Navy warships have passed through the Turkish Straits.

The first ship, LCC-20 USS Mount Whitney, the flag-ship of the US 6. Fleet made her passage on 4 February 2014.


USS Mount Whitney passing through the Bosphorus on 4 February 2014, as seen from a web cam. Photo:

The second ship turned out to be not a Arleigh Burke Class destroyer but a Perry class frigate. FFG-50 USS Taylor made her passage through the Turkish Straits on 5 February 2014.


The choise of the warships by US Navy is very odd. These ships are send under the context of providing security for the Olympics, but both ships have no offensive weapons other than their helicopters are carrying. I assume that these helicopters can carry a Penguin Mk2 missile

The USS Mount Whitney is a command and control ship. She has excellent communication suits and enough rooms and people to organize and command a fleet. But the ship has only short-range self-defence weapons.

The frigate USS Taylor was a more potent warship compared to USS Mount Whitney, before the frigate was gilded before the only guided weapon launcher of the frigate was deactivated. USS Taylor carries like USS Mount Whitney short ranged self defence weapons. One may regard the 76mm gun the frigate has an offensive weapons but is it wise to bring a gun to fight in the missile age?

Like I said before the only long range weapon both ships have are the helicopters they are carrying and I assume that these helicopters can be armed with guided missiles and other weapons (though Mk46 / Mk54 torpedoes may not be suitable for securing the Olympics)

I personally find the notion of two inadequately armed US Navy warships protecting the Olympics as absurd as the notion of Russian nuclear cruiser Petr Veliky providing security for the Olympics from the Mediterranean.

The whole show of force between USA and Russia over the security of the Olympics is not about the security of the Olympics.





An Update On Submarines Of The Black Sea Navies

The submarines are getting fashionable again by the navies of the Black Sea nations.

Well not every country is happy to have a silent service in its navy. Bulgaria its sole Romeo (Project 633) class BNS Slava in 2011 and sold her bulk in December 2013, effectively ending its submarine service after 94 years.

But Bulgaria is the exception. Ukraine has spent considerable amounts of money and time to get her only submarine a veteran Foxtrot (Project 641) class U-01 Zaporizya back in to service. This boat is in regular service since January 2013.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet has one active Kilo class (Project 877) diesel submarine, Alrosa (originally Varshavyanka) and one Tango class submarine Svyatoy Knyaz Georgiy. Though still listed as an active unit the status of the Svyatoy Knyaz Georgiy is dubious. This is why Russia is planning to add 6 new submarines to the BSF in the next couple of years. The first of these boats Novorossiysk is launched in November 2013 and is expected to enter into the Black Sea in July 2014.

According to Romanian website, Romanian Navy decided to modernize and reactive it’s only submarine Delfinul.  She is a Kilo class diesel submarine. She entered into service in 1986 and she has not been used since 1996.

The cost of reactivating the submarine is estimated between $20 – 30 million. It is also not clear whether the announcement of the Romanian Defense Minster in Contanta was just for a lip service or for real.

A New Submarine Will Join Russian Black Sea Fleet Next Year

Russian submarine Alrosa passing through Bosphorus on 19 September 2012.

Russian submarine Alrosa passing through Bosphorus on 19 September 2012.

According to Ukinform, the Russian Black Sea Fleet will receive a new submarine in July 2014.

The new unit, aptly named as  Novorossiysk is a Kilo/Varshavyanka (Project 636) class submarine. She will join a Kilo/Varshavyanka (Project 877V) class submarine Alrosa and Tango (Project 641B) class submarine St. George already serving in the Black Sea.

The submarine Alrosa suffered a fire in November 2011 and she received a lengthily overhaul in Kronshtadt in 2012. The operational readiness of St. George is very dubious due to her old age.





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