The Ukrainian Submarine Zaporizya Made Her First Dive

Ukrainian Submarine U01 Zaporizya returning from trials. Photo: Ukraine Armed Forces

The effort of the Ukrainian Navy and the resources they spend to put their only submarine Foxtrot class (Project 641) U-01 Zaporizya back to full operational status is amazing.

I have tried to follow and report of these efforts since I have heard about it, in February 2010. After being left unused and unmaintained for a very long periods, the submarine was painstakingly and gradually restored to operational status with the help of Russian Navy.

On 18th July 2012 U-01 Zaporizya made her first succesful dive and her underwater performance was tested. I think that the dive may have been limited to the periscope depth but nevertheless it was an important step in the restoration of the submarine back to the service.

The trial dive of the vessel has been successful. According to a special commission, the submarine is completely controllable, which is the most important thing,” the acting commander of the Ukrainian Navy, Vice Admiral Yuriy Ilyin said after the test dive in Sevastopol on Wednesday.

“We do not doubt that the sea trials of the Zaporizhia submarine will be successful and the submarine will enter the fleet,” Ilyin said.


Dissecting Jpost Op-ed “Turkey vulnerable to rising Russian power in the Black Sea”


A ESSM missile being fired from a Mk-41 launcher on board of a Turkish frigate. But Mr. Tanchum tells us that these missiles will get into Turkish inventory in 2016. May be these are not the ESSM missiles Mr. Tanchum is looking for.

Yesterday, The Jerusalem Post published an op-ed by Micha’el Tanchum, which was first published in the Turkey Analyst.  This this op-ed Mr. Tanchum explains that:

With the annexation of Crimea, Turkey faces a stronger and bolder Russian naval power in the Black Sea. A resurgent Russia may be tempted to exploit its temporary naval dominance to alter current Black Sea energy exploitation and transportation arrangements more in its favor and to the detriment of Turkey and its partners in the Caucasus.

While there a some aspects in this op-ed where I whole hearty agree there also some obvious and large material mistakes that raises questions about the credibility of the writer and his reason the write such a text.

Let’s start:

After gaining experience from the building of the slightly larger but more lethal TF 100 anti-air warfare frigates, Turkey then intends to build a series of TF 2000 frigates. Double the size of the TF 100, the TF 2000 anti-air warfare frigate will significantly advance the Turkish fleet’s transformation into a blue-water navy.

This is not correct. TF-2000 air defense ship project will supersede TF-100 project. TF-100 project is scheduled to start around 2020 to replace the MEKO 200 Track I frigates. On the other hand TF-2000 will be a major ship program and will form the mainstay of Turkish Navy with long range air defense sensors and weapons. TF-2000 is in early design phase and TF-100 does not exists even on blue-paper. Therefore it is not possible to say that one class of ships will be the double of the other as there is no data to compare at all. But I agree that TF-2000 will advance Turkish Navy into a blue-water navy.

The TF 100 frigates will be the first Turkish vessels to carry the American-manufactured RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) system capable of countering the current generation of supersonic anti-ship missiles.

It is absolutely and utterly false that TF-100 frigates are going to be the first ESSM capable ships in Turkish Navy. As you can see from the photo above Turkish Navy has today ESSM capable ships in operation. As the regular readers of this blog and people who really follow the developments in Turkish Navy know, Turkish Navy has installed Mk-41 vertical launcher systems in 4 of its 8 Gabya (ex Perry) class frigates. And the main 2D search radars of these 4 ships with Mk-41 are being replaced by 3D radars. The main reason for the installation of the Mk-41 is to use the ESSM missile which is incompatible with the Mk-13 launcher on these ships.In addition to 4 Gabya class frigates 2 MEKO 200 Track IIB class frigates have Mk-41 launchers. This 2 ships are also capable to use ESSM missiles. And this capability will be retrofitted to the 2 MEKO 200 Track IIA frigates when their Mk-29 launcher will be replaced by Mk-41 VLS.

 Turkey’s strategic vulnerability was not anticipated because of the view in Turkish policy circles that Turkey enjoys a relative parity with Russia in the Black Sea. However, the approximate parity exists only when Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is matched against all the major assets of the Turkish navy. Prior to the Crimean conflict, Russia’s Black Sea fleet consisted of 24 major surface combatants and one diesel submarine while Turkey’s major naval assets consist of approximately 24 surface combatants and 14 submarines. The parity is illusory as it is unlikely that Turkey would be able to deploy all or most of its naval assets in a Black Sea conflict.

I have always found making a comparison between Turkish and Russian Naval Forces very difficult as Russia has 3 other Fleets and it is not clear whether Turkey can mobilise all its major naval units to the Black Sea.
But I have difficulty to calculating Mr. Tanchum’s math on units numbers. The Turkish side is simple: 8 Gabya frigates + 8 MEKO 200 frigates + 6 Burak corvettes + 2 Ada corvettes and came up to 24 major surface units. On Russian side the math is not so simple. I have tired to remake Mr. Tanchum’s calculation based on Jane’s Fighting Ship reference book: 1 Slava cruiser + 1 Kara cruiser + 1 Kashin destroyer + 2 Krivak frigate + 6 Grisha frigate + 2 Sivuch corvettes + 5 Tarantul corvettes + 2 Nanuchka corvette makes 20 major surface units.
I have no idea where the other 4 units mentions in the op-ed were added to the Russian side. On the other hand if one is adding Tarantul and Nanuchka class ships to a comparison on Russian side then one has to add Yıldız and Karayel class fast attack craft on Turkish side. As in terms of displacement, on board weapons and sensors there is not much difference between Tarantul and Nanuchka class corvettes and Yıldız and Karayel class fast attack craft. Therefore I am thinking that Mr. Tanchum’s numbers are either biased or he has chosen his sample units poorly, which makes the above quoted comparison dubious.

With the annexation of Crimea, Turkey faces a stronger and bolder Russian naval power in the Black Sea. Russia now possesses the Ukrainian navy’s submarine and several, if not most, of Ukraine’s 11 major surface combatants. Even without the Ukraine’s naval assets, Russia’s own new additions to its Black Sea Fleet will enable Moscow to dominate the region. Russia recently put to sea the first of its six Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates. All six frigates are designated for service in the Black Sea Fleet.

It is true that the annexed Ukrainian naval assets increased the roster of the Russian Black Sea Unit. But this is only on paper. In reality most of the Ukrainian units taken by Russians are unfit for service and pose no thread to anyone. There are some reports that Russia has started to return some of the Ukrainian naval units back to Ukraine as they are not fit for service in Russian Navy. The Ukrainian submarine Zaporizhzhya sized by Russian forces was declared unfit for service but is still in Russian hands. Thus until newly build naval units start to arrive in the Black Sea the enlargement of Russian Black Sea units through the influx of Ukrainian naval units is not realistic thread.

Russia’s own new additions to its Black Sea Fleet will enable Moscow to dominate the region. Russia recently put to sea the first of its six Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates. All six frigates are designated for service in the Black Sea Fleet.

It’s true that Russia wants to improve its Black Sea Fleet with new frigates and submarines. But it is wrong to assume that these ships are going to be an addition the current warships. On the contrary these new constructed warships will replace existing old warships which reached the end of their usefulness. Therefore these new warships will not increase the number of Russian warships in the Black Sea 1:1.

Within the same 2016 timeframe, Russia will also add six newly improved Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines to its Black Sea Fleet ahead of Turkey’s deployment of an equivalent number of Ada-class anti-submarine corvettes. These two Russian procurement programs alone will quickly tilt the balance of naval forces in Russia’s favor, giving Russia a significant strategic advantage for a window of four to eight years depending on the pace of Turkey’s resumed production schedule

The above quoted paragraph shows that making naval analysis is not Mr. Tanchum’s strong suit. He is fundamentally wrong in his assumption that the main Turkish adversary of the Russian Kilo class submarines will be the Ada class corvettes. One does not fight airplanes with SAM missiles. One does not fight enemy tanks with ATGMs. The main weapons Turkey will use against the Kilo class submarines that will start to enter into service in (at least) 3 years time will be the submarines Turkey possess.   And with 14 submarines in service Turkey has the strongest diesel-electric submarine force in NATO. These submarines are a huge force multiplier and one of our countries most important silent and deadly weapons. Six of the 14 submarines in Turkish inventory are nearing their useful life and they will be replaced by AIP Type 214 submarines. Even if Russian Black Sea Fleet enjoys an advantage in numbers for a time the air independent submarines will have the upper hand against the Russian submarines as they will not be AIP equipped.

It’s noteworthy that the new submarine construction programme of Turkey was never mentioned in this text.

Until Ankara can rectify the gap in naval capabilities created by MILGEM’s delays, Turkey will not be able to defend its national interests adequately as Russia attempts to reestablish its sphere of influence in the greater Black Sea region

During the Cold War the Black Sea was divided between NATO nation Turkey and 3 Warsaw Pact nations Bulgaria, Romania and USSR.  How we have 3 NATO nations Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania. Plus Ukraine, Russia and Georgia. With the annexation of Crime by Russia the status quo in the Black Sea which was created at the end of the Cold War has changed. But this change is not unmanageable for Ankara as long as we have a long term political goal and will toreach it.

It is beyond any doubt that the cancellation of Milgem construction tender given to RMK Marine shipyard has created a havoc among the Turkish naval armament projects. But believing this delay will hamper Turkey’s ability to defends its national interest is wish full thinking.


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

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.

The Ukrainian Submarine Is Back In Regular Service

I am very much respecting all the efforts Ukrainian Navy is putting to maintain a submarine force. Given their limited resources and their dependence on foreign counties on some critical issues they could easily give up their silent service just like Bulgarians did, or the Danish. By giving up their silent service they could have saved important resources some of which might have been used to speed up the construction of their corvette. But no! The Ukrainians are determined to keep their silent service up and running even if it means using an almost obsolete 41-year-old submarine probably only limited to (or near) periscope depth.

According to Ukrainian Defence Ministry the sole Ukrainian submarine the Foxtrot (project 641) class diesel-electric submarine Zaporizya returned to regular service.

In Sevastopol held celebrations to mark the adoption of a large submarine “Zaporozhye” to combat fleet.

Congratulate Submariner with a significant event came to head the Center for Naval Operations Navy captain 1 rank Andrei Tarasov, veterans-submariners, sailors and family members of chefs – representatives Vilnyanskiy district administration of Zaporozhye region.

The celebrations began with the alignment of personnel and head to “Zaporozhye” Navy flag and flags roztsvichuvannya.

The commander of a large submarine “Zaporozhye” Captain 2 rank Robert Shahyeyev said that last year the crew at the same time was very difficult and responsible, but by the number of successful assignments.

– Last year, “Zaporozhye” took part in joint Ukrainian-Russian exercises “Fairway of Peace”, the sea trials out to sea and conducted a dive to periscope depth, and also participated in a joint celebration of Fleet of Ukraine and the Russian Navy Day in Sevastopol – said the commander of the submarine.

At the end of the crew members of a large submarine “Zaporozhye” and present guests were photographed together in memory.

Well, hats off to this remarkable success.

The Sole Ukraine Submarine Conducted Sea Trials In Black Sea

Ukrainian naval ensign raised on Zaporizya. Photo: Official Ukraine Armed Forces

I was slow to follow this event but it is important.

Between 23 and 27 April 2012, the sole Ukrainian submarine Zaporizya conducted a series of test in the Black Sea. This is the first time that the 42 year old submarine sailed alone since 1992.

The Foxtrot (Project 641) class Zaporizya is the only submarine in Ukrainian inventory. She her large scaled overhaul started in February 2010. The aim of Ukrainian Navy was to have her ready for duty by the end of May 2011.

According to Jane’s Fighting Ships , Zaporizya has maximum speeds of 16 kt surfaced and 15 kt dived, with a range of 20,000 n miles at 8 kt surfaced and 380 n miles at 2 kt dived.

Although the age and the condition of the submarine will restrict her operations below water considerably without any doubt this trials mark a very important step for the Ukrainian Navy as they have regained their submarine force back. I must say that I envy the courage of the crew of the boat.

Today, April 27, after successfully conducted in the Black Sea the first phase of sea trials to return submarine Sevastopol Naval Forces of Ukraine “Kiev”.

At 15.20 pryshvartuvalasya submarine to berth wall of the 13th shipyard Black Sea fleet.

The crew of the submarine “Zaporizhia” personally met the Commander of Naval Forces Admiral Viktor Maksimov Ukraine. Chairman of the host committee captain 1st rank Roman sleek submarine commander Captain 2nd rank Robert Shaheyev commander reported the successful completion of the campaign.

Commander of Naval Forces Admiral Viktor Maksimov Ukraine by telephone reported the Minister of Defense of Ukraine Dmytro Salamatin the successful completion of the first phase of sea trials and mooring berth at the factory.

Head of the Ministry of Defence Dmitry Salamatin greeted the crew of the submarine “Zaporizhia” the successful performance of assigned tasks and return to Sevastopol.

Ship for the first time since 1993 on April 25 went to sea with its own power plant. For three days the crew submarine was tested in a complex work of power plant at different running modes and performance equipment and technology.Members of the combat units together with experts sudnoremontnykamy-tested health equipment and various tools.

In particular, in the electromechanical part of the battle were determined allowable load on the main diesel engine, with dimensions appropriate parameters at different frequencies of rotation of the crankshaft and the line shaft. Reliable feeding device horizontal and vertical steering wheels steering, tested hydraulic and air system pressure.

In addition, by controlling the verification capacity of the battery when running motors at full power in the above-water position, and also tested other systems and mechanisms.

During sea trials are carefully checked the reliability of communications, radar, search, sonar equipment and mate.

Overall, during sea trials the boat was about 135 nautical miles in the above-water position.

It should be stressed that the test took place in view of strict control in terms of security, the deployment of all necessary protective systems and equipment.

The reactivation of the submarine creates a new dilemma for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Keeping the 41 year old submarine with a very limited remaining service life, will be very difficult and expensive, draining valuable resources needed for other naval projects. On the other hand scrapping the sole submarine of the navy after so much public attention will not be a good political move.

I think the words of the Ukrainian Defense Minister Dmytro Salamatin sums the situation nicely: I wish you, to the number of dives always coincided with the number rises to the surface “

Russians Teach Ukrainians How To Escape From A Sunken Submarine

According to blog RusNavy Intelligence, Russian and Ukrainian navies conducted a submarine evacuation exercise together. Since Viktor Yanukovych’s election as Ukraine president, the cooperation between Russian and Ukrainian navies has grown considerably. Russia is actively helping Ukraine to maintain and renovate its only submarine U01 Zaporizya.

The Foxtrot (Project 641) class Zaporizya is the only submarine in Ukrainian inventory.  She is undergoing a large scaled overhaul since February 2010. The aim of Ukrainian Navy is to have her ready for duty by the end of this month.

The timing of this exercise is interesting as it is coincident with the larger exercise of similar aim Bold Monarch, organised by NATO. The only Russian submarine in Black Sea Alrosa, is participating to NATO’s exercise off the coast of Spain.

>Submarine News Around The Region

>As I go trough the backlogof stories accumulated while I had no PC, I found these two news of special interest:

Zaporizhzhya with engines running.
Photo: e-Crimea
  1. The work on Zaporizhzhya: Zaporizhzhya is Ukraine’s sole Foxtrot class (Project 641) submarine. She has entered into overhaul in February 2010. She is being overhoauled in 13th Repair Unit with Russian help.

    According to Ukrainian website e-Crimea, the diesel engines of the submarine were tested. Ukraine schedules to end static tests by 15 February 2011 and start sea trials. The submarine is expected to return to active duty after completing her sea trials in May 2011.

  2. Papanikolis in active service: On 22 December 2010, the first Type 214 submarine of Greek Navy, HS Papanikolis entered into active fleet. She was commissioned in 3 November 2010, after a unique and long history of procurement
    Papanikolis in Kiel, a 2009 photo.

    For years Hellenic Navy refused to accept HS Papanikolis claiming the boat was not meeting the requirements. Poor performance from the AIP system, problems with the ISUS combat system, poor surface sea keeping in high seas, and hydraulic system issues were among the major flaws reported. And these flaws were mentioned again and again in printed in internet media to such extend that today it is very difficult (may be impossible) to convince the Greek people that theses flaws were remedied by the Germans.

    According to Greek blog Strategy Report the Greek Defence minister made the following statement:

    “From 2006 until today, yet the public is poisoned with myths and rumors. This submarine is part of today in power in the country is the “submarine tilted”, the “floating coffin”, the “submarine with fins. It should really be ashamed of those who cultivate this systematic undermining of a public asset and a strategic, I would say more precisely, the operational advantage of the National Armed Forces. [Grammer, wording and syntax of Google Translate]

    And the Greek Navy found it neccessary to make the following statement to malicious reports:

    ” From the Navy General Staff announced that a day before the ceremony admitting the submarine “Papanikolis” the fleet, after the ship for more than two months sailed by controlling all the means available under extreme weather conditions, from the Norwegian Sea at Kiel and thence across the Atlantic and the Mediterranean to Greece, some circles make a last attempt to undermine and discredit the most modern and well ship the Greek Navy. The mythology, however, “on the submarine tilted” denied in the most solemn manner.The Navy further states categorically that the “current story” of journalistic [notorious] page is not accurate and has no “source” within the Navy (as in the original version said), nor was any attempt to cross before the posted Internet. [Grammer, wording and syntax of Google Translate]

    By the way, Papanikolis may be the most modern submarine in the region but she still lack an adequate punch.

>Turkey To Train Ukrainian Submariners?

>The Russian naval website reports that Turkey might help Ukraine with the training of the Ukraine submariners.

Ukrainian defense minister Mikhail Yezhel told that he will meet with Turkish counterpart during the visit to Albania, where he will attend annual session of the Southeast Europe Defense Ministerial.

“We’re going to discuss issues of air information exchange and military technical cooperation with Turkish defense minister. I think we should also deliberate the possibility of training of our submarine’s crew. By the way, that was Turkey who agreed to help us in this matter”, underlined the minister.

Currently Ukraine has only one Foxtrot class (Project 641) submarine Zaporizhzhia. She has entered into overhaul in February. There are no reports of her return to the active service.

A systematic and regular training for Turkish Submariners started in 1917 and continued ever since. Turkish Navy has one Submarine Training Center in Gölcük. The Submarine Training Center offers various courses to foreign navies such as Officers Submarine Specialization; Petty Officers Submarine Specialization; Submarine Command and Control; Submarine Fire Control Coordination and Submarine Escape Training Damage Control Courses.

As Turkey does not operate any Foxtrot class submarines any training provided by Turkish Navy will be focusing on general aspects of submarines.

>Bulgaria Will Cease Its Submarine Force

>Bulgarian Defense Minister Anyu Angelov, stated that the life of the only operational Bulgarian submarine Slava has expired, and it will probably be retired in the coming months.

“Calling it a submarine force is too strong because any such unit must include at least two vessels. As you know, we have only one submarine. Its life has expired, and thus the submarine component of the Bulgarian Navy probably won’t exist any more,”

declared the Defense Minister according to

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

Bulgaria is not the only Black Sea country that struggles to keep its submarines in operational condition. The Romanian submarine Kilo (Project 877E) class Delfinul has not been to the sea in the recent years. Ukraine’s sole submarine the Foxtrot (Project 641) class Zaporizya is in dry dock since last February and her operational status is douptful. There has been no public information released about Russian Kilo (Project 877) class Alrosa submarine after the fire in her engine room and her operational status is not clear.

Keeping submarines operational is a very costly business both in material and in personal aspects.

Currently, besides Turkey’s submarines in the Black Sea, there are no other submarines in operational status.

Photo by BGNES via H/T: Kobus

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