>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.

>The Chief Of Staff Of Ukraine Gen. Pedchenko Visits Turkey

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Official photo from Turkish General Staff.

The Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,Colonel-General Grigory Pedchenko is in Turkey for an official visit.

Yesterday Colonel-General Pedchenko visited hisTurkish counterpart General Işık Koşaner.

According to the Ukrainian side the parties discussedkey issues and future prospects of cooperation between the armedforces of both countries.

Special attention was paid to the development ofbilateral partnership in the framework of regional initiatives,including joint participation in the Black Sea naval groupcooperation “Blackseafor”, Operation Black Sea Harmony,confidence-building measures and security in the Black Sea.

The sides also exchanged views on the development ofmilitary-political situation in the region and analyze its impact onthe Black Sea area security.

 While in Turkey, the Ukrainian military delegationwill to visit the operational center of operations of the TurkishArmed Forces of Turkey, 28th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, the Armyunit earmarked for peacekeeping operations, 4th Main air base inAnkara, Fleet Command of Naval Forces and and defence companyASELSAN.

It is planned to harmonize existing cooperation ofthe training of troops participating in peacekeeping and antiterrorist exercises.

>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] defencenet.gr 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.

>Wikileaks And Turkish Navy

>When every important institution was some how effected by these cable it would be foolish to assume that Turkish Navy would be left out.

According to one cable send by US Ambassador MR. Tafft from Kyiv the former Ukrainian President Mr. Kuchma thinks that the Russian Black Sea Fleet is not a match against the Turkish Navy.

8. (C) Kuchma downplayed the strategic importance of the Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF), saying it could dispatch a ship to scare Georgia, but would be no match for the Turkish fleet. Since Ukraine must now pay the “world price” for gas, said Kuchma mischievously, Ukraine should insist that Russia pay the “world price” (i.e., “what the Americans have to pay for bases”) to homeport its BSF in Sevastopol. The question of Sevastopol is above all an emotional/nostalgia issue for Russians (“the city of Russian glory”), and they will never quit hoping to get it back. Kuchma said he once told Moscow Mayor Luzhkov that Ukraine would agree to return Sevastopol to Russia — provided the U.S. returned Alaska to Russia, and Russia returned the Kurile Islands. to Japan and Kaliningrad to Germany.

Well this more or less a just a statement of the obvious. The Russian Black Sea Fleet as is inferior to Turkish Navy but combined with other Fleets Russian Navy is still a very worthy advisory that Turkey would not want to confront. Especially, when we are buying so much natural gas from them.

The alleged cable is tagged as following and is here to read.:

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KYIV 000190 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/02/2020 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, ENRG, MARR, UP, RS SUBJECT: FORMER PRESIDENT KUCHMA ON UKRAINIAN ELECTION, FOREIGN POLICY

But I was not able to find it among the other cables in cablesearch.org. So for me this is still unconfirmed.

>Turkey To Train Ukrainian Submariners?

>The Russian naval website rusnavy.com 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.

>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.

>Explosion On Board LSM Kirovograd (UPDATED)

>According to UNIAN news agency there was a blast on board of Ukrainian Polnochny (Project 773) class LSM Kirovohrad. The details are not much, but I believe more information will come soon.

Four servicemen were severely injured when two artillery shells exploded onboard the medium-sized assault landing ship Kirovohrad of the Ukrainian Navy during a ground target firing exercise which was held yesterday at the Crimean training ground Opuk as part of the active phase of the Interaction 2010 military exercise, a Ukrainian Defence Ministry source has told UNIAN.


The source said that the servicemen had been admitted to military hospitals in Sevastopol and Simferopol in grave condition.


UNIAN reported earlier that the active phase of the Interaction 2010 exercise for military command bodies, troops and forces had been held at the Crimean training ground Opuk yesterday.

UPDATE: The Russian RIA Novosti reports that the cause of the blast on board of Kirovograd was two artillery shells that were expired. The accident happened during gunnery exercises.

The injured servicemen have been reportedly admitted to hospital in a grave condition.

“Firing expired artillery shells is a common practice that allows to kill two birds with one stone: both to train and to get rid of obsolete ammunition,” the source said, adding that the incident would have been prevented if drill monitors had checked the ammunition’s expiration date.

“During gunnery exercises, a ship is strongly shaken – even ceiling lamps in corridors fall down. It’s quite possible that the expired shells detonated. Fortunately, they were quite small, and no one was killed,” he said

Well, the Ukrainian Navy may have lost one of her major assets while trying getting rid of old ammunition. I hope the gravely ill sailors may get well soon.

>BlackSeaFor in Ukraine

>On Friday 20th August 2010, the ships with the Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Group Blackseafor  arrived at the port of Sevastopol, Ukraine in accordance with the plan of the Blackseafor regular activation, according to the press center of the Ukraine Navy.
Click here to read more.

It is a pity  that Istanbul is not among the ports of visit this year.

>Order Of Battle For Exercise Sea Breeze 2010

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The exercise Sea Breeze will end today. But finally I was able to find the names of (almost) all participating ships:

US Navy:
FFG-50 USS Taylor, frigate

Turkish Navy:
F-240 TCG Yavuz, frigate
P-330 TCG Kılıç, missile boat
P-331 TCG Kalkan, missile boat

Ukrainan Navy:
U-402 Konstantin Olshansky, landing ship
U-401 Kirovograd, landing sahip
U-311 Cherkassy, minesweeper
U-331 Mariupol, minesweeper
U-360 Genichesk, minesweeper
U-206 Dnieper, frigate
U-209 Ternopil frigate
U-705 Kremenets, tug
Plus 3 unidentified border guard ships.

Special Thanks to: Dave Shirlaw.

Sources: Here and here.

>Sea Breeze 2010

> The exercise Sea Breeze 2010 is about to begin in Ukraine this week. The annual exercise Sea Breeze was usually held as a bilateral organization where Ukraine and the United States are the main participants. Other countries are invited as necessary.

This year’s main focus will be fighting sea piracy. The exercises will involve about 1,000 Ukrainian servicemen and almost 500 servicemen from twelve countries – Azerbaijan, Belgium, Greece, Georgia, Denmark, Moldova, Germany, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Sweden and the United States. The exercises will be held until July 23.

According to various news portals, there will be a land phase of the Sea Breeze drills, which will focus on fighting sea piracy, will be held at a military training area in the Nikolayev region, while the sea drills will take place in northwestern Black Sea.

I find it interesting that a military exercise that has fighting sea piracy as its main focus will have a land phase. What will be exercise in this phase? Landing marines to the shores of a pirate territory and fight them on land? Doesn’t it sound a little bit far stretched?

I was not able to find more information about the naval units taking place in the Sea Breeze. Some reports mention about three dozen warships and cutters.

From Turkish Navy, the frigate F-240 TCG Yavuz and fast attacks boats P-330 TCG Kılıç and P-331 TCG Kalkan will take part in the exercise.

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