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.

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.




New Year’s Resolutions

My first blog entry in 2012 was this:

My regular readers may have noticed that I have not been writing much in the last few days. This due to the fact that I now have a regular day job. My new job takes up most of my day so that I have little time left for my blog.

So my new year’s resolution is to post one post every other day. If I end the year 2012 with 170 or more  new posts I will consider my self successful.

I have ended 2012 with 162 blog entries, 8 short from my goal. But never the less it was a good year, because:

My plans for 2013 are simple: I will try to continue what I have been doing, as one of my readers so nicely wrote “You keep up with naval events that have not been covered in Western news media since the Soviet Union collapsed”; steady as she goes.


I wish you all a Happy 2013.




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.

Russian Submarine Will Take Part In NATO Exercise

The  Russian Kilo class submarine, Alrosa will indeed take part in the NATO exercise Bold Monarc.

Russia will send a small task force from its Black Sea Fellet consisting of diesel submarine Alrosa, mooring lighter KIL-158, rescue ship Epron, and salvage tug Shakhter  to Bold Monarch-2011.  NATO organizes this large-scale submarine rescue in every three years. This year the exercise will be conducted off Spain since May 25 till June 14.

During the exercise several submarines including Alrosa will simulate a damaged submarine unable to surface. The aim of the exercise is to maximise the international cooperation in submarine rescue operations. Non NATO nations like Russia and Sweden will take part too.

Last week, a NATO delegation inspected the Alrosa

“In order to check technical capabilities of attachment of escape vehicle, the experts were allowed to learn design of Russian submarine Alrosa“, said Black Sea Fleets Commander’s press-secretary Vyacheslav Trukhachev.

Alrosa will be the first Russian submarine to officially take part in a NATO exercise. he is the only submarine in active service with the Russian Black Sea Fleet. It is based at a Russian naval base in Sevastopol on Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

She had fire broke out in her engine department in November 2009 and she was in dry dock for the repairs ever since.

The Alrosa (originally Varshavyanka), a Kilo-class Project 877 diesel submarine, entered service in December 1990. It was renamed Alrosa in 2004 after it was “adopted” by Russia’s largest diamond company of the same name.

>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

>Russia’s Black Sea Fleet To Lose All Warships By 2015?

>According to Russian internet portal RIA Novosti, Russia risks to lose all her warships of the Black Sea Fleet till 2015.

The majority of warships in the Russian Black Sea Fleet have been in service for over 30 years and would not be fit for sea missions by 2015, the Gazeta newspaper said on Friday citing a Navy source

The official said the only solution for the looming crisis would be the construction of at least a dozen of Project 20380 corvettes which have been designed to protect Russia’s coastal waters and oil and gas sea transportation routes, especially in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea.

The first Project 20380 corvette, the Steregushchy, was put into service with Russia’s Baltic Fleet in October 2008. The second, the Soobrazitelny, was floated out on March 31, and two other ships of the same series, the Boyky and the Stoyky, are under construction.

The source said that the Russian shipbuilding industry simply does not have the capacity to build the sufficient number of warships and submarines to satisfy the needs of the fleet

I do not know what to think about that news article.

It is a know fact that the Russian shipbuilding industry failed to materialize new and sophisticated warships larger than corvettes. There has been no new cruiser or destroyers designed and build after the end of the Cold War.

Jane’s Fighting Ships mentions 5 on going frigate projects. Two of them Grom (Project 1244.1) and Admiral Gorshow (Project 22350) are yet to be built. The other 3 projects Neustrashimy (Project 1154), Gepard (Project 11661) and Streregushichiy (Project 20380) class are slowly continuing. The current production tempo of the Russian shipyards cannot match the number of the ships becoming obsolete due their age.

On the other hand Black Sea is too important for Russia to ignore. And Black Sea is the most convenient gateway to the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean. Therefore Russia will never leave Black Sea defenseless and will not risk its Black Sea Fleet crumble from old age. But the state of the Black Sea Fleet is not promising. Its sole submarine Alrosa suffered a engine break down and had to be towed back. Her status since that accident is not known. The flagship of the BSF cruiser Moskva is scheduled to take part in the Vostok-2010 exercise in Far East and there are rumors that she may not come back.

Yet the latest article of RIA Novosti contradicts an earlier article. One month ago the RIA Novosti ran an article stating that BSF was to get new frigates and submarines by 2015. Well its kind of funny. Either BSF is going to lose al her warships or will get new warships and will continue to exist. No middle ground if we were to believe RIA Novosti.

 But one thing is certain. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet does need a anti-ageing operation.

>Russian Black Sea Fleet To Get New Warships

>The Russian news portal RIA Novosti reports that two new corvettes and three conventional submarines are to join the Black Sea Fleet by 2015.

“In line with the approved shipbuilding program and armaments program until 2015, the Black Sea Fleet is to receive two frigates and three diesel submarines,” the admiral said, stressing that he indeed meant frigates, which are capable of traveling much longer distances than corvettes.
“We need to realize that the Black Sea Fleet’s responsibility zone is the entire Mediterranean and not only the Black Sea. Besides, Russia’s Navy… faces the task of fighting piracy off the Horn of Africa,” said an unnamed admiral according to RIA Novosti.

I find it hard to believe that there will be additions to the Russian Black Sea Fleet in 5 years, given the fact that Russia is playing with the idea of purchasing warships from France. The return of the sole Russian submarine the Kilo Class Alrosa back to the fleet will be a big occasion alone. She suffered a major breakdown back in November 2009 and she had to be towed back to the port.

The latest announcement of the nameless admiral seems to have more political context than military just before the tomorrow’s presidential elections in Ukraine.

>Russian Submarine Alrose Suffered An Engine Malfunction

>According to Russian news portal Ria Novosti, Russian submarine Alrosa suffered a major engine problem. She was was on a training exercise in the Black Sea on Saturday when the incident happened. Unable to move on her own she was being towed back to Novorossiisk. It is not clear whether accident happened while she was submerged or not. But even if she was submerged appreantly she managed to surcafe on her own.

The Kilo class Alrose is the sole operational submarine of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. And she is the only submarine in her class to have a pump-jet propulsion system.

The above photo was taken from Black Sea Fleet website. Click here for more photos.

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