MOSCOW, April 29 (Itar-Tass) - The Russian Black Sea Fleet will be updated and improved to ensure the country's national security. Up to 20 new ships, submarines and boats will join it in the near future, Fleet Commander Vice-Admiral Alexander Fedotenkov said in connection with the 230th anniversary of the fleet to be marked on May 13.
It is an objective and very important process, given the fact that the naval forces of Black Sea and Mediterranean states continuously increase their combat potential with the qualitative improvement of weaponry without considerable reduction of their number, he noted.
The Black Sea zone countries plan in the next decade to build a substantial number of warships and support vessels for their navies. "To reliably ensure national security, we have no right to remain among the laggards," the commander said.
The latest guard ship Admiral Grigorovich of Project 11356 is expected to be launched in 2013 and placed in service in 2014. It will be the first in the series of six guard ships of the project with the Kalibr high-accuracy long-range missile system. The ships are named Admiral Essen, Admiral Makarov, Admiral Butakov, Admiral Istomin and Admiral Kornilov, the commander said.
The navy also expects to receive six new submarines of Project 636, the Varshavyanka class. The first three will be named Novorossiisk, Rostov-on-Don and Stary Oskol, the vice-admiral said, adding that seven more various-purpose naval boats and other ships would join the fleet.
In February 2012, Fedotenkov said six submarines of Project 636 would be accepted for service in the Black Sea Fleet by 2017. The first three will be received in 2014, one in 2015 and two in 2016 to form a full brigade of submarines. The ships were laid down at the Admiralteyskiye Verfi shipyard in St. Petersburg.
The Black Sea Fleet has two Alrosa submarines of Project 877V and a submarine of Project 641B.
The new submarines are expected to be based at Sevastopol and Novorossiisk. A waterfront will be provided for the basing in Novorossiisk. After new submarines join the navy, an additional agreement will be signed with Ukraine for the presence of the Russian fleet in Ukraine’s territory, the commander noted.
The Black Sea Fleet command proposed the Russian Navy command, when distributing forces and means for operational assignments, to consider the possibility to add latest small artillery ships of Project 21630 to the fleet. It will allow improving the efficiency to carry out tasks to maintain the operational regime in the zone of responsibility, he said.
The fleet also needs new sea and inshore minesweepers to ensure there are no mines at base places.
The balanced and adjusted fleet will allow forming all-purpose groups of forces to comprehensively carry out tasks, the commander noted.
The air force of the Black Sea Fleet will also receive new aircraft, including Su-24M bombers. When Su-24Ms are received, the range of means of attack aircraft will enlarge. The capabilities of the air force will increase 2/5-3 times by 2020 as compared to 2012, he noted, adding that the anti-submarine, search and rescue and military transport aviation would also develop.
Speaking about the prospects for the development of coastal forces of the navy, Fedotenkov said their enginery would be also improved. To qualitatively improve the enginery, new modernized models will be provided, he said. The plan to develop the coastal forces for the period till 2020 specifies that a group will be formed to promptly and high-qualitatively carry out tasks. The infrastructure will be also developed, and a modern system of basing will be set up, he said.
The commander described as "appreciable" the results of combat training and activities of the fleet by the 230th anniversary. In 2012-13, warships of the fleet carried out 17 trips. In the past 12 months, the fleet logged a total of 52,500 nautical miles and more than 650 days of actions in sea. The fleet has practically restored its permanent presence in the Mediterranean Sea, Fedotenkov noted.
Ships and coastal troops of the navy during the year conducted more than 300 combat exercises, had two cruise missile firing exercises and carried out more than 30 anti-aircraft missile firings and 170 artillery firings. The ships carried out more than 60 exam assignments, and the units had six exam exercises. For the year results, the boat crews and anti-aircraft gunners received two challenge prizes of the Navy commander in chief.