Black Sea Fleet

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Black Sea Fleet
Russian: Черноморский Флот
Chernomorsky Flot
Great emblem of the Black Sea fleet.svg
Great emblem of the Black Sea fleet
ActiveMay 13, 1783–present
Allegiance Russian Empire
(1783–1918)
Soviet Russia
(1918–1922)
Soviet Union
(1922–1991)
Russian Federation
(1991–present)
BranchMiddle Emblem of the Russian Navy.svg Russian Navy
RoleNaval warfare;
Amphibious military operations;
Combat patrols in the Black Sea;
Naval presence/diplomacy missions in the Mediterranean and elsewhere
Size25,000 (including marines)[1]
c. 47 warships (surface combatants, amphibious, mine warfare) plus support and auxiliaries
6-7 submarines (2020)[2][3]
Part ofMiddle emblem of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (27.01.1997-present).svg Russian Armed Forces
Garrison/HQSevastopol (HQ), Feodosia (Crimea)
Novorossiysk, Tuapse, Temryuk (Krasnodar Krai)
Taganrog (Rostov Oblast)
AnniversariesMay 13
EngagementsBattle of Kerch Strait
Crimean War
Russo-Japanese War
World War I
Russian Civil War
World War II
Yom Kippur War
Russo-Georgian War
Russian military intervention in Ukraine
2014 annexation of Crimea
Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War
Commanders
Current
commander
V. Adm. Igor Osipov
Notable
commanders
Grigory Potemkin
Adm. Fyodor Ushakov
Adm. Alexander Menshikov
Adm. Yevgeni Alekseyev
Adm. Alexander Kolchak
Adm. Ivan Yumashev
Adm. Filipp Oktyabrskiy
Adm. Lev Vladimirsky
Fleet Adm. Sergey Gorshkov
Fleet Adm. Vladimir Kasatonov
Adm. Vladimir Masorin
Navies of Russia

Tsardom of Russia

Russian Empire

Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Russian Federation

The Black Sea Fleet (Russian: Черноморский Флот, Chernomorsky Flot) is the fleet of the Russian Navy in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Mediterranean Sea.

The fleet traces its history to its founding by Prince Potemkin on May 13, 1783. The Russian SFSR inherited the fleet in 1918; with the founding of the Soviet Union in 1922 it became part of the Soviet Navy. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 the Russian Federation inherited the Black Sea Fleet and most of its vessels.

The Black Sea Fleet has its official primary headquarters and facilities in the city of Sevastopol (Sevastopol Naval Base). The remainder of the fleet's facilities are based in various locations on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, including Krasnodar Krai, Rostov Oblast and Crimea. The current commander, Vice-Admiral Igor Vladimirovich Osipov, has held his position since May 2019.

History[edit]

Imperial Russian Navy[edit]

Russian Black Sea Fleet after the battle of Sinope, 1853

The Black Sea Fleet is considered to have been founded by Prince Potemkin on May 13, 1783, together with its principal base, the city of Sevastopol. Formerly commanded by such legendary admirals as Dmitriy Senyavin and Pavel Nakhimov, it is a fleet of enormous historical and political importance for Russia. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1787–1792 Russian control over Crimea was confirmed and Russian naval forces under the command of Admiral Fyodor Ushakov defeated the Turkish fleet at the Battle of Kerch Strait in 1790, preventing the Turks from landing a force in Crimea.[4]

During the French Revolutionary Wars, the Black Sea Fleet was initially deployed under the command of Admiral Ushakov, in conjunction with the Turks, against French forces during the Siege of Corfu. The victory led to the establishment of the Septinsular Republic with the island of Corfu then serving as a base for Russian naval units in the Mediterranean operating against the French. Subsequently Turkey, encouraged by the French, went to war with Russia in the Russo-Turkish War of 1806-1812. The Russian fleet (deploying from the Baltic, but joining some vessels of the Black Sea Fleet already in the Mediterranean prior to the outbreak of war)[5] under the command of Admiral Dmitry Senyavin played an instrumental role in this conflict securing victories at both the Battle of the Dardanelles (1807) and the Battle of Athos.

After the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars, the Russians, together with the British and French, intervened in the Greek War of Independence defeating the Turkish fleet at the Battle of Navarino in 1827 and helping to secure Greek independence (though once again, the Russian fleet was compelled to deploy from the Baltic). Turkish closure of the Dardanelles Straits then sparked a renewed Russo-Turkish conflict from 1828-29 which led to the Russians gaining further territory along the eastern Black Sea.

The restriction imposed on the Black Sea Fleet by Turkish control of the Straits was influential in motivating Russia from time-to-time to attempt to secure control of the passage, which became a recurrent theme in Russian policy. From 1841 onward the Russian fleet was formally confined to the Black Sea by the London Straits Convention. However, within the Black Sea itself, the Turks found themselves at a naval disadvantage in relation to the Russian Black Sea Fleet. In 1853, the Black Sea Fleet destroyed Turkish naval forces at the Battle of Sinop after the Turks had declared war on Russia. Nevertheless during the ensuing Crimean War, the Russians were placed on the defensive and the allies were able to land their forces in Crimea and, ultimately, capture Sevastopol.[6]

As a result of the Crimean War, one provision of the Treaty of Paris was that the Black Sea was to be a demilitarized zone similar to the Island of Åland in the Baltic Sea. This hampered the Russians during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 and in the aftermath of that conflict, Russia moved to reconstitute its naval strength and fortifications in the Black Sea.[7]

The Black Sea Fleet would play an instrumental political role in the 1905 Russian Revolution with the crew of the battleship Potemkin revolting in 1905 soon after the Navy's defeat in the Russo-Japanese War. The revolt acquired a symbolic character in the lead up to the Russian Revolutions of 1917 and after, as portrayed in the 1925 film by Sergei Eisenstein, Battleship Potemkin. Lenin wrote that the Potemkin uprising had had a huge importance in terms of being the first attempt at creating the nucleus of a revolutionary army.[citation needed]

During World War I, there were a number of encounters between the Russian and Ottoman navies in the Black Sea. The Ottomans initially had the advantage due to having under their command the German battlecruiser SMS Goeben, but after the two modern Russian dreadnoughts Imperatritsa Mariya and Imperatritsa Ekaterina Velikaya had been built in Mykolaiv, the Russians took command of the sea until the Russian government collapsed in November 1917. German submarines of the Constantinople Flotilla and Turkish light forces would continue to raid and harass Russian shipping until the war's end.

Soviet Navy[edit]

During the Russian Civil War, the chaotic political and strategic situation in southern Russia permitted the intervening Western allies to occupy Odessa, Sevastopol and other centres with relative ease. The vast majority of the Black Sea Fleet was scuttled by Bolsheviks in Novorossiysk; some were managed to be interned by the Central Powers (later passed to Ukraine, see Navy of the Ukrainian People's Republic) or Western Allies (later passed to the White movement, see Wrangel's fleet). In 1919 out of the remnants of the Russian Imperial Fleet was established the Red Fleet of Ukraine which existed few months before a major advance of the Armed Forces of South Russia which occupied all the South and East Ukraine. Most of the ships became part of the "Russian Squadron" of Wrangl's armed forces and after the evacuation sailed to Tunisia. Out of those ships, some were passed to the French Navy and some were salvaged.

Upon the defeat of the Armed Forces of South Russia, the Ukrainian National Army and the Polish Armed Forces in Ukraine the Soviet government signed a military union with the Russian SFSR transferring all the command to the Commander-in-chief of Russia. Few ships that did stay in Black Sea were salvaged in the 1920s, while a large scale new construction programme began in the 1930s. Over 500 new ships were built during that period as well as massive expansion of coastal infrastructure took place. The Fleet was commanded by Vice Admiral F.S. Oktyabrskiy on the outbreak of war with Germany in June 1941.

During World War II despite the scale of the German/Axis advance in southern Russia, and the capture of Crimea by Axis forces in mid-1942, the Fleet, though badly mauled, gave a credible account of itself as it fought alongside the Red Army during the Siege of Odessa and the Battle of Sevastopol.[8]

With the end of World War II, Soviet domination of the Black Sea region was confirmed. The Soviet Union controlled the entire north and east of the Black Sea region while pro-Soviet regimes were installed in Romania and Bulgaria. As members of the Warsaw Pact, the Romanian and Bulgarian navies supplemented the strength of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet.[9] Only Turkey remained outside the Soviet Black Sea security regime and the Soviets initially pressed for joint control of the Bosporus Straits with Turkey; a position which Turkey rejected.[10] In 1952, Turkey decided to join NATO, placing the Bosporus Straits in the Western sphere of influence. Nevertheless, the terms of the Montreux Convention limited NATO's options with respect to directly reinforcing Turkey's position in the Black Sea. The Soviets, in turn, had some of their naval options in the Mediterranean restricted by the Montreux Convention limitations.[11]

In the later post-war period, along with the Northern Fleet, the Black Sea Fleet provided ships for the 5th Operational Squadron in the Mediterranean, which confronted the United States Navy during the Arab-Israeli wars, notably during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.[12]

Monument to Heroes of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet Squadron 1941–1944 in Sevastopol, featuring the list of 28 military ships that distinguished themselves in battles with Nazi invaders

In 1988 Coastal Troops and Naval Aviation units of the Black Sea Fleet included:[13]

  • Danube Flotilla:
    • 116th River Ship Brigade (Izmail, Odessa Oblast)
  • 112th Reconnaissance Ship Brigade (Lake Donuzlav (Mirnyy), Crimean Oblast)
  • 37th Rescue Ship Brigade (Sevastopol, Crimean Oblast)
  • Marine and Coastal Defense Forces Department
    • 810th Marine Brigade (Sevastopol, Crimean Oblast)
    • 362nd independent Coastal Missile Regiment (Balaklava, Crimean Oblast)
    • 138th independent Coastal Missile Regiment (Chernomorsk, Crimean Oblast)
    • 417th independent Coastal Missile Regiment (Sevastopol, Crimean Oblast)
    • 51st independent Coastal Missile Regiment (Mekenzerye, Crimean Oblast)
  • Naval Air Forces Department of the Black Sea Fleet
    • 2nd Guards Maritime Missile Aviation Division (Gvardeyskoye, Crimean Oblast)(three regiments of maritime attack Tu-22M2s[14]
      • 5th Maritime Missile Aviation Regiment (Veseloye, Crimean Oblast) - disbanded 15.11.94.
      • 124th Maritime Missile Aviation Regiment (Gvardeskoye, Crimean Oblast) - disbanded 1993.
      • 943rd Maritime Missile Aviation Regiment (Oktiabrske) - disbanded 1996.
    • 30th independent Maritime Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment (Saki-Novofedorovka, Crimean Oblast)(Tu-22P)
    • 318th independent Anti-Submarine Aviation Regiment (Lake Donuzlav, Crimean Oblast)
    • 78th independent Shipborne Anti-Submarine Helicopter Regiment (Lake Donuzlav, Crimean Oblast)
    • 872nd independent Shipborne Anti-Submarine Helicopter Regiment (Kacha, Crimean Oblast)
    • 917th independent Transport Aviation Regiment (Kacha, Crimean Oblast)
    • 859th Training Center for Naval Aviation (Kacha, Crimean Oblast)

In 1989, the 126th Motor Rifle Division at Simferopol was transferred to the Black Sea Fleet from the Odessa Military District. Also that year, the 119th Fighter Aviation Division, with the 86th Guards, 161st, and 841st Guards Fighter Aviation Regiments, joined the Fleet from the 5th Air Army.[15] The 86th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment became part of the Moldovan Air Force upon the breakup of the Soviet Union. The 841st at Meria airport (between Poti and Batumi in the Adjar ASSR) (Georgian SSR) became the 841st independent Guards Anti-Submarine Helicopter Regiment in May 1991 and was disbanded in October 1992.[16]

After the fall of the Soviet Union[edit]

With the fall of the Soviet Union and the demise of the Warsaw Pact, Russia's strategic position in the Black Sea was severely weakened. The military importance of the fleet was degraded due to significant funding cuts, the loss of territory, the loss of former Warsaw Pact allies and the loss of its major missions. The loss of Crimea reinforced these developments and saw the Black Sea Fleet now located in a foreign country with which its assets were divided.[17] In 1992, the major part of the personnel, armaments and coastal facilities of the Fleet fell under formal jurisdiction of the newly independent Ukraine as they were situated on Ukrainian territory. Later, the Ukrainian government ordered the establishment of its own Ukrainian Navy based on the Black Sea Fleet; several ships and ground formations declared themselves Ukrainian.

However, this immediately led to conflicts with the majority of officers who appeared to be loyal to Russia. According to pro-Ukrainian sailors they were declared "drunkards and villains" and they and their families were harassed.[18] They have also claimed that their names were branded "traitors to Russia" on local graffiti.[18] Simultaneously, pro-Russian separatist groups became active in the local politics of Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the Sevastopol municipality where the major naval bases were situated, and started coordinating their efforts with pro-Moscow seamen.

Joint Fleet and its partition[edit]

To ease the tensions, the two governments signed an interim treaty, establishing a joint Russo-Ukrainian Black Sea Fleet under bilateral command (and Soviet Navy flag) until a full-scale partition agreement could be reached. Formally, the Fleet's Commander was to be appointed by a joint order of the two countries' Presidents. However, Russia still dominated the Fleet unofficially, and a Russian admiral was appointed as Commander; the majority of the fleet personnel adopted Russian citizenship. Minor tensions between the Fleet and the new Ukrainian Navy (such as electricity cut-offs and sailors' street-fighting) continued.

Some major ships (including the flagship) of the Soviet and Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, August 2007

On 28 May 1997, Russia and Ukraine signed several agreements regarding the fleet including the Partition Treaty, establishing two independent national fleets and dividing armaments and bases between them.[19] Ukraine also agreed to lease major parts of its facilities to the Russian Black Sea Fleet until 2017.[20] However, permanent tensions on the lease details continued. The Fleet's main base was still situated in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol. In 2009 the Yushchenko Ukrainian government declared that the lease would not be extended and that the fleet would have to leave Sevastopol by 2017.[21] In 2010 the Russian leasehold was renegotiated with an extension until 2042 and an option for an additional five years until 2047 plus consideration of further renewals. This deal proved controversial in Ukraine.[22][23][24][25][26]

In this regard, relations between Russia and Ukraine over the status of the Fleet continued to be strained. In an August 2009 letter to then Russian President Medvedev, former Ukrainian President Yushchenko complained about alleged "infringements of bilateral agreements and Ukrainian legislation"[27]

Vladimir Putin with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on board the Black Sea Fleet's flagship, July 2001

In June 2009, the head of the Ukrainian Security Service said that after December 13, 2009, all officers from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) represented at the (Russian) Black Sea Fleet would be required to leave Ukraine. From then the Security Service of Ukraine would ensure the security of the (Russian) Black Sea Fleet and Russian sailors on Ukrainian territory.[28] However, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry the employees of the FSB, working at the Black Sea Fleet facilities, were to remain on Ukrainian territory "in line with bilateral agreements".[29] In 2010, based on an agreement between Ukrainian and Russian governments military counterintelligence officers from the Federal Security Service returned to the (Russian) Black Sea Fleet base.[30]

In October–November 2009, the (Russian) Black Sea Fleet complained about illegal inspection of (non-boat) transport vehicles owned by the fleet by the Sevastopol State Auto Inspectorate and Ukrainian security officers, calling them "disrespect for the status of the Russian military units and an unfriendly step aimed at worsening the Russian-Ukrainian relations".[31][32]

Despite these differences, joint exercises between the Ukrainian Navy and the (Russian) Black Sea Fleet were resumed after a seven-year interval with a command-staff exercise in June 2010.[33] In May 2011, Russian-Ukrainian at-sea naval "Peace Fairway" (Farvater Mira) exercises resumed.[34]

Georgia in the Fleet partition[edit]

The newly independent nation of Georgia, which also hosted several bases of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet when it was the Georgian SSR, also claimed a share of the Fleet, including 32 naval vessels formerly stationed at Georgia's Black Sea port of Poti. Not a CIS member at that time, Georgia was not, however, included in the initial negotiations in January 1992. Additionally, some low-importance bases situated in the Russian-backed breakaway autonomy of Abkhazia soon escaped any Georgian control. In 1996, Georgia resumed its demands, and the Russian refusal to allot Georgia a portion of the ex-Soviet navy became another bone of contention in the progressively deteriorating Georgian-Russian relations. This time, Ukraine endorsed Tbilisi's claims, turning over several patrol boats to the Georgian Navy and starting to train Georgian crews, but was unable to include in the final fleet deal a transfer of the formerly Poti-based vessels to Georgia.[35] Later, the rest of the Georgian share was decided to be ceded to Russia in return for diminution of debt.

Russia employed part of the fleet during the 2008 Georgian conflict. Russian units operating off Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia region resulted in a reported skirmish and sinking of a ship of the Georgian Navy. Since the 2008 South Ossetia war the Russian Black Sea Fleet has not taken part in any joint naval exercises involving Georgian warships.[36] However, such a statement has little meaning since the Georgian Navy has ceased to exist (early 2009 it was merged with the Georgian coast guard).[37]

Russian Annexation of Crimea[edit]

The 2014 political crisis in Ukraine rapidly engulfed Crimea where pro-Russian separatist sentiment was strong.[38][39] When the Russian Government determined to seize Crimea, specialist Russian military units appear to have played the central role. In March, the Ukrainians claimed that units of the 18th Motor Rifle Brigade, 31st Air Assault Brigade and 22nd Spetsnaz Brigade were deployed and operating in Crimea, instead of Black Sea Fleet personnel, which violated international agreements signed by Ukraine and Russia.[40][41] Nevertheless, at minimum the Black Sea Fleet played a supporting role including with respect to preventing the departure of Ukrainian naval vessels from Crimea.[42] Other sources suggested that the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade of the Fleet was also involved.[43]

After the 2014 Crimean crisis, the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Ukrainian Navy were evicted from their bases and subsequently withdrew from Crimea.[44] Russia then moved to integrate several vessels from the Ukrainian Navy into the Black Sea Fleet. According to sources from Black Sea Fleet Headquarters, inspections of all ships were to be done by the end of 2014.[45] Fifty-four out of sixty-seven ships of the Ukrainian Navy have been transferred to the Black Sea Fleet, with St. Andrew flags raised on them.[46] On 8 April 2014 an agreement was reached between Russia and Ukraine to return Ukrainian Navy materials to Ukraine proper.[47] The greater portion of the Ukrainian naval ships and vessels were then returned to Ukraine but Russia suspended this process after Ukraine did not renew its unilaterally declared ceasefire on 1 July 2014 in the conflict in the Donbass.[48] According to the fleet commander Aleksandr Vitko, this happened because the vessels were old "and, if used [by Ukraine], could hurt its own people".[49]

From that point, Russia proceded to consolidate its military position in Crimea, which it now regarded as an integral part of the Russian Federation; though this position was not one supported by most of the international community.

Strengthening of the Fleet[edit]

The Russian seizure of Crimea in 2014 changed the situation and role of the Black Sea Fleet significantly. Analysis undertaken by Micheal Peterson of the US Navy War College suggests that since the Russian seizure of Crimea, the modernization of Russian shore-based assets and of the Black Sea Fleet itself has assisted in re-establishing Russian military dominance in the region. Specifically Peterson argues: "Russian maritime dominance in the Black Sea is back. The shift was made possible by Moscow's 2014 seizure of Crimea and subsequent buildup of combat and maritime law enforcement capabilities in the region".[50]

Prior to the annexation of Crimea, divergent announcements were made concerning the future composition of the fleet. In June 2010, Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky announced that Russia was reviewing plans for the naval modernization of the Black Sea Fleet. The plans include 15 new warships and submarines by 2020.[51][52] These vessels were to partially replace the reported decommissioning of Kerch, Ochakov (decommissioned in 2011 and sunk as a blockship in 2014), several large support ships, and a diesel-electric submarine. Also in 2010, Russian Navy Headquarters sources said that, by 2020, six frigates of Project 22350 Gorshkov-class, six submarines of Project 677 Lada-class, two large landing ships of Project 11711 Ivan Gren-class and four class-unspecified ships would be delivered. Due to the obsolescence of the Beriev Be-12 by 2015, they would be replaced with Il-38s. Sukhoi Su-24M aircraft were planned to be upgraded to Su-24M2 at the same time.[53][54][55]

Since the annexation of Crimea, the composition of the Black Sea Fleet has shifted to focus on the Improved Kilo-class submarines instead of the Lada, the Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates and at least three new classes of missile corvettes (the Steregushchiy, Karakurt and Buyan-M classes). The deployment of the Admiral Gorshkov-class frigate with the Black Sea Fleet was still anticipated, though in reduced numbers.[56] The replacement of the Black Sea Fleet's Soviet-era missile boats and corvettes with vessels of more modern design has been a priority since 2010. A similar modernization is also taking place in the Baltic Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla. Utilizing Russia's internal waterways provides the Russian Navy with the capacity to transfer both corvettes and other light units, such as landing craft, among its three western fleets and the Caspian Flotilla as may be required.[57]

The projection of power into the Mediterranean has also returned as a significant role for the Black Sea Fleet with the reconstitution of the Russian Navy's 5th Operational Squadron. Both the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla have supported Russian involvement in the Syrian Civil War with units from the former now routinely deployed into the Mediterranean.[58][59][60] The Black Sea Fleet's amphibious capabilities are planned to be expanded in the 2020s through the acquisition of one of the new Priboy-class helicopter assault ships.[61]

Also significant is the build-up of Russian surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missile assets in the region. Dmitry Gorenburg of the Centre for Naval Analysis (CNA) has noted that: "Russia's expanded military footprint in Crimea allows it to carry out a range of operations that it was not capable of prior to 2014. The deployment of S-400, Bastion, and Bal missiles allows the Russian military to establish an anti-access/area-denial zone (A2/AD) covering almost all of the Black Sea. By using a combination of ground-based and ship-based missiles, backed with strong electronic warfare capabilities, the Russian military can inhibit military movement into the Black Sea and deny freedom of action to an opponent if it does make it into the theater. The long-range sea-, air-, and ground-launched missiles deny access, while shorter-range coastal and air defense systems focus on the area denial mission. The result is several interlocking air defense zones".[62] Ongoing technological upgrades of this already robust SAM network are planned for the 2020s.[63] Others, such as Michael Kofman of CNA, argue that while there is no A2/AD doctrine or term in Russian military strategy, Russian forces nevertheless are organized at an operational and strategic level to deploy a wide range of overlapping defensive and offensive capabilities that extend beyond just one theatre of operations like the Black Sea.[64]

The evident American response to the dense shore-based anti-ship and air defence capabilities that Russia has developed in the Black Sea region, and elsewhere, has been to place greater emphasis on striking at potential Black Sea and other targets utilizing stand-off air-launched cruise missiles deployed on American long-range bombers.[65] Additionally, the United States, the United Kingdom and Turkey have entered into contracts to supply new corvettes, missile-armed fast attack craft, patrol boats and unmanned air vehicles to the Ukrainian Navy.[66]

Controversies[edit]

The Russian Black Sea Fleet's (BSF) use of leased facilities in Sevastopol and the Crimea was sometimes controversial. A number of incidents took place:

  • For security reasons, the BSF refused to allow Ukrainians to inspect its aircraft cargo, after allegations by Ukrainians that they could be carrying nuclear weapons, which would have infringed upon Ukraine's status under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)[27]
  • The BSF transported rockets repeatedly through the port of Sevastopol without seeking permission from Ukrainian authorities.[27]
  • A lighthouse is located on the headland which, starting in 2005, was the subject of a controversy between Ukraine and Russia. From August 3, 2005, the lighthouse was occupied by the Russian military.[67] Despite a controversial ruling by a Court in Sevastopol on the subject, Russian military officials referred to the fact that they only took orders from the chief of the Russian Navy headquarters and no one else. Ukrainian activists complained that Sarych was illegally occupied by the Russian Navy.[68] As a military facility, the territory around the Sarych headland is closed to trespassers with barbed wire, and the Russian flag flew over Sarych.[69]
  • In 2006, Ukrainian officials blocked Russian workers from entering the BSF lighthouse in Yalta.[citation needed]
  • During the 2008 South Ossetia War, the Ukrainian Navy was ordered to block the entrance to Sevastopol from Russian vessels taking part in the hostilities.[citation needed] However, Russian Navy ships returned to base unimpeded by the sympathetic Ukrainian sailors.[citation needed]
  • June 20, 2009 – In Sevastopol, a Russian fleet servicemen allegedly used physical force against 30 civilians. The city also alleges contract violations by the Construction Management Corporation of the Black Sea Fleet for not following through on promises to construct requested commercial housing after taking advance payment. The city began talks with the President and the Prime-Minister of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, and also to the Russian Minister of Defense Anatoliy Serdyukov with respect to the contract violations, but those did not yield results.[70]
  • On August 27, 2009, Russian marines successfully prevented Ukrainian bailiffs from enforcing a Ukrainian court ruling on seizing lighthouses belonging to the BSF.[27] Russia stated that Ukrainians may not step onto its bases without permission.[citation needed] The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry described the Russian obstruction as a "disregard for Ukrainian legislation and international agreements".[27]
  • On April 16, 2013, a "high-ranking Russian Defense Ministry official" complained to Interfax that "Ukraine's stubborn position" was slowing the cancellation of customs payments (for the fleet) and that Ukraine still upheld (former) Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's 2008 decrees that banned the "relaxed procedure" of BSF formations crossing the Ukrainian border.[71]

Fleet Commanders[edit]

# Rank Name Year
1 VADM Aleksey Fedotovich Klokachev 1783
2 VADM Yakov Filippovich Sukhotin 1784 – 1785
3 RADM Nikolay Semenovich Mordvinov 1785 – 1789
4 RADM Marko Ivanovich Voynovich 1789 – 1790
5 RADM Fyodor Fyodorovich Ushakov 1790 – 1792
# ADM Nikolay Semenovich Mordvinov 1792 – 1799
6 ADM Vilim Petrovich Fondezin 1799 – 1802
7 ADM Aleksandr Ivanovich de Travers 1802 – 1811
8 ADM Roman Romanovich Gall 1811
9 VADM Nikolay Lvovich Yazykov 1811 – 1816
10 ADM Aleksey Samuilovich Greig 1816 – 1833
11 ADM Mikhail Petrovich Lazarev 1834 – 1851
12 ADM Morits Borisovich Berg 1851 – 1855
13 VADM Nikolay Fedorovich Metlin Sep 1855 – Dec 1855
14 VADM Aleksandr Ivanovich Panfilov Jan 1856 – Aug 1856
15 RADM Grigoriy Ivanovich Butakov Aug 1856 – Jan 1860
16 VADM Bogdan Aleksandrovich Glazenap 1860 – Jan 1871
17 ADM Nikolay Andreyevich Arkas 1871 – 1881
18 ADM Mikhail Pavlovich Manganari 1881 – 1882
19 VADM Aleksey Alekseyevich Peshchurov 1882 – 1890
20 RADM Roman Andreevich Grenkvist 1890
21 VADM Nikolay Vasilyevich Kopytov 1891 – 1898
22 VADM Yevgeni Ivanovich Alekseyev 1898
23 VADM Sergey Petrovich Tyrtov 6 May 1898 – 1903
24 VADM Yakov Appolonovich Giltebrandt 1903
25 VADM Nikolay Illarionovich Skrydlov 1903 – 1904
26 VADM Aleksandr Khristianovich Kriger 1904
27 VADM Grigoriy Pavlovich Chukhnin 1904 – 1906
28 RADM Ivan Konstantinovich Grigorovich 1906
29 VADM Nikolay Illarionovich Skrydlov 1906 – 1907
30 RADM Genrikh Faddeevich Tsyvinskiy 1907
31 RADM Robert Nikolayevich Viren 1907 – 1908
32 VADM Ivan Fyodorovich Bostrem 1908 – 1909
33 VADM Vladimir Simonovich Sarnavskiy 1909 – 1911
34 VADM Ivan Fyodorovich Bostrem 1911
35 RADM Pavel Ivanovich Novitskiy 1911
36 VADM Andrey Avgustovich Ehbergard 1911 – Jun 1916
37 VADM Aleksandr Vasilyevich Kolchak Jun 1916 – Jun 1917
38 (Acting) RADM Veniamin Konstantinovich Lukin Jun 1917 – Jul 1917
39 RADM Aleksandr Vasilyevich Nemitts Jul 1917 – Dec 1917
40 RADM Mikhail Sablin 1918
41 Captain 1st Rank Aleksandr Ivanovich Tikhmenev 1918
42 Captain 1st Rank Aleksandr Ivanovich Sheykovskiy 1919
43 Captain 1st Rank Aleksey Vladimirovich Dombrovskiy May 1920 – Oct 1920
44 Ehduard Samuilovich Pantserzhanskiy Nov 1920 – Nov 1921
45 Andrey Semenovich Maksimov Nov 1921 – Jul 1922
46 Aleksandr Karlovich Vekman Jul 1922 – May 1924
47 Mikhail Vladimirovich Viktorov May 1924 – Dec 1924
48 Ehduard Samuilovich Pantserzhanskiy Dec 1924 – Oct 1926
49 Vladimir Mitrofanovich Orlov Oct 1926 – Jun 1931
50 Fleet Flag Officer 2nd Rank Ivan Kuz'mich Kozhanov Jun 1931 – Aug 1937
51 Fleet Flag Officer 2nd Rank Petr Ivanovich Smirnov-Svetlovskiy Aug 1937 – Dec 1937
52 Fleet Flag Officer 2nd Rank Ivan Stepanovich Yumashev 1938 – Mar 1939
53 VADM Filipp Sergeyevich Oktyabrskiy Mar 1939 – Apr 1943
54 VADM Lev Anatol'evich Vladimirskiy Apr 1943 – Mar 1944
55 VADM Filipp Sergeyevich Oktyabrskiy Mar 1944 – Nov 1948
56 ADM Nikolai Efremovich Basistiy Nov 1948 – Aug 1951
57 ADM Sergey Georgiyevich Gorshkov Aug 1951 – Jul 1955
58 VADM Viktor Aleksandrovich Parkhomenko Jul 1955 – Dec 1955
59 ADM Vladimir Afanasyevich Kasatonov Dec 1955 – Feb 1962
60 ADM Serafim Evgeniyevich Chursin Feb 1962 – Dec 1968
61 ADM Viktor Sergeyevich Sysoyev Dec 1968 – Mar 1974
62 ADM Nikolay Ivanovich Khovrin Mar 1974 – April 1983
63 ADM Aleksey Mikhailovich Kalinin Apr 1983 – Jul 1985
64 ADM Mikhail Nikolayevich Khronopulo Jul 1985 – Oct 1991
65 ADM Igor Vladimirovich Kasatonov Oct 1991 – Dec 1992
66 ADM Ehduard Dmitriyevich Baltin Dec 1992 – Feb 1996
67 ADM Viktor Andreyevich Kravchenko Feb 1996 – Jul 1998
68 ADM Vladimir Petrovich Komoyedov Jul 1998 – Oct 2002
69 ADM Vladimir Vasilyevich Masorin Oct 2002 – Feb 2005
70 ADM Aleksandr Arkadyevich Tatarinov Feb 2005 – Jul 2007
71 VADM Aleksandr Dmitrievich Kletskov Jul 2007 – Jul 2010
72 VADM Vladimir Ivanovich Korolev Jul 2010 – Jun 2011
73 VADM Aleksandr Nikolayevich Fedotenkov Jun 2011 – May 2013
74 ADM Aleksandr Viktorovich Vitko[72] 17 May 2013  – June 2018
75 VADM Aleksandr Alekseevich Moiseev[73] 26 June 2018  – 3 May 2019
76 VADM Igor Vladimirovich Osipov [74] 3 May 2019  – present

List of Black Sea Fleet warships[edit]

The Black Sea Fleet, and other Russian ground and air forces in Crimea, are subordinate to the Southern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces. The Black Sea Fleet is one component of Russian forces in the Southern Military District and is supported by other Russian military formations in the District, including the 4th Air and Air Defence Forces Army.[75] The Russian Coast Guard and National Guard of Russia provide additional armed patrol capabilities, which have also been expanded since the Russian seizure of Crimea to support the enforcement of Russian territorial claims.[76][77]

30th Surface Ship Division[edit]

# Type Name Class Year Status
121 Guided Missile Cruiser Moskva Slava 1983 Active, Fleet Flagship
801 Guided Missile Frigate Ladnyy Krivak 1980 Active; returning to the fleet in 2021 post-refit[78]
808 Guided Missile Frigate Pytlivyy Krivak 1981 Active
745 Guided Missile Frigate Admiral Grigorovich Admiral Grigorovich 2016 Active; forward deployed in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean as of 2021[79][80]
751 Guided Missile Frigate Admiral Essen Admiral Grigorovich 2016 Active[81]
799 Guided Missile Frigate Admiral Makarov Admiral Grigorovich 2017 Active[82]

4th Independent Submarine Brigade[edit]

# Type Name Class Year Base Status
554 Diesel Attack Submarine Alrosa (B-871) Kilo 877V 1990 Sevastopol Active[83][84]
555 Diesel Attack Submarine Novorossiysk (B-261) Improved Kilo 636.3 2014 Novorossiysk Active
556 Diesel Attack Submarine Rostov na donu (B-237) Improved Kilo 636.3 2014 Novorossiysk Active; deployed to the Mediterranean and Baltic in 2020-21[85][86][87]
557 Diesel Attack Submarine Staryy Oskol (B-262) Improved Kilo 636.3 2015 Novorossiysk Active[88][89]
558 Diesel Attack Submarine Krasnodar (B-265) Improved Kilo 636.3 2015 Novorossiysk Active;[90] reported forward deployed in the Mediterranean 2020-21[91]
559 Diesel Attack Submarine Velikiy Novgorod (B-268) Improved Kilo 636.3 2016 Novorossiysk Active[92]
560 Diesel Attack Submarine Kolpino (B-271) Improved Kilo 636.3 2016 Novorossiysk Active[93][94][95]

197th Assault Ship Brigade[edit]

# Type Name Class Year
152 Landing Ship Nikolay Filchenkov [ru] Alligator 1975
148 Landing Ship Orsk Alligator 1968
150 Landing Ship Saratov Alligator 1966
151 Landing Ship Azov Ropucha-II 1990
142 Landing Ship Novocherkassk Ropucha-I 1987
158 Landing Ship Caesar Kunikov Ropucha-I 1986
156 Landing Ship Yamal Ropucha-I 1988
  • April 2021: Serna-class landing craft and Project 1204 Gunboats from the Caspian Flotilla reported among the vessels deployed to the Black Sea Fleet area of operations for "exercises"[96]

68th Coastal Defense Ship Brigade[edit]

149th Antisubmarine Ship Task Force
# Type Name Class Year Notes
059 ASW Corvette Alexandrovets Grisha I 1982
071 ASW Corvette Suzdalets Grisha III 1983 Active as of 2021.[97]
064 ASW Corvette Muromets Grisha III 1983
150th Minesweeper Task Force
# Type Name Class Year Notes
913 Seagoing Minesweeper Kovrovets Natya I 1974
911 Seagoing Minesweeper Ivan Golubets Natya I 1973 Active as of 2021[98]
912 Seagoing Minesweeper Turbinist Natya I 1972
601 Base Minesweeper Ivan Antonov Alexandrit 2018
102nd Anti-Saboteur Squadron[99]
# Type Name Class Year
836 Anti-Saboteur Boat Yunarmeets Kryma Grachonok 2014
837 Anti-Saboteur Boat Kinel Grachonok 2014
844 Anti-Saboteur Boat Pavel Silaev Grachonok 2017
? Anti-Saboteur Boat Buyevlyanin Raptor 2015
? Anti-Saboteur Boat P-352 Raptor 2015
? Anti-Saboteur Boat P-425 Raptor 2017

41st Missile Boat Brigade[edit]

166th Novorossiysk Small Missile Boat Division
# Type Name Class Year Notes
609 Guided Missile Corvette Vyshniy Volochyok Buyan-M 2018 Active[100]
615 Guided Missile Corvette Bora Dergach 1989
616 Guided Missile Corvette Samum Dergach 2000 Active[101]
626 Guided Missile Corvette Orekhovo-Zuyevo Buyan-M 2018
630 Guided Missile Corvette Ingushetiya[99] Buyan-M 2019
600[102] Guided Missile Corvette Grayvoron[103] Buyan-M 2021[104] Active[105]
295th Sulinsk Missile Boat Division
# Type Name Class Year
962 Missile Boat Shuya Tarantul-II Mod 1985
955 Missile Boat Burya Tarantul-III 1987
952 Missile Boat Veter Tarantul-III 1991
953 Missile Boat Naberezhnye Chelny Tarantul-III 1991
954 Missile Boat Ivanovets Tarantul-III 1988

184th Novorossiysk Coastal Defense Brigade[edit]

181st Antisubmarine Ship Division
# Type Name Class Year Status
053 Small Antisubmarine Ship Povorino Grisha III 1989
054 Small Antisubmarine Ship Eysk Grisha-III 1987
055 Small Antisubmarine Ship Kasimov Grisha-III 1984 Active as of 2021[106]
368 Patrol ship Vasiliy Bykov Project 22160 2018
375 Patrol ship Dmitriy Rogachev Project 22160 2019 Forward deployed to the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean in 2021[107]
363 Patrol ship Pavel Derzhavin Project 22160 2020
170th Minesweeper Division
# Type Name Class Year Notes
901 Seagoing Minesweeper Anatoliy Zheleznyakov Gorya 1988 Active as of 2021[108]
770 Seagoing Minesweeper Valentin Pikul Natya I Mod 2001 Active as of 2021[109]
908 Seagoing Minesweeper Vice-Admiral Zakharin Pr.02668 2009 Active as of 2021[110]
426 Base Minesweeper Mineralnyye Vody Sonya 1990
438 Base Minesweeper Leytenant Ilin Sonya 1982
201 Base Minesweeper RTShch RT-46 Yevgenya 1997
219 Base Minesweeper RT-278 Olya 1997
575 Landing Craft D-144 Serna 2008
659 Landing Craft D-199 Serna 2014
653 Landing Craft D-106 Ondatra 2009
136th Anti-Saboteur Squadron[99]
# Type Name Class Year
840 Anti-Saboteur Boat Kadet Grachonok 2011
841 Anti-Saboteur Boat Suvorovets Grachonok 2012
842 Anti-Saboteur Boat Kursant Kirovets Grachonok 2013
? Anti-Saboteur Boat P-274 Raptor 2015
? Anti-Saboteur Boat P-275 Raptor 2015
? Anti-Saboteur Boat P-276 Raptor 2015

519th Separate Squadron[edit]

# Type Name Class Year
512 Intelligence Vessel Kil'din Moma 1979
? Intelligence Vessel Ekvator Moma 1980
201 Intelligence Vessel Priazovye Vishnya-class intelligence ship 1972
? Intelligence Vessel Ivan Khurs Yury Ivanov-class intelligence ship 2018

Fleet Oilers[edit]

# Type Name Class Year Notes
? Fleet Oiler Ivan Bubnov Project 1559V Morskoy prostor 1975
? Fleet Oiler Istra Dora 1942 Transferred to the Soviet Union from Germany as part of war reparations; still reported in service[111]
? Fleet Oiler Koyda[112] Uda 1966
? Fleet Oiler Iman Project 6404 1966
? Fleet Oiler Vice Admiral Paromov Project 03182[113] [Projected 2021] Reported on Sea trials[114]

Black Sea Fleet Ground Forces, Naval Infantry and Surface-to-Surface Missile Forces[edit]

  • 22nd Army Corps (HQ: Simferopol, Crimea; subordinate to the Black Sea Fleet):[115]
  • 171st Separate Air Assault Battalion (Novostepove Crimea; subordinate to the 97th Regiment of the 7th Guards Mountain Air Assault Division, HQ at Novorossiysk, Krasnodar)[116][124][125]
  • 56th Air Assault Regiment (Reported to be formed from the planned re-deployment of the 56th Guards Air Assault Brigade from the Volgograd region to Feodosia in Crimea)[126]
  • 11th Coastal Missile-Artillery Brigade - Utash, Krasnodar region:[116] 3-5 Bastion battalions and 1-2 Bal battalions.[62]
  • Surface-to-Surface Missiles (included deployed on Crimean peninsula):
  • Naval Infantry/Special Forces
    • 810th Independent Guards Naval Infantry Brigade[128]
    • 382nd Independent Naval Infantry Battalion? (Status unclear as of 2021)[129]
    • 388th Maritime Recon Point (Special Forces battalion)[116]

Black Sea Region Aviation and Air Defence Forces[edit]

2nd Guards Naval Aviation Division (Sevastopol; subordinate to the Black Sea Fleet)[53][54][130][131]

  • 43rd Independent Naval Shturmovik (Assault) Air Squadron – HQ at Gvardeyskoye, Crimea – 18x Su-24M; 4x Su-24MR (being replaced by Sukhoi Su-30SMs as of 2019;[132]Su-30SMs reported active with the squadron as of 2021[133])
    • April 2021: Su-34s from 559th Bomber Aviation Regiment reported forward deployed to Crimea from Morozovsk for exercises with Black Sea Fleet naval aviation.[134]
  • 318th Mixed Aviation Regiment (Kacha Air Base): reportedly An-26, Be-12, and Ka-27 ASW and Ka-29 assault/transport helicopters (as of 2019 - Regiment may supersede/replace former 25th and 917th Aviation Regiments?)[131]


27th Composite Aviation Division (in Crimea but subordinate to 4th Air and Air Defence Forces Army - Rostov-on-Don)[130]

Black Sea Region Air Defence Forces: subordinate to the 4th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (HQ: Rostov-on-Don)[123][138]

  • 31st Air Defense Division (HQ: Sevastopol)[123]
  • 51st Air Defense Division (HQ: Rostov-on-Don)[116]
    • 1537th (Novorossiysk, Krasnodar), 1721st (Sochi) and 1536th (Rostov-on-Don) Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiments (with S-400, S-300, Pantsir, Buk SAM systems)
  • 77th Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade (Korenovsk, Krasnodar) (S-300V4 SAM)
  • 7th Military Base (Primorskoe, Abkhazia Russian-occupied Georgia - S-400 and S-300 SAMs)[116]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]