Russian Black Sea Fleet
Черноморский флот
Great emblem of the Black Sea fleet
Active13 May 1783 – present
Allegiance
Branch Russian Navy
RoleNaval warfare;
Amphibious military operations;
Combat patrols in the Black Sea;
Naval presence/diplomacy missions in the Mediterranean and elsewhere
Size25,000 personnel (including marines)[1]
c. 40 surface warships (surface combatants, amphibious, mine warfare) plus support and auxiliaries
7 submarines (2 of which are in the Mediterranean as of March 2022)[2][3]
Part of Russian Armed Forces
Garrison/HQSevastopol (HQ), Feodosia (Crimea)
Novorossiysk HQ, Tuapse, Temryuk (Krasnodar Krai)
Taganrog (Rostov Oblast)
AnniversariesMay 13
Engagements
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Grigory Potemkin
Adm. Fyodor Ushakov
Adm. Alexander Menshikov
Adm. Pavel Nakhimov
Adm. Yevgeni Alekseyev
Adm. Andrey Ehbergard
Adm. Alexander Kolchak
Adm. Ivan Yumashev
Adm. Filipp Oktyabrskiy
Adm. Lev Vladimirsky
Fleet Adm. Sergey Gorshkov
Fleet Adm. Vladimir Kasatonov
Adm. Vladimir Masorin

The Black Sea Fleet (Russian: Черноморский флот, romanizedChernomorskiy flot) is the fleet of the Russian Navy in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Mediterranean Sea. The Black Sea Fleet, along with other Russian ground and air forces on the Crimean Peninsula, are subordinate to the Southern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces.

The fleet traces its history to its founding by Prince Potemkin on 13 May 1783 as part of the Imperial Russian Navy. 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 Black Sea Fleet was partitioned between the Russian Federation and Ukraine in 1997, with Russia receiving title to 82% of the vessels.

The Black Sea Fleet has its official primary headquarters and facilities in Sevastopol, which Russia illegally annexed from Ukraine, along with the rest of Crimea, in 2014. The rest of the fleet's facilities are based in locations on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, including Krasnodar Krai, Rostov Oblast and Crimea. Its current commander, Admiral Viktor Sokolov, was appointed on 16 August 2022.

The ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War led to major operations and losses due to Ukrainian missiles and umanned surface vehicles. After a 2023 Ukrainian missile strike against the Black Sea Fleet HQ in Sevastopol, it was rumored by multiple sources that Sokolov had been killed.[4][5]

History

Map of the Black Sea and surrounding region
The Black Sea

Imperial Russian Navy

Main article: Imperial Russian Navy

Ivan Aivazovsky. Black Sea Fleet in the Bay of Theodosia, Crimea, just before the Crimean War
The Russian Black Sea Fleet after the Battle of Sinope, 1853

The Black Sea Fleet is considered to have been founded by Prince Potemkin on 13 May 1783, together with its principal base, the city of Sevastopol. Formerly commanded by admirals such as Dmitry Senyavin and Pavel Nakhimov, it is a fleet of great 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; while Ushakov's victory at Tendra allowed the Russians to begin the siege of Izmail, a potent Ottoman stronghold by the Black Sea, which was twice besieged without effect.

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.

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)[6] 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 to 1829 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.[7]

Crimean War

Main article: Crimean War

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.[7]

As a result of the Crimean War, one provision of the 1856 Treaty of Paris was that the Black Sea was to be a demilitarized zone similar to the Island of Åland in the Baltic Sea.

1877 conflict with Turkey

This hampered the Russians during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 and in the aftermath of that conflict, Russia moved to reconstitute its naval strength and fortifications in the Black Sea.[citation needed]

1905 revolution

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]

World War I and Russian Civil War

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 Nikolaev, 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.

In 1918, some elements of the fleet were interned by the Central Powers as a result of their advance into South Russia. In the April Crimea operation, the goal of both Ukrainians and Germans was to get control over the Black Sea Fleet, anchored in Sevastopol. Former Chief of Staff Mikhail Sablin raised the colours of the Ukrainian National Republic on 29 April 1918,[8] and moved a portion of the Ukrainian fleet (two battleships and fourteen destroyers) to Novorossiysk in order to save it from capture by the Germans.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, c. 1916

He was ordered to scuttle his ships by Lenin but refused to do so. Most ships returned to Sevastopol, where they first came under German control. In November 1918 they came under control of the Allies, who later gave the ships to Wrangel's fleet of the Whites.

In 1919, following the collapse of the Central Powers' occupation in Western Russia, the Red Fleet of Ukraine was established out of certain remnants of the Russian Imperial Fleet. However, subsequently these elements were either scuttled or captured by the Western Allies. During the ensuing 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.

Most of the ships of the Black Sea Fleet became part of the "Russian Squadron" of Wrangel's armed forces. Following the defeat of anti-Bolshevik forces and the evacuation of Crimea by White forces, the fleet itself sailed to Tunisia. Out of those ships, some passed to the French Navy while others were sold as scrap.

Soviet Navy

Main article: Soviet Navy

With the defeat of the anti-Bolshevik Armed Forces of South Russia, the Soviet government took control of all naval elements. The few ships that remained in the Black Sea were scrapped in the 1920s and a large scale new construction programme began in the 1930s. Over 500 new ships were built[citation needed] during that period and a massive expansion of coastal infrastructure took place. The Black Sea Fleet was commanded by Vice Admiral F.S. Oktyabrskiy on the outbreak of war with Germany in June 1941.

World War II

Main articles: Soviet Navy surface raids on Western Black Sea, Black Sea Campaigns (1941–44), Soviet Black Sea Fleet during the Battle of Stalingrad, and Romanian Navy during World War II

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 creditable account of itself as it fought alongside the Red Army during the Siege of Odessa and the Battle of Sevastopol.[9]

Soviet hospital ship Armenia was sunk on 7 November 1941 by German aircraft while evacuating civilians and wounded soldiers from Crimea. It has been estimated that approximately 5,000 to 7,000 people were killed during the sinking, making it one of the deadliest maritime disasters in history. There were only 8 survivors.[10]

Cold War

With the end of World War II, the Soviet Union effectively dominated the Black Sea region. The Soviet Union controlled the entire north and east of the Black Sea 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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13]

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.[14]

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 German invaders

In 1988 Coastal Troops and Naval Aviation units of the Black Sea Fleet included:[15]

In 1989, the 126th Motor Rifle Division at Simferopol was transferred to the Black Sea Fleet from the Odesa 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.[17] 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.[18]

The 43rd Aviation Sevastopol Red Banner Order of Kutuzov Regiment of Fighter-Bombers, after being included in the Air Force of the Red Banner Black Sea Fleet on 1 December 1990, was renamed the 43rd Separate Naval Assault Aviation Sevastopol Red Banner Order of Kutuzov Regiment.

After the fall of the Soviet Union

With the fall of the Soviet Union and the demise of the Warsaw Pact, the military importance of the fleet was degraded and it suffered significant funding cuts and the loss of its major missions.

In the early 1990s the fleet had 645 ships and 72,000 personnel.[19]

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.[20] They have also claimed that their names were branded "traitors to Russia" on local graffiti.[20] Simultaneously, pro-Russian separatist groups became active in the local politics of Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol where the major naval bases were situated, and started coordinating their efforts with pro-Moscow seamen.

During this time the Georgian Civil War broke out. Fighting erupted between two separatist minorities of South Ossetia and Abkhazia supported by Russia on one side and the Georgian government led by Zviad Gamsakhurdia on the other. However, he was ousted during the so-called Tbilisi War in 1991. The new government continued the fighting against the break-away republics, but at the same time asked Russia's president Boris Yeltsin for support against the 'Zviadists' who were trying to regain power. This led to the Black Sea Fleet landing in Georgia (despite the unsettled dispute over ownership of the fleet), and resulted in the Battle of Poti.[21]

Joint Fleet and its partition

Presidents Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine and Boris Yeltsin of Russia negotiated terms for dividing the fleet, and to ease the tensions, on 10 June 1995 the two governments signed an interim treaty,[22] 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.

In 1996 the 126th Motor Rifle Division was disestablished.

Moscow mayor Yuriy Luzhkov campaigned to annex the city of Sevastopol, which housed the fleet's headquarters and main naval base, and in December the Russian Federation Council officially endorsed the claim. Spurred by these territorial claims, Ukraine proposed a "special partnership" with NATO in January 1997.[23]

Some major ships of the Soviet and Russian Black Sea Fleet (including the flagship Moskva, far left) 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.[24] Ukraine agreed to lease major parts of its facilities to the Russian Black Sea Fleet until 2017.[25] 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.[26]

Due to the lack of fleet facilities in Russia, the former naval area at the Port of Novorossiysk was revived in September 1994, and officially reorganised as Novorossiysk Naval Base in 1997.[6] The Russian Federation planned to house the headquarters and the bulk of the fleet there, and undertook a major upgrade of Novorossiysk military facilities starting in 2005 and finishing in 2022.[citation needed]

In April 2010 President Yanukovych renegotiated and extended the Russian leasehold until 2042 and an option for an additional five years until 2047 plus consideration of further renewals. This deal proved controversial in Ukraine.[27][28][29][30][31] It appeared to violate the constitutional ban on basing foreign military forces, and would eventually lead to high treason charges.[citation needed]

In this regard, relations between Russia and Ukraine over the status of the Fleet continued to be strained. In an August 2009 letter to Russian President Medvedev, Ukrainian President Yushchenko complained about alleged "infringements of bilateral agreements and Ukrainian legislation"[32]

Vladimir Putin with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on board the flagship Moskva, July 2001

In June 2009, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine said that after 13 December 2009, all officers from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) represented at the Black Sea Fleet would be required to leave Ukraine. From then, the Security Service of Ukraine would ensure the security of the Black Sea Fleet, including Russian sailors on Ukrainian territory.[33] However, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry, employees of the FSB working at the Black Sea Fleet facilities were to remain on Ukrainian territory "in line with bilateral agreements".[34] In 2010, based on an agreement between the Ukrainian and Russian governments, military counterintelligence officers from the Federal Security Service returned to the Black Sea Fleet base.[35]

Despite these differences, joint exercises between the Ukrainian Navy and the Black Sea Fleet of Russia resumed with a command-staff exercise in June 2010 after a seven-year interval.[36] In May 2011, Russia and Ukraine resumed their joint "Peace Fairway" (Farvater Mira) naval exercises.[37]

Georgia in the Fleet partition

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.[38]

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.[38] 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.[39] 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).[40]

Russo-Ukrainian War

Russian annexation of Crimea

Main articles: Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and Russo-Ukrainian War

The 2014 political crisis in Ukraine rapidly engulfed Crimea where pro-Russian separatist sentiment was strong.[41][42][better source needed] 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.[43][44] Nevertheless, at minimum the Black Sea Fleet played a supporting role including with respect to preventing the departure of Ukrainian naval vessels from Crimea.[45] Other sources suggested that the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade of the Fleet was also involved.[46]

After the 2014 Crimean crisis, the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Ukrainian Navy were evicted from their bases and subsequently withdrew from Crimea.[47] During the occupation, Russian forces seized 54 out of 67 ships of the Ukrainian Navy.[48][unreliable source] According to sources from Black Sea Fleet Headquarters, inspections of all ships were to be done by the end of 2014.[49][better source needed]

On 8 April 2014 an agreement was reached between Russia and Ukraine to return Ukrainian Navy materials to Ukraine proper.[50] 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 Donbas.[51] According to the fleet commander Aleksandr Vitko, this happened because the vessels were old "and, if used [by Ukraine], could hurt its own people".[52]

From that point, Russia proceeded to consolidate its military position in Crimea, which it now regards as an integral part of the Russian Federation, though this position is not one supported by the vast majority of the international community.

Strengthening the fleet
Exercises of the air defense system regiment of the army corps of the Black Sea Fleet

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 Naval 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".[53]

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.[citation needed] 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 the Project 22350 Admiral 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.[54][55][56]

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.[57] 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.[58] Analysis in May 2022 suggested that it may be feasible for the Russian Navy even to move its Kilo-class submarines between the Black Sea and the Baltic via the internal waterways.[59]

The projection of power into the Mediterranean has also returned as a significant role for the Black Sea Fleet with the creation of the Russian Navy's permanent task force in the Mediterranean. 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.[60][61][62] The deployment of submarines from the Black Sea Fleet to the Mediterranean has become a routine occurrence (though the need to send them for "maintenance" in the Baltic, so as to comply with terms of the Montreux Convention, lengthens the timeframe of such deployments significantly).[63] In late 2021 it was reported that one of the new Priboy-class helicopter assault ships, the Mitrofan Moskalenko, had been earmarked to enter service with the Black Sea Fleet "within the next few years" in the role of fleet flagship.[64] If confirmed such a deployment would significantly enhance the fleet's power projection capabilities.

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".[65]

Ongoing technological upgrades of this already robust SAM network are planned for the 2020s.[66] 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.[67]

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.[68] 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.[69]

In 2020, the Black Sea Fleet obtained seven new warships and auxiliary ships, including corvette Grayvoron, patrol ship Pavel Derzhavin, seagoing tug Sergey Balk, as well as a harbour tugs and three hydrographic survey vessels. In 2021, the same number of vessels should enter service.[70]

Russo-Ukrainian naval standoff

On 29 January 2021, three US naval vessels entered the Black Sea for the first time in three years.[71] On 1 February, the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky argued for NATO membership for Ukraine.[72] On 19 March, another significant US naval deployment to the Black Sea took place, as cruiser USS Monterey and destroyer USS Thomas Hudner entered the sea on 19 and 20 March respectively.[73][74] Prior to the scheduled deployment, on 12 March Russian cruiser Moskva made an exit to sea and on 19 March all six submarines of the Black Sea Fleet went to sea, which was an unprecedented event.[75][76]

Russian ground forces also started a buildup on the border with Ukraine. On 2 April, Zelensky had his first telephone conversation with Biden, and on 6 April he called NATO's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg pressuring NATO to speed up Ukrainian path to the membership.[77] On 8 April, Russia started moving ten of its Caspian Flotilla warships to the Black Sea. Six amphibious and three artillery boats of Serna and Shmel classes, as well as a hydrographic boat GS-599, were reported in transit, while Black Sea Fleet frigate Admiral Essen conducted an artillery exercise, usually done to raise the readiness for the amphibious landing.[78][79][80][81][82] The same day, the US decided to send two warships to the Black Sea.[83]

On 9 April 2021, tensions rose further and Ukraine promised not to attack the separatists, while Russia considered intervening.[84][85] On the same day, two Black Sea Fleet corvettes, Vishny Volochyok and Gravoron, conducted an exercise.[86] The two US destroyers were clarified by Turkey to be USS Roosevelt and USS Donald Cook, while Putin stressed the importance of the Montreux Convention in a telephone conversation with Turkish president Recep Erdogan.[87][88] On 14 April, the deployment of the two US destroyers was cancelled.[89] On 17 April, amphibious ships Aleksandr Otrakovsky and Kondoponga of the Northern Fleet and Kaliningrad and Korolyov of the Baltic Fleet strengthened the amphibious warfare capabilities of the Black Sea Fleet.[90] On 30 April, the cruiser Moskva fired a Vulkan anti-ship missile for the first time.[91]

In November, further tensions started amidst the build-up of Russian ground forces on the Ukraine border. On 2 November, the destroyer USS Porter[92] entered the Black Sea, followed on 25 November by the destroyer USS Arleigh Burke.[93] In late October, the Russian Black Sea fleet held a large exercise with a cruiser, a frigate and three corvettes.[94]

Incident with HMS Defender

Main article: 2021 Black Sea incident

On 23 June 2021, the United Kingdom's HMS Defender undertook a freedom of navigation patrol through the disputed waters around the Crimean Peninsula.[95] The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation and border guards said they fired warning shots from coast guard patrol ships and dropped bombs from a Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft in the path of Defender after, according to the Russian Defence Ministry, it had allegedly strayed for about 20 minutes as far as 3 km (2 miles) into waters off the coast of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014 in a move mostly unrecognised internationally.[96][97] The UK military denied any warning shots were fired and said the ship was in innocent passage in Ukraine's territorial sea, later clarifying that heavy guns were fired three miles astern and could not be considered to be warning shots.[98][99][100]

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

Further information: Russian invasion of Ukraine and Crimea attacks (2022–present)

A build-up of Russian forces around Ukraine and in Belarus began toward the end of 2021, ostensibly for exercises. In February 2022, the Black Sea Fleet was reinforced by six landing ships: three Ropucha-class landing ships (Minsk (127), Korolev (130) and Kaliningrad (102)) were drawn from the Baltic Fleet while two (Georgy Pobedonosets (016) and Olenegorsky Gornyak (012)) came from the Northern Fleet. The Ivan Gren-class landing ship, Pyotr Morgunov (117) also deployed to the Black Sea from the Northern Fleet.[101] The 22nd Army Corps (subordinate to the Black Sea Fleet) was also reinforced, including by the 247th Regiment of the 7th Guards Mountain Air Assault Division as well as by the 56th Guards Air Assault Regiment, subordinate to the same division.[102] On the eve of the conflict, it was reported that the headquarters of the 58th Combined Arms Army had deployed to Crimea commanding between 12 and 17 battalion tactical groups.[103][104]

The Russian invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February 2022 and it was initially reported that this included an amphibious landing at Odesa by elements of Russian Naval Infantry and the Black Sea Fleet.[105] However, the report of a landing at Odesa on 24 February subsequently proved to be false.[106] On 24 February 2022, the cruiser Moskva and the patrol ship Vasily Bykov bombarded Snake Island in the Danube Delta and captured it from its Ukrainian garrison.[107] On 26 February 2022 it was reported that Russian forces made an amphibious assault at Mariupol utilizing half of their landing ships in the Black Sea. A second Russian amphibious group was said still to be positioned in the vicinity of Odesa.[108]

On 28 February 2022, Turkey indicated that it was closing the Dardanelles Straits to all foreign warships for the duration of the conflict. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu argued that the move was consistent with terms of the Montreux Convention. An exception would be allowed for Russian ships returning from the Mediterranean to Black Sea bases where they were registered.[109][110]

As of early March 2022, the Ukrainian navy was confirmed to have lost two vessels: the frigate Hetman Sahaidachny, scuttled by its crew to avoid capture,[111] and the patrol vessel Sloviansk, reported sunk by Russian action on 3 March 2022.[112] On 7 March 2022 it was reported that the Russian patrol ship Vasily Bykov may have been damaged by Ukrainian shore-based multiple-launch rocket fire.[113] However, the ship was subsequently reported as having entered Sevastopol on 16 March 2022 with no obvious damage.[114]

On 14 March 2022, the Russian source RT reported that the Russian Armed Forces had captured about a dozen Ukrainian ships in Berdiansk. The vessels reported as captured included two Gyurza-M-class artillery boats (including Akkerman), the Matka-class missile boat Pryluky, a Project 1124P (Grisha II)-class corvette (likely an already decommissioned vessel given the absence of active ships of this class in the Ukrainian navy), a Zhuk-class patrol boat, a Yevgenya-class minesweeper, the Polnocny-class landing ship Yuri Olefirenko and a Ondatra-class landing craft.[115]

On 19 March 2022, the Deputy Commander of Russian Black Sea Fleet Captain First Rank Andrey Nikolaevich Paliy was reportedly killed in action near Mariupol in Ukraine.[116][117]

On 22 March 2022, a video appeared of a Raptor-class patrol boat being hit and damaged by an anti-tank guided missile. According to Russian sources, it had to be towed away afterwards.[118]

On 24 March 2022, the Ukrainian military hit and destroyed the Russian Tapir-class landing ship Saratov at the Port of Berdiansk.[119] In July 2022 it became known that Saratov has been salvaged and will be towed to Kerch, Crimea.[120] Two other Russian Ropucha-class landing ships, the Tsezar Kunikov, and the Novocherkassk, that were docked nearby sailed away, with fire and smoke billowing out of one.[121][122][123][124]

On 30 March 2022 it was reported that, as part of an operation by Russian special forces, the Ukrainian navy Project 1824B reconnaissance ship Pereyaslav was reportedly hit by gunfire at the mouth of the Dnieper river. The extent of the damage was unknown.[125]

Also in March 2022, the Russian Navy bombed several civilian ships, including a cargo ship belonging to Bangladesh.[126]

On 13 April 2022, Moskva, the fleet's flagship, was severely damaged after an explosion. The Ukrainian government claimed it had hit the ship with two Neptune cruise missiles.[127] The Russian government claimed the damage was a result of an ammunition explosion.[128] According to the Russian government, everyone on the ship was evacuated.[129] On 14 April, the Russian Ministry of Defence confirmed the ship had sunk.[130] On 15 April, a United States senior defense official confirmed that the ship was hit by two Ukrainian Neptune missiles about 65 nautical miles south of Odesa.[131] On 6 May 2022 a letter from the Black Sea Fleet's prosecutor general's office to the family of one of the sailors lost on the Moskva was made public. Families will not be receiving compensation as "the sinking took place in international waters by accident".[132]

In early May 2022, Ukraine claimed to have destroyed two Russian Raptor-class patrol boats along with a Serna Class landing craft using a Ukrainian Baykar Bayraktar TB2 Unmanned Air Combat Vehicle (UCAV) near Snake Island.[133]

On 8 May 2022, Ukrainian officials released footage showing the destruction of two Raptor-class patrol boats and the damaging of a third one, adding that 46 Russian crew members were killed during the operation.[134]

In the first week of May 2022, a video appeared of a Ukrainian Bayraktar TB2 drone hitting and sinking a BK-16 high-speed assault boat near Snake Island.[135] The wreck was later recovered.[136]

On 12 May 2022, Ukrainian news media carried reports that, according to the Odesa military spokesman, the Russian logistics vessel Vsevolod Bobrov was on fire near Snake Island.[137][138][139] Russia denied the claims.[140] Three days later, a US-backed media outlet carried photographs of the ship unharmed moored at Sevastopol.[141] The ship was also seen with the Pantsir-S mobile surface-to-air missile system on board while docked in Sevastopol.[142]

On 15 May 2022, four Kalibr missiles launched from the Black Sea hit Ukrainian military facilities at Yavoriv, near Lviv. The attack was "probably" carried out by submarines.[143] Lviv region's Governor Maxim Kozitsky acknowledged that the target was "completely destroyed".[144]

On 17 May 2022, the Ministry of Defense of Russia reported that seaborne Kalibr missiles struck railway facilities at Starichi station near Lviv the night before. The attack was aimed at NATO weapons deliveries to Ukraine.[145][146] Governor Maxim Kozitsky confirmed the damage on railway infrastructure. The command of the Ukrainian Air Defence claims the shooting down of three missiles in the area.[147]

On 17 June 2022, Russian rescue tug Vasily Bekh was reportedly sunk due to two hits by anti-ship missiles (putatively Harpoons) while carrying personnel, weapons, and ammunition to resupply Russian-occupied Snake Island.[148]

On 31 July 2022, a drone strike at the fleet headquarters in Sevastopol wounded several people and forced the cancellation of Navy Day commemorations.[149][150]

On August 9, 2022, huge explosions occurred at Saky airbase, destroying several fighter planes of the fleet's naval aviation. Some days later, an anonymous Western official said that "[w]e now assess that the events of ... August 9 put more than half of [the] Black Sea fleet's naval aviation combat jets out of use."[151] On August 16, 2022, Hvardiiske airbase, a large ammunition dump in Maiske, and an electrical substation in Dzhankoi were hit with explosions, and on August 19, 2022, large explosions were heard at Belbek and Russian antiaircraft batteries were active around the Crimean Bridge at Kerch.[152]

On 17 August 2022, Russian state media announced that Viktor Sokolov had been appointed commander of the fleet without any ceremony, apparently due to the yellow terrorist threat following a series of explosions.[153][154]

On 29 October 2022, Ukrainian forces used an Unmanned Aerial and Submarine Vehicle to strike Russian forces in Sevastopol, Crimea. According to Russia, Ukrainian UAVs slightly damaged the Natya-class minesweeper Ivan Golubets.[155]

Yury Ivanov-class intelligence ship Ivan Khurs was possibly damaged by one of three Ukrainian sea drones on 24 May 2023.[156]

On 4 August 2023, near the Port of Novorossiysk a Project 775 Ropucha-class landing ship Olenegorsky Gornyak was seriously damaged by a joint effort of the Ukrainian SBU and the Ukrainian Navy, possibly using a sea drone, and towed to port by the Russian Navy. Following the attack the Ukrainian Navy reported Russian ships leaving port and to some extent dispersing in the Black Sea.[157]

On 13 September 2023, Storm Shadows were used in a strike against the Sevastopol port,[158] seriously damaging the Rostov na Donu submarine and seriously damaging (according to some sources, beyond repair[159]) the Ropucha-class landing ship Minsk.[160][161][162]

On 22 September 2023, at least three Storm Shadow missiles hit the Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol.[4][5]

On 4 November 2023, Ukrainian forces struck Zalyv Shipbuilding yard in Russian-occupied Kerch, Crimea, with cruise missiles, damaging the relatively new Karakurt-class corvette Askold (ru), which carries Kalibur cruise missiles.[163] On 6 November 2023 president Zelensky stated that the ship was destroyed.[164]

On 25 December 2023, the large landing ship Novocherkassk was struck by Ukrainian aircraft carrying guided missiles in Port of Feodosiya.[165][166]

Late December 2023, Ukraine hit and destroyed a Russian project 205P "Tarantul" (NATO designation: Stenka) guard ship in the port of Sevastopol.[167][168]

On 1 February 2024, Ukraine released video claiming to show the sinking of the R-334 Ivanovets using USVs.[169][170][non-primary source needed]

On 14 February 2024, Ukraine released a video showing the sinking of the Ropucha-class landing ship Tsezar Kunikov off the coast of Crimea.[171]

Commanders

# 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 Alexandrovich Glazenap [ru] 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 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 Eduard 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 Korolyov Jul 2010 – Jun 2011
73 VADM Aleksandr Nikolayevich Fedotenkov Jun 2011 – May 2013
74 ADM Aleksandr Viktorovich Vitko[172] May 2013 – June 2018
75 VADM Aleksandr Alekseevich Moiseev[173] June 2018 – May 2019
76 ADM Igor Vladimirovich Osipov[174] May 2019 – August 2022
77 ADM Viktor Nikolayevich Sokolov[175] August 2022 –February 2024
78 VADM Sergei Mikhailovich Pinchuk[176] February 2024–

Order of battle

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.[177] 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.[178][179]

30th Surface Ship Division
# Type Class Name Year Notes
861 Guided Missile Frigate Krivak Ladnyy 1980 [180]
868 Pytlivyy 1981 [181]
494 Admiral Grigorovich Admiral Grigorovich 2016 [182]
490 Admiral Essen [183]
499 Admiral Makarov 2017 [184]
734 Multi-role Corvette Steregushchiy Mercury 2023 [185]

4th Independent Submarine Brigade

# Type Name Class Year Base Notes
554 Diesel Attack Submarine B-871 Alrosa Kilo 877V 1990 Sevastopol Active[186] combat operations at the Russo-Ukrainian War
555 Diesel Attack Submarine B-261 Novorossiysk Improved Kilo 636.3 2014 Novorossiysk In refit; at the Kronstadt Shipyard in the Baltic[187][188][189][190]
556 Diesel Attack Submarine B-237 Rostov-na-Donu Improved Kilo 636.3 2014 Novorossiysk Heavily damaged by a Ukrainian cruise missile strike while dry docked at Sevastopol on September 12, 2023[191]
557 Diesel Attack Submarine B-262 Staryy Oskol Improved Kilo 636.3 2015 Novorossiysk Active[192] combat operations at the Russo-Ukrainian War
558 Diesel Attack Submarine B-265 Krasnodar Improved Kilo 636.3 2015 Novorossiysk Active;[193] deployed in the Mediterranean as of October 2022[194][188][189][195][196][197]
559 Diesel Attack Submarine B-268 Velikiy Novgorod Improved Kilo 636.3 2016 Novorossiysk Active[198][199] combat operations at the Russo-Ukrainian War
560 Diesel Attack Submarine B-271 Kolpino Improved Kilo 636.3 2016 Novorossiysk Active[198][200][201][202] combat operations at the Russo-Ukrainian War

41st Missile Boat Brigade

166th Novorossiysk Small Missile Boat Division
# Type Name Class Year Notes
615 Guided Missile Corvette Bora Dergach 1989 In refit as of September 2021[203]
616 Guided Missile Corvette Samum Dergach 2000 Claimed to be damaged by Ukrainian naval drone on September 12, 2023, and not expected to return to service before 2024.[204]
609 Guided Missile Corvette Vyshniy Volochyok Buyan-M 2018 Active[205][206][207] combat operations at the Russo-Ukrainian War
626 Guided Missile Corvette Orekhovo-Zuyevo Buyan-M 2018 Active; deployed in the Mediterranean as of October 2022[194][188][208][209][210]
630 Guided Missile Corvette Ingushetiya[211] Buyan-M 2019 Active[212][213] combat operations at the Russo-Ukrainian War
600[214] Guided Missile Corvette Grayvoron[215] Buyan-M 2021[216] Active[206][213] combat operations at the Russo-Ukrainian War
633[217] Missile Corvette Tsiklon Karakurt 2023 Active[218] combat operations at the Russo-Ukrainian War
TBC Missile Corvette Askold Karakurt Projected 2023 Claimed destroyed;[219] damaged by a Ukrainian cruise missile strike on the port Kerch on November 4, 2023[220]
TBC Missile Corvette Amur Karakurt Projected 2023 Deployed to the Black Sea via inland waterways; reported at Novorossiysk[221]
TBC Missile Corvette Tucha Karakurt Projected 2023 Deployed to the Black Sea via inland waterways; reported at Novorossiysk[221]
295th Sulinsk Missile Boat Division
# Type Name Class Year Notes
962 Missile Boat R-71 Shuya Tarantul-II Mod 1985
955 Missile Boat R-60 Burya Tarantul-III 1987 Active as of 2022[183][222]
952 Missile Boat R-109 Breeze Tarantul-III 1990
953 Missile Boat R-239 Naberezhnye Chelny Tarantul-III 1991 Active[209][183][222] combat operations at the Russo-Ukrainian War

68th Coastal Defense Ship Brigade

149th Antisubmarine Ship Task Force
# Type Name Class Year Notes
059 Antisubmarine Corvette MPK-49 Alexandrovets Grisha I 1982
071 Antisubmarine Corvette MPK-118 Suzdalets Grisha III 1983 Active[213][223] combat operations at the Russo-Ukrainian War
064 Antisubmarine Corvette MPK-134 Muromets Grisha III 1983 In refit as of 2022
150th Minesweeper Task Force
# Type Name Class Year Notes
911 Seagoing Minesweeper Ivan Golubets Natya I 1973 Reported to be damaged on 29 October 2022 during a drone attack on the port of Sevastopol.[224]
913 Seagoing Minesweeper Kovrovets Natya I 1974 Active as of 2021[212]
912 Seagoing Minesweeper Turbinist Natya I 1975 Unclear if active
951 Seagoing Minesweeper Vice-admiral Zhukov Natya I 1978 Unclear if active
601 Seagoing Minesweeper Ivan Antonov Alexandrit 2018 Active as of 2022[212][213]
659 Seagoing Minesweeper Vladimir Emelyanov Alexandrit 2019 Active;[225] deployed in the Mediterranean as of October 2022[188][194]
631 Seagoing Minesweeper Georgy Kurbatov Alexandrit 2021 Active as of 2022[226]
102nd Anti-Saboteur Squadron[211]
# Type Name Class Year Notes
836 Anti-Saboteur Boat Yunarmeets Kryma Grachonok 2014 Active
837 Anti-Saboteur Boat Kinel Grachonok 2014 Active
844 Anti-Saboteur Boat Pavel Silaev Grachonok 2017 Active; deployed to the Mediterranean June to November 2021[227][228]
845 Anti-Saboteur Boat P-345 Buyevlyanin Raptor 2015 Active; deployed in the Mediterranean as of April 2022
838 Anti-Saboteur Boat P-352 Oleg Shipitsin Raptor 2015 Active; claimed destroyed by a Bayraktar TB2 drone at Snake Island in May 7, 2022; restored
850 Anti-Saboteur Boat P-413 Andrey Paliy Raptor 2017 Active; Ukrainian officials released 3 separate footages showing 6 Raptor-class boats damaged/destroyed[133][229][134]
852 Anti-Saboteur Boat P-415 Chapaevsk Raptor 2017 Active; Ukrainian officials released 3 separate footages showing 6 Raptor-class boats damaged/destroyed[133][229][134]
831 Anti-Saboteur Boat P-331 Flamingo 1986 Unclear if active
833 Anti-Saboteur Boat P-407 Flamingo 1989 Unclear if active

184th Novorossiysk Coastal Defense Brigade

181st Antisubmarine Ship Division
# Type Name Class Year Notes
055 Antisubmarine Corvette MPK-199 Kasimov Grisha-III 1984 Active[230] combat operations at the Russo-Ukrainian War
054 Antisubmarine Corvette MPK-217 Eysk Grisha-III 1987 Active[209][213] combat operations at the Russo-Ukrainian War
053 Antisubmarine Corvette MPK-207 Povorino Grisha-III 1989 In refit as of 2022 on the Novorossiysk
368 Patrol ship Vasily Bykov Project 22160 2018 Active[114][107][113] combat operations at the Russo-Ukrainian War[231]
375 Patrol ship Dmitriy Rogachev Project 22160 2019 Active combat operations at the Russo-Ukrainian War; returned to the Black Sea from Mediterranean February 2022[232][212][233]
363 Patrol ship Pavel Derzhavin Project 22160 2020 In refit; reported to be damaged by Ukrainian naval drone attack on October 12, 2023 [209][234]
383[235]

[236]

Patrol ship Sergey Kotov Project 22160 2022 Reported commissioned May 2022.[237][238][239] Reported to be damaged, possibly sunk, by Ukrainian naval drone attack on September 14, 2023.[240]
170th Minesweeper Division
# Type Name Class Year Notes
901 Seagoing Minesweeper Anatoliy Zheleznyakov Gorya 1988 Active as of 2021[241]
770 Seagoing Minesweeper Valentin Pikul Natya I Mod
(Project 0266ME)
2001 Active as of 2022[241][213]
908 Seagoing Minesweeper Vice-Admiral Zakharin Natya
(Project 0266.8)
2009 Returned to the Black Sea from Mediterranean February 2022[233]
458 Base Minesweeper ВТ-241 Mineralnyye Vody[242] Sonya 1989 Unclear if active
435 Base Minesweeper BT-726[242][211] Sonya 1976 Unclear if active
438 Base Minesweeper BT-40 Leytenant Il'in[211] Sonya 1982 Unclear if active
575 Landing Craft D-144 Serna 2008 Ukrainian officials released video of a Serna Class landing craft being destroyed by a Bayraktar TB2 drone at Snake Island in early May, 2022.[134] Ukrainian officials released footage of an Ondatra Class landing craft being destroyed alongside a Serna Class landing craft by maritime drones in Chornomors'ke, Northern Crimea, on November the 10th, 2023.[243]
659 Landing Craft D-199 Serna 2014 Ukrainian officials released video of a Serna Class landing craft being destroyed by a Bayraktar TB2 drone at Snake Island in early May, 2022.[134] Ukrainian officials released footage of an Ondatra Class landing craft being destroyed alongside a Serna Class landing craft by maritime drones in Chornomors'ke, Northern Crimea, on November the 10th, 2023.[243]
653 Landing Craft D-106 Ondatra 2009 Ukrainian officials released footage of an Ondatra Class landing craft being destroyed alongside a Serna Class landing craft by maritime drones in Chornomors'ke, Northern Crimea, on November the 10th, 2023.[243]
136th Anti-Saboteur Squadron[211]
# Type Name Class Year Notes
840 Anti-Saboteur Boat Kadet Grachonok 2011 Reported in the Mediterranean as of April 2022
841 Anti-Saboteur Boat Suvorovets Grachonok 2012 Reported to be damaged by Ukrainian naval drone on the port of Novorossiysk, 4 August 2023
842 Anti-Saboteur Boat Kursant Kirovets Grachonok 2013
? Anti-Saboteur Boat P-274 Raptor 2015 Ukrainian officials released 3 separate videos showing 6 Raptor-class boats damaged/destroyed[133][229][134]
? Anti-Saboteur Boat P-276 Raptor 2015 Ukrainian officials released 3 separate videos showing 6 Raptor-class boats damaged/destroyed[133][229][134]

197th Assault Ship Brigade

# Type Name Class Year Notes
148 Landing Ship Orsk Alligator 1968 Active[244] combat operations at the Russo-Ukrainian War
150 Landing Ship Saratov Alligator 1966 Saratov destroyed 24 March 2022 at Berdyansk port by Armed Forces of Ukraine[245]
152 Landing Ship Nikolay Filchenkov [ru] Alligator 1975 Active[244] combat operations at the Russo-Ukrainian War
156 Landing Ship Yamal Ropucha-I 1988 Reported active by Russian sources as of June 2022.[244]
158 Landing Ship Tsezar Kunikov Ropucha-I 1986 Destroyed;[246] hit by Ukrainian drones off the coast of Crimea on February 14, 2024.
151 Landing Ship Azov Ropucha-II 1990 In refit as of 2022 on the Sevastopol; reported active by Russian sources as of June 2022[247][244]

Black Sea Fleet amphibious vessels being joined by five additional Ropucha-class: (Minsk (127), Korolev (130) and Kaliningrad (102) from the Baltic Fleet as well as Georgy Pobedonosets (016) and Olenegorsky Gornyak (012) from the Northern Fleet); also deployed to the Black Sea from the Northern Fleet is the Ivan Gren-class vessel Pyotr Morgunov (117); all vessels entered the Black Sea by February 9[101] and as of March 2022 all were reported on active operations as part of the invasion of Ukraine.[209] The Olenegorsky Gornyak damaged during a drone attack on the port of Novorossiysk on August 4th, 2023. The Minsk heavily damaged by a Ukrainian cruise missile strike while dry docked at Sevastopol on September 12th, 2023.[248]

388th Marine Reconnaissance Point/1229th Naval Intelligence Center

# Type Name Class Year Notes
677 High-Speed Landing Craft D-296[249] Project 0251.0 2015 Claimed to be damaged by a Bayraktar TB2 drone one Project 02510 (presumably D-310 — OSINT) at Snake Island[250]
655 High-Speed Landing Craft D-309[251] Project 0251.0 2018 Claimed to be damaged by a Bayraktar TB2 drone one Project 02510 (presumably D-310 — OSINT) at Snake Island[250]

519th Separate Squadron

# Type Name Class Year Notes
512 Intelligence Vessel Kil'din Moma 1979 Active; deployed in the Mediterranean as of April 2022
? Intelligence Vessel Ekvator Moma 1980 Unclear if active
201 Intelligence Vessel Priazovye Vishnya 1972 Active combat operations at the Russo-Ukrainian War[252][253]
? Intelligence Vessel Ivan Khurs Yury Ivanov 2018 In refit; claimed to be damaged by Ukrainian USV in May 2023;[254][212] destroyed

9th Auxillary Ship Brigade

# Type Name Class Year Notes
? Fleet Oiler Istra Dora 1942 Transferred to the Soviet Union from Germany as part of war reparations; still reported in service[255]
? Fleet Oiler Koyda[256] Uda 1966 Unclear if active
? Fleet Oiler Iman Project 6404 1966 Active as of 2021[212]
? Floating Ship Repair Factory PM-138 Project 304[257] 1969 Active as of 2022[258]
? Floating Ship Repair Factory PM-56 Project 304[257] 1973 Active as of 2022[258]
? Fleet Oiler Ivan Bubnov Boris Chilikin
(Project 1559V
Morskoy prostor)
1975 Active as of 2021[212]
? Fleet Oiler Vice Admiral Paromov Project 03182[259] 2021[260] Active; deployed in the Mediterranean as of May 2022[188][261]
? Logistics Support Vessel Vsevolod Bobrov Project 23120[262][263] 2021[262] In refit; claimed to have suffered major fire damage night of May 11–12, 2022 after alleged Ukrainian attack.[264][265] But returned unharmed to Sevastopol on 15 May 2022.[141] Arrived in the Black Sea January 2022[266]

176th Expeditionary Oceanographic Ship Division

# Type Name Class Year Notes
? Hydrographic Survey Vessel Cheleken[267] Moma (Project 861) 1970 Unclear if active
? Hydrographic Survey Vessel Stvor Yug (Project 862)[268] 1983 Unclear if active
? Hydrographic Survey Vessel Donuzlav Yug (Project 862)[268] 1983 Active as of 2022[258]

145th Rescue Ship Detachment

In March 2017 four Project 22870 tugs were assigned to the Black Sea Fleet: Vasily Bekh, Professor Nikolay Muru, Captain Guryev, and SB-742.[269] Vasily Bekh was given the name Spasatel Vasily Bekh on 19 April 2021.[270] On 17 June 2022, Spasatel Vasily Bekh was sunk by Ukrainian Harpoon anti-ship missiles while on its way to Snake Island in the Black Sea.[271][272][273][274]

Black Sea Fleet ground forces, naval infantry and surface-to-surface missile forces

Black Sea Fleet aviation and air defence forces

The 2nd Guards Naval Aviation Division is part of the Black Sea Fleet.[54][55][296][297] The 27th Composite [or "Mixed," depending on translation] Aviation Division is part of the 4th Air and Air Defence Forces Army.

2nd Guards Naval Aviation Division (HQ Sevastopol)

Main article: Russian Naval Aviation

27th Composite Aviation Division (in Crimea but subordinate to 4th Air and Air Defence Forces Army – Rostov-on-Don)[296]

31st Air Defense Division (HQ: Sevastopol) subordinate to the 4th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (HQ: Rostov-on-Don)[288][304]

51st Air Defense Division (HQ: Rostov-on-Don;[276] with S-400, S-300, Pantsir, Buk SAM systems subordinate to 4th Air Army)

7th Military Base (Primorskoe, Abkhazia – S-400 and S-300 SAMs)[276]

The 43rd Guards Naval Assault Aviation Regiment traces its history to the 43rd Fighter Aviation Regiment (ru:43-й истребительный авиационный полк). The regiment began its formation in May 1938 and was finally formed on 11 or 13 May 1938 in the Kiev Special Military District at Vasylkiv airfield from the 71st, 5th and 109th separate fighter aviation squadrons.[306] It joined the 51st Aviation Brigade of the Air Forces of the Kiev Special Military District.

The regiment's first commander from summer 1938 was Vladimir Sryvkin (ru:Срывкин, Владимир Алексеевич).[307] Major Sryvkin handed over command in 1939 and became assistant commander of the 72nd Fighter Aviation Brigade. In May 1944, he died of wounds received in action.

On 22 June 1941, the regiment was still located at Vasylkiv, forming part of the 36th Fighter Aviation Division of the Air Defence Forces of the Kiev Special Military District.[308]

Over the entire period of its existence, the regiment was repeatedly reorganized and changed its name depending on the honorary titles assigned, awards and changes in the type of aviation:

The 43rd Fighter Aviation Regiment on 9 June 1942 was reorganized into the 43rd Mixed Aviation Regiment. The 43rd Mixed Aviation Regiment was reorganized on 21 June 1942 into the 43rd Fighter Aviation Regiment.[3]

The 43rd Fighter Aviation Sevastopol Red Banner Order of Kutuzov Regiment on 1 April 1960 was renamed the 43rd Aviation Sevastopol Red Banner Order of Kutuzov Regiment of Fighter-Bombers (APIB).

The 43rd Aviation Sevastopol Red Banner Order of Kutuzov Regiment of Fighter-Bombers, after being included in the Air Force of the Red Banner Black Sea Fleet on 1 December 1990, was renamed the 43rd Separate Naval Assault Aviation Sevastopol Red Banner Order of Kutuzov Regiment.

In connection with the reduction of the Russian Air Force, the 43rd Separate Marine Assault Aviation Sevastopol Red Banner Order of Kutuzov Regiment was reorganized on 1 October 1995 into the 43rd Separate Marine Assault Aviation Sevastopol Red Banner Order of Kutuzov Squadron.

In December 2004, the squadron was upgraded to a regiment once again. The 43rd separate naval assault aviation Sevastopol Red Banner Order of Kutuzov Regiment in connection with the ongoing reform of the RF Armed Forces in 2009 was renamed the 7058th Aviation Sevastopol Red Banner Order of Kutuzov Naval Aviation Base of the Russian Federation.

The 43rd separate naval assault aviation Sevastopol Red Banner Order of Kutuzov Naval Aviation Regiment of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation was re-formed in 2014 at the Novofedorovka airfield near the city of Saki.

The regiment was part of the "active army" (in front-line combat service) for six periods between 22 July 1941 and 9 May 1945.[309]

Incidents

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:

See also

References

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Further reading