Bulgarian Navy
Военноморски сили на Република България
Voennomorski sili na Republika Balgariya
Naval Ensign of Bulgaria.svg
Ensign of the Bulgarian Navy
Founded13 January 1899 
(123 years, 5 months)
Country Bulgaria
BranchBulgarian Armed Forces
TypeNavy
Size4,100 personnel (2009)
Part ofMinistry of Defence
Garrison/HQVarna
Atia
Anniversaries9 August
EngagementsFirst Balkan War
Second Balkan War
World War I
World War II
Websitenavy.mod.bg
Commanders
Commander of the Navy Rear Admiral Kyril Mikhailov
Insignia
Naval ensign
Naval Ensign of Bulgaria.svg
Naval jack
Naval Jack of Bulgaria.svg
Coast guard ensign
Coastguard Ensign of Bulgaria.svg

The Bulgarian Navy (Bulgarian: Военноморски сили на Република България, romanizedVoennomorski sili na Republika Balgariya, lit.'Naval Forces of the Republic of Bulgaria') is the navy of the Republic of Bulgaria and forms part of the Bulgarian Armed Forces. It has been largely overlooked in the reforms that Bulgaria had to go through in order to comply with NATO standards, mostly because of the great expense involved and the fact that naval assaults are not considered to be a great concern for the country's security.[citation needed] That is why three of the four Romeo-class submarines (excluding Slava) are now docked and have been out of operation for some time. The last one was decommissioned in November 2011.[1] Only the more modern frigates, corvettes and missile crafts are on active duty.

The Bulgarian Navy is centred in two main bases. One is near the city of Varna. The other is Atiya Naval Base, near the city of Burgas.

Operational history

Bulgarian torpedo gunboat Nadezhda

First Balkan War

The Bulgarian Navy's first combat action was the 1912 Battle of Kaliakra during the First Balkan War, when the Bulgarian torpedo boat Drazki attacked and crippled the Ottoman cruiser Hamidiye.

Second Balkan War

See also: Romanian landings in Bulgaria

The Bulgarian Navy scuttled its four Danube gunboats during the Second Balkan War, probably to avoid capture by the invading Romanian Army.[2] The four gunboats were 400-600-ton vessels, with a top speed of 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph) and armed with two-to-four 75 mm (3 in) guns and two-to-four 47 mm (1.9 in) guns. They were still present on the Bulgarian Navy list in August 1916.[3]

World War I

When Bulgaria entered World War I in 1915, its navy consisted mainly of a French-built torpedo gunboat called Nadezhda and six torpedo boats. It mainly engaged in mine warfare actions in the Black Sea against the Russian Black Sea Fleet and allowed the Germans to station two U-boats at Varna, one of which came under Bulgarian control in 1916 as Podvodnik No. 18. Russian mines sank one Bulgarian torpedo boat and damaged one more during the war.[4]

World War II

The Bulgarian Navy during World War II supported the Axis Powers in the Black Sea and consisted mainly of four obsolete Drazki-class torpedo boats, five modern Lurrsen type motor torpedo boats and three formerly Dutch motor torpedo boats. Bulgaria and the Soviet Union were not at war with each other, but there was still little naval fighting with Soviet submarines operating in Bulgarian waters, its main action taking place in October 1941.[5]

The so-called Operation Varna consisted in the minelaying of the Bulgarian coast by the Romanian minelayers Amiral Murgescu, Regele Carol I and Dacia, escorted by Romanian 250t-class torpedo boat Năluca, Sborul and Smeul, Romanian gunboats Sublocotenent Ghiculescu and Căpitan Dumitrescu and Bulgarian torpedo boats Drazki, Smeli and Hrabri.[6] The operation, lasting between 7 and 16 October 1941, was largely successful, as despite the loss of the Romanian auxiliary minelayer Regele Carol I to a Soviet mine,[7] the five minefields laid by the Romanian minelayers along the Bulgarian coast are credited with the sinking of four Soviet submarines: S-34, L-24, Shch-211 and Shch-210, although the latter could have also been sunk by German aircraft or depth-charged by the Bulgarian patrol boats Belomorets and Chernomorets.[8]

On 6 December 1941, Belomorets and Chernomorets depth-charged and sank the Soviet submarine Shch-204.[9]

Soviet submarines also laid mines near the Bulgarian coast, the 2304-ton Bulgarian steamer Chipka being sunk off Varna by mines laid by the submarine L-4.[10]

On 19 May 1943, the Bulgarian torpedo boat Smeli foundered between Varna and Burgas during a storm.[11]

Any hostilities ended when Bulgaria changed sides and joined the Allied powers in September 1944.

Cold War

In line with Soviet naming practices the navy of the Bulgarian People's Army was called the Military Naval Fleet (Военноморски флот (ВМФ)). The merchant marine, which was to mobilize in wartime in support of the regular navy was called Bulgarian Sea Fleet (Български Морски Флот (БМФ)).

In the 1970s the Burgas Naval Base relocated to Atia with a corresponding change in name.

The Naval Fleet Staff was located in Varna.[12]

Since independence

The Bulgarian Communist Party was forced to give up its political monopoly on 10 November 1989 under the influence of the Revolutions of 1989. With freedom restored, it became a member of NATO in 2004,[13] and after several years of reforms, it joined the European Union and the single market in 2007, despite EU concerns over government corruption.[14]

In order to meet some of the NATO requirements, the Bulgarian government purchased a Wielingen-class frigate from Belgium in 2005. BNS Wandelaar (F-912), built in 1977, was renamed BG Drazki. That same year the Bulgarian ship Smeli took part as a full NATO member for the first time in NATO OAE (Operation Active Endeavour). In 2006, following a decision of the Bulgarian National Assembly, Drazki deployed as part of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL), patrolling the territorial waters of Lebanon under German command. This was the first time the Bulgarian Navy took part in an international peacekeeping operation. The Bulgarian government purchased two more Wielingen-class frigates and one Tripartite-class minehunter in 2007.

On 21 July 2020 took place the official inauguration of the Maritime Coordination Center in Varna. This was an important step towards greater NATO and regional cooperation in the Black Sea region.[15]

Command structure

Directly subordinate to Naval Staff

Varna Naval Base

Atia Naval Base

Naval Equipment

In 1989 the people's navy's inventory consisted of:

Structure

Structure of the Naval Forces 2018 (click to enlarge)
Structure of the Naval Forces 2018 (click to enlarge)
The Bulgarian fleet in Varna
The Bulgarian fleet in Varna
The Wielingen-class frigate ex-Westdiep, now BGS Gordi
The Wielingen-class frigate ex-Westdiep, now BGS Gordi

A "Division" is the equivalent of land forces battalion or air force squadron as the Bulgarian Navy follows the Russian naval tradition, according to which an "Operational Squadron" or "Оперативная эскадра" is a temporary formation, an equivalent of a land forces division and in modern times a "Squadron" of the Russian Navy is an equivalent of a land forces corps.

According to the reform plans envisioned in the White Paper on Defence 2010, the two naval bases would be merged into one with two base facilities in Varna and Burgas. The manpower of the Navy would account to about 3,400 seamen. The ordered Eurocopter AS565 MB Panther helicopters were reduced from six to three units. Between 2011 and 2020 the naval "Longterm Investment Plan" should come into action, providing the sea arm of the Bulgarian military with modernised ships and new equipment.

Ships

The Bulgarian Navy will modernise three of its Wielingen-class frigates in the future. The frigates will be equipped with landing pads, allowing helicopters to land and take off from the ships' decks.[17] The list does not include vessels assigned to the border police. The Bulgarian Ministry of Defense signed a contract on 12/11/2020 with Lürssen Werft Germany to build two patrol boats for the Bulgarian Navy. The boats will be built by the Bulgarian MTG Dolphin shipyard in Varna and delivered in 2025 and 2026 with the 984M lev (approximately €503M) price also including training.

Class Photo Name Type Origin Division Naval Base Notes
Frigates (4)
Koni
Smeli2006Varna.jpg
Smeli (11) (Смели - Brave) Frigate  Soviet Union 1st Patrol Ships Division Varna [18]
Wielingen
Bulgarian frigate Verni (42) in the Black Sea in July 2015.JPG
Drazki (41) (Дръзки - Daring) Frigate  Belgium 4th Patrol Ships Division Atia ex-Belgian frigate Wandelaar[19] 4th Patrol Ships Division(Naval Base Location Atia
Verni (42) (Верни - Loyal) ex-Belgian frigate Wielingen[19]
Gordi (43) (Горди - Proud) ex-Belgian frigate Westdiep[19]
Patrol Ships (2)
MMPV 90 TBD Offshore patrol  Germany
 Bulgaria
TBD TBD To be delivered by Lürssen Werft in 2025 and 2026. The ships' design is loosely based on the German Braunschweig-class corvette.[20][21]
TBD TBD TBD
Corvettes (3)
Tarantul
ORP Metalowiec in Gdynia.JPG
Malniya (101) (Мълния - Lightning) Corvette  Soviet Union 4th Patrol Ships Division Atia [22]
Pauk
Reshitelni2006.jpg
Reshitelni (13) (Решителни - Decisive) ASW corvette  Soviet Union 1st Patrol Ships Division Varna [23]
Bodri (14) (Бодри - Brisk)
Mine Countermeasures Ships (20)
Tripartite
Dutch naval visitors, Belfast - geograph.org.uk - 993303.jpg
Tsibar (32) (Цибър) Minehunter  Belgium 3rd Mine Counter-Measure Division Varna ex-Belgian Myosotis[24]
Mesta (31)  Netherlands ex-Dutch Maassluis
Struma (33) ex-Dutch Hellevoetsluis
Olya Hull number 51 Minesweeper  Soviet Union 3rd Mine Counter-Measure Division Varna [25]
Hull number 52
Hull number 53
Hull number 54
Hull number 55
Hull number 56
Vanya
Unknown ship (1114).jpg
Iskar (31) (Искър) Minesweeper  Soviet Union 3rd Mine Counter-Measure Division Varna [26]
Dobrotich (33) (Добротич)
Captain-lieutenant Kiril Minkov (34)
Captain 1st rank Dimitar Paskalev (36)
Sonya
62 Shkval Minesweeper.jpg
Briz (61) (Бриз - Sea breeze) Minesweeper  Soviet Union 6th Mine Counter-Measure Division Atia [27]
Shkval (62) (Шквал - Squall)
Priboi (63) (Прибой - Breaking wave)
Yevgenya
Caspian boat 207.jpg
Hull numbers 65 Minesweeper  Soviet Union 6th Mine Counter-Measure Division Atia [28]
Hull number 66
Hull number 67
Hull number 68
Support Ships (16)
Project 160 multi-purpose cutter Hull number 121 Cutter  Bulgaria 18th Support Ships Division Varna [29]
Hull number 215
Hull number 216
Hull number 312 96th Support Ships Division Atia
Hull number 313
Project 245 cutter Hull number 223 Cutter  Bulgaria 18th Support Ships Division Varna [30]
Hull number 323 96th Support Ships Division Atia
Project 612 survey cutter Hull number 231 Cutter  Bulgaria 18th Support Ships Division Varna [31]
Hull number 331 96th Support Ships Division Atia
Project 250 fireboat Aheloy (321) (Ахелой) Fireboat  Bulgaria 96th Support Ships Division Atia [32]
Project 650 tanker Balchik (203) (Балчик) Tanker  Bulgaria 18th Support Ships Division Varna [33]
Akin (303) (Акин) 96th Support Ships Division Atia
Hull number 211 Tugboat  Bulgaria 18th Support Ships Division Varna [34]
Hull number 410 Tugboat  Bulgaria 96th Support Ships Division Atia [34]
Type 1799 degaussing ship Captain 1st rank Dimitar Dobrev (206) Degaussing ship  Poland 18th Support Ships Division Varna [35]
Italian submarine rescue ship Proteo (A5310) c1962.jpg
Rescue vessel Proteo (224) (Протео)  Italy 18th Support Ships Division Varna ex-Italian А 5310 Proteo[36][37]
Training Ships (1)
Hull number 421 Training vessel  Bulgaria Naval academy "N.Y. Vaptsarov" Varna [38]

Naval aviation

Chayka Naval Air Base

2 Eurocopter AS565 Panther (6 originally ordered, 3 delivered, 3 later canceled, 1 written off)

1 Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin delivered in late 2019

Bulgarian Chayka Naval Air Base Emblem
Bulgarian Chayka Naval Air Base Emblem

3 Mil Mi-14 (stored in non-flyworthy condition)

Equipment

Type Origin Details
Exocet  France anti-ship missiles
P-15MC Termit  Soviet Union anti-ship missiles
SA-N-4  Soviet Union surface-to-air missiles
SA-N-5  Soviet Union surface-to-air missiles
RIM-7 Sea Sparrow  United States surface-to-air missiles

Ranks

Commissioned officer ranks

The rank insignia of commissioned officers.

NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer
 Bulgarian Navy[40]
Bulgaria-Navy-OF-9.svg
Generic-Navy-(star)-O12.svg
Bulgaria-Navy-OF-8.svg
Generic-Navy-(star)-O11.svg
Bulgaria-Navy-OF-7.svg
Generic-Navy-(star)-O10.svg
Bulgaria-Navy-OF-6.svg
Generic-Navy-(star)-O9.svg
Rank insignia of Капитан I ранг of the Bulgarian Navy.png
Generic-Navy-(star)-O8.svg
Rank insignia of Капитан II ранг of the Bulgarian Navy.png
Generic-Navy-(star)-O7.svg
Rank insignia of Капитан III ранг of the Bulgarian Navy.png
Generic-Navy-(star)-O5.svg
Rank insignia of Капитан-лейтенант of the Bulgarian Navy.png
Generic-Navy-(star)-O3.svg
Rank insignia of Старши лейтенант of the Bulgarian Navy.png
Generic-Navy-(star)-O2.svg
Rank insignia of Лейтенант of the Bulgarian Navy.png
Generic-Navy-(star)-O1.svg
Rank insignia of Офицерски кандидат of the Bulgarian Navy.png
Адмирал
Admiral
Вицеадмирал
Vitseadmiral
Контраадмирал
Kontraadmiral
Флотилен адмирал
Flotilen admiral
Капитан I ранг
Kapitan I rang
Капитан II ранг
Kapitan II rang
Капитан III ранг
Kapitan III rang
Капитан-лейтенант
Kapitan-leytenant
Старши лейтенант
Starshi leĭtenant
Лейтенант
Leytenant
Офицерски кандидат
Ofitserski kandidat

Other ranks

The rank insignia of non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel.

NATO code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
 Bulgarian Navy[40]
Bulgaria-Navy-OR-9.svg
Bulgaria-Navy-OR-8.svg
Bulgaria-Navy-OR-7.svg
Bulgaria-Navy-OR-6.svg
Bulgaria-Navy-OR-5.svg
Bulgaria-Navy-OR-4.svg
Bulgaria-Navy-OR-1.svg

Офицерски кандидат
Ofitserski kandidat
Мичман
Mičman
Главен старшина
Glaven starshina
Старшина 1 степен
Starshina 1 stepen
Старшина 2 степен
Starshina 2 stepen
Старши матрос
Starshi matros
Матрос
Matros

References

  1. ^ "Bulgarian Navy Discards Submarine Force". defencegreece.com. 3 November 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  2. ^ Spencer Tucker, Priscilla Mary Roberts,World War I: A Student Encyclopedia, p. 391
  3. ^ Raymond Stănescu, Cristian Crăciunoiu, Marina română în primul război mondial, Modelism Publishing, 2000, p. 55
  4. ^ Spencer Tucker, Priscilla Mary Roberts, Encyclopedia of World War I, Volume 1, p. 240
  5. ^ Spencer Tucker, World War II at Sea: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1, pp. 131-132
  6. ^ Donald A Bertke, Gordon Smith, Don Kindell, World War II Sea War, Volume 4: Germany Sends Russia to the Allies, p. 323
  7. ^ Donald A Bertke, Gordon Smith, Don Kindell, World War II Sea War, Volume 4: Germany Sends Russia to the Allies, p. 324
  8. ^ Mikhail Monakov, Jurgen Rohwer, Stalin's Ocean-going Fleet: Soviet Naval Strategy and Shipbuilding Programs 1935-1953, pp. 265-266
  9. ^ Antony Preston, Warship 2001-2002, p. 88
  10. ^ Donald A Bertke, Gordon Smith, Don Kindell, World War II Sea War, Volume 4: Germany Sends Russia to the Allies, p. 260
  11. ^ "Druzki torpedo boats (1908-1909)- Bulgarian Navy (Bulgaria)". www.navypedia.org. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Вимпел". 24 Nov 2017.
  13. ^ "NATO Update: Seven new members join NATO". NATO. 29 March 2004. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
  14. ^ Castle, Steven (29 December 2006). "The Big Question: With Romania and Bulgaria joining the EU, how much bigger can it get?". The Independent. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  15. ^ "Official Inauguration of the Maritime Coordination Center in Varna". U.S. EMBASSY IN BULGARIA. 21 July 2020.
  16. ^ "List of the military units in Ruse from 1879 to date". 18 November 2017. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  17. ^ "Bulgarian navy faces trimming, modernisation - Defence Minister". The Sofia Echo. 12 April 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  18. ^ "Стражеви кораб проект 1159 /Смели/". vimpel.boinaslava.net. Retrieved 5 October 2014. (Bulgarian)
  19. ^ a b c "Фрегата тип E-71 "Wielingen"". vimpel.boinaslava.net. Retrieved 5 October 2014. (Bulgarian)
  20. ^ "Corvettes - Naval Vessels – NVL". nvl.de. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  21. ^ "Steel cutting ceremony for the MMPV project » MTG DOLPHIN". MTG DOLPHIN. 2021-12-09. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  22. ^ "Голям ракетен катер проект 1241.1Т "Молния-1"". vimpel.boinaslava.net. Retrieved 5 October 2014. (Bulgarian)
  23. ^ "Противолодочни кораби проект 1241.2Э "Молния-2"". vimpel.boinaslava.net. Retrieved 5 October 2014. (Bulgarian)
  24. ^ "Минен ловец тип "Tripartite"". vimpel.boinaslava.net. Retrieved 5 October 2014. (Bulgarian)
  25. ^ "Миночистачни катери проект 1259.2 "Малахит"". vimpel.boinaslava.net. Retrieved 5 October 2014. (Bulgarian)
  26. ^ "Базови тралщици проект 257Д и 257ДМЭ". vimpel.boinaslava.net. Retrieved 5 October 2014. (Bulgarian)
  27. ^ "Базови тралщици проект 1265 "Яхонт"". vimpel.boinaslava.net. Retrieved 5 October 2014. (Bulgarian)
  28. ^ "Базови тралщици проект 1258Э "Корунд"". vimpel.boinaslava.net. Retrieved 5 October 2014. (Bulgarian)
  29. ^ "Многоцелеви моторни катери проект 160". vimpel.boinaslava.net. Retrieved 5 October 2014. (Bulgarian)
  30. ^ "Водолазни катери проект 245". vimpel.boinaslava.net. Retrieved 5 October 2014. (Bulgarian)
  31. ^ "Хидрографски катери проект 612". vimpel.boinaslava.net. Retrieved 5 October 2014. (Bulgarian)
  32. ^ "Противопожарен кораб проект 250". vimpel.boinaslava.net. Retrieved 5 October 2014. (Bulgarian)
  33. ^ "Танкери-бункеровчици проект 650". vimpel.boinaslava.net. Retrieved 5 October 2014. (Bulgarian)
  34. ^ a b "История на създаването". vimpel.boinaslava.net. Retrieved 5 October 2014. (Bulgarian)
  35. ^ "Кораб за размагнитване проект 1799". vimpel.boinaslava.net. Retrieved 5 October 2014. (Bulgarian)
  36. ^ "Спасителен кораб "Протео"". vimpel.boinaslava.net. Retrieved 5 October 2014. (Bulgarian)
  37. ^ "Спасителен кораб "Протео"". Pan.bg. 21 July 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2014. (Bulgarian)
  38. ^ "Учебен кораб 421". vimpel.boinaslava.net. Retrieved 5 October 2014. (Bulgarian)
  39. ^ АЕРО, Списание. "Катастрофа с вертолет Panther от състава на ВМС (обобщение)". aeropress-bg.com. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  40. ^ a b "ЗАКОН ЗА ОТБРАНАТА И ВЪОРЪЖЕНИТЕ СИЛИ НА РЕПУБЛИКА БЪЛГАРИЯ". lex.bg (in Bulgarian). Глава седма. ВОЕННА СЛУЖБА. 12 May 2009. Retrieved 25 May 2021.

Bibliography