More submarines coming to the Black Sea
Russia has clarified its short-term modernization plans for the Black Sea Fleet:
Three patrol boats of a new project and three submarines of 636 project will be laid up at Russian shipyards for the Black Sea Fleet before the end of 2010, Russian Navy Commander Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky said.
"They [the ships] will be included in the Black Sea Fleet," Vysotsky said. "The three submarines of the 636 project have already been laid, and they will be included in submarine forces of the Black Sea Fleet."
The ships appear, given Vysotksy's description, to be Krivak III class frigates, a version of which has been produced for export to India. That would contradict some earlier reports that the ships would be the newer Admiral Gorshkov-class frigates. And Moscow appears to have opted for 636(Kilo)-class submarines rather than the newer Lada/St. Petersburg class that some had expected. (A side note: Really? You're naming a new submarine 'Lada'?)
While this may be look like a downscaling of Russia's expectations, it's a more realistic plan that has a greater chance of success, argued Dmitry Gorenburg in a good analysis of Russia's Black Sea Fleet plans a month ago:
If the Navy announces that the new ships will consist of Admiral Gorshkov frigates and Lada submarines, the Black Sea Fleet is likely to be in for more delays and disappointments. But if the modernization does end up consisting of Kilo submarines and Krivak III frigates, then it is much more likely to happen quickly and successfully.
In addition, Russia will soon be getting back its only currently functional submarine in the Black Sea Fleet:
The only submarine of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the Alrosa, which had an accident last November, will be fully restored by the end of July, a source at the fleet headquarters told Interfax-AVN on Thursday.
"The submarine repairs in Novorossiysk are very energetic," he said.
It was planned at first to complete the repairs by Navy Day, July 25, so that the submarine could take part in a naval parade. "Unfortunately, that will not happen. However, the submarine may go to the fleet base before the end of this month," he said.
Meanwhile, Bulgaria is retiring its last submarine, ending a nearly 100-year-long history of submarine deployment. From Novinite.com, via Bosphorus Naval News, Bulgaria's defense minister explains:
“Calling it a submarine force is too strong because any such unit must include at least two vessels. As you know, we have only one submarine. Its life has expired, and thus the submarine component of the Bulgarian Navy probably won’t exist any more.”
While senior Turkish and Greek officials have voiced a wish to reduce their countries' defense spending, Ankara's major Navy modernization programs, including a multibillion-dollar deal to buy new submarines, remain in place...
The Turkish Navy will buy six modern submarines, built by Germany's HDW shipyards and Turkish partners. The U-214 type submarines will cost nearly 2 billion euros under a contract signed last summer.
So, seems like the deep waters of the Black Sea could be getting a little more crowded. Who's next? Georgia? Ukraine? Abkhazia?