13 August 2019

Defence and Security Monitor Documentary- Russia’s Black Sea Fleet

Cristian Eremia

The Russian Black Sea Fleet (RBSF) is part of the strategic-operative component of Russia’s Military Maritime Fleet (RMMF), together with the other three fleets- the North Fleet, the Baltic Sea Fleet, Pacific’s Fleet and Caspian Sea’s Flotilla. The RBSF is subordinated to the Southern Military Region Command. RBSF’s main mission is ensuring the national security and promoting the Russian foreign policy and security interests on south and south-west strategic directions, mainly in Black Sea’s regions- including the Azov and the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, the RBSF was actively used in the regional conflicts from Georgia 2008, respectively Ukraine 2014.

Image source: Monitorul Apărării şi Securităţii

Indeed, the RBSF must take part in a whole set of missions conducted by RMMF. In order to accomplish those missions, RBSF has important naval capabilities, surface ones, but also anti-submarine, missiles carriers and support missile, submarines, as well as Fleet’s Aviation and its own Coast Troop.

The RBSF command is dislocated in Sevastopol since September 2014, after the reorganization of the entire fleet, as consequence of Peninsula Crimea’s annexation. Currently, the RBSF is managed by vice admiral Igor Vladimirovici Osipov.

I. Dislocations, the organizational structure and endowment

RBSF’s methods and forces have the following essential dislocations:

- naval military bases in Sevastopol, Feodosia, Donuzlav- Crimea ports and Novorosiysk port- Land Krasnodar

- military airfields in Belbek, Gvardeyskoe, Kacha and Saki;

- garrisons in Sevastopol, Perevalnoye, Simferopol, Utash- Anapa, Temryuk, Bahcisaray and Evpatoriy for the other forces;

The RBSF has 55 warships of a total of 270 logistic support, intervention or other tasks ships. Also, it has a Coast Troop, also composed of marine infantry, missiles and coast artillery.

The reconsolidation of the RBSF has concretely started in 2014, after Russia took the control of Crimea Peninsula. Also since that moment, they have received, one by one, in the fight service, new naval military technique models. It is noteworthy the endowment with the six Kilo+ (modern) submarines, two Project 21631 corvettes and 3 Project 11356 navy ships, that have the famous missile system Kalibr on a navy platform. Concurrently, it has started an expensive modernization process for the old ships, which were in service for decades. Some of these came back from boatyards, like the cruiser “Moskva”.

Within the next phase, it is about to receive a series of new capabilities, which are currently in different construction phases: 3 missiles corvettes carriers - Project 21631, 5 missiles corvettes carriers - Project 22800, one maritime minesweeper- Project 12700, 4 patrol ships- Project 22160 (to be done by 2020-2022) and two supertankers- Project 23131.

RBSF’s military personnel does not go beyond 25 thousands militaries.

Black Sea’s Fleet is organized[1] as follows:

• 30th surface ships division:

-1 guided missile cruiser “Movska”, Project 1165 “Atlant” (from 1983);

- 1 guided missile destroyer “Smetlivyy”, Project 61 (from 1969);

- 2 guided missile frigate “Ladniyy” and “Pytlivyy”, Project 1135 (from 1981-1982);

- 3 guided missile frigate “Admiral Grigorovich”, “Admiral Essen” and “Admiral Makarov”, Project 11356 (from 2016-2018), endowed with the modern missile systems “Kalibr”.

•197th Assault Ships Brigade:

- 3 landing ships “Saratov”, “Orsk” and “Nikolay Filchenkov”, Project 1171 (from 1966-1975);

- 4 landing ships “Caesar Kunikov”, “Novocerkask”, “Iamal” and “Azov”, Project 775 (from 1986-1990).

•4th Independent Submarine Brigade:   

- 1 diesel attack submarine Kilo “Alrosa[2]”, Project 877 (from 1990);

- 6 diesel attack submarines Kilo+, “Novorossiysk”, “Rostov na Donu”, “Staryy Oscol”, “Krasnodar”, “Velikiy Novgorod” and “Kolpino”, Project 636.3 (from 2014-2016), endowed with the modern missile system “Kalibr”.

•41st Missile Boat Brigade:

- 166th Novorossiysk Small Missile Boat Division with 2 missile guided corvettes “Bora” and “Samum”, Project 1239 (from 1989 and 2000), 2 missile guided corvettes “Shtil”[3] and “Mirazh”, Project 1234 (from 1978 and 1987), respectively 2 guided missile corvettes “Vishny Volochyok” and “Orekhovo- Zuyevo”, Project 21631 (from 2018), endowed with the modern missile system “Kalibr”.

- 295th Sulinsk Missile Boat Division with 5 missile boats “Shuya” “P-60”, “Naberezhnye Chelny”, “Ivanovets” and “P-109”, Project 1241 (from 1950-1990).

• 68th Coastal Defence Ship Brigade:

- 400th Antisubmarine Ship Task Force with 3 antisubmarine warfare (ASW) “Alexandrovets”, “Suzdalets” and “Muromets”, Project 114M (from 1982-1983);

- 418th minesweeper division and three maritime minesweeper “Ivan Golubets”, “Kovrovets” and “Turbinist”, Project 255-M (from 1973-1975), respectively 1 maritime minesweeper “Ivan Antonov”, Project 12700 (from 2019);

•184th Novorossiysk Coastal Defence Brigade:

- 181th Antisubmarine Ship Division with 3 small antisubmarine ships “Kasimov”, “Eysk” and “Povorino”, Project 1124M (from 1984-1989), respectively 2 patrol boats “Vasiliy Bykov” and “Dmitriy Rogacev”, Project 22160 (from 2018, 2019);

- 170th Minesweeper Division with:

-3 seagoing sweeper “Jelezniakov”, Project 12660 (from 1988), “Valentin Pikul” and “Vice Admiral Zakharin”, Project 266 (from 2001 and 2008), respectively 3 base minesweeper around “Mineralnyye Vody” area, Project 1265 (from 1989), “RT-46”, Project 1258 (from 1985) and “RT-278”, Project 12592 (from 1991);

•6 anti-diversion “P-191, P-349, P-350, P-355, P-424, P-433”, Project 21980 (from 2012-2017), respectively 5 cruisers “D-4144, D-199”, Project 11770 (from 2008 and 2014), “D-295, D-106”, Project 1176 (from 1989 and 2009), “D-296)”, Project 02510 (from 2015).

•519th Independent reconnaissance ships division (military intelligence):

- 1 medium range of action intelligence ship “Priazovie”, Project 864 (from 1987, modernized in 2007);

- 1 medium range of action intelligence ship “Ivan Khurs”, Project 18280 (from 2018);

- 2 electronic reconnaissance medium range of action “Ecvator” (modernized in 2013) and “Kildin”, Project 861 (from 1968 and 1970);

-183th research, rescue, evacuation and interventions division (Novorossiysk), which has diver ships (“MV-86, 108”), for firemen (“Pjk-58), rescue (SMK-2094, SB-4, SB-Orion, Kommuna”), research-rescue (“Saiani”), rescue-evacuation (“RVK-764, 762, 767, 771, 1045”) and passengers (“USC- 1321”).

- 9th maritime support ships brigade, which has tugboats (“Buk-645”), tanker ships (“Ivan Bunov, General Riabikov, VTN-73”), transport (“Dvinita-50, Vologda-50”), hospital (“Enisei)[4] and communication/connection (“Ksv-2155, 67”).

The RBSF has also Fleet’s Aviation, as well as aviation’s elements from the Southern Military Region, organized as follows:

•43rd Independent Naval Attack Aviation Regiment (Saki):

-13 SU-24 strike aircrafts;

-12 SU-30 M multirole aircrafts;

-3 naval research aircrafts (ISR- military information) SU-24 MR.

•318th Independent Composite Aviation Regiment (Kacha):

- around 6 transport AN-26 aircraft;

-  3 antisubmarine hydro-aircrafts and maritime patrol Be-12’

- around 30 rescue-evacuation helicopters Ka-27/29;

-8 Mi-8 helicopters;

- 2 aviation squadron, dislocated to Belbek and Gvardeyskoe, which are endowed with around 16 interception aircrafts SU-27SM, Su-27M and strike aircraft SU-25.

For the participation to complex operations, the RBSF has, also, Coast Troops:

- the 810th Infantry Brigade (Sevastopol);

- the 126th Independent defence coast Infantry (Perevalnoye/ Simferopol region);

- 127th research/military information Brigade (Sevastopol);

-11th Independent missiles and coast artillery Brigade (Utash/Anapa);

            -Bastions and Redut missile systems;

            - Bereg artillery system.

-15th Independent missile and coast artillery Brigade (Sevastopol);

            - 8454h Coast Missile Regiment (Sevastopol), endowed with the missile system Rubej;

            - 8th Independent coast artillery Regiment (Perevalnoye/ Simferopol region), endowed with the artillery systems Smerch and Krizantema.

-9th Regiment coast artillery;

            - 1096 missile defence systems Regiment (Sevastopol), endowed with missile systems Bul-M2 (about to be replaced with Buk-M3);

            - 382th Marine Infantry Battalion[5] (Temryuk- Land Krasnodar);

The RBSF also has logistic support military units, the most important being:

- 133 Independent logistic Brigade (Bahcisarai/Crimea);

- 4th  Independent Regiment RHBZ (Sevastopol);

- 68th Maritime Engineer Regiment (Expatorii).

The Southern Russian Military has short range of action S-400 antimissile defence systems, dislocated in strategic positions (Sevastopol, Evpatoria, Djankoi, Kerch, Feodosia), as well as mixed artillery and anti-air missile systems Pantir-S1.

II. Technical-tactical characteristics of the main weapons types:

•Guided missile cruiser “Moskva”[6] , Project 1164

“Moskva” is RBSF’s admiral ship, the first Project 1164 ship- category Atlant, which entered the endowment in 1983, back then called Slava, as the current name it was given in 1996.

It combats the large surface ships and the enemy maritime assault forces, ensuring sustainability in naval group’s operations of research and antisubmarine attack, antimissile defence of the naval groups working in distant areas and specific support in operations for the landing and disembarkation forces.

Basic characteristics:

-team-680 people;

-draught: 8,4 meters, displacement of 12.280 tons;

-autonomy in operations: 30 days;

-maximum speed: 32 knots/hour;

-cruise distance- 7.964 marine miles (12.964 km);

- armament;

-16 missile launch installations P-1000 Vulkan;

- 1 antisubmarine helicopter Ka-27PL (or research-rescue Ka-27PS helicopter);

- 2 anti-air missile installations Osa-AK (Osa-M), with munition reserve composed of 48 missiles;

-2 torpedo launch tubes, caliber 533 mm (with a 10 torpedo antisubmarine reserve);

- 8 ZRK S-300F “Fort” launchers (with a 64 missiles munition reserve);

-6 artillery installations, caliber 30 mm anti-aircraft AK-630 CIWS;

- 2 bomb launchers installations RBU-6000 (munition reserve of 96 bombs).

The cruiser was not used since June 2016[7], due to some reparations and modernization works. It is about to become operational and reenter the fight service by the end of 2019.

Guided missile frigate “Admiral Grigorovich”[8], Project 11356

The RBSF includes three Project 11356 frigates, missile carriers of “Admiral Grigorovich”, “Admiral Essen” and “Admiral Makarov”, endowed with the modern missile system “Kalibr”. These ships were introduced in the 30th Surface Ship Division and have participated in many fight missions in East of the Mediterranean Sea.

Basic characteristics:

- team: 200 people;

- draught: 4,2 meters, displacement: 4.035 tons;

- length: 124.8 meters;

-total propulsion power- 45,4 MW (56-68);

-operations autonomy: 30 days;

-maximum speed: 30 knots/hour;

- armament:

•8 (2X4) installations UKSK VLS cruise missile Kalibr, Oniks or Zircon;

•24 (2X12) 3S90M VLS installations for land-air missile 9M317M Shtil;

•2 double tubes for 533 mm caliber torpedo;

•1 missile launcher RBU-6000;

•2 installations with 30mm caliber anti-aircraft AK-630 CIWS;

• 1 cannon caliber 100 mm A-190 Arsenal;

•8 man-portable surface-to-air defence system Igla-S or Verba;

•1 naval helicopter Ka-27.

•The diesel attack submarine, class Kilo+, modernized[9], Project 636.3

The six third generation diesel attack submarine, Project 636.3 (Kilo+ class in the NATO catalogue) entered the RBSF service in 2015. In 2017, it was used in the Mediterranean Sea, where it hit with the missiles at a time over infrastructure objectives on Syria’s territory.

Basic characteristics:

- team: 60 militaries;

-displacement: surface: 2350 tons; in the dive: 3100 tons;

-maximum speed: surface- 12 knots/hours, dive- 19,8 knots/hour;

-autonomy in operations- 45 days;

- maximum dive depth- 3000 meters;

- it has a high invisibility level at acoustic discovery;

- armament board: 6 torpedo strike tube, caliber 533 mm;

-Kalibr system with 3M-14 cruise missile and PKR 3M-54 or 3M-541 anti-ship missile.

Currently, three such submarines- Novorosiysk, Rostov on Don and Stary Oskol are in the Black Sea, and other three- Krasnodar, Veliky Novgorod and Kolpino in the Mediterranean Sea, being dislocated in the Syrian port Tartus. The Veliky Novgorod and Kolpino submarines were not brought in the Black Sea ever, being kept in East of the Mediterranean Sea for missions across the operative naval Group of the RMMF (the Krasnodar submarine joined the other in March).

-the 3M-54 Kalibr missile[10]

The Kalibr missile was created[11] starting with the 90’s (projected in 1974/78/82) and used by the RMMF since 1994 on naval platforms. This missile has many constructive versions, which can be used on several platforms: cruise, anti-ship, antisubmarine, terrestrial attack or land-to-land, launched from submarines, surface ships or aircrafts. There are also versions especially created for export, generally known as Klub missiles. This missile was used in the civil was from Syria, in the naval version.

Basic characteristics:

- mass- versions 1300kg/1780kg/2300kg;

- length- versions from 6,2 m to 8,9 m;

-diameter- 0.533 m;

-warhead- 400-500 km HE or thermonuclear;

- engine- Multi-stage solid-fuel rocket, turbojet engine for 3M-54/E/TE/E1/TE1, -14/E/TE, solid fuel rocket for 91RE1/RTE2;

-the operational range of actions is different, accordingly with the model: 3M-54/3M-54T - 660 km model, 3M-14/3M-14T - 1500-2500 km model, 3M-54E (export version) 220 km, 3M-54E1/3M-14E MODEL (export version)  300 km.

- maximum flight limit- 1000 m;

-minimum flight heights – 5-150 m above the ground, 20 m above the sea;

-maximum speed- from 0.8 to 2.9 Mach;

- inertial platform guided system, through an active radar terminal, satellite, DSMAC;

-accuracy-3 m for the Kalibr-PL missiles, respectively Klub-S.

The missile is a modular system with five versions: two anti-shipping types, one for land attack and two anti-submarine types. The missile is projected to that to use the common subunits following the different fabrication versions, especially when it comes to missiles launched from surface naval platforms and submarines. Each missiles has also different components, like the propeller module. The version launched from a surface ship uses a vertical launching system (VLS), which has a propeller that can make the shoot vectorial. The missile launched from a submarine does not need such a supplementary element, but it has a conventional propeller. The version launched from air is maintained in a container, which detaches from the missile is launched.

The Russian domestic version (3M54T / 3M54K) and export variants (3M54TE/3M54KE) fly at sub-sonic speeds while achieving supersonic speed as they near their target. They are also capable of performing very high angled defensive high speed maneuvers in contrast to the common linear flight path of other anti-ship cruise missiles.


Translated by Andreea Soare

[1] For the ellaboration of this documentary were used: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, „The Military Balance.  The annual assesment of global military capabilities and defence economics.”, 2018; Dr. Igor Delanoe, Deputy Head, French-Russian Analytical Center Observo / CAN Analysis and Solutions, „Russia’s Black See Fleet: Toward a Multiregional Force” https://www.cna.org/CNA_files/PDF/IOP-2019-U-020190-Final.pdf, last time verified at 05.08.2019; https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A7%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%BC%D0%BE%D1%80%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B8%D0%B9_%D1%84%D0%BB%D0%BE%D1%82_%D0%92%D0%9C%D0%A4_%D0%A0%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%81%D0%B8%D0%B8https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_active_Russian_Navy_shipshttps://ria.ru/20180513/1520307271.html?in=thttps://vmf-rf.tass.ru/black-sea/, last time verified at 01.08.2019.

[2] Currently in a modernization process.

[3] In reserve.

[4] In reserve.

[5] The only unit of such kind for specific missions in Azov Sea region

[7] According to the Communication Department of RBSF, on 05.06.2019, this ships executed the first sailings for final verification before reentering the fight service;

[11] Novator Design Bureau, KTRV, MKB Fakel, NPO Mash, Raduga, NPO Zvezda Strela (Orenburg)