Russian Black Sea Fleet new ships hold first drills in Mediterranean

The Black Sea Fleet new ships practiced negotiating mine obstacles during drills in the Mediterranean Sea, the Fleet’s press office reported on Thursday.

The naval group included the minesweeper Ivan Antonov and the patrol vessel Dmitry Rogachyov that recently entered service with the Black Sea Fleet, the press office specified.

“The exercise was held in compliance with the combat training plan for the Russian Navy’s ships fulfilling assignments as part of the permanent taskforce in the Mediterranean Sea. These are the first joint drills for the crews of the patrol vessel Dmitry Rogachyov and the mine countermeasures ship Ivan Antonov in the distant maritime zone after the ships were accepted for service in the Black Sea Fleet,” the press office said in a statement.

Under the drills’ scenario, the crew of the ship Ivan Antonov employed its sweeps to lead the patrol vessel Dmitry Rogachyov and the frigate Admiral Essen also involved in the exercise through a notional minefield. The warship also used an underwater mine search and detection system for anti-mine reconnaissance.

“The minesweeper Ivan Antonov successfully accomplished the assigned task of making passage in the minefield for the group of ships, which sailed through the cleared water area and practiced operations by artillery teams to destroy floating mines,” the statement says.

The base-type minesweeper Ivan Antonov is the third built and the second serial-produced ship of this class. The contract for its construction was signed with Russia’s Defense Ministry in April 2014. It was laid down at the Sredne-Nevsky Shipyard in St. Petersburg in northwestern Russia on January 25, 2017 and floated out on April 25, 2018. The latest mine countermeasures ship was delivered to the Russian Navy on January 26, 2019.

Project 12700 mine countermeasures vessels (minesweepers) have their hull made of glass-fiber reinforced plastic. As its advantage, this solution provides for the ship’s higher strength compared to the steel hull. The hull made of the monolith glass-fiber reinforced plastic has a longer service life than the hull made of low-magnetic steel while its weight is considerably smaller.

Project 12700 warships displace about 900 tonnes and are over 60 meters long and 10 meters wide. They develop a speed of 16.5 knots and have a crew of 44. The warship can use various mine-sweeps, as well as remotely-operated and autonomous underwater drones.

The Project 22160 second serial-produced patrol vessel Dmitry Rogachyov built by the Zelenodolsk Shipyard in the Volga area entered service with Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in June 2019. The Project’s lead ship Vasily Bykov joined the Black Sea Fleet in December 2018.

Project 22160 corvettes (also called patrol vessels) have been developed by the Severnoye Design Bureau in St. Petersburg (part of the United Shipbuilding Corporation). They are designated to protect and defend the country’s maritime economic zone.