Russian Black Sea Fleet frigates are passing through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits in their Mediterranean deployment, the Fleet’s press office reported on 28th February.
“Two frigates of the Black Sea Fleet have started to pass simultaneously through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits towards the Mediterranean Sea. The frigates Admiral Makarov and Admiral Grigorovich armed with the precision Kalibr-NK missile systems are making a planned transit from Sevastopol to the distant maritime area where they will join the Navy’s permanent Mediterranean taskforce,” the press office said in a statement.
Timing of sending naval assets is quite meaningful, just after Turkey and Russia couldn’t negotiate over Idlib of Syria issues. At the same day, Turkish Armed forces lost 33 soldiers after bombardments of Syria.
The Black Sea Fleet’s third frigate of this series, the Admiral Essen, has already been performing tasks in the Mediterranean Sea since December 2019, the press office said.
The Black Sea Fleet’s frigates represent a new series of Project 11356R/M ships (the Project 11357 designation is also used). These are multi-purpose frigates (guard ships) for operation in distant waters. They are designed to destroy enemy surface ships and vessels, submarines and ground installations, carry out patrols and defend sea lanes.
The frigates of this Project are armed with eight launchers of Kalibr-NK cruise missiles that are capable of striking surface, coastal and underwater targets at a distance of up to 2,600 km.
The warships of this Project are also armed with Shtil-1, Palash and AK-630M air defense missile and artillery systems, A-190 100mm universal artillery guns, torpedo tubes and RBU-6000 rocket launchers. The frigates also have a take-off and landing strip and a hangar for an anti-submarine warfare helicopter (Ka-27 or Ka-31).
Russian Navy’s Mediterranean Squadron
The Soviet Navy’s 5th Mediterranean Squadron served as a prototype for the Russian Navy’s permanent Mediterranean taskforce operating at present. The 5th operational Soviet Squadron dealt with the tasks of naval presence in the Mediterranean theater of operations during the Cold War period. Its main rival was the US Navy’s 6th Fleet. The Soviet Squadron was disbanded on December 31, 1992, a year after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
In 2013, Russia started to create a new operational Mediterranean taskforce. Russia’s new permanent Squadron is dealing with planned and urgent combat missions arising in the Mediterranean theater of operations, including warding off threats to Russia’s national and military security.