Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ukraine's only sub has been reanimated in Sevastopol

The only Ukraine's submarine Zaporizhzhia left the dock of Russian shipyard after a long-term repair period. According to military appraisals, that is just Russian-Ukrainian cooperation which makes possible for Ukraine to join the list of countries having submarines in inventory. Repair works on Zaporizhzhia have been carried out by Russian experts; Ukrainian submariners were trained at Russian facilities. 

"I'd like to thank our brothers and colleagues – Russia's Black Sea Fleet (BSF) servicemen – who arranged training of Ukrainian submariners at BSF subs", says Ukrainian defense minister Mikhail Yezhel. 

The history of this submarine reflects the policy of recent decades. In Soviet era the sub used to carry out patrols in the Mediterranean and the Baltic seas, as well as the Atlantic Ocean. After the split of Soviet Black Sea Fleet, the sub was handed over to Ukraine. However, right after that she was laid up for repairs. In Ukraine every politician recalled the submarine as a symbol of national navy's decline; some of them promised to return her into service. Nonetheless, they failed to do that without Russia's help. 

"Basic systems and mechanisms have been already tested; they are main propulsion plant (with effective operation of the screw), main electric motors, and propulsion diesels. Tactical systems and auxiliary mechanisms have been also tested", said Alexander Baklanov, chief engineer of BSF 13th Ship Repair Plant (Russia).

Although the project is 30 years old, submarine Zaporizhzhia is equipped with new systems; militarily, subs of this type are most effective in the Black Sea. This diesel electric submarine has pretty good silence characteristics. 

"It is hard to detect her today just like it was ten, twenty, or thirty years ago. I think, she will remain low-detectable in the future as well. This is a great advantage", says Oleg Orlov, commanding officer of Zaporizhzhia in 1997-2010. 

Emerging of Zaporizhzhia in the Black Sea Fleet by no means will change military balance in the region; but having an own submarine is a matter of strategic importance for Ukraine. 

It is a matter of prestige as well. Russia (as well as Bulgaria and Romania) has one submarine in the Black Sea. Now Ukraine draws level with neighbors. 

First phase of mooring trials has been successful. All onboard systems operate normally, but there's a range of tests to be held prior to sea trials. Anyway, nobody doubts they would be also successful. The Ukrainian submarine is expected to join active service in May 2011.

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