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Bulgarian Navy

Bulgarian Navy
Военноморски сили на Република България
Voennomorski sili na Republika Balgariya
Naval Ensign of Bulgaria.svg
Ensign of the Bulgarian Navy
Active 13 January 1899–present
Country  Bulgaria
Branch Bulgarian Armed Forces
Type Navy
Size 4,100 personnel (2009)
Part of Ministry of Defence
Garrison/HQ Varna
Anniversaries 9 August
Engagements First Balkan War
Second Balkan War
World War I
World War II
Rear Admiral Rumen Nikolov
Naval Ensign Naval Ensign of Bulgaria.svg
Naval Jack Naval Jack of Bulgaria.svg
Coastguard Ensign Coastguard Ensign of Bulgaria.svg
Флаг на командващия на Българските Военноморски сили
Flag of the Commander of Bulgarian Navy

The Bulgarian Navy (Bulgarian: Военноморски сили на Република България, Voennomorski sili na Republika Balgariya) is the navy of the Republic of Bulgaria and forms part of the Bulgarian Armed Forces. It has been largely overlooked in the reforms that Bulgaria had to go through in order to comply with NATO standards, mostly because of the great expense involved and the fact that naval assaults are not considered to be a great concern for the country's security.[citation needed] That is why three of the four Romeo-class submarines (excluding Slava) are now docked and have been out of operation for some time. The last one was decommissioned in November 2011.[1] Only the more modern frigates, corvettes and missile crafts are on active duty.

In order to meet some of the NATO requirements, the Bulgarian government purchased a Wielingen-class frigate from Belgium in 2005. BNS Wandelaar (F-912), built in 1977, was renamed BG Drazki. That same year the Bulgarian ship Smeli took part as a full NATO member for the first time in NATO OAE (Operation Active Endeavour). In 2006, following a decision of the Bulgarian National Assembly, Drazki deployed as part of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL), patrolling the territorial waters of Lebanon under German command. This was the first time the Bulgarian Navy took part in an international peacekeeping operation. The Bulgarian government purchased two Wielingen-class frigates and one Tripartite-class minehunter in 2007.

The Bulgarian Navy is centred in two main bases. One is near the city of Varna. The other is Atiya Naval Base, near the city of Burgas.

Operational history

First Balkan War

The Bulgarian Navy's first combat action was the 1912 Battle of Kaliakra during the First Balkan War, when the Bulgarian torpedo boat Drazki attacked and crippled an Ottoman cruiser.

Second Balkan War

The Bulgarian Navy scuttled its four Danube gunboats during the Second Balkan War, probably to avoid capture by the invading Romanian Army.[2]

World War I

When Bulgaria entered World War I in 1915, it's navy consisted mainly of a French-built torpedo gunboat called Nadezhda and six torpedo boats. It mainly engaged in mine warfare actions in the Black Sea against the Russian Black Sea Fleet and allowed the Germans to station two U-boats at Varna, one of which came under Bulgarian control in 1916 as Podvodnik No. 18. Russian mines sank one Bulgarian torpedo boat and damaged one more during the war.[3]

World War II

Bulgarian Navy during World War II
Part of Black Sea campaigns (1941-44)
Bulgarian sailors aboard torpedo boat Drazki
Date 1941 - 1944
Location Bulgarian Black Sea coast
Result Soviet victory
Bulgaria Bulgaria
Romania Romania
 Soviet Union
Casualties and losses
1 torpedo boat sunk
1 steamer sunk
1 auxiliary minelayer sunk
5 submarines sunk

The Bulgarian Navy during World War II supported the Axis Powers in the Black Sea and consisted mainly of four obsolete Drazki-class torpedo boats, five modern Lurrsen type motor torpedo boats and three formerly Dutch motor torpedo boats. Bulgaria saw little naval fighting during the war, its main action taking place in October 1941.[4]

The so-called Operation Varna consisted in the minelaying of the Bulgarian coast by the Romanian minelayers Amiral Murgescu, Regele Carol I and Dacia, escorted by Romanian 250t-class torpedo boats Năluca, Sborul and Smeul, Romanian gunboats Sublocotenent Ghiculescu and Căpitan Dumitrescu and Bulgarian torpedo boats Drazki, Smeli and Hrabri.[5] The operation, lasting between 7 and 16 October 1941, was largely successful, as despite the loss of the Romanian auxiliary minelayer Regele Carol I to a Soviet mine,[6] the five minefields laid by the Romanian minelayers along the Bulgarian coast are credited with the sinking of four Soviet submarines: S-34, L-24, Shch-211 and Shch-210, although the latter could have also been sunk by German aircraft or depth-charged by the Bulgarian patrol boats Belomorets and Chernomorets.[7]

On 6 December 1941, Belomorets and Chernomorets depth-charged and sank the Soviet submarine Shch-204.[8]

Soviet submarines also laid mines near the Bulgarian coast, the 2304-ton Bulgarian steamer Chipka being sunk off Varna by mines laid by the submarine L-4.[9]

On 19 May 1943, the Bulgarian torpedo boat Smeli foundered between Varna and Burgas during a storm.[10]

The campaign ended when Bulgaria changed sides and joined the Soviet Union in September 1944.


Project 1241.2E (Pauk-class) corvette Reshitelni
The Bulgarian fleet in Varna
The Wielingen-class frigate ex-Westdiep, now BGS Gordi

A "Division" is the equivalent of land forces battalion or air force squadron as the Bulgarian Navy follows the Russian naval tradition, according to which an "Operational Squadron" or "Оперативная эскадра" is a temporary formation, an equivalent of a land forces division and in modern times a "Squadron" of the Russian Navy is an equivalent of a land forces corps.

According to the reform plans envisioned in the White Paper on Defence 2010, the two naval bases would be merged into one with two base facilities in Varna and Burgas. The manpower of the Navy would account to about 3,400 seamen. The ordered Eurocopter AS565 MB Panther helicopters were reduced from 6 to 3 units. Between 2011 and 2020 the naval "Longterm Investment Plan" should come into action, providing the sea arm of the Bulgarian military with modernised ships and new equipment.


The Bulgarian Navy will modernise three of its Wielingen-class frigates in the future. The frigates will be equipped with landing pads, allowing helicopters to land and take off from the ships' decks.[11] The list does not include vessels assigned to the border police.

Name Type Class Origin Details
1st Patrol Ships Division (Naval Base Location Varna)
Reshitelni (13) (Решителни - Decisive) ASW Corvette Pauk  Soviet Union [12]
Bodri (14) (Бодри - Brisk) ASW Corvette Pauk  Soviet Union [12]
Smeli (11) (Смели - Brave) Frigate Koni  Soviet Union [13]
3rd Mine Counter-Measure Division (Naval Base Location Varna)
Tsibar (32) (Цибър) Minehunter Tripartite  Belgium ex-Belgian Myosotis[14]
Hull numbers 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56 Minesweeper Olya  Soviet Union [15]
Iskar (31) (Искър) Minesweeper Vanya  Soviet Union [16]
Dobrotich (33) (Добротич) Minesweeper Vanya  Soviet Union [16]
Captain-lieutenant Kiril Minkov (34) Minesweeper Vanya  Soviet Union [16]
Captain 1st rank Dimitar Paskalev (36) Minesweeper Vanya  Soviet Union [16]
4th Patrol Ships Division (Naval Base Location Atia)
Drazki (41) (Дръзки - Daring) Frigate Wielingen  Belgium ex-Belgian frigate Wandelaar[17]
Verni (42) (Верни - Loyal) Frigate Wielingen  Belgium ex-Belgian frigate Wielingen[17]
Gordi (43) (Горди - Proud) Frigate Wielingen  Belgium ex-Belgian frigate Westdiep[17]
Malniya (101) (Мълния - Lightning) Corvette Tarantul  Soviet Union [18]
6th Mine Counter-Measure Division (Naval Base Location Atia)
Briz (61) (Бриз - Sea breeze) Minesweeper Sonya  Soviet Union [19]
Shkval (62) (Шквал - Squall) Minesweeper Sonya  Soviet Union [19]
Priboi (63) (Прибой - Breaking wave) Minesweeper Sonya  Soviet Union [19]
Hull numbers 65, 66, 67, 68 Minesweeper Yevgenya  Soviet Union [20]
18th Support Ships Division (Naval Base Location Varna)
Captain 1st rank Dimitar Dobrev (206) Degaussing ship Type 1799 degaussing ship  Poland [21]
Hull numbers 121, 215, 216 Cutter Project 160 multi-purpose cutter  Bulgaria [22]
Hull number 223 Cutter Project 245 cutter  Bulgaria [23]
Hull number 231 Cutter Project 612 survey cutter  Bulgaria [24]
Balchik (203) (Балчик) Tanker Project 650 tanker  Bulgaria [25]
Proteo (224) (Протео) Rescue vessel  Italy ex-Italian А 5310 Proteo[26][27]
Hull number 211 Tugboat  Bulgaria [28]
96th Support Ships Division (Naval Base Location Atia)
Antares (301) (Антарес) Landing ship Polnocny  Poland [29]
Hull numbers 312, 313 Cutter Project 160 multi-purpose cutter  Bulgaria [22]
Hull number 323 Cutter Project 245 cutter  Bulgaria [23]
Hull number 331 Cutter Project 612 survey cutter  Bulgaria [24]
Akin (303) (Акин) Tanker Project 650 tanker  Bulgaria [25]
Aheloy (321) (Ахелой) Fireboat Project 250 fireboat  Bulgaria [30]
Hull number 410 Tugboat  Bulgaria [28]
Naval academy "N.Y. Vaptsarov" (Naval Base Location Varna)
Hull number 421 Training vessel  Bulgaria [31]
Bulgarian Eurocopter AS565 Panther in Paris Air Show


3 Eurocopter AS565 Panther (6 originally ordered, 3 later canceled)

3 Mil Mi-14 (plans for modernisation but currently not in flying condition)


Type Origin Details
Exocet  France anti-ship missiles
P-15MC Termit  Soviet Union anti-ship missiles
RIM-7 Sea Sparrow  United States surface-to-air missiles
SA-N-4  Soviet Union surface-to-air missiles
SA-N-5  Soviet Union surface-to-air missiles


  1. ^ "Bulgarian Navy Discards Submarine Force". 3 November 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  2. ^ Spencer Tucker, Priscilla Mary Roberts,World War I: A Student Encyclopedia, p. 391
  3. ^ Spencer Tucker, Priscilla Mary Roberts, Encyclopedia of World War I, Volume 1, p. 240
  4. ^ Spencer Tucker, World War II at Sea: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1, pp. 131-132
  5. ^ John Smillie, World War II Sea War, Volume 4: Germany Sends Russia to the Allies, p. 323
  6. ^ John Smillie, World War II Sea War, Volume 4: Germany Sends Russia to the Allies, p. 324
  7. ^ Mikhail Monakov, Jurgen Rohwer, Stalin's Ocean-going Fleet: Soviet Naval Strategy and Shipbuilding Programs 1935-1953, pp. 265-266
  8. ^ Antony Preston, Warship 2001-2002, p. 88
  9. ^ John Smillie, World War II Sea War, Volume 4: Germany Sends Russia to the Allies, p. 260
  10. ^ Navypedia:DRUZKI torpedo boats (1908-1909)
  11. ^ "Bulgarian navy faces trimming, modernisation - Defence Minister". The Sofia Echo. 12 April 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "Противолодочни кораби проект 1241.2Э "Молния-2"". Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)
  13. ^ "Стражеви кораб проект 1159 /Смели/". Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)
  14. ^ "Минен ловец тип "Tripartite"". Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)
  15. ^ "Миночистачни катери проект 1259.2 "Малахит"". Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)
  16. ^ a b c d "Базови тралщици проект 257Д и 257ДМЭ". Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)
  17. ^ a b c "Фрегата тип E-71 "Wielingen"". Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)
  18. ^ "Голям ракетен катер проект 1241.1Т "Молния-1"". Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)
  19. ^ a b c "Базови тралщици проект 1265 "Яхонт"". Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)
  20. ^ "Базови тралщици проект 1258Э "Корунд"". Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)
  21. ^ "Кораб за размагнитване проект 1799". Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)
  22. ^ a b "Многоцелеви моторни катери проект 160". Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)
  23. ^ a b "Водолазни катери проект 245". Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)
  24. ^ a b "Хидрографски катери проект 612". Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)
  25. ^ a b "Танкери-бункеровчици проект 650". Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)
  26. ^ "Спасителен кораб "Протео"". Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)
  27. ^ "Спасителен кораб "Протео"". 21 July 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)
  28. ^ a b "История на създаването". Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)
  29. ^ "Среден десантен кораб проект 770Е". Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)
  30. ^ "Противопожарен кораб проект 250". Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)
  31. ^ "Учебен кораб 421". Retrieved 5 October 2014.  (Bulgarian)