MOSCOW––Russia’s Black Sea Fleet must have 8-10 submarines in active service and the Navy plans to commission new Lada class vessels to meet the requirement, a senior Navy official said on Tuesday.
The Black Sea Fleet, based in Ukraine’s Crimea, currently deploys one Project 877 Kilo class diesel-electric submarine, while an outdated Project 641 Foxtrot class sub is undergoing a long-term overhaul.
“We are planning to deploy additional submarines with the Black Sea Fleet, including new Lada class vessels, but our plans are being hampered by Ukraine, which sees this as the deployment of new weaponry rather than an upgrade of the existing fleet,” Vice Admiral Oleg Burtsev, deputy head of the Navy General Staff, told RIA Novosti.
The admiral said that the port of Novorossiisk would be an alternative to the main base in Sevastopol for the deployment of additional submarines when Russia finishes building the necessary infrastructure there.
“The infrastructure is being built under the federal program for the construction of a naval base in Novorossiisk until 2020,” Burtsev said.
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet uses a range of naval facilities in Ukraine’s Crimea as part of a 1997 agreement, under which Ukraine agreed to lease the bases to Russia until 2017.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko announced last summer that Ukraine would not extend the lease of the base in the Crimean city of Sevastopol beyond 2017, and urged Russia to start preparations for a withdrawal.
After thoroughly analyzing the outcome of last year’s military conflict with Georgia, Russia’s Defense Ministry had proposed an array of measures to strengthen its troops in the country’s southern region, as well as the Black Sea Fleet.
The first Lada class diesel-electric submarine featuring extended noise reduction will be commissioned with the Russian Navy in 2010. It features an advanced anti-sonar coating for its hull, an extended cruising range, and advanced anti-ship and anti-submarine weaponry, including Club-S cruise missile systems. Philippine News Agency