MOSCOW, May 21 (RIA Novosti) – Two warships of Russia’s Black Sea fleet joined the country’s Mediterranean task force on Monday, a spokesman for the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Capt. First Rank Vyacheslav Trukhachyov, has said.
The Defense Ministry said in April Russia has begun setting up a naval task force in the Mediterranean, sending several warships from the Pacific Fleet to the region. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in March a permanent naval task force in the Mediterranean was needed to defend Russia’s interests in the region.
“During a planned rotation, large landing ships Nikolai Filchenkov and Azov from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet have started performing their tasks in the Mediterranean,” Trukhachyov said.
The task force currently includes vessels from the Pacific, Northern, Baltic and Black Sea fleets: the Admiral Panteleyev and Severomorsk destroyers, the Yaroslav Mudry frigate, the Peresvet and Admiral Nevelskoi amphibious warfare ships, the Fotiy Krylov, Altai and SB-921 salvage/rescue tugs, the PM-138 repair ship, the Pechenga, Lena and Dubna tankers.
Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov, head of the parliamentary defense committee, previously told RIA Novosti that the Mediterranean task force should be comprised of 10 warships and support vessels as part of several tactical groups tasked with attack, antisubmarine warfare and minesweeping.
The Soviet Union maintained its 5th Mediterranean Squadron from 1967 until 1992. It was formed to counter the US Navy’s 6th Fleet during the Cold War, and consisted of 30-50 warships and auxiliary vessels.