Bulgaria Inspects Frigate before Joining NATO in Libya
Bulgaria's Defense Minister, Anyu Angelov, is traveling Monday to the Black Sea city of Burgas to check in person the "Drazki" frigate readiness for joining NATO in Libya.
At the end of March, Bulgaria's government approved the deployment of the navy frigate to take part in NATO's Operation "United Protector" patrolling off Libya's coast to enforce a UN arms embargo.
The frigate is to depart around April 15, 2011.
"Drazki" (i.e. "Daring") will be manned by 160-member crew. The Bulgarian Navy is in the process of preparing it for the NATO naval mission off the Libyan coast.
The Minister is going to meet with the frigate's crew and commandment. The Drazki Commander, Captain Pancho Panchev, is going to brief Angelov, the Deputy Head of Defense Headquarters, Vice Admiral, Minko Kavaldzhiev, and the Commander of the Navy, Rear Admiral, Plamen Manushev.
The government approved sending the frigate for three months to the Mediterranean Sea to take part in the operation, but it will not stay there during the whole period. The length of stay of each ship in the Mediterranean is one month in general before rotation is done.
The cost of Bulgaria's participation in the NATO weapons embargo operation in Libya can tower to BGN 4.5 M, according to Defense Minister, Anyu Angelov.
In 2009, Bulgaria purchased three second-hand frigates from Belgium - Drazki, Gordi ("Proud"), and "Verni" ("Faithful") and the Tsibar minesweeper. One of the frigates, Gordi, under the name F910 Weilingen as part of the Belgian Navy joined the UN maritime embargo against Iraq - Operation Southern Breeze during the First Gulf War - in 1990-1991 - a naval operation similar to the one in Libya.
In addition to sending in the Drazki frigate, Bulgaria has confirmed its readiness to send two medical teams for a ground humanitarian operatio in Libya.
Neighboring Romania is also participate in the NATO naval operation off Libya's coast with the King Ferdinand frigate. The Romanian frigate will be manned by 205-member crew.
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