Bulgarian Frigate Rejoins NATO Libya Mission after Crete Recharging
The Bulgarian Navy frigate Drazki has started its second patrol of the Libyan coast within NATO's United Protector operation to enforce a UN arms embargo after completing a midterm break on Crete.
During their first patrol, which ended on May 12, 2011, the Bulgarian naval vessel carried out tasks such as following the air surveillance and monitoring the sea transport with readiness to carry out inspections.
The Drazki frigate has interrogated the crews of a total of 46 vessels – fishing and container ships. During the first phase of the patrolling, the vessel was twice recharged with fuel at sea, the Defense Ministry announced. The five-day midterm break on Crete was used to get fresh food and fuel supplies.
Since the start of its participation in the NATO United Protector operation, the Bulgarian frigate has sailed the distance of 4 350 nautical miles.
During the first patrol, the naval vessels in the tactical group, of which the Bulgarian frigate is part, interrogated over 900 vessels, and boarded 40 of them. Five of those were diverted to different ports in accordance with the UN resolution imposing an embargo on strategic supplies.
The second patrol of the Bulgarian frigate will be completed on May 31, 2011.
The mission, which is Bulgaria's only military contribution to the NATO efforts against the regime of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, will cost the state budget about BGN 1.5 M.
The frigate is manned by a 160-member crew who will receive bonuses of EUR 51-53 per day for the duration of the mission.
The Bulgarian government has approved sending the frigate for three months to the Mediterranean Sea to take part in the NATO 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.
In 2009, Bulgaria purchased three second-hand frigates from Belgium - Drazki, Gordi ("Proud"), and "Verni" ("Faithful") and the Tsibar minesweeper. Interestingly, 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.
Neighboring Romania participates in the NATO naval operation off Libya's coast with the King Ferdinand frigate. The Romanian frigate is manned by 205-member crew.
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