Cash-Strapped Bulgarian Frigate Back from Libya Mission June 5
A Bulgarian navy frigate, which set out on April 27 to join NATO's Operation "United Protector" patrolling off Libya's coast to enforce a UN arms embargo, will return on June 5 due to lack of funding.
The Bulgarian government had approved sending the frigate for three months to the Mediterranean Sea to take part in the NATO operation, but there is no funding to extend its mission, according to the defense minister.
"Bulgaria does not have the financial resources to extend the frigate's mission. These are expenditures, which were not planned in advance," Minister Anyu Angelov said at the NATO summit in Varna.
The mission, which is Bulgaria's only military contribution to the NATO efforts against the regime of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, cost the state budget about BGN 1.5 M.
The frigate was manned by 160-member crew who will receive bonuses of EUR 51-53 per day for the duration of the mission.
The length of stay of each ship in the Mediterranean is one month in general before rotation is done.
Two weeks ago the Bulgarian Navy frigate Drazki 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.
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