|Romanian Naval Forces|
Forţele Navale Române
The coat of arms and the flag
|Founded||22 October 1860 as the Flotilla Corps|
|Part of||Romanian Armed Forces|
|Command HQ||Statul Major al Forţelor Navale – Bucharest|
|Commander-in-Chief of the Romanian Naval Forces Staff||Vice Admiral Aurel Popa|
The Romanian Navy has been founded in 1860 as a river flotilla on the Danube. After the unification of Wallachia and Moldavia, Alexandru Ioan Cuza, the ruling Domnitor of the Romanian Principalities, decided on the 22nd of October 1860 by order no. 173 to unify the navies into a single flotilla. The navy was French-trained and organized. Officers were initially sent to Brest Naval Training Centre in France, as the Military School in Bucharest did not have a naval section. The first Commander-in-chief of the navy was Colonel Nicolae Steriade. The base was first established in 1861 at Izmail, but it was later relocated in 1864 at Brăila and in 1867 at Galați. The equipment was modest at best, with 3 ships from Wallachia and 3 from Moldavia, manned by 275 sailors. The main goal of the navy was to organize, train and expand this small force.
The first seamen's training school was established in 1872 at Galați for officers, petty officers and sailors. The first acquisition of the Romanian Navy was the steamboat "Prințul Nicolae Conache Vogoride". The ship was purchased in 1861 and was later transformed into a warship at Meyer naval shipyard in Linz, being christened "România" when it was launched at Galați harbor. In 1867, the royal yacht "Ștefan cel Mare" (Stephen the Great) entered service, followed by "Fulgerul" (The Lightning) gunboat in 1874 and the "Rândunica" (The Swallow) spar torpedo boat in 1875. These ships represented the Romanian Flotilla during the War of Independence.
During the War of Independence, the name used in Romanian historiography to refer to the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish war, the Romanian Navy sailed under Russian flag. The main task of the Romanian Flotilla Corps was to transport Russian troops, equipment and supplies across the Danube and to protect the bridges across the river by using mine barrages in key points. The main success of the war was the sinking of the Turkish river monitor "Seyfî" near Măcin by a group of spar torpedo boats including "Rândunica" and the Russian Carevitch and Ksenya crafts. Another notable success was the sinking of the Turkish river monitor "Podgoriçe" (Podgorica) by the Romanian coastal artillery on the 7th of November 1877.
After the war, the navy transported the Romanian troops back across the Danube. The small, but successful navy had demonstrated the need for a strong Danube flotilla in order to secure the southern border of Romania. Three rearmament plans were implemented: during 1883-1885, 1886-1888 and 1906-1908. These plans mainly concentrated on the Danube flotilla. In 1898, the "Flotilla Corps", as it was know until then, was organized in two sections: the Danube fleet and the Black Sea fleet. The riverine base was at Galați, while the maritime base was at Constanța, which was now part of Romania.
After the War of Independence, two naval rearmament programs were proposed for the Black Sea flotilla. The 1899 program called for six coastal battleships, four destroyers and twelve torpedo boats. None of these ships were ever built. The 1912 naval program envisioned six 3,500-ton light cruisers, twelve 1,500-ton destroyers and a submarine. Four destroyers (and allegedly a submarine) were actually ordered from Italy, but they were not delivered as the Italian Navy requisitioned them in 1914. The largest Romanian Black Sea ship was the old cruiser Elisabeta, laid down in 1888. The protected cruiser had guarded the mouths of the river Danube during the Second Balkan War, but she was disarmed when World War I began. Her armament was emplaced on the bank of the Danube River to protect against possible attacks by Austro-Hungarian river monitors, and she remained in Sulina for the duration of the war. The Romanian Black Sea squadron also had four old gunboats from the 1880s, which were of limited value, and three old Năluca-class torpedo boats, built in France. The Romanian Navy had to rely on the armed merchant ships of the state merchant marine, known as SMR (Serviciul Maritim Român). The steam liners Regele Carol I, România, Împăratul Traian and Dacia were converted into auxiliary cruisers.
The Danube Flotilla was more modern, and consisted of four river monitors (Lascăr Catargiu, Mihail Kogălniceanu, Ion C. Brătianu and Alexandru Lahovari) and eight British-built torpedo boats. The four river monitors were built in Italy during 1907-1907 and assembled at Galați. They were armed with three 12-cm cannons each. The British torpedo boats from the Căpitan Nicolae Lascăr Bogdan class were built during 1906-1907 and weighed 50 tons each. There were also approximately six older gunboats used for border patrol, minelayers and other auxiliary ships used for transport or supply. The Romanian Navy had a secondary role during World War I and only had light losses. The river monitors participated in the defense of Tutrakan and later secured the flank of the Romanian and Russian defenders in Dobrudja. The main success of the war was the mining of an Austro-Hungarian river monitor.
Following the end of World War I, the Kingdom of Romania took possession over three Austro-Hungarian river monitors (renamed after the newly incorporated territories of Ardeal, Basarabia and Bucovina) and purchased in 1921 four Italian patrol boats. These ships, together with the ones already in service, made Romania's Danube flotilla the most powerful riverine fleet in the world until World War II.
The main focus of the Romanian Navy during the interwar period was the Black Sea fleet. In 1920, two of the initial four destroyers ordered from Italy were received. These ships from Mărăști class were renamed Mărășești and Mărăști. Four gunboats were purchased from the French Navy: Stihi, Dumitrescu, Lepri and Ghiculescu. Another gunboat of the same class was bought for spares. Seven torpedo boats were received as war reparations from Austro-Hungaria. The torpedo boat Fulgerul however was lost during the trip to Romania when she capsized and sank in the Bosphorus in 1922. Năluca, Sborul and Smeul, three of these old torpedo boats, will later see service in World War II. In 1926, two additional destroyers were ordered from Italy: Regele Ferdinand and Regina Maria of the Regele Ferdinand class destroyer, together with the Romanian Navy's first submarine, Delfinul, and the submarine depot ship Constanța. These ships were commissioned between 1930 and 1936.
In 1936, a new rearmament program was proposed. The new plan envisioned a cruiser, four destroyers, three submarines, four minelayers and twelve motor torpedo boats. A number of these warships would have been built under license in Romania at Galați, where a new dry dock was developed. However, the navy had a low priority within the Romanian Army. As a result, only the Romanian-built minelayer Amiral Murgescu and three British-built motor torpedo boats (received in February 1940 and designated: Viforul, Vijelia and Viscolul) were received before the Second World War. Another nine British motor torpedo boats were to be built under license at Galați, but this plan was canceled after Romania joined the Axis. The river monitors from the Danube squadron were modernized between 1937 and 1943 at Galați.
The expansion of the Romanian Navy during the interwar period required more training facilities and ships. The first step towards this issue was taken in 1920, when a naval college was founded at Constanța. In 1938, the sail ship Mircea was built in Hamburg by the Blohm & Voss shipyard as a training vessel for the Romanian Navy. The SMR (Serviciul Maritim Român, the Romanian state merchant marine) was also endowed with a number of new ships: the steamer Oituz, the ex-German freighters Ardeal, Peleș, Alba Iulia and Suceava (all of them commissioned between 1932-1933), the passenger liners Basarabia and Transilvania (bought from Germany in 1938) and four new freighters from Italy just before the start of the Second World War: Balcic, Cavarna, Mangalia and Sulina. In 1940, the SMR had 17 merchant ships with a total of over 72,000 tons of shipping.
In 1941, The Royal Romanian Navy had four destroyers (Mărășești, Mărăști, Regele Ferdinand and Regina Maria), three gunboats, one submarine (Delfinul), three motor torpedo boats, one minelayer, three auxiliary minelayers, fifteen small auxiliary vessels and twenty seaplanes. The Mărăști class destroyers were obsolete warships that had seen service with the Italian Navy during World War I as Sparviero and Nibbio. The destroyer Mărăști (ex-Sparviero) had a cracked shaft and could not exceed the speed of 24 knots. As a result, Mărăști never ventured far from the coast. Delfinul, the only Axis submarine present in the Black Sea in 1941, was obsolete and mechanically unreliable. In comparison, the Soviet Black Sea Fleet had a battleship, three medium cruisers, three light cruisers, three flotilla leaders, eight modern destroyers, five old destroyers, two large torpedo boats, 47 submarines and many other auxiliary and small vessels. The overwhelming superiority of the Soviet Navy forced the Royal Romanian Navy to conduct mainly defensive operations throughout the entire war and its warships rarely hazarded further east than Cape Sarych.
The two Regele Ferdinand class destroyers were the most powerful surface units available to the Axis powers during the naval war in the Black Sea but were mostly used for convoy escort. The Romanian-built minelayer Amiral Murgescu and the three auxiliary minelayers of the Romanian Navy played an important role in the defence of Constanța in 1941 and later in securing the merchant convoy routes to the Bosporus and the supply routes to Odessa and Sevastopol. Mines were the main cause of Soviet submarine losses in the Black Sea naval war. During World War II, the Royal Romanian Navy received two submarines built at Galați and a number of small other vessels. The two submarines, Rechinul and Marsuinul, were received however too late in the war to see significant action, as after 1941 there were very few available targets.
The Royal Romanian Navy was involved in the evacuation of Axis forces from Crimea in 1944. The Romanian naval commander, Rear Admiral Horia Macellariu, was awarded the German Ritterkreuz after Operation 60,000, the contingency plan for the evacuation of Crimea. Until King Michael's Coup, the Romanian Navy retreated behind the protection of the coastal mine barrages and anti-aircraft defences of Constanța as the Soviet Air Force began to launch heavy air attacks. On the capitulation of Romania in August 1944, the German warships were ordered to leave Romanian harbours. However, when the Soviet minesweeper T-410 Vzryv, accompanied by the Romanian minelayer Amiral Murgescu, was sunk by a German submarine, the Soviet Navy accused the Royal Romanian Navy of betrayal and seized all vessels using this excuse on the 5th of September 1944. By this late stage of the war, only two destroyers (Regina Maria and Mărășești), two gunboats (Dumitrescu and Ghiculescu), one minelayer (Amiral Murgescu) and three motor torpedo boats were still operational. The rest of the warships were in repairs after the evacuation of Crimea and the Soviet air attacks of the last couple of months or had been relegated to training duties. The Soviet Navy moved all Romanian warships to Caucasian ports. They were not return until after the war. The older vessels were received in September 1945, while the more modern ones (such as the Regele Ferdinand class) were kept by the Soviet Black Sea Fleet until early 1950s. A number of warships were never returned.
The largest Romanian warship loss of the entire war was the accidental sinking of the gunboat Lepri. The gunboat ran into a Romanian mine laid by the auxiliary minelayer Aurora near Sulina in January 1941, when hostilities between the Soviet Union and the Axis had not begun. While the Royal Romanian Navy had light losses throughout the war, the state merchant navy was practically non-existent by late 1944: every ship of the SMR was sunk or damaged by the Soviet Navy and Air Force because of the light Romanian and German forces in the Black Sea that were unable to provide adequate protection.
Postwar period and early 21st century
Command, control and organisation
This is the current structure of the Romanian Navy:
- Fleet Command
- 56 Frigate Flotilla (Mărășești, Regele Ferdinand and Regina Maria.)
- Naval Helicopter Group (IAR Puma Naval helicopters)
- 150 Missile Fast Patrol Boat Squadron (Tarantul-I missile boats and 4K51 Rubezh anti-ship missile launching systems)
- 50 Corvette Squadron (Tetal-I and Tetal-II class)
- 146 MCM Squadron (Musca class minesweepers and the Cosar minelayer)
- 56 Frigate Flotilla (Mărășești, Regele Ferdinand and Regina Maria.)
- River Flotilla
- 67 Gunboat Squadron (Mihail Kogălniceanu class and Brutar-II class)
- 88 River Patrol Boat Squadron (VB 76 class)
- River Flotilla
- "Mircea cel Bătrân" Naval Academy
- "Vice Admiral Constantin Bălescu" Naval Training School
- "Admiral I. Murgescu" Navy Petty Officer School
- Diving Center
- "CALLATIS" Radio-Electronics and Surveillance Center
- IT Center
- Training, Simulation and Evaluation Center
- Maritime Hydrographic Directorate
- Naval Medical Center
- Navy Museum
- Naval Logistics Base "Pontica"
- Special Destination Ship Squadron
- 338 Naval Maintenance Center
- 335 Logistics Section, Mangalia
- 329 Logistics Section, Braila
- 330 Logistics Section, Constanţa
- 325 Logistics Section, Tulcea
- 307 Marine Battalion
- 110 Communications and IT Battalion
- Naval Forces Support Battalion
As of 2011, the naval bases are in:
- Constanța - home of the frigate flotilla.
- Mangalia - home of the corvette squadron.
- Tulcea - home of the Smârdan (Brutar-II) class river patrol monitors.
- Brăila - home of the Mihail Kogălniceanu class river patrol monitors and the VB 141 class small river patrol monitors.
The 307th Marine Battalion ('Batalionul 307 Infanterie Marină') is the costal defence unit of the Romanian Navy. The unit was formed in the mid 1970s for the defence of the Danube Delta and Romanian Black Sea shore. It was initially located at 2 Mai village near Mangalia, but since 1975 the Marine Battalion was moved to Babadag, Tulcea County. "The 307 Marine Battalion is destined to carry out military operations in an amphibious river and lagoon environment, the security of objectives in the coastal area, the Danube Delta and the support of local authorities in case of a civil emergency." Its base is near the largest military training range in Romania.
The battalion is organized into infantry, reconnaissance, sniper, mortars, anti-tank artillery, engineers, communications, logistic and naval support units. Standard equipment includes PA md. 86 assault rifles, PM md. 64 light machine guns, Md. 66 machine guns, 60/82/120mm mortars, AG-7 and AG-9 launchers, 76mm Md. 82 mountain howitzers, 13 ABC-79M and 3 TABC-79M armoured personnel carriers. The 307th Marine Battalion was involved in military exercises with similar troops from USA, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ukraine that were organized locally or abroad. Also, two companies from this unit have participated in the KFOR mission "Joint Enterprise" in 2008-09.
Current and future deployments
The Romanian Navy is organized in one Frigate Flotilla and one Riverine Flotilla. Equipment includes two Type 22 frigates, one "Mărășești" class frigate, four corvettes (two Tetal-I and two Tetal-II), three Tarantul-I missile corvettes, three Osa class torpedo boats, one minelayer, four minesweepers, three "Mihail Kogălniceanu" class river patrol monitors, five "Smârdan" (Brutar-II) class river patrol monitors and other small crafts and auxiliary ships.
As of 2010, ca. 7,150 men and women serve in the Romanian Navy. The main base of the Romanian Navy is located at Constanţa. The current chief of the Romanian Navy, succeeding Vice Admiral Dorin Dănilă on 3 July 2010, is Vice Admiral Aurel Popa.
The Romanian Naval Forces ordered three IAR 330 Puma Naval helicopters, with the last one being commissioned in December 2008. The helicopters are in a similar configuration to those of the Romanian Air Force, including the SOCAT upgrade package; the Navy Pumas also have flotation gear fitted under the nose and main undercarriage fairings. They are currently operated from Navy frigates for search and rescue, medevac and maritime surveillance missions.
Ranks and insignia
- IISS (2010), p. 157
- CIA World Factbook, Military of Romania
- (Romanian) MoND Budget as of 2007, Ziarul Financiar, October 30, 2006
- Axworthy, p. 327
- Gardiner (1984), p. 421
- Halpern, p. 276
- Gardiner (1997), p. 419
- Gardiner (1984), p. 423
- Halpern, p. 277
- Halpern, p. 278
- Gardiner (1984), p. 422
- Gardiner (1980), p. 359
- Axworthy, p. 328
- Gardiner (1980), p. 360
- Axworthy, p. 328-329
- Axworthy, p. 336
- Axworthy, p. 332
- Axworthy, p. 344
- Axworthy, p. 345
- Gardiner (1980), p. 361
- Axworthy, p. 348
- Zaloga, p. 53
- Axworthy, Mark; Scafeș, Cornel; Crăciunoiu, Cristian (1995). Third Axis. Fourth Ally. Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941–1945. London: Arms and Armour. ISBN 1-85409-267-7.
- Gardiner, Robert (1997). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1860–1905 (Conway's naval history after 1850). Conway Maritime Press Ltd. ISBN 978-0-85177-133-5.
- Gardiner, Robert (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1921 (Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, Vol. 2). CUS Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-907-8.
- Gardiner, Robert (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1922–1946. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-913-9.
- Halpern, Paul G. (1995). A naval history of World War I. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-85728-498-0.
- Zaloga, Steven (1985). Soviet Bloc Elite Forces. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-0-85045-631-8.
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