Ukrainian Navy

The Military Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Військово-Морські сили Збройних сил України, ВМС ЗСУ, romanizedViiskovo-Morski syly Zbroinykh syl Ukrainy, VMS ZSU) is the maritime forces of Ukraine and one of the five branches of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Ukrainian Naval Forces
Військово-Морські сили Збройних сил України
Emblem of the Ukrainian Navy.svg
Emblem of the Ukrainian Naval Forces
Country Ukraine
RoleNaval warfare
Size15,000 (2022)[1]
Part ofArmed Forces of Ukraine
Colors  Blue
MarchMarch of the VMS of Ukraine (Марш ВМС України)[2]
AnniversariesNavy Day[3][4][5][6]
Battle honours
CommanderVice Admiral[7] Oleksiy Neizhpapa[8]
EnsignEnsign of Ukrainian Navy
JackNaval jack of Ukraine.svg
PennantUkrainian Navy Pennant.svg
Shoulder sleeve insignia[a]НЗ ВМС.svg

The naval forces consist of five components – surface forces, submarine forces, naval aviation, coastal rocket-artillery and naval infantry.[9] As of 2022, the Ukrainian navy had 15,000 personnel, including 6,000 naval infantry.[1] In 2015, the Ukrainian navy had 6,500 personnel.[10] In 2007 and prior to the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, 15,470 people served in the Ukrainian navy.[10][11]

The headquarters of the Ukrainian Naval Forces was, until the 2014 Crimean crisis, located at Sevastopol in Crimea.[9] The naval forces were highly affected by the Crimean crisis, as the majority of their units were stationed there. Ships that did not escape or were not deployed at the time lowered their flags and were interned. Russia began a process of returning the vessels but stopped, citing the inability of Ukraine to retake possession and alleged violence against Russians in the Donbas.[citation needed] The ships that were returned were the older models of the fleet which were deemed obsolete. For example, Russia chose not to return the corvettes Ternopil and Lutsk, both of which were some of the newest ships of the Ukrainian fleet. However, none of the Ukrainian naval units retained were absorbed into the Russian Navy.

Ukraine had been scheduling to rebuild its naval forces since 2005[12][13] by building the domestic project 58250, the first Ukrainian designed and built corvette, as well as ordering four patrol boats in 2013 from Willard Marine.[14][15] Ukraine has also restarted the production of its Gryuza River Armed Artillery Boat.[16]

The navy operates in the Black Sea basin (including the Sea of Azov and Danube Delta).[9] Distant operations of the Ukrainian Navy are limited to multinational activities, such as Operation Active Endeavour and Operation Atalanta in the Mediterranean and Horn of Africa.

The Ukrainian flagship was scuttled in March 2022 during Russia's invasion to prevent its capture and Russia's navy blocked Ukraine's access to the Black Sea from that point onwards.[17]


Zaporizhian (Ukrainian) Cossacks Fleet ca. 1600sEdit

Zaporizhian Cossacks sacked Crimean Kaffa and freed the slaves in 1616.

The Ukrainian Naval Forces trace their origins to the Zaporizhian Sich Cossacks, who would frequently raid Ottoman settlements along the Black Sea coast. Cossacks used small ships called chaikas, which were similar in design to Viking long ships. Although technologically inferior to the Turks, the Cossacks had great success against their opponent. In 1614, the Cossack forces were able to raid and destroy Trabzon.[18]

In 1615, the Cossacks were able to mount a raid on Istanbul itself, destroying several suburbs of the city. In 1616, a Cossack fleet was able to reach the Bosphorus, once again raiding the surrounding countryside. A Turkish fleet sent to destroy the Cossack forces was defeated in 1617. The Cossacks once again managed to mount an attack on Istanbul in 1625, forcing the Sultan to temporarily flee the capital.[18]

The Cossacks used several strategies to attack the larger Ottoman forces, such as positioning their ships during battle in a way where the sun was always at their back. The Cossack ships were small with a low profile, making them hard to hit by cannon. Cossacks were typically armed with small arm muskets, and during battle had the goal of killing the crew and boarding the ship to take it over, rather than sinking the ship.[18]

Ukrainian People's Republic navy (1917–1921)Edit

A medal of the Ukrainian fleet of April 29, 1918.
Gunboat "Donets" of Ukrainian Naval Forces, July–November 1918
Ukrainian marines in 1921
Ukrainian warships in the port of Sevastopol, 1918

During 1917 Russian Revolution, several ships of the Russian Imperial Navy's Black Sea Fleet, commanded and crewed by ethnic Ukrainians, declared themselves the Navy of the newly autonomous Ukrainian People's Republic. Black Sea Fleet commander Mikhail Sablin raised the colours of the Ukrainian National Republic on 29 April 1918.[19][20] Few further steps on establishing a navy were made as the Ukrainian government lost control over coastal territories.

After the Revolution 1917, a time of anarchy and demoralization overtook the former Russian Black Sea Fleet. The Fleet, stationed in Sevastopol, was commanded by a collective, "Tsentroflot". Different political influences clashed: Ukrainian, Bolshevik, Menshevik, Social Revolutionaries and Anarchist. Very different flags were hoisted over ships: Ukrainian bicolors, old Russian ensigns, Bolshevist red flags and Anarchist black flags.[21] They were hoisted and lowered even several times daily, according to changes of each crew's political orientation.

The Ukrainian People's Republic aspired to take control of the Fleet. On 17 October 1917 the 2nd rank Captain Ye.Akimov was appointed the representative of the Central Council of Ukraine at the command of the Black Sea Fleet. The General Secretariat for Naval Affairs was established within the government of the Central Rada in Kyiv (in January 1918 it was reformed in a Ministry). The head of it became D. Antonovich. The Main Navy Staff was led by Captain Jerzy Świrski. For the educational and agitational purposes of the seamen the Central Rada seconded the commissars to Odesa, Mykolaiv, Kherson and Sevastopol. On 22 December 1917 the Naval Ministry in Kyiv was established.

Starting October 1917 the crews of the ships established military councils; the blue-yellow flags were flying from the masts. The ships Zavidniy (Enviable) and Russian cruiser Pamiat Merkuria (1907) were the first examples.

In November 1917 in Sevastopol was established the Sahaidachny Sea Battalion (kurin) which on 24 November 1917 was sent to Kyiv to extinguish Bolshevik uprisings and participated in the Kiev Arsenal January Uprising.

On 22 November 1917 the whole crew of the newest and most powerful warship of the Black Sea Fleet Volya swore fealty to the Central Rada, followed soon by several ships and submarines. In December 1917 the Black Seas Fleet squadron under Ukrainian flags led by the Russian battleship Imperator Aleksandr III and included another cruiser and three destroyers participated in the evacuation of the 127th Infantry Division from Trabzon back to Ukraine.

On 29 December 1917 most of the Black Sea Fleet was taken over by Bolsheviks.

As part of Operation Faustschlag German Empire forces had been advancing on Sevastopol with a goal to capture the Black Sea Fleet. Having no support from the land forces, Admiral Sablin was forced enter negotiations regarding cessation of hostilities. The Germans however rejected the armistice proposals and the advance continued. In April 1918 German and Ukrainian troops invaded Crimea.

On 29 April 1918, fleet-commanding Rear-admiral Sablin (Russian) gave an order to hoist Ukrainian national flags over all ships in Sevastopol (the medal to the right commemorates that event). That day he was appointed commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Navy. A telegram to Kyiv was sent from the staff ship Georgiy Pobedonosets “Effective today the Sevastopol fortress and the Fleet in Sevastopol raised the Ukrainian flag. Admiral Sablin assumed the command of the Fleet”. Having no reply the admiral ordered to repeat the telegram beginning with the words “Comrades of Kiev Central Rada...”.

Sablin was unaware that at that moment the Central Rada in Kyiv was already history. The Germans started to occupy Sevastopol, because the Bolsheviks began to lead away ships. Centroflot (the combined fleet revolutionary committee), in order to save the Fleet, took a decision to move it to Novorossiysk. But on 30 April 1918, only the small part of the fleet under command of Admiral Sablin, which trusted the Bolsheviks, headed for Novorossiysk and hoisted Russian St. Andrew (saltire) ensigns. The greater part of the Ukrainian fleet remained in Sevastopol – there were 30 destroyers and torpedo boats, 25 auxiliaries, 7 battleships and small craft as well as 15 submarines left in Sevastopol under Admiral Myhaylo Ostrogradskiy who in this situation assumed command.

On 1 May 1918 Germans captured the ships remaining in Sevastopol, because the actions of Bolsheviks violated the peace agreement. On 17 June 1918, 1 dreadnought and 6 destroyers returned from Novorossiysk to Sevastopol, where they were also captured. The greater part of the ships remaining in Novorossiysk were destroyed by their own crews on Lenin's command. In July–November 1918 Germans gradually transferred many ships to the command of Ukrainian government (Hetman Pavlo Skoropadskyi).

The main Ukrainian sea power concentrated in Odesa and Mykolaiv was more than 20 minesweepers, 7 small cruisers, 1 dreadnought and more than 30 auxiliaries. In Sevastopol there were only 2 old battleships under Ukrainian flags. On 18 July 1918 the Naval Ministry in Kyiv established new naval ensigns and some rank flags (e.g. flag of Naval Minister, flag of Deputy Minister). The old Russian jack remained as Ukrainian naval jack. It was regarded as symbol of glory of Black Sea Fleet, whose crews were in large part previously Ukrainian. On 17 September Germans gives Ukraine 17 U-boats.

In December 1918, when naval forces of the Entente were approaching Sevastopol, Ukrainian Rear-admiral V. Klokhkovskyy commanded all ships to hoist Russian St. Andrew (saltire) ensigns. It was a demonstration of good intentions for the Entente. However, the Entente captured the Black Sea Fleet and subsequently transferred it to the Russian "White" forces. In Ukrainian hands remained only small in numbers subdivisions of marines. Ukrainian naval authorities existed until 1921.

List of Ukrainian shipsEdit

Blue and yellow flag on cruiser Pamiat Merkuria, November 1917

The Ukrainian People's Republic had a navy for five months. From October 1917 till March 1918 the following came to be at the disposal of the Ukrainians: nine battleships, seven cruisers, 18 destroyers, 14 submarines, 16 patrol ships and avisos, 11 military transports and mother ships. Additionally, the Fleet's Headquarters, all military institutions and plants and all coastal fortifications were all manned by Ukrainian personnel.

Baltic Fleet

  • Soviet cruiser Krasnyi Krym (October 12, 1917)
  • Russian destroyer Ukraina (October 12, 1917)
  • Russian destroyer Haidamak (October 12, 1917)

Black Sea Fleet

Contemporary Navy of UkraineEdit

Independence and the "Battle for the oath"Edit

Ukraine's naval jack in 1992

The origins of the contemporary Ukrainian Naval Forces intertwined with the fate of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet and with the modern history of the Crimea. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union (1991), the administration of the Soviet Armed Forces passed to the Joint Armed Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States for a transitional period pending agreement on the division of the ex-Soviet military between members of the former Soviet Union. Marshal of Aviation Yevgeny Shaposhnikov became commander of the Joint CIS Armed Forces command on 14 February 1992.

On 6 December 1991 the Supreme Council of Ukraine (Verkhovna Rada) adopted a resolution on the laws of Ukraine "About the Defense of Ukraine" and "About the Armed Forces of Ukraine", as well as the text of a military oath. On the same day, in the parliament of Ukraine chamber, the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Kostyantyn Morozov, became the first person to take the oath. On 10 December 1991 the Supreme Council of Ukraine ratified the Belavezha Accords.

On 12 December 1991 the President of Ukraine issued ukase #4, ordering all military formations based in Ukraine to pledge allegiance by 20 January 1992. The vast majority of the Black Sea Fleet ignored the order. On 1 January 1992 the newspaper Vympyel of the Black Sea Fleet Filipp Oktyabrskiy Training unit (edited by Captain-Lieutenant Mykola Huk) published the military oath and the anthem of Ukraine in the Ukrainian language.

On 3 January 1992 Ukraine started the practical formation of its national armed forces. On 8 January 1992 the Officers' Assembly of the Black Sea Fleet appealed to all leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States to recognise the Black Sea Fleet as an operational-strategic formation and not subordinate to Ukraine. On 12 January 1992, the brigade of border troops in Balaklava (Sevastopol) became the first military formation to pledge allegiance to Ukraine.[22]

On 14 January 1992 the Governor of Sevastopol appealed to the Supreme Councils of both Ukraine and the Russian Federation, urging faster adoption of a decision on the status of the Black Sea Fleet. On 16 January 1992, an agreement between the participants of Commonwealth of Independent States was signed on the oath in strategic formations.[22]

On 18 January 1992, the 3rd company of the divers school became the first formation of the Black Sea Fleet to pledge their allegiance to Ukraine, along with the Maritime Department of the Sevastopol Institute of Instrument Engineering. On the next day, forty-six naval pilots pledged their allegiance to Ukraine at the central square (Ploshcha Lenina) of Mykolaiv.

Black Sea Fleet military personnel previously under the oath of the Soviet Armed Forces did not hasten to pledge allegiance to the newly formed state. First Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Fleet Admiral Ivan Kapitanets issued a directive: "to apply severe sanctions, including dismissal from office and separation from service to officers, midshipmen, and warrant officers who create an unhealthy situation in military communities that are prone to treason and taking the oath of allegiance to Ukraine ". Nonetheless, on 26 January 1992 the 17th Brigade of Ships for the Guarding the Water Area of the Crimea Naval Base followed the example of the divers.[23]

Right before the Soviet Army and Navy Day (23 February) on 22 February, the 880th Independent Naval Infantry Battalion of Black Sea Fleet pledged allegiance to Ukraine. The battalion had been recognized[by whom?] as the best formation of the fleet in 1991. The Main Navy Staff in Moscow issued an order to dissolve the battalion. After the incident, all military units of the Black Sea Fleet recruited exclusively Russians[citation needed].

According to estimations by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, in January 1992 the Black Sea Fleet accounted for 80,000 servicemen, 69 major warships including 3 aircraft carriers, 6 missile cruisers, 29 submarines, 235 warplanes and helicopters, and great number of ships of auxiliary fleet.[24] Without informing Ukraine with which it supposed to share control over the Black Sea Fleet in a framework of the Joint Armed Forces Command, the Russian Federation was selling away several ships.[24]

From the beginning, relationships between the newly formed states of Russia Federation and the Republic of Ukraine were tense. In January 1992 the Supreme Soviet of Russia raised the question of the political status of Crimea (Crimean ASSR) and of the constitutionality of the 1954 decision to transfer of Crimean Oblast of the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR, accusing Nikita Khrushchev of treason against the Russian people. Although never annulled,[citation needed] many Russian parliamentarians refused to recognize the legal document, pointing out the procedural errors during its adoption.

The Ukrainian side issued reminders of the number of international treaties and agreements between the two countries, such as the 19 November 1990 treaty between the Russian SFSR and the Ukrainian SSR, in which both sides recognized the territorial integrity of the other, as well as the Belavezha Accords (an agreement on creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States) of 8 December 1991 and the Alma-Ata Protocol of 21 December 1991.

Noticing not much reaction from the Black Sea Fleet command located on the territory of Ukraine, on 5 April 1992 the President of Ukraine issued Decree #209 "About urgent measures on development of the Armed Forces of Ukraine", which accused the Russian Federation and the Joint Armed Forces command of intervening in the internal affairs of Ukraine. On 6 April 1992, a session of the 6th Congress of People's Deputies of the Russian SFSR refused to accept the Belavezha agreement as previously ratified by the Supreme Council of the Russian SFSR (on 12 December 1991). Also, on 6 April 1992, the President of Ukraine appointed Borys Kozhyn as the Commander of Ukrainian Naval Forces. The next day, the President of Russia issued a Decree "On the transfer of the Black Sea Fleet under jurisdiction of the Russian Federation". On 9 April 1992, the effect of both decrees were suspended until the end of the Russian-Ukrainian talks.

Ukrainian division of the Black Sea Fleet (1991–1997)Edit

Ukrainian Navy artillery boat Zhuk class U170 Skadovs'k off the Bay of Sevastopol, Crimea

In September 1991, an office of the Society of Ukrainian Officers was opened in Sevastopol on the initiative of Major Volodymyr Kholodyuk and captains-lieutenant Ihor Tenyukh and Mykola Huk.[23] The society became the initiator and nucleus of the organization of the Ukrainian Naval Forces.

On 7 April 1992 at 17:00, 37 officers of the administration and headquarters of the Crimean Naval Base (an administrative entity and not a physical "base") pledged their allegiance and loyalty to people of Ukraine. Rear Admiral Borys Kozhyn, who was in charge, was not present at that time of the event. He was in the office of Ivan Yermakov accepting a proposition of the First Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Council of Ukraine to become the commander of the future Ukrainian Naval Forces.

On 8 April 1992 the Minister of Defense signed a directive "About creation of the Ukrainian Naval Forces". On 13 April 1992 an organizational group was established on creation of the Ukrainian Naval Forces, which upset the command of the Black Sea Fleet.

The current history of the Ukrainian Naval Forces began on 1 August 1992, when it was formally established by order of the President of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk. This was followed by a long and controversial partition of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet between newly independent Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

SKR-112 on 20 July 1992

One of the episodes of this process was the story of SKR-112 – effectively the first Ukrainian Navy ship.[25] On 20 July 1992, the crew of SKR-112 declared itself a Ukrainian ship and raised the Ukrainian flag. The Navy headquarters in Moscow considered this a mutiny and attempted to act accordingly. The ship left its base on the Crimean peninsula bound for Odesa, causing a chase and ramming attempts by ships still loyal to Moscow. Soon several other ships, auxiliary vessels, and coastal units of the Black Sea Fleet followed SKR-112's decision but with less violent outcomes.

It was only in 1997 that the ships and equipment of the Black Sea Fleet were officially divided between the two countries. The new Russian formation retained its historic name "Black Sea Fleet". Under the terms of a negotiated lease agreement it was also granted rights to use the majority of its bases on the Crimea Peninsula, Ukraine on a renewable ten-year lease basis at least until 2017.

The newly established Ukrainian Naval Forces received dozens of vessels (mostly obsolete or inoperative, not unlike some of those retained by Russia) and some shore-based infrastructure. The Russian Navy lost several important facilities, most notably the NITKA (Russian acronym for "Scientific testing simulator for shipborne aviation") naval aviation training facility in Saky, and the special forces base in Ochakiv. The process of fleet division remained painful since many aspects of the two navies' co-existence were under-regulated, causing recurring conflicts.

Lack of financing and neglect (1998–2014)Edit

The Krivak III-class frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy was the flagship of the Ukrainian Navy until 2022.[26]

From 1997 due to lack of financing and neglect most of the Ukrainian naval units have been scrapped or poorly maintained. By 2009, only the frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy, originally built to be a Soviet Border Guards ship, was capable of long endurance missions.[27]

Joint exercises of the Ukrainian Naval Forces and the Russian Black Sea Fleet resumed after a seven-year interval in 2010.[28]

Most of the Ukrainian naval assets, as those of the other branches of the armed forces, comprised mainly Soviet-era equipment. No major plan for modernization emerged, except for a new corvette design completed in 2009 but not built.[25]

On 19 December 2008, United States Ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor, Jr. stated that Ukrainian Defense Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates were discussing the purchase by Ukraine of one to three U.S. Navy frigates.[29]

In December 2009, the design for a new Volodymyr Velykyi-class corvette (designed exclusively by Ukraine and to be built at Ukrainian shipyards) for the Ukrainian Naval Forces was completed.[30] That month the Ukrainian defense ministry and Chernomorsky Shipyard (Mykolaiv) signed a contract upon results of the governmental tender for corvettes. The Shipbuilding Research and Design Center (Mykolaiv) was selected the project developer.

If built, the ship was supposed to operate in the Black and the Mediterranean seas. Her endurance would be 30 days, and a displacement of 2,500 tons. Leading European arms manufacturers like DCNS, MBDA, and EuroTorp were to deliver weapons for the project. Commissioning of the lead ship was scheduled for 2016. There was a plan to build four corvettes before 2021. According to the corvette construction program approved by Ukrainian government in March 2011, the overall amount of program financing till 2021 would be about UAH 16.22 billion.

Anti-piracy operations in SomaliaEdit

A Ukrainian ship carrying military cargo was hijacked off the coast of Somalia on 23 September 2008. The ship was released on 6 February 2009. All commercial news sources reported that the vessel was released after a ransom has been paid. Ukrainian officials, however, stated that special forces eliminated the pirates and retook the ship.[31]

In October 2013 Ukraine deployed its flagship, the frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy, as part of NATO's Operation Ocean Shield anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden. The ship was deployed for a 3-month mission and operated alongside the Norwegian frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen, the Royal Danish frigate HDMS Esbern Snare, and the US Navy's frigate USS De Wert.[32]

The Naval Forces of Ukraine once again deployed Hetman Sahaydachniy with an anti-submarine Ka-27 helicopter aboard to the coast of Somalia as part of the European Union's Operation Atalanta on 3 January 2014.[33] The ship was recalled on 3 March 2014 to Ukraine in response to the Crimea Crisis.

2014 Crimean crisisEdit

Prior to the 2014 Crimean crisis, Ukraine maintained a very modest naval force for a nation that lacked shores with any of the world's oceans. The majority of the bases of the Ukrainian Navy,[34] along with 12,000 of Ukraine's 15,450 Navy personnel were stationed in Crimea.[citation needed] On 24 March 2014, at least 12 of Ukraine's 17 ships in Sevastopol were seized by Russia,[35][36] while the ensuing conflict saw 2 Ukrainian navy officers killed by Russian marines.[37]

Ukraine lost control of its Navy's main underground ammunition-storage site at the Inkerman valley, outside Sevastopol, as well as of its helicopter-repair facilities. The Navy's 750-strong 1st Naval Infantry Battalion at Feodosia was arrested and its equipment seized.[38] The Ukrainian Navy also lost all its missile boats.[34] In addition, 51 mainly auxiliaries ships were lost, though most were eventually returned to Ukraine after a brief internment.[citation needed]

The Ukrainian Naval Infantry was equally affected by the crisis as Russian forces besieged them within their bases. Russia eventually confiscated all military equipment of the naval infantry stationed in Crimea, including the assets of the Ukrainian Naval Aviation, though several planes and helicopters managed to make their way to mainland Ukraine prior to the Russian incorporation of Crimea. The 10th Saky Naval Aviation Brigade, controlling all the Ukrainian Navy's air units, managed to get a number of its aircraft airborne to bases in mainland Ukraine on 5 March 2014.[39] However, more than a dozen aircraft and helicopters undergoing maintenance had to be abandoned[citation needed].

In the aftermath, the Ukraine Navy relocated its main operational base to its Western Naval Base in Odesa. The current fleet consists of 11, mostly small operational ships, one frigate commissioned in 1993 and four corvettes. Russia also returned a Polnocny-class landing ship to Ukraine, restoring Ukraine's amphibious assault capabilities.[40] On 8 April 2014, an agreement was reached between Russia and Ukraine to return interned vessels to Ukraine and "for the withdrawal of an undisclosed number of Ukrainian aircraft seized in Crimea".[41]

Russian Navy sources had claimed the Ukrainian ships were "not operational because they are old, obsolete, and in poor condition".[41] 35 ships were returned before Russia unilaterally suspended the return of the remainder, alleging that Ukraine had failed to renew its unilaterally declared ceasefire on 1 July 2014 in the war in Donbas.[42][43] 16 minor auxiliary ships are yet to be returned to Ukraine.[43][42]

The majority of the forces regrouped in Odesa, with the coast guard relocating its relatively small force to Mariupol on the Azov Sea. The frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy was recalled from a deployment along the Somalian coast and deployed from its port in Odesa to intercept Russian naval vessels crossing into Ukraine's waters on 14 March 2014.[44] The remainder of Ukrainian naval forces continues to patrol the nation's territorial sea[citation needed].

On 11 January 2018, Russia stated that it was "ready to return Ukrainian military ships that are still in Crimea", along with "aviation equipment and armored vehicles."[45]

On 29 April 2018 Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman greeted Ukrainian Navy personnel on the 100th anniversary since the foundation of Ukraine's Navy.[46] The Black Sea Fleet raised the colours of the Ukrainian National Republic on 29 April 1918.

As of 2020, several captured ships of the Ukrainian Navy remain interned by Russia.[47]

Defections to RussiaEdit

When Crimea was annexed by Russia, a number of Ukrainian Navy servicemen defected to Russia. Among those were members of the upper echelon of command of the Ukrainian Navy. The Ukrainian Navy compiled and released a list of their officers who defected to Russia, calling their actions treasonous.[48]

  • Vice Admiral Sergei Yeliseyev, a first deputy commander and acting commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Navy from 19 February to 1 March 2014.
  • Rear Admiral Dmitriy Shakuro, a first deputy commander and chief of staff for the Ukrainian Navy.
  • Rear Admiral Denis Berezovsky, commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Navy for one day, now a Black Sea Fleet deputy commander and chief of the combat training directorate.
  • Colonel Sergei Tarkhov, a chief of staff assistant in organization and sustainment of international relations.
  • Michman Sergei Gorbachov, a sergeant major of the Ukrainian Navy.
  • Administrative command – 5 officers.
  • Operation command – 17 officers.
  • Intelligence command – 8 officers.
  • Finance – 6 officers.

War in Donbas and Black Sea incidentsEdit

Following the Revolution of Dignity and the annexation of Crimea, Russian military personnel emerged in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts demanding independence from the rest of Ukraine resulting in the war in Donbas.[49] Some coast guard forces that were stationed in Crimea relocated to Mariupol where they resumed patrolling the national border.[50] Separatists have been active in the Sea of Azov, which caused incidents with the coast guard.[51]

Special Purpose units of the navy are reported to have taken part to combat the separatists. On 18 August 2014, Alex Zinchenko of the 73rd Naval Center of Special Operations was the first member of the Ukrainian Navy killed during the war in Donbas while conducting an operation near Donetsk.[52]

Captured BK-02 Berdyansk with a hole in the pilothouse

On 27 January 2017, the Ukrainian diving support vessel Pochaiv was hit by sniper fire from the Tavrida drilling platform, operated by Chernomorneftegaz, seized by Russian forces in 2014.[53]

On 1 February 2017, a Ukrainian Navy An-26 transport aircraft came under small arms fire from Russian military personnel, stationed on a drill rig, while flying over the Odesa gas field in the Black Sea. This gas field is located within Ukraine's exclusive economic zone, not off the Crimean peninsula, which is also part of Ukraine's EEZ. While the rig in question has not been named, it was amongst those captured by Russian forces in the aftermath of the annexation of Crimea. According to the Ukrainian military, the plane was on a training flight and was hit by small caliber shells.[54]

On 25 November 2018 three Ukrainian navy vessels who attempted to redeploy from the Black Sea port Odesa to the Sea of Azov port Berdyansk were damaged and captured by the Russian FSB security service during the Kerch Strait incident.[55][56]

During the summer of 2019, Russia issued a number of temporary closures, potentially interrupting navigation and nearly blocking international shipping to and from Georgia, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine. Since 25 July 2009, the Russia closures – announced for varying dates and timeframes – covered a total of off 120 thousand square kilometers—nearly 25 percent of the entire Black Sea surface.[57][better source needed]

In August 2019, the Ukrainian Navy small reconnaissance ship Pereyaslav during their trip to Georgia to participate in exercise Agile Spirit 2019 and while in neutral waters, crew received a warning over the radio from a Russian navy ship. The Russians warned that the Ukrainians needed to turn away because the area was allegedly blocked. International coordinators did not confirm that fact, so the captain of the Pereyaslav decided to maintain the vessel along its original course. Soon thereafter, the Kasimov, a large Russian anti-submarine corvette, Project 1124M/Grisha V-class, was spotted near the Ukrainian ship. The Russian corvette's aggressive behavior only ceased when a Turkish reconnaissance plane arrived close to the Pereyaslav.[58]

On 14 November 2019, during the Third International Conference for Maritime Security, in Odesa, Ukrainian Navy commander Admiral Ihor Voronchenko said that a Russian Tu-22M3 had been observed simulating the launch of a missile strike on this coastal city, Voronchenko added that Russian bombers had made several similar attempts during exercises on 10 July, conducting a virtual airstrike 60 kilometers from Odesa.[54]

Russian invasion of UkraineEdit

On 3 March 2022, it was reported that the Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaidachny was scuttled in the port of Mykolaiv to prevent its capture by Russian forces.[59] On the same day the patrol boat Slavyansk was sunk by an anti-ship missile of Russian naval aviation.[60]

On March 14, the Russian source RT reported that the Russian Armed Forces had captured about a dozen Ukrainian ships in Berdyansk. The vessels reported as captured included two Gyurza-M-class artillery vessels (including the vessel Akkerman), the Matka-class missile boat Pryluky, a Project 1124P (Grisha II)-class corvette (the Vinnytsia, a museum ship),[61] a Zhuk-class patrol boat, a Yevgenya-class minesweeper, the Polnocny-class landing ship Yuri Olefirenko and a Ondatra-class landing craft. Independent confirmation of these captures was secured except for those of the Pryluky, the Grisha, the Yevgenya, the Yuri Olefirenko and the Ondatra. In addition, independent confirmation of the capture of another Zhuk-class patrol boat and 6 small boats was secured.[62] These smaller boats were one Adamant 315-class motor yacht, 3 Kalkan-M-class small patrol boats and 2 UMS 1000-class small patrol boats.[63]

The Naval Infantry has fought in the current conflict, contributing forces to some of the major land battles of the war, especially in the south.

On June 3, 2022, the landing ship Yuri Olefirenko was seen under Ukrainian control near Ochakiv (between Mykolaiv and Odesa) after being targeted by Russian artillery. Rounds landed within 200 ft of the ship but caused no damage. Russia claimed to have captured the ship in Berdyansk early into the conflict.[64]

On June 22, 2022, BBC published a report showing Royal Navy Personnel training Ukrainian Navy personnel on two former Royal Navy Sandown Class Minehunters. The two ships ex-HMS Blyth and ex-HMS Ramsey were offered to Ukraine in 2021. It's unknown if the ships will enter service during the on-going Russian Invasion of Ukraine.[65] The HMS Shoreham was also supposed to be handed over to the Ukrainian Navy.[66]


Current roleEdit

The Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are tasked with the defense of the sovereignty and state interests of Ukraine at sea. They are required to neutralize enemy naval groups in their operational zone both alone and with other branches of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and to provide assistance from the sea to the Ground Forces during their operations. Main tasks of the Navy of the Ukrainian Armed Forces are the:[9]

  • creation and maintenance of combat forces on a level sufficient to deter maritime aggression;
  • neutralization of enemy naval forces;
  • destruction of enemy transportation;
  • support of the landing of amphibious forces and fight against enemy amphibious forces;
  • maintenance of a beneficial operational regime in the operational zone;
  • defense of its bases, sea lines of communications;
  • protection of submarine space within the territorial sea;
  • protection of the merchant fleet, maritime oil and gas industry, and other state maritime activity;
  • assistance to the Army in their conduct of operations (military actions) along maritime axes;
  • participation in peacekeeping operations.


The headquarters and Main Naval Base of the Ukrainian Navy were located in Sevastopol in Striletska Bay within the Bay of Sevastopol.[9] This is also the main base of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy. Since February–March 2014 Ukrainian Naval Forces are headquartered in Odesa and based in ports in mainland Ukraine.

Other naval basesEdit

List of CommandersEdit

Ranks and insigniaEdit


Naval CommandEdit

Naval Command (Military Unit [MU] А0456), Odesa, Odesa Oblast

  • Staff of the Naval Command, Odesa
  • Training Command of the Ukrainian Navy, Odesa
  • Logistics Command of the Ukrainian Navy, Odesa
  • Seaborne Operational Center of the Ukrainian Navy, Ochakiv, Mykolaiv Oblast

Directly subordinated units and establishments:

  • Headquarters support units:
    • 19th Combat Command and Control Group (MU А0524), Odesa, Odeska Oblast
    • 56th Security and Support Commandature (MU А3519), Odesa, Odeska Oblast
  • Intelligence units:
    • 30th Intelligence Command Center (MU А1017), Odesa, Odes`ka Oblast
    • 29th Seaborne Intelligence Center (MU А1430), Ochakiv, Mykolaiv Oblast
    • Electronic Intelligence Center (MU А1892), Velikiy Dalnik village, Odeska Oblast
    • Navigation, Hydrography and Hydrometeorology Center (MU А1940), Odesa, Odeska Oblast
    • 133rd Cryptographic and Technical Information Protection Center (MU А3346), Odesa, Odeska Oblast
    • Information Security Information Center (MU А1905), Odesa, Odeska Oblast
  • Communications units:
    • 68th Joint Information and Telecommunications Nod (MU А4362), Odesa, Odeska Oblast
    • 37th Signals Regiment (MU А1942), Radisne, Odeska Oblast
    • 71st Field Courier Station (MU А2810), Odesa, Odeska Oblast
    • 2210th Field Courier Station (MU А0390), Mykolaiv, Mykolaiv Oblast
  • Engineer units:
    • Operational (Combat) Support Center (MU А1032), Chornomorske, Odeska Oblast
  • Nuclear, chemical and biological defence units:
    • 114th Surveillance and Analytical Station
  • Logistical and technical units:
    • 222nd Logistical Battalion (MU А3537), Mykolaiv, Mykolaiv Oblast
    • 84th Arsenal for Mine and Torpedo Weaponry (MU А2637), Ochakiv, Mykolaiv Oblast
    • Other support units
  • Education and training establishments:
    • Odesa National Maritime Academy – Ukrainian Naval College of Odesa
    • Naval Institute at the "Odesa Sea Academy" National University, Odesa, Odeska Oblast
      • Scientific Research Center "State Oceanarium" (MU А1113), Odesa, Odeska Oblast
      • Military Training Office of the Seafaring Technical Fleet College at the "Odesa Sea Academy" National University, Odesa, Odeska Oblast
    • 198th Navy Training Center (MU А3163), Mykolaiv, Mykolaiv Oblast
      • Diving School (MU А0344)
      • Ship Personnel Training School
      • Marine Infantry School
    • 203rd Naval NCO Training Center (МУ А2085), Mykolaiv, Mykolaiv Oblast
    • Naval Lyceum "Vice Admiral Volodymyr Bezkorovainy", Odesa, Odeska Oblast

Operational forces:

The bulk of operational forces of the Ukrainian Navy have been organised since 2018 into two operational commands - the Seaborne Command and the Marine Infantry Command, with a plethora of units, such as naval aviation, signals troops, engineer troops etc. directly subordinated to the Naval Command and providing operational support to the two main operational commands.

Seaborne CommandEdit

The Seaborne Command is the Ukrainian Navy's fleet component, conducting operations at sea. Affected greatly by the Russian annexation of Crimea the fleet is in a process of radical reorganisation and renovation. Losing most of its infrastructure on the Crimean peninsula and many of its ships, the fleet has relocated to the north, with the three main naval bases in Odesa, Ochakiv (near Mykolaiv) and Berdyansk (near Mariupol) undergoing substantial expansion and upgrade to NATO standards.[68][69]

Seaborne Command of the Ukrainian Navy (MU А3274) Odesa, Odesa Oblast

  • Flotilla (MU А0437), Odesa, Odesa Oblast - standing naval task force roughly of army brigade equivalent, which takes command and control over the ships of the ships detachments for combined operations at sea.
    • Naval ships in operations at sea
  • Western Naval Base "South" (also designated Military Installation Novi Bilyari-1 - військове містечко Нові Біляри -1) (MU А2238), Novi Bilyari village, Odesa Oblast
    • 30th Surface Ships Detachment (formerly the 1st Surface Ships Brigade)
    • 1st Harbour Area Security Ships Detachment
    • 28th Support Ships Detachment (formerly the 28th Ships Detachment of the Salvage and Rescue Service)
    • 24th Riverine Fast Craft Detachment
    • 801st Center for Combat against Underwater Incursion Forces and Devices and Mine Disposal
    • 22nd Radar Company
    • Security Company of Naval Base "South"
  • Main Naval Base "Namiv" (also designated Military Installation Nr. 111) (MU А????), Ochakiv, Mykolaiv Oblast
    • 29th Surface Ships Detachment (formerly the 5th Surface Ships Brigade)
    • 31st Supply Ships Detachment (formerly 8th Harbour Area Security Ships Detachment)
    • Separate Platoon for Combat against Underwater Incursion Forces and Devices Ochakiv
    • 21st Radar Company detachment, Mykolaiv, Mykolaiv Oblast
    • Security Company of Naval Base "Namiv"
  • Naval Base "East" (also designated Military Installation Nr. 90) (MU А3130), Berdyansk, Zaporizhzhia Oblast and Mariupol, Mariupol Oblast (lost)
    • 9th Surface Ships Detachment
    • Platoon for Combat against Underwater Incursion Forces and Devices Berdyansk
    • Platoon for Combat against Underwater Incursion Forces and Devices Mariupol
    • 21st Radar Company
    • Security Company of Naval Base "East"
Marine Infantry CommandEdit

The Marine Infantry Command is the Ukrainian Navy's land warfare component. It is in a process of rapid expansion.

Marine Infantry Command (MU А2022), Mykolaiv, Mykolaiv Oblast

  • 35th Marine Infantry Brigade "Rear Admiral Mikhail Ostrogradskiy" (MU А0216), Dachne-2 village, Odeska Oblast
    • Brigade Command and Staff
    • Field Signals Nod
    • 18th Marine Infantry Battalion (MU А4210), Sarata village, Odeska Oblast
    • 88th Marine Infantry Battalion (MU А2613), Bolgrad, Odeska Oblast
    • 137th Marine Infantry Battalion (MU А3821), Dachne village, Odeska Oblast
    • 2nd Tank Battalion
    • Brigade Artillery Group
      • Artillery Command and Reconnaissance Battery
      • Self-propelled Howitzer Artillery Battalion
      • Anti-tank Artillery Battalion
      • Multiple Launch Rocket Artillery Battalion
    • Air Defence Missile and Artillery Battalion
    • Reconnaissance Company
    • Sniper Rifle Company
    • Radio-Electronic Warfare Company
    • Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defence Company
    • Engineer Support Group
    • Material Supply Group
    • Repair and Overhaul Battalion
    • Medical Company
  • 36th Separate Marine Brigade "Rear Admiral Mikhail Bilinskiy" (MU А2802), Mykolaiv, Mykolaiv Oblast
    • Brigade Command and Staff
    • Field Signals Nod
    • 1st Marine Infantry Battalion (MU А2777), Mykolaiv, Mykolaiv Oblast
    • 501st Marine Infantry Battalion (MU А1965), Berdyansk, Zaporizhzhia Oblast
    • 503rd Marine Infantry Battalion (MU А1275), Mariupol, Mariupol Oblast (could possibly expand into a new marine infantry brigade)
    • 1st Tank Battalion (T-64)
    • 1st Brigade Artillery Group
      • Artillery Command and Reconnaissance Battery
      • Self-propelled Howitzer Artillery Battalion
      • Anti-tank Artillery Battalion
      • Multiple Launch Rocket Artillery Battalion
    • Air Defence Missile and Artillery Battalion
    • Reconnaissance Company
    • Sniper Rifle Company
    • Radio-Electronic Warfare Company
    • Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defence Company
    • Engineer Support Group
    • Material Supply Group
    • Repair and Overhaul Battalion
    • Medical Company
  • 406th Artillery Brigade "Lt.-Gen. Oleksy Almazov" (MU А2062), Mykolaiv, Mykolaiv Oblast
    • Brigade Command and Staff
    • Command Battery
    • Artillery Reconnaissance Battalion
    • 64th Field Artillery Battalion (MU А4217), Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Odeska Oblast
    • 65th Field Artillery Battalion (MU А3687), Dachne-2 village, Odeska Oblast
    • 66th Field Artillery Battalion Battalion (MU А2611), Berdyansk, Zaporizhzhia Oblast
    • 67th Field Artillery Battalion (MU А1804), Ochakiv, Mykolaiv Oblast
    • Engineer Company
    • Security Company
    • Material Supply Company
    • Repair Company
  • 140th Reconnaissance Battalion (MU А0878), Skadovsk, Kherson Oblast
  • 241st Combined Arms Training Grounds "Oleshivsky Sands" of the Marine Infantry Command (MU А2407), Radensk village, Kherson Oblast

Uncertain if under Marine Infantry Command or directly subordinated to Naval Command:

  • 32nd Rocket Artillery Regiment (MU А1325) (BM-27 Uragan MLRS), Altestove village, Odeska Oblast
    • Headquarters & Headquarters Battery
    • Signal Platoon
    • Rocket Artillery Battalion
    • Rocket Artillery Battalion
    • Rocket Artillery Battalion
    • Security Company
    • Engineer Company
    • CBRN-defense Platoon
    • Logistic Company
    • Maintenance Company
  • 7th Air Defence Missile Battalion (MU А0350) (S-125-2D1 SAM), Ochakiv, Mykolaiv Oblast
directly subordinated to Naval CommandEdit
The structure of the Ukrainian Navy (incl. major surface combatants) in 2017

Former ship organisation of the Ukrainian NavyEdit



Left to right, U402 Konstantyn Olshansky, U401 Kirovohrad, U154 Kahovka, U209 Ternopil, and U153 Pryluky

Some 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the main warships of the Ukrainian Navy are former Black Sea Fleet vessels that were designed and built in the Soviet Union. As of December 2007, the Navy had 27 combat ships and cutters. In 2015 Ukraine received 5 small (7 and 11 meter aluminum) Willard Marine patrol boats; the original order was placed in 2013.[70][71]


A Ukrainian Navy Mi-14

According to former Navy Commander Vice Admiral Yuriy Ilyin, at the beginning of 2013, the fleet had 11 warships fully ready to perform complex tasks and ten aircraft and 31 auxiliary vessels fit for service.[72]

As of 24 March 2014, most of the Ukrainian ships in Sevastopol were taken by the Russian Black Sea Fleet,[35][36] including several aircraft and other equipment. On 8 April 2014 an agreement was reached between Russia and Ukraine to return Ukrainian Navy materials to Ukraine proper.[41] A part of the Ukrainian Navy was then returned to Ukraine but Russia suspended this agreement because/after Ukraine did not renew its unilaterally declared ceasefire on 1 July 2014 in the war in Donbas.[42]

On 11 January 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Russia was ready to return Ukrainian military ships, aviation equipment and armored vehicles that were still in Crimea.[45]

The Ukrainian Navy received its first complex of Bayraktar Tactical Block 2 on 15 July 2021.[73]

Naval InfantryEdit

Ukrainian marines' berets

The Ukrainian Naval Infantry (Ukrainian: Морська піхота literally means "Naval Infantry") is a part of coastal guard of the Ukrainian Navy. It is used as a component part of amphibious, airborne and amphibious-airborne operations, alone or in conjunction with formations and units of the Army in order to capture parts of the seashore, islands, ports, fleet bases, coast airfields and other coast objects of the enemy. It can also be used to defend naval bases, vital areas of the shore, separate islands and coastal facilities and provide security in hostile areas.

Based in Mykolaiv it is organized into a full division with 2 brigades (2 more are being activated and 1 transferred from the Ground Forces), 1 coastal and field artillery brigade and 1 multiple rocket launcher artillery regiment.

Coastal DefenceEdit

Name Image Origin Type Variant Number Details
Neptune     Ukraine Mid-range anti-ship missile RK-360MC ? In service with the Ukrainian Navy since March 2021.[74] It is believed by both Ukraine and the United States that two missiles of these missiles were used to sink the Russian cruiser Moskva on 13 April 2022, as stated by an official spokesperson for the United States Department of Defense.[75][76][77] One division contains six launchers with four tubes each.[citation needed]
RBS-17     United States
Very short range anti-ship missile Maritime AGM-114 Hellfire variant In June, Sweden announced supplies of RBS-17 anti-ship missiles based on the maritime AGM-114 Hellfire variant in response to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[78]
Harpoon     United States Medium range anti-ship missile RGM-84L-4[79] 3+? Launchers supplied by Denmark in June 2022, with missiles additionally provided by the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in response to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[79] United States announced the supply of additional two Harpoon systems the same month.[79]


The navy was highly affected by the seizure of Crimea by Russia in 2014. At the time of the Russian invasion, the majority of Ukraine's naval vessels were docked in Crimea. Ukraine developed plans to rebuild their naval capability even before 2014 by planning to build 4–10 new corvettes at the Mykolaiv Shipyard.[80] This was one of the Soviet Union's largest shipyards and it built Russia's only and China's first operational aircraft carriers. After the 2014 Crimean status referendum, Ukraine refused to import arms from Russia for its newly-constructed ships, thus it is unclear whether weapons for project 58250 as Ukraine dubbed it, will be built internally in Ukraine or imported from another country.[14]

In 2015, Ukraine received five small (7-and-11-metre (23 and 36 ft)) aluminum Willard Marine patrol boats; the original order was placed in 2013.[70][81]

In mid 2014, the construction of Gyurza-M-class artillery boats was revived and the first two vessels were expected to be completed in late 2015.[82] In December 2016 the first two Gurza-M artillery boats officially joined the Ukrainian Navy. A new military contract was signed for 20 vessels that should be completed by 2020.

On 27 September 2018, the former United States Coast Guard ships Drummond and Cushing were formally transferred to Ukraine after their retirement from US service. The two vessels were shipped, as deck cargo, and arrived in Odesa on 21 October 2019. The Ukrainian salvage ship Oleksandr Okhrimenko was formally transferred to the Ukrainian Navy from the Ministry of Infrastructure on 29 August 2019.

The Project 58181 Centaur (Kentavr)//Project 58503 Centaur-LK class is a series of small armored assault craft being built for the Ukrainian Navy. The first two vessels were laid down at the Kuznya na Rybalskomu in December 2016. The project was developed by State Research and Design Shipbuilding Center on the basis of the Gyurza-M-class artillery boats. They are designed for patrol service on rivers and coastal maritime areas, the delivery and landing of marines. Two ships on trial, one on order.

Unloading (the former U.S. Coast Guard) boat Starobilsk in Odessa in October 2019

In 2018 the United States offered Ukraine some of its Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates from its reserve fleet. The details of this offer were being worked out as of October 2018.[83]

Ukrainian shipbuilder Kuznya na Rybalskomu launched a new medium reconnaissance ship Lahuna for the Ukrainian Navy on 23 April 2019.[84] On 20 October 2019 the unfinished ship arrived in Odesa for completion and commissioning.[85]

The US State Department approved a Foreign Military Sales case for the supply of up to 16 Mark VI patrol boats and associated equipment to Ukraine in June 2020. 12 boats out of the 16 approved for sale has been ordered as of January 2022 and the Ukrainian President (Volodymyr Zelensky) has said that deliveries of the Mark VI patrol boats to Ukraine will begin in 2022.[86][87]

In October 2020 Ukraine and the United Kingdom signed a memorandum in which the UK government pledged to provide a 10-year loan of up to £1.25 billion ($1.6 billion) for the re-equipment of the Ukrainian Navy.[88] In June 2021, during a visit by HMS Defender to Odesa, it was revealed that an agreement had been reached for two Sandown-class minehunters to be transferred to the Ukrainian Navy upon decommissioning from the Royal Navy.[89]

In December 2020, Ukraine signed an agreement for the production of four Ada-class corvettes.[90] Ukraine is developing a supersonic cruise missile named Bliskavka to arm its warships.[91]

The Ukrainian Navy received its first complex of Bayraktar Tactical Block 2 on 15 July 2021.[73]


  1. ^ Adopted in 2016.


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External links and further readingEdit