MOSCOW, October 9 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s Azov large landing ship will resume its mission as part of the Russian naval task force in the Mediterranean after a short training stint in the Baltic Sea, a Black Sea Fleet spokesman said.
The Ropucha-II class ship, which took part in recent Russian-Belarusian exercises Zapad-2013, left the Baltiisk base in Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad on Tuesday. The warship is expected to arrive in the port of Sevastopol on Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in early November.
“During the voyage, the ship will call at the Spanish port of Ceuta to replenish its food, fuel and water supplies. After that, Azov will resume performing duties as part of Russia’s Mediterranean task force,” Capt. 1st Rank Vyacheslav Trukhachev said.
Russia began its military buildup in the Mediterranean Sea last year “to protect its interests in the region.” The Kremlin later said the deployment of the naval task force in the region was prompted in part by the Syrian crisis.
Since May 1, all Russian warships in the region have been grouped into a single task force under a dedicated offshore maritime zone operational command.
Azov was one of the first ships to join the Mediterranean group, which consists of several warships and a number of auxiliary vessels led by the Black Sea Fleet’s flagship, the Moskva missile cruiser.