Two NATO states launch mine-clearing operation in Black Sea to secure shipping lanes
Frigate "Smeli" of the Bulgarian Navy (Photo -

A minehunter group of ships of two NATO countries has started trawling the waters of the Black Sea along the route of the new Ukrainian sea corridor, Andrii Klymenko, head of the monitoring group of the Institute for Black Sea Strategic Studies, announced on Facebook.

A group of ships of the Bulgarian and Romanian navies began trawling (searching and neutralizing sea mines) along the coast of Bulgaria.

According to Klymenko, the decision to start trawling was made on October 12 at a Ramstein meeting in Brussels, and on October 16, the ships already went to sea.

The operation to search for mines is not limited to the territorial waters (12-mile zone) of Bulgaria, but extends to the adjacent water area, through which the routes of bulk carriers of the new Ukrainian grain corridor pass. Тралення морського коридору вздовж узбережжя Болгарії (Карта – Facebook Andrii Klymenko)

According to the monitoring group and BlackSeaNews, seven ships (one Romanian and six Bulgarian) are involved in the operation.

The group identified five of the seven trawling vessels.

Bulgarian Navy:

- minehunter "Tsibar" (board number 32);
– frigate "Drazki" (board number 41);
– frigate "Smeli" (board number 11);
– frigate "Verni" (board number 42).

Navy of Romania:
– minesweeper "Slt. Alexandru Axente" (board number 30).

Тралення морського коридору вздовж узбережжя Болгарії (Карта – Facebook Andrii Klymenko)
Trawling the sea corridor along the coast of Bulgaria (Map – Facebook Andrii Klymenko)

On October 12, it was reported that Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria agreed on the creation of a "tripartite initiative" to jointly combat sea mines in the Black Sea.

After the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Russia was using sea mines as uncontrolled drifting munitions, and it was precisely such mines that were discovered on March 26-28, 2022, off the coast of Turkey and Romania.

In July 2022, a Liberian-flagged ship discovered a sea mine off the coast of Bulgaria. A few days later, a sea mine was found about two nautical miles off the coast of Romania.

On September 20, 2023, the Romanian authorities announced the rescue of the Seama cargo ship crew. The crew claimed that the ship hit a sea mine.