This paper assesses the capabilities of the Romanian Navy in light of latest military and security developments in the Black Sea. It provides an insight on the background, current shape and modernization plans for the Romanian navy and its components (the 56th Frigate Flotilla, the naval aviation capability, the 50th Corvette Squadron, the 150th Naval Missile Squadron, the 146th mine warfare squadron, Romania’s Danube flotilla, and the special ops squadron) and concludes with recommendations for the future development of the service.
By all accounts Romania is a small maritime nation. Of all the countries bordering the Black Sea, Romania has the narrowest coastline, only 245 km long or 6% of the total length and its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) measures only 9,700 square kilometers. Yet these facts tend to overshadow Romania’s maritime interests and its strategic position at the Blacks Sea. Admiral Richard Hill has observed in his work “Maritime Strategy for Medium Powers” (1986) that:
There appears to be no instance of a state which possesses a sea coast ignoring the fact. However minimally, some of its people will apply the resources of the sea to their environment. Thus, if power is the ability to influence events, all states with a sea coast have some maritime power.
This is true in the case of Romania as well. Its main gateway to the global economy is the Port of Constanța, the largest deep water port in the Black Sea. Constanța is 179 NM (332 km) from the Bosphorus Strait and 85 NM (157 km) from the mouths of the Danube. In the long run, 9,700 square kilometers of EEZ may yield up to 70 Bcm of gas and 12 million tons of oil.
Romania’s strategic position in the region is emphasized by its control of the mouths of Danube and its sprawling Delta as well as its membership in NATO and the EU. After Rhine, the Danube is the second largest European waterway and 1,075 km or 38% of its entire length runs through Romania, of which 236 km represent internal waterways.
The tasks of protecting Romania’s maritime interests and securing its access to the global commons belong to the Romanian Naval Forces. Of all Romania’s military services, the navy is the smallest, it numbers only 6,600 personnel, but it is the most technically and professionally challenging of the three. The relevance of the navy’s mission is emphasized by the fact that, an aggression originating from the Black Sea or from the Danube can target and engage all of Romania’s military services or, at least, two of them either simultaneously or successively.