The visit on 27 April to 29 April 2017 underlines the ongoing defence cooperation between the UK and Bulgaria as NATO Allies.
The British warship HMS Daring visited the port of Varna between 27-29 April 2017. The ship is the UK’s first Type 45 Destroyer and, as one of the most advanced British warships ever built, she is at the forefront of the Royal Navy’s next generation of Area Air Defence Destroyers. Her equipment includes a radar that can see a target as small as a tennis ball. The ship is manned by 260 sailors and has had a busy life since her commissioning in 2009.
The ship’s call to Bulgaria delivered on an undertaking made by the UK Secretary of State for Defence, Sir Michael Fallon, during his visit to Bulgaria in September 2016, with the aim of further developing defence cooperation and inter-operability between the UK and Bulgaria. It demonstrated the strong bilateral relationship between the two NATO allies and built on previous UK contributions of troops to military exercises in Bulgaria, earlier ship visits and UK support for the Sofia-based NATO Force Integration Unit.
HMS Daring’s arrival was a little delayed by fog but this did not detract from a most successful visit. The ship’s Commanding Officer, Commander Marcus Hember, paid a courtesy call to the Commanding Officer of Naval Station Varna, Captain (N) Georgi Georgiev, and also hosted an official lunch for Rear Admiral Mitko Petev, Commander of the Bulgarian Navy, other senior Bulgarian Navy officers and the Regional Governor Todor Yotov, who was also given a tour of the ship. Bulgarian Naval Academy cadets took the opportunity to visit the ship and a reciprocal visit by young officers from HMS Daring to the Academy also took place.
On the same day, crew members enjoyed friendly football and volleyball matches with their counterparts from the Naval Base, with both games ending in close victories for the Bulgarian Navy. The ship’s volleyball team included the British Ambassador to Bulgaria, Her Excellency Emma Hopkins OBE. The ship’s crew were also delighted to welcome onboard a number of local children with links to the Friends of the Sea and Vasilitsa organisations for a tour and party tea.
Speaking during the visit, Ambassador Hopkins said:
At a time when we seem to be facing an ever-increasing array of security challenges across the globe, the need for us to maintain our collective security through NATO has never been more important. The UK remains committed to the Alliance and we continue to work with our allies and close partners such as Bulgaria.
It is also important that as NATO allies, our forces get the chance to know each other better and train together, so I am delighted that this visit will provide an opportunity for the crew of HMS Daring to engage in a number of activities with their counterparts from Bulgaria.
Commander Marcus Hember said:
Daring is 8 months in to a 9-month deployment which has been predominantly based in the Middle East; working with partner nations in the Gulf, Indian Ocean, and Red Sea to ensure maritime security and keep the sea-lanes open, most notably in the Southern Red Sea where we have been ensuring the safe passage of international shipping, threatened by the escalating conflict in Yemen. We have also been combating the flow of arms into Yemen and working to stem the flow of narcotics.
Security on the global commons benefits us all, and, like Bulgaria, Britain as a maritime nation relies on the sea for the flow of trade. By being deployed globally the Royal Navy aims to prevent conflict by deterring threats and providing reassurance.
Whilst much is changing in the UK at the moment, one thing is consistent; our engagement with the security challenges facing all nations will remain rock-steady. The Royal Navy, and our presence here is part of that- reinforcing our important partnership with Bulgaria.