Source: Russia Sent Amphibious Ships with Marines and Armor to Syria
Photo: Landing ship Azov. Southern Military District Press Service
Russian landing ships Azov and Nikolai Filchenkov left Novorossiysk for Syrian port Tartus with marines and several combat vehicles onboard, reported Russian General Staff on Monday.
"Having taken special-task marine units and several combat vehicles aboard, landing ships Azov and Nikolai Filchenkov left Novorossiysk for Syria", reports Interfax referring to the source.
As for him, "marines are tasked to secure the ships during passage of the Turkish Straits and port calls".
"The ships will pass the Straits in December 26-27 in order to join the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) task unit, comprising missile cruiser Moskva and destroyer Smetlivy, on December 28", added the source.
"Those warships will escort Azov and Nikolai Filchenkov underway to the Syrian port Tartus where Russian Navy's maintenance base is located. The ships are to evacuate Russian citizens from Syria in case of the conflict escalation", said the interviewee.
According to him, missile cruiser Moskva and destroyer Smetlivy on Monday have finished the visit to Greek port Piraeus, replenished water and food supplies, and continued accomplishing combat tasks in the Northeast Mediterranean.
Project 1171 landing ship Nikolai Filchenkov displaces 4,650 tons. Her length is 113.1 meters, beam is 15.6 meters, draft is 4.5 meters, speed is 16.5 knots, fuel range is 10,000 miles at 15 knots, capacity is up to 1,500 tons of cargoes and military hardware. Armament: 57-mm gun mount ZIF-31B, 2 x 2 25-mm antiaircraft guns 2M-3M, 3 x 4 MANPADS, MLRS A-215 Grad-M. Crew is 55 men.
Project 775 landing ship Azov displaces 4,080 tons. Her speed is 18 knots; capacity is up to 500 tons of cargo and 225-men landing party. Tank hold is 95-meter long, 4.5-meter wide, and 4.5-meter high. Dimensions: length – 112.5 meters, beam – 15 meters, draft – 3.7 meters. Fuel range is 6,000 miles at 12 knots. Armament: 76-mm gun mount AK-176, 2 x 6 30-mm gun mounts AK-630, 2 MLRS A-215 Grad-M. According to Vzglyad, official representative of Russian foreign ministry Alexander Lukashevich said earlier on Monday that although there was a plan to evacuate Russian citizens from Syria, the decision had not been made so far.
As was earlier reported, Russian EMERCOM along with foreign and defense ministries had prepared a plan of large-scale evacuation of Russian people from Syria. According to the document, it is planned to evacuate about 30,000 Russians from the dangerous region in few days.
Rescuers have considered several methods and routes for evacuation of Russian people. The first one is combined. People are to be delivered to Syrian cities of Tartus and Latakia by automobiles, and then transported to Larnaca (Cyprus) by sea. There Russian EMERCOM and military aircraft as well as Aeroflot and Cyprus Airlines liners Airbus-320 (capacity 180 passengers) are to take refugees aboard and bring to Russia.
Also, Russian authorities plan to engage four passenger ferries: Apollonia (250 seats), Ant-1 (90 seats), Ant-2 (68 seats), and Nikolai Konarev (75 seats). Currently, those ferries are in the Red, the Mediterranean, and the Black seas. Participation of corvettes and landing ships of Baltic and Black Sea fleets in the operation is planned as well.
"Capacity of Project 775 landing ships is 130 persons, and Project 1171 ships accommodate up to 290 passengers. Those ships can be used at routes Tartus-Novorossiysk and Tartus-Larnaca", explained an insider in EMERCOM.
In addition, Russian people can be withdrawn from airports of Damascus and Latakia by EMERCOM airplanes Il-62, Il-76 and Yak-42, as well as liners of Aeroflot and Transaero. If needed, transport aircraft of Russian Air Force can be involved in evacuation as well; they are in 6-hour preparedness at airfields of Pskov, Taganrog, and Orenburg. Using air space of Ukraine, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, and Lebanon, flight time to Damascus will make 8 hours.
Prior to that, Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov addressing the session of public council for international cooperation stated that Russia had mobilization plans to evacuate its citizens from Syria.