The US has donated four boats to the Bulgarian Navy, which are expected to be deployed to patrol Bulgaria’s coastline.
A total of three rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) and one patrol vessel have been supplied under the initiative.
The vessels are intended to support the Bulgarian Navy’s efforts to intercept drug and human traffickers around the country’s waters.
The US embassy in Bulgaria delivered the ships to the navy on behalf of the US Government.
In addition, the event also saw US Ambassador Eric Rubin and Navy Commander rear admiral (RADM) Mitko Petev join in celebrations dedicated to sailors graduating from the Patrol Craft Officer Coastal Course.
Bulgarian sailors received training from instructors based at the US Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School in Mississippi during the course, which will allow them to operate the new boats.
Rubin said: “Bulgaria is the first country in the Black Sea region to receive these force protection boats from the US.
“These boats, equipment and training, which amount to around $2m, enhance not only Bulgarian maritime security and sovereignty, but also promote Black Sea and Nato collective security.
“Today’s increasingly complex challenges and threats in the maritime domain, from terrorism, piracy, weapons trafficking, to illegal migration, all require a professional maritime force ready to respond and adapt to a multitude of scenarios.”
Rubin also noted that the personnel graduating from the training school are slated to play an important role in enhancing the country’s readiness to address these threats.
RHIBs are a series of high-speed, high-buoyancy, extreme-weather boats that have been in service with the US Navy since the mid-1970s.
The vessels have the capability to manoeuvre and perform in wind speeds of up to 45k.