Home » Aviation » NATO Ship in Black Sea Buzzed By Russian Planes, Russia Disputes Account

NATO Ship in Black Sea Buzzed By Russian Planes, Russia Disputes Account

Halifax-class frigate (FFH) HMCS Toronto (FFH-333) in 2004. US Navy Photo

Halifax-class frigate (FFH) HMCS Toronto (FFH-333) in 2004. US Navy Photo

The Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Toronto (FFH-333) was overflown by three Russian planes — two fighters and a surveillance aircraft — on Sunday, according to a Monday statement from Canadian Defence Minister Rob Nicholson.

“While the Russian military aircraft that circled the HMCS Toronto did not in any way pose a threat to the Canadian ship, their actions were unnecessarily provocative and risk escalating tensions even further,” Nicholson said in the statement.

Russian officials quickly questioned the Canadian account.

Russian defense official Igor Konashenkov told the ITAR-TASS Russian wire service a Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer and an Antonov AN-26 transport plane were in the area but did not engage Toronto.

“The planes’ flight path passed through the area where the Canadian naval ship Toronto was, but without making an approach on the foreign military vessel,” Konashenkov said.

The reaction to the flyby is the latest sign of tension between NATO members and Russian forces following the forced annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine by Russia in March.

A Russian Sukhoi SU-24 Fencer.

A Russian Sukhoi SU-24 Fencer.

In April, two Fencers spent 90 minutes flying over guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) in an action Pentagon officials called, “unprofessional.”

NATO surface ships have maintained a steady presence in the Black Sea in support of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, but remained after the Crimea annexation.

Toronto is one of four NATO ships in the Black Sea as part of the ongoing multinational Sea Breeze exercise. The exercise includes Ukraine but none of the NATO ships are planning Ukrainian port visits.

Other NATO ships currently include Spanish guided missile frigate Almirante Juan de Borbón (F-102), U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG-71) and the French frigate Commandant Birot (F796).

French signals intelligence ship Dupuy de Lôme (A759) has cycled in and out of the Black Sea several times in the last few months.

All warship from countries without a coast on the Black Sea operate under the 1936 Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits.

Montreux rules call for foreign warships to depart the Black Sea after 21 days.

  • rbonilla

    you can bet NATO forces had a lock on them, and could have splashed them at a seconds notice…..bears are no threat anymore…. they best be very careful….

    • Luke

      Do you regurarly make such a interesting remarks?. By the way, what is Nato doing in the Black Sea? Ok, let’s in return the Chinese and Russians do fleet manoeuvres in the Gulf of Mexico and find the passing of American jets “unneccesarily provocative”. Ok?
      For your info, the Black Sea is a nice trap for Nato ships. They can best be carefull or they risk to be blasted out of the water.

      • James H. McQuaid

        Russia is the enemy. Take your shallow minded equivalency arguments and go to Russia Today. Thanks in advance.

      • J Urie

        There are six countries that have shorelines on the Black Sea: Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine three of which are NATO members Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey. You appear to be geographically challenged as to why NATO is in the Black Sea.

  • Secundius

    Putin’s trying to provoke an incident, by any means possible, short of actually attacking with live munitions.

  • Secundius

    Putin might just be dumb enough to order his pilot’s to release “dummy practice” ordnance on NATO ships, to see if he can provoke a hostile response…

  • Jason Smith

    because of the continual presence of civilian aircraft, a warship in the black sea would be a very easy target; the reaction time to countering an anti-ship missile, would be so reduced, that it is almost certain, if this were wartime, casualties would be reported, and the news would be carrying headlines for days…sitting ducks in a barrel; hence, the whining from politicians about how this or that is unprofessional…a shame really; live & die by the sword; never complain.