Defence Secretary Michael Fallon met with his Bulgarian counterpart Nikolay Nenchev and confirmed that the UK will send a Type 45 Destroyer to the Black Sea in Spring 2017 as a demonstration of the UK’s on-going commitment to support Bulgaria, NATO’s southern flank, and wider shared security interests.
This follows on from the UK gift of 40 Land Rovers to the Bulgarian Border Force this summer.
Mr Fallon said:
“We want to send a clear message to our Bulgarian and European allies that we are standing strong with them to defeat our shared security threats. By tightening our ties today we’re giving citizens in Bulgaria, the UK and the whole of Eastern Europe greater hope of a brighter future.”
According to a Ministry of Defence press release, since the Wales NATO Summit in 2014, the UK has stepped up bi-lateral work with Bulgaria, including several joint exercises, two of which took place on Bulgarian territory for the first time in a decade.
British Army and Royal Marine personnel have been collaborating with NATO forces on a range of exercises to improve interoperability.
The Type 45 Destroyer visit follows-on from HMS Duncan’s participation in a training exercise alongside a Bulgarian Navy minesweeper in November last year – the first major Royal Navy vessel in the Black Sea for seven years.
Mr Fallon said:
“The UK and Bulgaria share the same values, face the same threats and share the same desire to have modern 21st century forces. We also share the same resolve to stand firm against aggression and the same desire to strengthen NATO the cornerstone of our defence.
As Bulgaria invests more in defence the UK stands ready to help. We are Europe’s leading defence exporter, generating £4 billion in security exports a year. We have the skills and expertise to help modernise the Bulgarian Armed Forces and want to help develop their capabilities.
The UK has a world-class technology base and an innovation initiative to harness our brightest brains to help us, and our allies, stay ahead of the curve.
UK companies are already assisting our Bulgarian friends and we are eager to make even greater progress by forging new friendships and seeing where future collaborations might lead to make our nations safer and more prosperous.”