A repair and maintenance ship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet left Sevastopol on Saturday, heading for the permanent Russian naval logistic base at the Syrian port of Tartus, fleet spokesman Capt. 1st Rank Vyacheslav Trukhachyov said.
"PM-56 will sail to the Syrian port of Tartus, where it will replace the repair and maintenance vessel PM-138, whose crew has for more than half a year been providing technical support for Russian naval forces that are carrying out tasks in the Mediterranean," Trukhachyov told Interfax.
On August 22, Interfax-AVN was told at the Black Sea Fleet headquarters that PM-138 would return to Sevastopol late in September, as scheduled, and would be replaced by another ship.
The Tartus logistic base, PMTO-720, has existed since 1977 under a 1971 agreement and remains practically the only Russian military facility outside the boundaries of the former Soviet Union.
It consists of two floating berths, a couple of storehouses, a barracks block and several other buildings and has a maximum of 50 sailors posted there.
There is always one repair and maintenance ship at a time at the base. Such vessels, which are sent from Sevastopol, replace each other after six-month stints on a rotating basis.
One more Black Sea vessel left its base for the Mediterranean on Saturday. The tug MB-304, which is due to pass through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits on Sunday and Monday, will take part in Russian-Italian exercise IONEKS 2012. The destroyer Smetlivy is one more Russian ship to be involved in the exercise.
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