The “Breeze 2023” international naval maneuvers held in the Black Sea have come to an end. It was mainly operated by Bulgarian vessels supported by a Romanian minesweeper and ships from countries invited to participate in the exercises. Compared to previous years, due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the number of vessels was reduced.

NATO member states, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Turkey, as well as a non-member of the North Atlantic Alliance – Georgia – which was represented by a representative of the border guards there, took part in “Breeze 2023”. During the exercise, he was engaged as a staff member. Poland also emphasized its participation, from which two officers from the 12th minesweeper squadron1 were sent. Their presence made it possible to support the planning and monitoring of the course of the exercise, especially in maintaining the safety of navigation through the search, detection and destruction of dangerous underwater objects (Mine Counter Measures – MCM)2 and the recognition and neutralization of not only typical conventional unexploded ordnance, but also all kinds of improvised explosive devices (EOD)3.

How the international maneuvers “Breeze 2023” carried out on the basis of military action scenarios, mainly of a defensive nature, was told by Lieutenant Commander Pawel Chomiuk , who participated in them:

“The scenario of this year’s exercises assumed that there were political tensions in the Black Sea basin. The result was a number of provocations by a neighboring power. Diversion and reconnaissance groups appeared at sea and on land. And our forces had to prevent escalation. As intended, we operated below the threshold of war. Under realistic conditions, although opponents appeared under fictitious names. This is a constant practice in the Alliance. NATO maneuvers in other parts of the continent, such as Anaconda, are based on a similar scheme,” reported kmdr. Lt. Pawel Chomiuk. “Based on conversations with colleagues who took part in previous editions of Breeze, I can conclude that the scenarios have been similar over the years. This year, however, the organizers put a particularly strong emphasis on mine countermeasures. Their importance was mentioned by the commander of the Bulgarian Navy, then by the officers I had the opportunity to work with, and finally by the Bulgarian Defense Minister, who visited us at the end of the exercise. As a result of the war, sizable areas of the Black Sea have been mined. The problem concerns not only Ukrainian waters. In previous months, there have already been situations where mines were released from their pens and drifted freely in waters belonging to Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. Last September, one of them damaged a Romanian ship. Fortunately, no one was killed, but the vessel was taken to a shipyard and still has not returned to service. The Bulgarians do not rule out that clearing the Black Sea of mines is a job for years. First, however, the war must end”4.

The annual organizer of the international naval maneuvers “Breeze 2023” is the Bulgarian Navy5. These are exercises aimed at improving the interoperability capabilities of the armed forces of the various countries of the Alliance (usually those bordering the Black Sea ) at the tactical level. During the maneuvers, the ships operate in Bulgarian territorial waters, the exclusive economic zone belonging to Bulgaria, but also partially in international watersh6.

During the implementation of the naval maneuvers, Russian warships appeared in the basin to observe the exercises from a safe distance. However, their presence is no novelty, especially in recent months. A similar situation occurred during the naval maneuvers conducted in the Baltic Sea basin. It was declared that no incidents involving the fleet of the Russian Federation took place during Breeze 20237.


1 The 12th Wolin minesweeper squadron is a tactical unit of the 8th Vice Admiral Kazimierz Porębski Coastal Defense Flotilla in Swinoujscie designed to perform mine defense tasks, i.e. minesweeping, search, detection and destruction of mines, minefields and mine defense of ship complexes on the sea passage. In addition to minesweepers, the squadron includes auxiliary vessels and a Miner Divers Group, vide: Official Site Polish Army, 8th Coast Defense Flotilla, online – [accessed: 21.11.2023].

2 Official website Polish Army, 8th Coastal Defense Flotilla – missions, online – [accessed: 21.11.2023].

3 B. Politowski, This is how the sapper elite are trained, online – [accessed: 21.11.2023].

4 Official Site Maritime Poland, International maneuvers “Breeze 2023”, online – [accessed: 21.11.2023].

5 Official Site Maritime Poland, Ends another edition of the international exercise pk. BREEZE 23, online – [accessed: 21.11.2023].

6 Ł. Zalesiński, “Breeze” in the shadow of war, online – [accessed: 21.11.2023].

7 Ibidem.

Photo: LAC Grant Armishaw, online – [accessed: 1.12.2023].

Tekst powstał w ramach realizacji zadania publicznego zleconego w ramach Rządowego Programu Rozwoju Organizacji Obywatelskich na lata 2018–2030 r. „Bezpieczna Polska jutra – rozwój działań misyjnych Alioth Foundation”.