Navy History

With the declaration of independence in November 28, 1912, the first attempts to organize the Albanian Navy were made by Ismail Qemali’s government, but the beginning of World War I interrupted this commitment.

In 1925, the military organization was based on the status of Albania, drafted on March 7, 1925. On the basis of this status, it was created the General Command of Military Powers.

On December 25, 1925, arrived from Italy two 190-ton ship, which were named with meaningful names “Shqipëria” and “Skënderbeu”. These ships were manned with crews of sailors performing duties on behalf of the fight against smuggling in the Albanian coast.

In 1928, the Navy Command was created and more specifically on June 24, 1928, when the first recruits were recruited for this force. 

In 1934, two other light vessels were bought by Italy, which were named “Saranda” and “Durrësi”. During World War II these vessels were almost destroyed.

The liberation of Albania found the Albanian Navy in poor condition with almost all sunken ships in the ports of the coast.

In April 1945, the Durrës shipyard was established for the repairing of existing boats, the extraction of sunken vessels during the war, and their preparation for military purposes.

On August 15, 1945, were launch in water two trophy speedboats, with the relevant numbers MS-10 and MS-12. These speedboats were armed with light machine gun and started patrolling the coastal water in Vlora and Saranda. In this period there was a clear vision for the development and prospects of the Navy, using the political conjuncture of the time. So, we can mention the years ‘53-‘54, that marked the beginning of a new era in the development of the Navy with the torpedo launchers, minesweepers, gunboats and support vessels of various classes.

On February 14, 1954, the torpedo-boat squadron was established in the Island of Sazan, it also marks the beginning of a new stage of Navy development.

Navy’s development and modernization began rapidly, especially after 1957. On September 21, 1958, started operating one of the most special and important Albanian Navy, the Submarine Unit, consisting of four submarines which were built in the former Soviet Union.

In August 1961, the Navy School was opened in Vlora, today the Navy’s Troop School, which has played a major role in the preparation and education of the Navy with officers.

The 1961-1980 period marked the further development of the Navy, creation of some torpedo-boat units and equipment with modern warships. Hydrographic Service was established as navigation maritime security organization and combat operations, which put a series of floating lights and lighthouses along the coast, many signal-observation points were modernized which were equipped with a wide network of radiolocators.

The period 1980-1990 can be considered as the continuous period of navigations, survival, guidance and guarantee of technical readiness of ships and submarines. A major contribution in this regard was provided by the Naval Repair Shipyard in Pashaliman.

After the ‘90s, the Navy had the tasks of restructuring, redesigning of its units for a natural integration with NATO structures and EU. In this period, it is worth emphasizing, the support given by the staff and members of the Navy for the democratic processes in the country, thanks to the political maturity, patriotic and democratic spirit. The cooperation with western fleets of NATO grew significantly, many joint exercises were held successfully, such as “SAREX-I”, “SAREX-2”, “MAREX-I”, “MAREX-2”, etc, where our staff showed a high professional level, a level which was assessed by foreigners.

The shocking events of March 1997 caused huge damage to the Navy units. The second half of 1997 and 1998 marked the recovery and reorganization phase of the Navy units after the total destruction. After a relentless work and maximal dedication of the Navy staff, it became possible the rebuilding and functioning of the naval districts of Durres and Vlora, and the Support Bases in Shëngjin and Saranda. It is worth mentioning in this recovery process the support of our Western partners such as USA, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Germany, etc..

After 1997, it was aimed the Navy rebuilding with ships which took refuge in Italy during the March events, and thank to mutual agreement between both countries, after the repair, they returned to Albania.

In March 1998, with the support of the U.S. government, the Navy was equipped with 5 patrol boats, which became the protagonist of SAR operations in the coming years.

In 1998, as a result of the long time use, 4 submarines were decommissioned after 40 years of activity.

In 2002 with the contribution of the Italian government, after the ratification of the Albanian Coast Guard law no. 8875. 04.04.2002, the Navy was equipped with 6 patrol vessels from Italy, which, together with the U.S. vessels became part of Coast Guard structures. In August 2002, 14 vessels of the Navy participated in the extensive trafficking operation “Puma”, in cooperation with the law enforcement agencies, anti-smuggling, fisheries, etc., which successfully made possible the blocking of the traffic.

June 2004, 6 patrol vessels were donated by the Italian Coast Guard, raising the number of patrol boats to 12.

On September 12 to 23, 2005, in the Gulf of Vlora was held the largest joint naval exercise, “Cooperative Engagement-05”, with the participation of 14 navies of various countries of the world. The Navy took part with 19 vessels of different types.

In February 2007 began the work for the implementation of the Integrated Maritime Surveillance System, a project that is being implemented by the prestigious U.S. company “Lockheed-Martin”.

In June 2007, the Navy implemented a new structure, a Naval Brigade with two flotilla (North and South Naval Flotilla) and a Logistic Battalion. During this year, more than 10 SAR operations were carried out the Navy personnel and several exercises in the country and abroad, in cooperation with the partner navies of NATO. 

In November 2007, an agreement was signed with the Netherlands, (“Damen Shipyard”) to equip the Navy with 4 patrol boats.

On December 4, 2007, at the parade held on the occasion of the 95th anniversary of the Armed Forces, the Navy was represented with dignity with two formations (one formation with officers and one formation with NCOs).

On September 7, 2008, at the Ministry of Defence was held the signing ceremony of the Tactical Memorandum of Understanding for the participation of Albania in Operation “Active-Endeavour” (TMOU).

This memorandum sets out the tasks and ways of participation of our country in the operations of “Active-Endeavour”, in the framework of NATO, defining mainly the mutual exchange of information on maritime situation in the geographical areas where this operation was conducted, communications, necessary equipment and further interaction among the parties in those areas.

From 1 to 5 March 2008, 5 vessels of the 2nd Naval Force (SNMG2), with their HQ in Naples, conducted a port visit to our country. The purpose of this visit was to strengthen cooperation and increase understanding between our country and NATO structures. The 2nd Naval Group included the following ships: TCG SALIHREIS (Turkey), flagship vessel, HMS SOMERSET (United Kingdom), ITS EURO (Italy), FGS NIEDERSACHSEN (Germany) and HS HYDRA (Greece). The 2nd Naval Group mission is the conduct of various operations in the Mediterranean Sea. During this visit, the NATO ships crews visited important historical and cultural sites in Durrës, Kruja, Berat, etc, as well as several sports activities were organized with the Navy’s units and structures of Port Security Police.

On September 5, 2008, at pier no. 5 in the Port of Durres, was held the ceremony of inauguration of the vessel “Illyria” (P-131), which arrived in Albania in the framework of the contract with the Dutch Company “Damen Shipyard”. In the ceremony attended the highest political and military authorities: Prime Minister of Albania, Mr. Sali Berisha, Minister of Defence, Mr. Gazmend Oketa, representatives of the Council of Ministers, of the Presidency, the ambassadors of NATO countries, of A3 Partnership for Peace, representatives of the National Security Committee, local authorities of Durres district, Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces, Brigadier General Maksim Malaj, the Joint Force commander, Brigadier General Agim Lala, commanders of various units, military attachés accredited to our country, heads of military foreign missions to the country, representatives of the “Damen Shipyard”, etc.

After a year’s work, in November 2008, the final tests were conducted for the hand over of the Integrated Maritime Surveillance System (IMSS), installed by the specialists of “Lockheed Martin” company.

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