Serbia River Flotilla
River Flotilla is a tactical brigade-sized unit of the Serbian Army, intended for executing combat and non-combat activities, movements and other actions on rivers, canals and lakes, independently and in cooperation with other defence forces of the Republic of Serbia.
All the forces that carry out its tasks on the inland waterways are under the command of the River Flotilla. That enables efficient mission fulfillment, especially while assisting local population in the event of natural and technological disasters. An organization that unifies river, amphibious and pontoon units enables rapid response in rescuing people, material goods and providing assistance in the event of natural disaster and other technical and technological accidents on the inland waterways.
Riverine Units of the Serbian Armed Forces are designed to conduct operations on inland waterways, secure safe navigation and conduct search and rescue on rivers, canals and lakes, give assistance to the population in case of natural disasters and take part in peace keeping operations and other forms of international military cooperation. Riverive units train and practice to build and develop operational capabilities to fulfill specific tasks and tasks related to all three SAF mission; they control inland waterways and secure maneuver for the Army units. Riverine Units are organized in river detachments, pontoon battalions and River Flotilla. In order to complete its tasks, Riverine Units is equipped with: a special purpose vessel, multipurpose auxiliary and transport vessels, river patrol boats, pontoon and diving equipment. There are few major inland basins on each continent which are intersected by rivers, canals, irrigation ditches and lakes (e.g. the Danube and the Volga rivers create great waterway system with navigable canals in Europe, the Amur river as long natural border between Russia and China in East Asia, the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers with own tributaries in North America, the Amazon river in South America, the Nile, Congo rivers and Tanganyika lake in Africa). All disseminated countries in these areas have long tradition of powerfull military riverine units that have been developed in accordance with existing waterways network density.
River Flotilla was reorganized into a brigade level unit when pontoon units were included in its structure. The River Flotilla is a brigade-size unit within the Serbian Army. It comprises the HQ, two river detachment, two pontoon battalions, HQ company and logistic company. The HQ and the majority of the River Flotilla units are located in Novi Sad, and the rest are located in Belgrade and Šabac.
In performing their tasks, the river units of the Serbian Armed Forces use special purpose ships, multipurpose, patrol and auxiliary vessels and equipment, as well as diving equipment. The first armaments and ships of the River Flotilla were of trophy origin. Most of the vessels used in the Flotilla were the product of the domestic shipbuilding industry, whether they were built or reconstructed. The ships were mainly built in shipyards in Belgrade, Apatin, Novi Sad and Macvanska Mitrovica.
The first ships of the River Flotilla had no artillery weapons, so in the final operations for the liberation of the country they were used exclusively for transporting. The main weapons were 6.5 and 8 mm machine guns. With the introduction in the River Flotilla of the river monitors, armored and patrol boats, artillery weapons were mounted on them: machine guns 12.7 mm and cannons 20, 40, 76 and 105 mm, which significantly increased the firepower of the unit and enabled its effect on the forces on water and land.
River Dicing Unit of the River Flotilla is one of the units with a tradition and experience of more than half a century. As part of the formation of 1960, the 2nd River Flotilla housed an Underwater Deterrent Company, from which in 1964 the 1st Independent River Diving Unit was formed, named the Platoon of River Underwater Divers. After organizational changes in the River Flotilla, on June 29, 1971, a diving unit called the 93rd River Centre was formed. At the outset, the basic purpose of the unit was defensive and the unit was used exclusively for light ship work during the docking of the ships. The first recorded dive of river divers of the 93rd River Centre was recorded in a diving diary on June 1, 1972.
The original formation name of the 93rd River Centre was returned to the unit in 2005. With the latest organizational and formation changes made in 2008, the unit was transformed into the 93rd Diving Company and became part of the 1st River Detachment of the River Flotilla.
Seafarers and boatmen are trained at the Serbian Military Academy for maritime and river industry, customs, military and police riverine units. Furthermore, Serbian Military Academy adopted and developed educational training program against piracy, applying all the provisions and recommendations of the IMO conventions and IMO model courses for Autonomous vessel protection detachment (AVPD). However, continuous support has been already provided for Serbian AVPD whether has participated in the EU military operation EUNAVFOR ATALANTA, concerning navigational training with simulators and IMO model courses.
At the Serbian Military Academy, boat crews are trained to operate their respective vessels for day and night operations in accordance with national standards and International Maritime Organization safety standards (STCW Convention and IMO model courses). River flotilla primarily conducts training for boat safety, navigation, night vision, communications, operator maintenance, high-speed maneuvering, handling weapons (including crew-served weapons) and other individual and collective skills unique to riverine craft operating in a riverine environment.
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