In 2019 it is the 140th anniversary of the establishment of the Bulgarian Navy. The National Museum of History (NMH), using various initiatives, participates actively in the celebrations. The new museum exhibition and a virtual representation of photographs, documents and objects, connected with the Bulgarian naval history and available in the funds of the National Museum of History, are part of the NMH initiatives.
The Bulgarian Navy was formed in the distant year 1879, when on the 12th of August the Russian army – liberator left several steamboats, steam cutters and row-boats for the newly established Principality of Bulgaria. These vessels formed the first Bulgarian naval unit – the Danube Flotilla, in Ruse. This was only the beginning of a history, full of successes, difficulties, victories, heroism, self-sacrifice and implicit fulfilment of the obligation, owed to the motherland. A number of events, connected with the fleet history, are memorable, such as: the establishment of the first naval school in Ruse in 1881; the formation of the Naval Arsenal and Naval Headquarters in Varna; the war supplies from 1897 to 1909 – new ships such as the cruiser ‘Nadezhda’ and six torpedo boats – ‘Hrabri’, Smeli’, Strogi’, ‘Letyashti’, ‘Shumni’ and ‘Drazki’; the first sea victories, the most decisive among them was in November 1912, when the Turkish cruiser ‘Hamidiye’ was torpedoed by ‘Drazki’; the first submarine ‘Podvodnik N0.18’ entered the service in May 1916; the first coastal landing at Balchik in September 1916; encroaching new sea territories (the Sea of Marmora and the White Sea) and the Ohrid Lake during the wars for national unification, and the Mediterranean in 1969; the reforms after 1989; joining the NATO in 2004 and our actively participation in the NATO drills. The above mentioned events determine the praiseworthy path of life of all officers, seamen, engineers and shipbuilders, who devoted years of efforts, privations and hard work to safeguarding the territorial waters of Bulgaria. The names of some military fleet figures, who became famous for serving our homeland, are renowned in our history: Captain Simeon Vankov, Commander of the Danube Flotilla which supplied and supported the troops garrisoned at the Vidin fortress during the Serbian – Bulgarian War; Commander Dimitar Dobrev who commanded the destroyers against the cruiser ‘Hamidiye’; Lieutenant junior grade Georai Kupov, Commander of the ‘Drazki’ torpedo-boat which annihilated the Turkish cruiser; Colonel Miltiad Zhelezov - he created the Bulgarian Coast Artillery; Rashko Serafimov – the first Bulgarian officer –submariner; the first Bulgarian Rear Admiral Sava Stefanov; Ivan Variklechkov - the first Bulgarian Rear Admiral in action. These noteworthy Bulgarians not only did their military duty, but most of them also actively participated in the political, economic and social life of the Third Bulgarian Kingdom.
The Navy of the Principality of Bulgaria, the Navy of the Kingdom of Bulgaria, the Navy of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria, and nowadays the Navy of the Republic of Bulgaria have always defended the sea frontiers of our state selflessly and very skillfully, and deserve credit for this. 140 years from the Bulgarian Navy formation are a good reason to remember its historical road and its multiple successes. We have to be sure that in the future naval officers, seamen and sailors will continue to be loyal guardians of the native shores.
‘140 YEARS BULGARIAN NAVY’ virtual exhibition of the NMH represents part of the most interesting exhibits preserved in the museum. In August 2019 these exhibits, together with other objects and documents, new for the visitors, will be exhibited in the Halls of the National Museum of History.