Ministry of defence Republic of Serbia

"Kozara" back in Serbia

The special purpose ship "Kozara" arrived last night in the territorial waters of Serbia, which, after more than 13 hours of continuous sailing down the Danube from Budapest and about 200 kilometers crossed, brought closer the end of the first international sailing of the largest military vessel of the Riverine Flotilla of the Serbian Army.

After a night spent in Apatin, the ship nearly 70 meters long, with displacement of 55 tons, continued this morning its cruise to Belgrade. The crew of the ship, which was in the last six, seven days, on one of the toughest exams in the last few years, still has a long way to sail of across about 260 kilometers to the anchorage in Belgrade, where it is expected to arrive in the early evening, so it can proudly say that it has successfully completed another multiply important mission of the ship whose history is over 76 years long.

Assessing the success of the multi-day international navigation on the Danube River, Riverine Flotilla Commander Battleship Captain Andrija Andric said that the vessel "Kozara" this time also served as a training ship on which the cadets of the Military Academy of the riverine service, while sailing in international waters, had an excellent opportunity to their senior colleagues in action and learn from them.

- During this largely historical sailing, cadets were trained for various duties on the ships of the Riverine Flotilla, from helmsman and commander of the department of navigation, to the officer of the deck watch at sea and the assistant, they learned about navigation in day and night conditions and how to steer the vessel. They learned from their older colleagues, from people that have rich experience in navigating rivers and seas. The crew of "Kozara" is unique, just like the ship itself. It is the only such vessel in our Flotilla, and in this part of the Danube, so it is logical that there are some of the best members of the Riverine Flotilla. This time as well, the crew has shown to be capable of executing the most complex tasks, and this international voyage or a task that they have been successfully executing the last few days is extraordinary in every sense.

The special purpose ship "Kozara" paid the historical visit to Budapest and the Hungarian naval port where their First Engineering Regiment is stationed. The importance of this visit and navigation is described enough by the fact that it is the first international voyage of a Serbian military ship since 1915 and the construction of the first ships for the Serbian Riverine Flotilla. The crew and the cadets of the Military Academy had the unique opportunity to visit the Hungarian Parliament, University of public services, where their officers study, to visit Szentendre, which once had a rich Serbian community and to visit the Serbian Embassy in Budapest. This way, they have gained a unique experience that will definitely be useful during their career, Battleship Captain Andrija Andric said.

In addition to sailing at night, under specific conditions, over the past six days, the crew had the opportunity to test the ship in the conditions of continuous sailing. The largest and most important ship of the Riverine Flotilla "Kozara" was sailing on the way to Budapest, from Backa Palanka to the naval port in Hungary, at a speed of 16 kilometers per hour, for over than 26 hours without stopping.

From 2009 to 2012, "Kozara" was completely overhauled and modernized. The engine complex was replaced, the side pressure equipment was built in, which allowed for the most complicated maneuvers. The ship was equipped to sail in the most complex conditions and very demanding and ports, such as the naval port in Budapest. All the vital systems of the ship have been modernized, and a modern navigation system that meets the latest trends in Europe and the world has been built in. The ship has been included in the Serbian navigation system, which alleviated the navigation in all kinds of weather, space and climate conditions.

On the behavior of the ship during this challenging sailing, Corvette Captain Commander Dusan Ristic said:

- This sailing is the first large testing of the ship after the overhaul in Apatin. Use of all marine mechanisms and devices has been maximal, especially when we sailed for more than 24 consecutive hours. It was also an opportunity to check the work of the crew in extreme conditions. The task was a challenge for us from the navigational aspect as well, because we have not sailed this part of the Danube, which is abundant in difficult areas, especially in night conditions of reduced visibility. On this occasion, the crew, in addition to their regular tasks, had another, nice and challenging for all of us. Some of us also had the role of teachers of cadets of the riverine units of the Military Academy. I have no doubt that we have successfully completed this task as well, and that the cadets had a chance to look at life on board and the things that await them in the initial positions in the Riverine Flotilla - Corvette Captain Ristic said.

On what the cadets had learned during the historical navigation on the Danube, told us representative of the Military Academy on the "Kozara" Battleship Captain Vladimir Milinkov said:

- Third-year cadets of the Military Academy of the river units on “Kozara” looked into the work of the crew, in particular, in the helmsman duties, the assistant officer of the deck watch, and realized a part of practical classes in the subject of navigation and ship management. I am pleased with the efforts the of cadets during their training, and I would point out the selfless help and significant contribution of the crew to the successful realization of the practical part of the lessons during the navigation - Battleship Captain Vladimir Milinkov said.

Summing up the impressions from the navigation to Hungary, Cadet Corporal Nikola Popov said that it had not been the first time that cadets were on "Kozara" and that their experience gained on this trip was valuable.

- We had a lot of opportunity to learn, to do some things in practice that we have learned in theory, we were on the bridge, where we looked into the duties and work of the helmsmen and officers of the deck service, which are constantly focused, which is quite strenuous. We sailed at night; some of us were on duty then, so we saw what the navigation in reduced visibility conditions looks like. Certainly, the experience gained on board will help us in further work, just like what we saw and heard in Budapest from the hosts in their naval port - Cadet Corporal Nikola Popov said.

On the way back from Hungary, the special purpose ship of the Riverine Flotilla of the Serbian Army and its largest ship "Kozara" stopped their powerful machines on the 1287th kilometer of the Danube, where on 12 April, 1941 the monitor "Drava" was sunk with 76 crew members and persons on board.

Paying homage to the commander of “Drava” Battleship Lieutenant Aleksandar Beric, who, not wishing to surrender to the enemy ship, sunk the monitor and thus chose an honorable death instead of captivity, the crew of the ship "Kozara" paused for a moment in the ceremony line on the deck. There, in the middle of the mighty Danube waves, the cadets of the Military Academy had a historical class devoted to heroism.

The commemorative words of Flotilla Commander Battleship Captain Andrija Andric were spoken exactly at the place where, 74 years ago, "Drava" was sunk, brought the crew of Kozara and cadets of the Military Academy back to the heroic times, when the officers and soldiers of the Army of the Kingdom of Serbia during the April war of 12 days gave resistance to the German occupiers. One of the heroes of the defence was Battleship Lieutenant Beric who refused the order to hand over the ship. After a four-day break in communication with the command in Novi Sad, on his own initiative, Beric decided to continue the resistance and conflict with four enemy patrol boats that had attacked "Drava". When he saw that he could not resist the assault of the superior ships, Commander of "Drava" ordered the sinking of the monitor. The entire crew remained by their commander.