Two large landing ships, the Azov of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and the Georgy Pobedonosets of the North Fleet, have passed through the Strait of Dardanelles and joined the Russian permanent naval unit deployed in the Mediterranean, a military diplomat told Interfax-AVN on Monday.

"The large landing ships Azov and Georgy Pobedonosets have successfully passed through the Black Sea straits and entered the Aegean Sea for a rendezvous with the Mediterranean force of the Navy," the source said.

In his words, the ships have arrived for the purposes of a rotation of the Russian naval force operating in the region.

The Azov departed from Sevastopol on January 13. It visited Novorossiysk to take aboard cargo for the naval unit and passed through the straits jointly with the Georgy Pobedonosets, which had been repaired and replenished its reserves in Novorossiysk.

The Pyotr Veliky heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser, the Admiral Kuznetsov heavy aircraft carrying cruiser, the Admiral Levchenko destroyer, the Smetlivy frigate, the Nikolai Filchenkov and Olenegorsky Gornyak large landing ships and the Priazovye and Admiral Fyodor Golovin reconnaissance ships are on a mission in the Mediterranean.

They are supported by the Altai and Nikolai Chiker tugboats, and the Sergei Osipov, Iman and Kama tankers. The PM-56 floating workshop is on mission at the Syrian port of Tartous.

The unit commander is Capt. 1st Rank Oleg Peshkurov.

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