Before Regele Ferdinand (F221) became the new flagship of the Romanian Navy, Mărășești (F111) served as the flagship of the Romanian Navy from 1985–2004.
Mărășești F111 is the largest warship of the Romanian Navy ever built domesticly. At the beginning of the 1990s and, especially, during Romania’s pre-accession to the North Atlantic Alliance, “Mărăşeşti” – reclassified as a frigate after a period of functioning as a destroyer – played a primary role in the relationship with the new Euro-Atlantic partners, participating in numerous applications and multinational naval exercises within the “Partnership for Peace” Program.
The ship was laid down on August 7, 1979, launched on June 4, 1981, and commissioned on June 3, 1985. Mărășești was an entirely Romanian project, without the participation of foreign specialists. However, due to the inability to develop it independently or obtain it from other sources, all weapon systems and electronic equipment were of Soviet origins, and at the same time they were not very modern due to the Soviet policy on exporting weapons.
Mărășești has a full load displacement of 5,700 long tons, a length of 144.6 m, a beam of 14.8 m, and a draft of 4.9 m. As a frigate, Mărășești is quite different in design from other ships of its kind. The hull is of flush deck design, with high freeboard and a slight sheer at the bow. The ship has bulbous bow to reduce drag. However, the shape of the hull below the waterline is not considered successful, which is manifested in the waves being generated at low speeds.
The ship has a long group of superstructures, including a large multi-story boxy forward superstructure, which was already outdated at that time. The first AK-726 turret is placed on the foredeck, followed by the second turret in superfiring position on the first floor of the superstructure. Behind them on the next floor are the depth charge rocket launchers, and beyond that the elevated part of the superstructure with the navigational bridge. On the bridge roof there is also a box superstructure which is the base of the fire-control radar, and in the rear part of the bridge roof is the base for the forward mast.
Marasesti’s electronics are quite outdated for her time. The sensors consist of an MR-302 Rubka air and surface search radar, a Nayada navigation radar, and an unknown medium frequency sonar. Fire control systems include a Garpun active radar system, a Fut-B gunnery radar for the 76-mm battery, and two MR-104 Rys’ fire control radars for the AK-630 CIWS. Two PK-16 chaff launchers are also carried. The Marasesti lacks a combat information system; one was planned to be back-fitted in 2006, but it is unclear if this modification was carried out.
The main anti-ship weapon consisted of P-20M guided-missile system, including the P-21 anti-ship missiles with an active radar head and P-22 anti-ship missiles with a passive thermal homing head. The missiles have a range of up to 83 km. The main guns consisted of four 76.2 mm AK-726 automatic naval guns in two ZIF-67 twin-barreled turrets, with a range of 13 km for surface target and 9 km for aerial target, and the rate of fire is 90 rounds/minutes per barrel.
Since the 1990s, the ship has also four 30 mm AK-630M six-barrel automatic cannons in unmanned turrets located in the aft part on either sides of the hangar and funnel. In general, the ship’s anti-aircraft armament which based only on cannons was already considered insufficient on the battlefield at the start of its service.
For anti-submarine warfare there are two triple 533.4 mm torpedo tubes, firing 53-65K torpedoes or SET-53 anti-submarine torpedoes. The anti-submarine armament is complemented by two RBU-6000 Smerch-2 depth charge rocket launchers on the fore superstructure, reloaded automatically from below the superstructure deck. Their range is up to 6 km.
The Propulsion system of the Mărășești is four Diesel engines, with 8,440 bhp each driving 2 shafts, for a top speed of 27 knots, and a range of 2,800 nautical miles. Mărășești’s hangar can accommodate two IAR 316B light helicopters. They were replaced with one IAR 330 Puma Naval medium sea helicopter with greater capabilities.
Basically Marasesti is relatively outdated. Her role as flagship was transferred to the more modern Regele Ferdinand in 2002, and she remains in the service of the Romanian Navy, and there are no plans to replace or retire Marasesti.