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Ethiopian Navy in the Communist era

119 Comments · Military history

During the Communist-run governments of the Provisional Military Administrative Council (also known as the Derg, 1974–1977) and the dictatorial Mengistu (1977–1991), the Ethiopian navy grew under the influence of the Soviet Union.

Training: Officer training – The 1984 class comprised 48 ensigns; typical of the size of classes in subsequent years. After the rise of the Communist government in Ethiopia, select members of the navy attended the Soviet Union’s naval academy in Leningrad.
Enlisted training – Seamen, technicians, and marines enlisted men were trained at Mitsiwa; their term of service was for seven years.

Forces: By early 1991, the Ethiopian navy was a 3,500-strong force, with the following vessels:

• two frigates
• eight missile craft
• six torpedo craft
• six patrol boats
• two amphibious craft
• two support/training craft

Final disposition: The Ethiopian navy was finally dissolved after the independence of Eritrea in 1991. At that time, many ships were sold for scrap in Djibouti, such as the four Peyta-class gas turbine-powered frigates Ethiopia had acquired from the Soviet Union.

The navy also had four Osa-class missile boats, one of which is still in use by Eritrea. Though Eritrea wished to purchase up to 16 of the former Ethiopian ships, plans were dropped in September 1996 to avoid exacerbating an international confrontation with Yemen.

Keywords: Derg, Mengistu, Yemen, Ethiopia, Eritrea, 

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119 Comments so far ↓

  • yonas eshetu

    long live yekedmow all ethiopian navy

  • Fresenay Kebede

    Dear former Ethiopian Navy members, Kibur Commander Yitbarek Zerazghi the former Ethiopian Navy outstanding Leader and the Last Captain of ENS Ethiopia, Ethiopian Navy Ship Captain passed away in case of Heart attack, We heard the information from our coleagus in USA.
    God Bless Him and wish to His Family mercy from Almighty God.

  • massawina

    dear all,
    i am from Massawa i remember very few of the Navy, Commander Philippos & Admiral Getachew (he was commander during Hailesellasie), Commander Philipos i heard is in Addis Ababa with his wife and 3 children, but i have no news of Getachew, he was like a father to me,
    ciao Navy

  • mengistu

    ethiopia gena titaresalech

  • Chernet

    I just went to say for all of the world to say Hey former Ethiopian Navy memeber. we are the best family.

  • Good Man

    Question to our Eritrean brothers?

    Let me take you back to the times of togetherness. All those who were members of the former Ethiopian Navy , did you really feel that Eritreans were treated any different from other Ethiopians in the Navy by the Ethiopian Governments? I don’t think so. We were all treated equal. Particularily during the time of HIM. We know we had many officers in the Ethiopian Navy from the province of Eritrea. My class for example had four Eritrean officers out of total of seven. I don’t know how the TPLF and the EPLF based their absurd theory characterizing the “Eritrean Question ” as colonial.

    Your opinion on this could be useful for future generations of Eritreans to know, dscuss and speak out the truth without any EPLF and TPLF bias.

    This is time to bring the truth to the forefront.

    Good Man

  • Good Man

    Oh! This is my first encounter of this website. This could be a media of exchange of opinions and facts. Some of the things on this web, those ones with abusive and and personal attacks should not be there at all. Let us not look back but look forward. Our history has its own bad and good things. Why not learn from the bad, reenforce the good and sail ahead? All those brave young men and women from both sides of the country ( Eritrea and the rest) were victims of miguiding leadership. This is a point that deserved due attention in shaping our mutual future.
    God bless you all.

  • Cdr. Abebe Teffera

    Years pass but the memory of a great organization like the Ethiopian Navy and its great leaders like Commodore Belege Belete will never pass but remain imprinted in the minds of all sincere Ethiopians who have known that organization and its officers and men.

    The Navy was unique in that it was composed of officers and men from varied ethnic backgrounds including a considerable number from Eritrea. To me it was a symbol of unity and brotherhood for our region. It is important to recall that during the Emperor’s time, Officers from other African Countires such as the Sudan and Siera Leon were accepted to train at the Naval College. That was indeed a token of show of our countiry’s importance and our leaders’ good will for the country and the continent as a whole.

    Commodore Belege was one of the officers that tried his best to let this image of the country continue and be passed to the next generation. I have worked under his command at the Naval Headquarters as a Training Officer Assistant and witnessed so many positive things that he did including the effort to get the Naval College recognized as Degree Awarding Institute and creating links with notable training establishments such as Maj General Mulugeta Buli Technical School and the Ethiopian Airlines Avionics School and Addis Ababa University. Graduates of these institutions are now beefiting from the training they got in those days.

    Commodore Belege was a very humane , kind, brave and down to earth person when it comes to the well being of the officers and men of the Navy. He was open to ideas and trusted his fellow officers based on the ideas they present and has always been behind them to realize thier goals. He was keen in allowing officers and men to develop academically and professionally and so, he left no stone unturned to achieve that end.

    I am sure everyone in the Ethiopian Navy remembers him as a caring father in addition to his position as the Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian Navy for which he gave his life in honor.

    May God bless his soul in heaven.

  • falmata rorroo

    mengistu is best man but its mistake was he is killed many ethiopian people and also his ruling is finest more than all ethiopia king

  • atadesse

    a group of people while sitting in a room suddenly find out that a tiger is in that room …do they have to argue how the tiger is in that room or find out the way out of the problem ….come on people! stop talking your nonsense and let us think for the better ETHIOPIA

  • Anna Bedlou

    I live in England. My father was an officer in the Ethiopian Navy. He married a Hungarian woman called Edit (my mother).
    I did not see him when I was growing up, although I can speak with my family in Ethiopia about him none of them can tell me what he was like as an officer or what his time in the EN was like.
    He has now passed away and I would like to know more about him and his life in the EN so that I can tell my son what his Grandpa was like.
    When I visited him in Ethiopia people called him Captain Bedlou, but I think his rank when he left the EN was commander.
    Can anyone on this sight help?

  • Brook Belege

    Cdr. Abebe Teffera, thank you for the accurate historical account of a great man whose name was once synonymous with the words “Ethiopian Navy”. Moreover, his name will forever be embedded in the hearts & minds of those sailors who served in the former Ethiopian Navy alongside with him. Please continue to keep his memory alive, as he was father to all.

  • Brook Belege

    Cdr. Abebe Teffera, thank you for the accurate historical account of a great man whose name was once synonymous with the words “Ethiopian Navy”. Moreover, his deeds will forever be embedded in the hearts & minds of those sailors who served in the former Ethiopian Navy alongside him. Please continue to keep his memory alive, as he was father to all.

  • Alemu

    I was in Ethiopian Navy,just only for 4 years.I don’t think so Mengist was knows everyting which happend at Massawa and Nakura around the end of his goverment becouse once up on atime he came to Dahelak{NAKURA}, and he saw we were busy with weldering and so and so for the next time fighting with TPLF fighters. and he was surprised he sayed” what is going on with you guys” he didn’t know that Navy has i truble.

  • Damtew Gugsa

    Even I am too late , Iwould like to express my feeling to Anaa Bedilu Iclosely know that your father Capiten Bedilu Mesfin Was one of the member of the Ethiopian Navy he was not only the member he was effecent, Effective, Knowlageble & descipliend during his last sevice years he was commanding Officer atAssab Naval Base and Sothern Naval Command and
    I was one of the memmbers who got the chance to accmpanying him with gerat ceremonical celebration…………anaI can say many many

  • Leadin Sea Man Damtew Gugsa

    To Anaa Bedilu
    From one of the formar EN
    Your father Bedilu Mesfien was Capiten /senior/not commader at the end of our service
    Please contact me .
    Thankyou.

  • Leading Sea Man Damtew Gugsa

    Asmara,Massawa,Assab,Dahilak,and Ethiopian Naval Personnel we miss each other
    I always feel sad with the death of The last Capitan of A-501 Ethiopia in EN Commander Yitbarek I were weth him during our stay in Yemen.

  • Damtew

    Is there any one who have the latest information about one of out standing EN officer CDR. Matiwos Mekonnen?
    Please! share us.

  • Damtew

    On this Page,We have to act not as an enemy of each other but ,as a Naval family of our past days.thank you!

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