The Romanian military navy was established rather late, in the second half of the 19th century. We recall that back then the south-eastern province of Dobrogea was integrated into then the Romanian Kingdom in the wake of the independence war of 1877-1878. The Romanian navy evolved around an icon: the Mircea brig, designed and used, from the very beginning, as a training ship. The Mircea brig would soon become a legendary vessel. It sailed into the Romanian Black Sea's territorial waters at a time when all the country's institutions developed following a predominantly Western pattern, at once going through a process of modernization. And that included the Romanian navy.
The legend of the Mircea brig, baptized with that name as a tribute to the medieval ruler Mircea the Elder, actually has two parts: there were in fact two vessels, which were iconic for two development stages in Romanian navy. The first ship, the original one, reached Romania in 1882. It was a brig in its own right. The second ship, which is functional to this day, was a bark-type sailboat. It was also known as Mircea, so the collective mindset associates the latter vessel with the original brig.
Mircea Tarhoaca is the current commander of Mircea training ship.
"The Mircea brig was a two-masted ship built in a shipyard nearby London. It had been used by the Royal Navy of that time as a training ship for the training of the new generations of naval officers. It was used until about the mid-1920s when those responsible realized the needs of the navy were sensibly greater, so a much bigger ship was needed, therefore today's Mircea brig was commissioned at the Hamburg shipyard, known as Blohm und Voss. The vessel is one of the four other sister ships that are still operational. Only one of them was turned into a museum, in a town in northern Germany. Each ship, that including the one we're speaking about today, has had historical voyages. The present-day ship, in its 82-year old history, crossed the Atlantic Ocean three times. The first voyage was the one in 1976, when it participated in the United States Bicentennial, 200 years were celebrated since the United States Declaration of Independence had been signed. Then it was in 2004, while the last voyage we had was the one in 2009, when I took part in it myself, in my capacity as a training officer."
Today's training ship is a Class A bark-type sailboat. It is 43 meters tall, it has 23 sails with a spread of sails of 1,700 square meters all told. It was built between 1938 and 1939. May 17, 1939 was the day it sailed into the port of Constanta for the first time. Then, as well as now, the forepart of the ship had the image of Mircea the Elder, clad in a red blouse and a red cloak and wearing the princely crown. Generation after generation of cadets after the next has been trained on board this ship.
Commander Mircea Tarhoaca:
"It has been a training vessel since 1939. It saw better days, it saw worse days, sometimes, according to the course of events in history. For instance, in 1946, the ship was requisitioned by the Russians, but was given back later. It saw periods of time when it had undergone major repair and modernization works. For instance, in 1966 in the very ship yard where it was built, then in the year 2000, when repair works were performed in Braila shipyard. But each year, or something like that, the ship was placed in a shipyard and underwent modernization operations. We may be 82 years old, yet we have on-board modern equipment that meets the present demands of instruction and training for the Naval Academy students.
The Mircea training ship has an accommodation capacity for a 200-strong crew, of which half can be cadets. In 2019, when it turned 80, the famous sailboat set sail on its initial historical voyage once again. However, this time the Mircea brig sailed from Constanta to the shipyard in Hamburg, where it was born.