Военно-морской Флот Российской Федерации
Voyenno-Мorskoy Flot Rossiyskoy Federatsii
Emblem of the Russian Navy
|Active||17 January 1992 - present|
|Size||133 000 active duty personnel (2005)
List of current Russian Navy ships
|Garrison/HQ||Admiralty building, Saint Petersburg|
|Anniversaries||Navy Day (last Sunday in July) Submariner's Day (19 March)|
|Admiral Viktor Chirkov|
The Russian Navy (Russian: Военно-морской Флот Российской Федерации (ВМФ России), tr. Voyenno-morskoy Flot Rossiyskoy Federatsii (VMF Rossii), lit. Military-Maritime Fleet of the Russian Federation) is the naval arm of the Russian military. The present Russian Navy was formed in January 1992, succeeding the Navy of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which had itself succeeded the Soviet Navy following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991.
The first Russian Navy was established by Peter the Great (Peter I) in October 1696. Ascribed to Peter I is the oft quoted statement: "A ruler that has but an army has one hand, but he who has a navy has both." The symbols of the Russian Navy, the St. Andrew's flag and ensign (seen to the right), and most of its traditions were established personally by Peter I.
Neither Jane's Fighting Ships or the International Institute for Strategic Studies list any standard international designation of Russian naval vessels for Russian Navy vessels. In United States Navy photographs, they are sometimes referred to as RFS—"Russian Federation Ship"; however, the Russian Navy does not use this convention for itself.
The Russian Navy possesses the vast majority of the former Soviet naval forces, and currently comprises the Northern Fleet, the Russian Pacific Fleet, the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the Russian Baltic Fleet, the Russian Caspian Flotilla, Naval Aviation, and the Coastal Troops (consisting of the Naval Infantry and the Coastal Missile and Artillery Troops).
A recently approved rearmament program has placed the development of the navy on an equal footing with the strategic nuclear forces for the first time in Soviet and Russian history. The program, covering the period until 2015, is expected to see the replacement of 45% of the inventory of the Russian Navy. Out of 4.9 trillion rubles ($192.16 billion) allocated for military rearmament, 25% will go into building new ships. "We are already building practically as many ships as we did in Soviet times," First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said during a visit to Severodvinsk in July 2007, "The problem now is not lack of money, but how to optimize production so that the navy can get new ships three, not five, years after laying them down."
The Russian Navy has suffered severely since the dissolution of the Soviet Union due to insufficient maintenance, lack of funding and thereby training of personnel and timely replacement of equipments. Another setback is attributed to Russia's domestic shipbuilding industry which is reported to have been in decline as to their capabilities of constructing contemporary hardware efficiently. Some analysts even say that because of this Russia's naval capabilities have been facing a slow but certain "irreversible collapse". But other analysts say that because of the recent rise in mineral prices have enabled a sort of 'Renaissance of the Russian Navy' due to increased available funds, allowing Russia to begin 'developing the capacity to once again become a maritime threat to Western naval power'.
The origins of the Russian navy may be traced to the period between the 4th and the 6th century, when Early East Slavs were engaged in a struggle against the Byzantine Empire. The first Slavic flotillas consisted of small sailing ships and rowboats, which had been seaworthy and able to navigate in riverbeds. In the 9th-12th century, there were flotillas in Kievan Rus' consisting of hundreds of vessels with one, two or three masts. The citizens of Novgorod are known to have conducted military campaigns in the Baltic Sea (e.g., the siege of Sigtuna in 1187) - although contemporary Scandinavian sources state that the fleet was from Karelia or Estonia. Lad'ya (ладья in Russian, or sea boat) was a typical boat used by the army of Novgorod (length - 30 m, width - 5 to 6 m, 2 or 3 masts, armament - battering rams and catapults, complement - 50 to 60 men). There were also smaller sailboats and rowboats, such as ushkuys (ушкуи) for sailing in rivers, lakes and skerries, kochis (кочи), and nosads (носады), used for cargo transportation. In the 16th-17th century, the Cossacks conducted military campaigns against the Crimean Khanate and Ottoman Empire, using sailboats and rowboats. The Don Cossacks called them strugs (струг). These boats were capable of transporting up to 80 men. The Cossack flotillas numbered 80 to 100 boats.
The centralized Russian state had been fighting for its own access to the Baltic Sea, Black Sea and Sea of Azov since the 17th century. By the end of this century, the Russians had accumulated some valuable experience in using riverboats together with land forces. Under Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich construction of the first three-masted ship to be built entirely within Russia was completed in 1636. It was built in Balakhna by Danish shipbuilders from Holstein according to European design and was christened the Frederick. In 1667-1669, the Russians tried to build naval ships in a village of Dedinovo on the shores of the Oka River for the purpose of defending the trade routes along the Volga, which led to the Caspian Sea. In 1668, they built a 26-cannon ship Oryol (Орёл, or Eagle), a yacht, a boat with a mast and bowsprit and a few rowboats.
During much of the seventeenth century Russian merchants and Cossacks, using koch boats, sailed across the White Sea, exploring the Rivers Lena, Kolyma and Indigirka, and founding settlements in the region of the upper Amur. Unquestionably the most celebrated Russian explorer was Semyon Dezhnev, who, in 1648, sailed the entire length of present-day Russia by way of the Arctic Ocean. Rounding the Chukotsk Peninsula, Dezhnev passed through the Bering Sea and sailed into the Pacific Ocean.
The regular Russian Navy was created at the initiative of Peter the Great. During the Second Azov campaign of 1696 against Ottoman Empire, the Russians employed for the first time 2 warships, 4 fireships, 23 galleys and 1300 strugs, built on the Voronezh River. After the Azov fortress was taken, at Peter I's request the Boyar Duma understood the vital importance of a navy for successful warfare and passed a decree on commencing the construction of a regular navy on October 20, 1696. This date is considered the official birthday of the regular Russian Navy. Early on in his reign, Peter made a tour to western Europe, England, and Holland. In Holland, he became acquainted with the work of the mathematicians Hans Gouda, Dirk Raven, and Hans Isbrandtsen Hoogzaat, which sparked his enthusiasm for the value of mathematics. A major result of this tour was the hiring of large numbers of foreign specialists of various expertise, including mathematicians. Among those hired was Henry (or Harry) Farquharson, called in Russia Andrei Danilovich (Daniloff) Farkhvarson or Farvarson (1675–1739), who had taught mathematics and astronomy at the University of Aberdeen and was recommended by Halley and Jacob Daniel Bruce (1670–1735), while John Colson was hired to teach Bruce mathematics. Farquaharson’s task in Russia was to create and administer a Mathematics and Navigation School. It was under Farquharson’s guidance that he and Tsar Peter wrote the mathematics curriculum for the new school. He was accompanied by Stephen Gwyn (1684–1720) and Richard Grice (1682?–1709), who were graduates of the England’s Royal Mathematical School. In 1700 at Voronezh the first major ships launched for the fledgling Russian Navy - for use with the Azov Fleet — were the 58-gun Goto Predestinatsiya (God's Providence), the 80-gun Staryy Orel (Old Eagle), and the 70-gun Staryy Dub (Old Oak).
During the Great Northern War of 1700-1721, the Russians built the Baltic Fleet and the city of St. Petersburg. In 1703-1723, the main base of the Baltic Fleet was located in St. Petersburg and then in Kronshtadt. Other bases were later established in Vyborg, Helsingfors, Revel (now Tallinn) and Åbo. At first, Vladimirskiy Prikaz was in charge of shipbuilding. Later on, these functions were transferred to the Russian Admiralty.
Basic principles of the Russian Navy, its educational and training methods, as well as methods for conducting military action were all summarized in the Naval Regulations [Морской устав] (1720). Peter the Great, Feodor Apraksin, Alexey Senyavin, Naum Senyavin, Mikhail Golitsyn are generally credited for the development of the Russian art of naval warfare. Main principles of naval warfare were further developed by Grigoriy Spiridov, Feodor Ushakov, and Dmitriy Senyavin.
The Russo-Turkish Wars of Catherine the Great resulted in the establishment of the Black Sea Fleet, with its bases in Sevastopol and Kherson. It was at that time that Russian warships started to venture into the Mediterranean on a regular basis. In 1770, Grigoriy Spiridov’s squadron gained supremacy in the Aegean Sea by destroying the Turkish fleet in the Battle of Chesma. After having advanced to the Danube, the Russians formed the Danube Military Flotilla for the purpose of guarding the Danube estuary from the Turks and they came in 1771 as guests to Dubrovnik in the Republic of Ragusa. The Beluga caviar from the Danube was famous and the merchants from the Republic of Ragusa dominated the import-export business in Serbia with the Habsburg Monarchy. The Russian Navy captured in 1780 two British cargo vessels, their cargo were hemp and iron. The Republic of Ragusa became one of the chief carriers of the Mediterranean in 1783 with the help of the USA, when Britain acknowledges the United States independence, although the Americans agreed to allow Dubrovnik's ships free passage in their ports.
During the Mediterranean expedition of 1799, Fyodor Ushakov single-handedly carved out the Greek Republic of Seven Islands, proceeding to clear from the French Corfu and all the Ionian islands. His squadron then blocked the French bases in Italy, notably Genoa and Ancona, and successfully assaulted Naples and Rome. Ushakov, proclaimed a patron saint of the Russian Navy in the 21st century, was succeeded in command by Dmitriy Senyavin who reasserted Russian control of the southern Adriatic, disrupted Dubrovnik's sea trade, and destroyed the Ottoman Fleet in the Battle of Athos (1807). Between 1803 and 1855, Russian sailors undertook over 40 circumnavigations and distant voyages, which played an important role in exploration of the Far East and culminated in Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen's discovery of Antarctica.
Notwithstanding these triumphs, Russia’s slow technical and economic development in the first half of the 19th century caused her to fall behind other world powers in the field of steamboat construction. It was in 1826 that the Russians built their first armed steamboat Izhora. At the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1853, steamships were few and sailing ships heavily predominated. The Battle of Sinope, won by Pavel Nakhimov, is remembered in history as the last significant naval battle involving sailing ships. During the Siege of Sevastopol in 1854-1855, Russian sailors set an example of using all means possible for defending their base from land and sea. Although the Russians introduced modern naval mining in the Baltic and repelled the Siege of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy in the Pacific, Sevastopol was finally surrendered on honourable terms. In accordance with the Treaty of Paris, Russia lost its right to have a military fleet in the Black Sea.
As a consequence, the Russian sailing fleet lost its significance and was rapidly replaced by steamboats, including the first steel armored gunship Opyt and one of the first seafaring ironclads Pyotr Velikiy. On January 16, 1877 Admiral Stepan Makarov became the first to launch torpedoes from a boat in combat. He also proposed the idea and oversaw the construction of the world's first ocean-going icebreaker "Yermak", commanding it in two Arctic expeditions in 1899 and 1901. At about the same time, Aleksey Krylov elaborated the modern floodability theory.
The Russian Navy was considered the third strongest in the world on the eve of the Russo-Japanese War, which turned to be a catastrophe for the Russian military in general and the Russian Navy in particular. Although neither party lacked courage, the Russians were defeated by the Japanese in the Battle of Port Arthur, which was the first time in warfare that mines were used for offensive purposes. The warships of the Baltic Fleet sent to the Far East were lost in the Battle of Tsushima.
Soon after the war Russia devoted a significant portion of its military spending to an ambitious shipbuilding program aimed at replacing lost warships with modern dreadnoughts. During World War I, the fleets played a limited role in the Eastern Front, due to heavy defensive and offensive mining on both sides. Characteristically, the Black Sea Fleet succeeded in mining the Bosporus, thus preventing the Ottoman Fleet from entering the Black Sea. After the revolution forced Russia to quit the war, the Baltic Fleet was evacuated from Helsinki and Tallinn to Kronshtadt during the Ice Cruise of the Baltic Fleet and many of the ships of the Black Sea Fleet found their last refuge in Bizerte.
For the most part, Russian sailors welcomed the Russian Revolution of 1917, in which they participated. Earlier, in 1905, sailors of the Imperial Russian battleship Potemkin in the Black Sea Navy revolted. In 1906 rebellious soldiers gained control of some Helsinki coastal fortifications during events known as the Viapori Rebellion, which was subsequently put down, following bombardments from ships of the Baltic Fleet which remained loyal to the Tsarist government. The first ship of the Soviet Navy could be considered to be the rebellious Imperial Russian cruiser Avrora, whose blank shot from a forecastle gun signaled the October Revolution. In March 1921, the sailors of Kronshtadt rebelled against the Bolsheviks, demanding freedom of speech and closing of concentration camps, but this belated revolt was ruthlessly suppressed by Leon Trotsky. After the Revolution, the Navy's restoration was slow, and only with the beginning of industrialisation in 1930 was a large shipbuilding program developed, but not accomplished before the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. As a result, the Soviet Navy during World War II consisted of some old World War I-era ships, some modern pre-war built cruisers and destroyers, and a number of torpedo boats.
Unfortunately for the Soviets, much of their fleet on the Baltic Sea was blocked in Leningrad and Kronshtadt by Finnish and German minefields during 1941–1944 and maimed by mines and air attacks, nevertheless numerous sorties by attack boats and submarines actions were held. On the Black sea with the loss of main naval base - Sevastopol, and effective actions of axis aviation as well as minefields navy limited the efficiency of large surface ships. The Northern Fleet, composed mostly of destroyers (World War I Novik-class and more modern project 7 and 7u vessels), played a major role in anti-aircraft and anti-submarine defence of allied convoys heading to Murmansk.
During the Cold War, the Soviets gave their navy a number of missions, in addition to its role as one of the legs of the nuclear triad, the navy was supposed to destroy American SSBNs and carrier groups, interdict NATO lines of communications, and assist the ground forces in continental theatre offensives. They were quick to equip their surface fleet with missiles of various sorts. In fact, it became a hallmark of Soviet design to place large anti-ship missiles onto relatively small and fast missile boats. The Soviet Navy also possessed several very large guided missile cruisers with great firepower, such as those of the Kirov class and the Slava class cruisers. In the 1980s the Soviet Navy acquired its first true aircraft carrier, Tbilisi (subsequently renamed Admiral Kuznetsov).
In some respects, including speed and reactor technology later Soviet submarines were, and remain, some of the world's best. Their primary shortcomings were insufficient noise damping (American boats were quieter) and sonar technology. The Soviets possessed numerous purpose-built guided missile submarines, such as the Oscar class, as well as many ballistic missile submarines, such as the Delta class submarines, and attack submarines, such as the Victor and Akula class submarines. The Soviet Navy's Typhoon class boats are the world's largest submarines. The Soviet attack submarine force was, like the rest of the navy, geared towards the interception of NATO convoys, but also targeted American aircraft carrier battle groups.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union led to a severe decline in the Russian Navy. Defense expenditure was severely reduced. Many ships were scrapped or laid up as accommodation ships at naval bases, and the building program was essentially stopped. However Sergey Gorshkov's buildup during the Soviet period had emphasised ships over support facilities, and Gorshkov had also retained ships in service that were beyond their effective lifetimes, so a reduction was due anyway. What made matters worse was the impractical variety of vessels which the Soviet military-industrial complex, with the support of the leadership, forced on the navy - taking modifications into account, the Soviet Navy in the mid-1980s had nearly 250 different ship types. The Kiev class aircraft carrying cruisers and many other ships were prematurely retired, and the incomplete Admiral Kuznetsov class aircraft carrier Varyag was eventually sold to the People's Republic of China. Funds were only allocated for the completion of ships ordered prior to the collapse of the USSR, as well as for refits and repairs on fleet ships taken out of service since. However, the construction times for these ships tended to stretch out extensively: in 2003 it was reported that the Akula class SSN Nerpa had been under construction for fifteen years. Storage of decommissioned nuclear submarines in ports such as Murmansk became a significant issue, with the Bellona Foundation reporting details of lowered readiness. Naval bases outside Russia, such as Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam, were gradually closed, with the exception of the bases in the Crimea, leased from Ukraine to support the Black Sea Fleet, and the modest technical support base in Tartus, Syria to support ships deployed to the Mediterranean. Naval Aviation declined as well from its height as Soviet Naval Aviation, dropping from an estimated 60,000 personnel with some 1,100 combat aircraft in 1992 to 35,000 personnel with around 270 combat aircraft in 2006. In 2002, out of 584 naval aviation crews only 156 were combat ready, and 77 ready for night flying. Average annual flying time was 21.7 hours, compared to 24 hours in 1999. However since 2002 these figures may have improved.
Training and readiness also suffered severely. In 1995 only two missile submarines at a time were being maintained on station, from the Northern and Pacific Fleets. The decline culminated in the loss of the Oscar II class Kursk submarine during the Northern Fleet summer exercise that was intended to back up the publication of a new naval doctrine. The exercise, involving some 30 submarines and surface ships, was to have culminated with the deployment of the Admiral Kuznetsov task group to the Mediterranean.
As of 2006, The Russian Navy has 50 nuclear submarines with only 26 operational compared to 170 vessels in 1991. The Navy plans to reduce the number to 20 submarines, including ten strategic missile submarines and ten multi-purpose (attack) submarines, according to unofficial reports.
As of February 2008, The Russian Navy had 44 nuclear submarines with 24 operational; 19 diesel-electric submarines - 16 operational; and 56 first and second rank surface combatants - 37 operational. Despite this improvement, the November 2008 accident on board the Akula-class attack boat Nerpa during sea trials before lease to India represents a concern for the future.
In 2009, Admiral Popov (Ret.), former commander of the Russian Northern Fleet, said that the Russian Navy will greatly decline in combat capabilities by 2015 if the current rate of new ship construction remains unchanged, due to the retirement of ocean going ships.
In 2012 President Vladimir Putin announced a plan to build 51 modern ships and 24 submarines by 2020. Of the 24 submarines, 16 will be nuclear-powered. . The Russian Navy finally accepted its first new Borei class SSBN (Yury Dolgoruky) for service last December 30. A second Borei (Aleksandr Nevsky) is undergoing sea trials and is expected to enter service in the summer of 2013. A third Borei class boat (Vladimir Monomakh) has been launched and is just beginning trials in early 2013, and should be commissioned in 2014.
The headquarters of the Russian Navy (Russian Navy Main Staff) is located in Saint Petersburg. Russian naval man power is a mixture of conscripts serving one-year terms and volunteers (Officers and Ratings). In 2006 the IISS assessed there were 142,000 personnel in the Russian Navy. As of 2008 the conscription term was reduced to one year and a major downsizing reorganization was underway. In 2008, plans were announced to move the headquarters to the Admiralty building in St. Petersburg, the historic location of the headquarters of the Imperial Russian Navy. The Navy staff finally relocated there on November 2012.
The Russian Navy consists of four fleets and one flotilla subordinated to 3 of 4 of the newly formed Joint Operational Strategic Commands:
The Russian Northern Fleet, established as a modern formation in 1933, is headquartered at Severomorsk and spread around various bases in the Murmansk area. This is the main fleet of the Russian Navy and currently comprises:
The Fleet also includes many corvettes, patrol ships, light amphibious ships and support and logistic ships.
The Baltic Fleet also includes many corvettes, patrol ships, minehunters, light amphibious ships and support vessels.
The Black Sea Fleet, established on 2 May 1783 and is based at the Sevastopol, Karantinnaya, and Streletskaya Bays in Sevastopol which is also the location of its headquarters, and at Novorossiysk in Krasnodar Kray. The fleet also has various other leased facilities on the Crimean Peninsula and facilities in Krasnodar Kray. The Fleet consists of;
The Fleet also includes a small number of corvettes, patrol and coastal protection ships, light amphibious ships, and support vessels.
The Fleet also includes a 3 corvettes and some patrol ships.
The Pacific Fleet also includes coastal combatants such as corvettes, patrol ships, mine warfare ships, light amphibious ships, and support vessels.
The recent improvement in the Russian economy has led to a significant rise in defence expenditure and an increase in numbers of ships under construction, focusing on submarines, such as the conventional Petersburg (Lada) class and nuclear Severodvinsk (Yasen) class. Some older ships have been refitted as well. Jane's Fighting Ships commented in 2004 that the construction programme was too focused on Cold War scenarios, given the submarine emphasis. The Steregushchiy class corvettes, the lead ship of which was laid down on 21 December 2001, is the first new surface construction since the collapse of the Soviet Union, while the new Admiral Sergei Gorshkov class frigates marks the first attempt of the Navy to return to the construction of large blue water capable vessels.
On April 28, 2010, The Ukrainian parliament ratified an agreement to extend Russia's lease of Crimean base facilities to 2042 with an option for five more years, through 2047.
In the last years of the 1990s naval activity was very low. Even at the height of the Kosovo war crisis a planned task group deployment to the Mediterranean was reduced to the dispatch of the intelligence ship Liman. 2003 saw a major increase in activity, including several major exercises. A May joint exercise with the Indian Navy saw two Pacific Fleet destroyers and four vessels from the Black Sea Fleet, led by the Slava-class cruiser Moskva, deployed for three months into the Indian Ocean. The largest out-of-area deployment for a decade, the INDRA 2003 exercise, was highlighted by a series of missile launches by two Tu-160s and four Tu-95s, which made a 5,400-mile (8,700 km) round trip flight from Engels-2 air base near Saratov to the exercise area. In August 2003 the Navy also participated in the Far Eastern exercise Vostok-2003, which saw the Slava-class cruiser Varyag and the Sovremennyy class destroyer Bystryy active, as well as an amphibious landing carried out by three Pacific Fleet Ropucha class LSTs. Warships and helicopters from the Japanese and South Korean navies also took part. The Northern Fleet followed in January 2004 when thirteen ships and seven submarines took part in exercises in the Barents Sea. The involvement of Admiral Kuznetsov and Kirov-class nuclear-powered cruiser Petr Velikiy was overshadowed however by two ballistic missile launch failures, made more embarrassing because President Vladimir Putin was afloat aboard the Typhoon-class SSBN Arkhangelsk to witness the tests. Neither of the Delta IV-class Novomoskovsk nor Kareliya were able to successfully launch what were apparently RSM-54 SLBMs. Former Navy Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Kuroyedov's early dismissal may have resulted from these gaffes. He was replaced by Admiral Vladimir Masorin in September 2005.
Embarrassment for the Navy had continued, with a mine accident during rehearsals for the Baltic Fleet's celebration of Navy Day in St. Petersburg in July 2005 and the Priz class mini-submarine AS-28 having to be rescued by a joint British/U.S. effort using a Royal Navy unmanned submersible in the Far East in early August 2005. However exercises and operations continued - Peace Mission 2005 in August 2005 involved a new level of cooperation between Russia and the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy. Two months later the Slava-class cruiser Varyag led Russian participation in INDRA 2005, held off Vishakapatnam between 14 and 20 October 2005. It included surface firings, air defence, and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercises.
On October 16, 2008, the speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament did not preclude Russia asking for a resumption of a naval presence in Yemen. Authorities in the Middle East country had been calling on Moscow to help fight piracy and possible terrorist threats. The U.S.S.R. had a major naval support base on Socotra Island of the former socialist state of South Yemen, which merged with North Yemen in 1990 to form the present-day Yemen. Speaking to journalists in Sana, the capital of Yemen, Federation Council Speaker Sergey Mironov said the new direction of Russia's foreign and defense policies and an increase in its naval missions would be taken into consideration when making a decision on the request. "It's possible that the aspects of using Yemen ports not only for visits by Russian warships, but also for more strategic goals will be considered," he said. Mironov also said a visit to Russia by the president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, could take place in the near future and that the issue of military technical cooperation could be raised during his visit. Security Council chief Nikolay Patrushev said on 6 August 2012 that Russia will build a string of naval bases along its northern coast in the Arctic zone to serve as resupply bases for Russian warships and border guard vessels.
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