Russian Navy Marks 320<sup>th</sup> Anniversary
Andrei AKULOV | 01.08.2016 | OPINION

Russian Navy Marks 320th Anniversary

In Russia, Navy Day is a national holiday that normally takes place on the last Sunday of July (in 2016, the date is July 31). The holiday was introduced in 1939. The date was chosen in connection with the Battle of Gangut.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the holiday ceased to exist. However, in 2003 President of Russia Vladimir Putin reinstated it as an official memorial day in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

The first regular Russian Navy was created by Peter the Great in 1696. The Russian Navy in its current form was established in 1991, succeeding the Soviet Navy. It inherited the vast majority of the former Soviet Naval Forces, including historic traditions and professional experience.   

Navy Day is celebrated primarily in Moscow and port cities, where it is marked with official ceremonies, flag hosting, parades, open-air concerts, fireworks display.

2016 is the time of Russia’s naval resurgence. The revival of the sea power is a key element of maintaining Russia’s great power status.

In all, the Russian Navy possesses about 60 submarines, over 30 major surface ships and more than 100 minor surface vessels. An extensive rearmament program is being implemented since 2011, with the Russian military expected to procure 100 warships by 2020, including 24 submarines. The sea force will involve multipurpose submarines and surface ships capable of conducting aerospace defense, anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare. The Russian Navy has said that it expects to get an advanced aircraft carrier with a nuclear power unit before 2030.

According to Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov, the contract on the aircraft carrier building could be signed by the end of 2025.

Some sources believe it could be earlier. «We’ll be ready to begin construction of helicopter carriers as well as aircraft carriers», Alexey Rakhmanov, president of Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), told Rossiya’24. «If you take up the technological capability for building aircraft carriers, we hope to acquire it by the beginning of 2019 as long as modernization works are completed».

Strategic nuclear deterrence will remain the number one mission of the service. The Russian Navy plans to procure up to eight Borei class strategic ballistic missile nuclear submarines (SSBNs) before 2020 each armed with 16 Bulava Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs) capable of carrying up to 10 warheads. Russia expects to have a total of 12 Borei SSBNs. Eight are already contracted to be built in the next few years, with another four expected to be ordered in the next decade. The new subs are likely to be an updated version of the current Borei II subclass, with improved electronics and other updated components. The Navy plans to position six in the Northern Fleet and six in the Pacific Fleet. These boats will remain in service with the Russian Navy's strategic submarine fleet until 2040-2050 timeframe.

Twelve Yasen-class nuclear cruise missile attack submarines (SSGNs) are to be delivered to the Russian Navy with six each in the Northern and Pacific Fleets.

Twelve 10,000 ton Leader-class destroyers are planned to enter service from 2023-2025, split between the Northern and Pacific Fleets.

At least 12 Admiral Gorshkov-class frigates are under construction for the Russian Navy.

Lead ship, the Admiral Grigorovich, was commissioned on 11 March 2016. All of these ships are being armed with Oniks anti-ship missiles and Kalibr multi-purpose missiles, which can both be fired through universal vertical launch systems.

The construction of four Priboy class amphibious ships is to start soon.

To mark the Navy Day, Pella Shipyard (Leningrad Region) laid down yet another missile craft of Project 22800 for Russian Navy on July 29. As Yury Borisov, Deputy Defence Minister of the Russian Federation, said at the keel-laying ceremony, «a large order has been awarded to the shipyard, our fleet is in need of such ships». According to him, there are no ships of this class in the world. The Navy plans include construction of 18 such corvettes.

The ship named Shkval is armed with 8 Kalibr missile systems which have been successfully used against terrorist targets in Syria. The ship has a displacement of about 800 tons and is capable of developing a speed of over 30 knots and accomplishing missions at a distance of around 3,000 nautical miles from its home base. It will be armed with a set of high-precision missile weapons and modern artillery systems and will also receive domestic engines. The armament includes 1x8 UKSK 3K14 VLS («Kalibr-NK» missile system (8 3M14 missiles), 1x1 76 mm and 2x6 30 mm AK-630M guns.

The Russian Navy intends to have in service a group of icebreaking and ice-class combat ships to protect the Arctic coast and the polar islands. Construction of a series of icebreakers to work with military vessels is already underway, with the first new generation diesel-electric icebreaker Ilya Muromets (Project 21180) – built at the Admiralty Shipyards in St. Petersburg – sailed out in June. «In 2017 this icebreaker will join the Northern Fleet to ensure our priorities in the northern basin», Admiral Igor Zvarich, who heads the technical department of the Russian Navy, said during the ceremony. The Ilya Muromets is an 85-meter (280-feet) long electric-diesel powered icebreaker with a deadweight of 6,000 tons designed to help the deployment of naval forces in icy conditions.

It can cut through ice of up to one meter thick and travel the entire 5,600 kilometer (3,500 mile) length of the Northern Passage, according to the defense ministry.

In addition to the military mission, its features include azipods – steerable propellers, placed outside the icebreaker’s body, that allow it to move forward, backward, sideways, diagonally and turn on a dime at the same speed. The ship has a powerful crane and a helipad.

However, the design of a typical icebreaker leaves no place for deployment of modern military hardware, such as radar and missile complexes, so an ice-class warship needs to be designed independently, keeping in mind specific hardware to be installed onboard to ensure its military capabilities.

In 2013 Russian President Vladimir Putin set a task to ensure permanent naval presence in the region. Beyond the potential defense implications, the Arctic also could hold vast oil and gas reserves, commercial fishing. It also might serve as a corridor from East Asia to Europe around Russia’s northern coast that is 3,000 miles shorter than any current alternative. US submarines, armed with long-range cruise missiles Tomahawk, actively operate in the Arctic. That’s why Russian conventional icebreakers, which are already under construction, will be complemented by attack ships, armed with artillery and missiles, and capable to operate in the region.

The Russian Krylov State Research Centre is currently developing ice-class combat ships. The new ships’ mission would be insuring security of the Northern Sea Route and protecting Russia’s Arctic borders. It is likely that the ship will have a lot in common with the Leader project, a new-generation of Russian nuclear-powered super-icebreakers expected to enter the design phase in 2016. «Its appearance is still under discussion with the military, but we can already say that it will take a lot from the perspective icebreaker LK-110Ya Leader», Valery Polovinkin, adviser to the Krilov State Research Center, specializing in research into sophisticated maritime equipment, said. The Leader is a nuclear icebreaker, the design of which will be completed in 2016. Due to two new-generation reactors, it will have an unprecedented power of 120 MW and will be able to overcome any ice. Its power plant will have unprecedented operating capacity of crashing through 2-meter-thick ice at a speed of 14 knots, which is seven times faster than the nuclear icebreakers operating today. Now the speed of traffic there does not exceed 2 knots. The new 205-meter-long super-icebreaker, powered by two 60 MW RITM-400 next-generation nuclear reactors will be powerful enough to move anywhere in the Arctic region.

A number of other modernization projects are also in the works. The naval upgrade is on the way. Russia Navy has become the leading, second to none world naval power. «Russia’s recent demonstrations of its naval capability have stunned military observers and drawn scrutiny from the US Navy», states the US Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence report issued last December under the title The Russian Navy: A Historic Transition.

Tags: Russian Navy 

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