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Сaspian Flotilla

The attempt to create in the Caspian Sea a Flotilla of warships was first made in the reign of Aleksey Mikhailovich, this was due to expansion of the trade relations between Russia and Persia, and the need to uphold and protect the trade routes along the Volga waterway. The Tsarist Decree of July 19, 1667 ordered « make ships in the village of Dedinovo of the Kolomna district for sending them from Astrakhan to the Khvalyn Sea...» Russia's first military three-masted ship «Oryol» («Eagle») was laid for the Caspian Sea on November 14, 1667 in the village of Dedinovo in confluence of the rivers of Oka and Moscow. At the same time a yacht, a boat and two sailing boats were being built. The vessels built were launched and in 1669 they arrived at Astrakhan but the next year, during the uprising led by Stepan Razin, these ships were seized and burnt.

In 1704 by decree of Pyotr (Peter) I in Kazan’ the Admiralty was founded and construction of ships for the Caspian Sea was begun.

After the Northern War Pyotr I was interested in the Caspian Sea, knowing «...its important significance for Russia, knowing that Russia's wealth rises, and then it will become the intermediary in trade between Europe and Asia...» Desiring to establish direct economic links with Central Asia and India, Pyotr I aims for the sky - to win the shore of the Caspian Sea. But Persia - the state powerful enough at the time - was in the way. The expedition led by A. Bekovich-Cherkassky, Lieutenant A. Kozhin, K. Verden, F. Soymonov was a prelude to the long-range cruise, preparations for which started from the construction of 200 river boats and 45 flipper ships – small wooden vessels destined for servicing military ports. From 1721, Pyotr I unfolded the preparation of the Persian campaign. On July 18, 1722 the landing consisting of 22 thousand men under the command of General-Admiral Apraksin aboard 274 vessels went out of Astrakhan to the Caspian Sea. The vanguard was commanded by Admiral Pyotr Mikhailov, Pyotr I himself. Having landed in the area of present northern Daghestan and accompanied by 9 thousand men of cavalry, the army moved ground ashore to Derbent. On August 23 the troops occupied the city, and the detachment of ships brought artillery and provisions to the right place.

The Derbent campaign for the possession of the Caspian Sea did not completed the war against Persia. There was a need for permanent presence in the Caspian Flotilla and establishment of a military port-based flotilla. That were the Persian campaign of and Pyotr I’s stay in Astrakhan to change the attitude to the Caspian Fleet, and on November 4, 1722 the Decree of the Emperor established the military port in Astrakhan and formed the Flotilla, which adopted a baptism of fire off the coast of Persia. It is the birthday of the Caspian Flotilla.

The Persian campaign was completed by signing of the Treaty of Russia and Persia, according to which the cities of bent and Baku, with all the surrounding lands and the provinces of Gilyan, Mazandaran and Astrabad deviated in Russian perpetuity.

However, after the death of Pyotr the Great the Russian conquests in the Caspian Sea were lost. In the reign of Anna Ioannovna treaty in 1735 most of them went to Persia. Nevertheless, the interest of Russia to the Caspian Sea continued unabated, and the return of the lost was taken in hand of the outstanding leader of Yekaterina's epoch Grigory Potyomkin,.In 1781 the detachment of ships consisting of 3 frigates, bombardment ship, and 2 boats, under the command of Captain 2 Rank Voinovich, by order of Yekaterina II arrived in Astrakhan. From this time point a detachment of warships became to be kept in the Caspian Sea «...for protection of our commerce», with one frigate and a boat from its membership being always in the Astrabad Bay.

The conquest of the Caspian Sea by Russia was carried out for almost 100 years. In 1813, with the conclusion of the Gulistan Peace Treaty, Russia acquired an exclusive right for keeping naval forces in the Caspian Sea. From 1867 the port of Baku – an ice-free port – became a main base of the Caspian Flotilla.

Turkmenistan received the name of the Trans-Caspian area was annexed to Russia as a result of the campaign of the Russian troops in 1880-1881 under the command of General Skobelev, in which the naval forces were led by Captain 2 Rank S.O. Makarov, an outstanding naval figure. Entry of the western and eastern Caspian Sea into Russia not only secured its southern border but also played a progressive role in the development of both economic and spiritual life of the peoples of this region. Because Russia, in contrast to Turkey and Persia, was a while burgeoning power, which abolished its own bondage and had a great tolerance.

In the subsequent time, until 1918, the Caspian Flotilla guarded trades and fisheries in the Caspian Sea, as well as Russian commercial and industrial interests in Iran, witnessed implementation by Iran of conditions of the Turkmanchai Treaty. For battle merits the Flotilla was awarded the St. George's ribbon, which was worn by personnel on their peakless caps.

Once again the fighting of the Caspian Flotilla was begun in 1918. But with the arrival in Baku of the British the of the ships of the Flotilla was disarmed, and the rest went to the port of Petrovsk (Makhachkala). During the Civil War the Caspian Flotilla operated in the Volga and Kama areas, in conjunction with the Red Army it participated in the battles of Kazan, Simbirsk Syzran, Samara, Chistopol, Yelabuga, Tsaritsyn. And in the area of the Caspian Sea – in the battles of Astrakhan and Baku. The second conquest of the Caspian Sea was completed by the Enzeli operation in May 1920, which resulted in the White Fleet’s capturing, and the British interventionists. and the White units retreated deep into Iran. The Flotilla was rewarded by the Red Banner of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, which is stored also today.

At the first stage of the Great Patriotic War, the immediate threat to the Caspian Sea basin did not exist, and the activities of the Caspian Flotilla was limited to the maritime patrol service. In the period of August 24-26, 1941 by the order of the Soviet government the t Flotilla together with units of the Trans-Caucasus Military District conducted a landing operation in the Iranian coast southward of the Iranian Astara, having landed a tactical assault force composed of mountain infantry regiment reinforced by artillery battalion and supported by artillery fire the units of the mountain-rifle division advancing along the coast from Lankaran. Soviet troops’ engagement in the Iranian territory was caused by the increased German influence there and the sympathies for the Nazis of several people standing at the head of Iran, endangering Iran's involvement in the war against the Soviet Union. After the Soviet troops’ entry into Iran’s territory, they occupied the northern part of Iran throughout the war, and ships of the Caspian Flotilla were carrying the station-keeping service in the Iranian ports of Pahlavi, Nowshahr, Bandar Shah. Since 1942 the Caspian Flotilla was declared as operational and executed tasks for the transport communications, directly covering by means of their ships the transitions from the effects of the enemy aircraft, and arranging mine defence. On August 27, 1945 the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet awarded the Caspian Flotilla the Order of Red Banner for combat merits to the Motherland during the Civil War and the Great Patriotic War.

In the postwar years, the Flotilla is continuing to be a stabilising factor in the region. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and transformation of the former republics into the sovereign states the force of the Flotilla had to be relocated from Baku to Makhachkala and Astrakhan’, which became its main base. This fact has now become already the history of modern Russia. Thus the Red Banner Caspian Flotilla returned to their historic homeland after 125 years.

Today, in the new geopolitical environment, the role and importance of the Caspian Flotilla increases. The main tasks today are ensuring the national and state interests of Russia in the region, countering terrorism. Current realities of life set the ships and units of the Caspian Flotilla for guarding the southern borders of Russia. The example of further development and military buildup of the Caspian Flotilla is transferring to the composition of the Flotilla of new modern frigate «Tatarstan» with her patronage under the administration of the Federal State Unitary Enterprise «Production Association (PA) ”Plant named after Sergo”» in the city of Zelenodol'sk of the Republic of Tatarstan. At present, the RF Government approved the State shipbuilding programme for building ships for the Caspian Flotilla, which currently drafted warships specific to the Caspian Sea. In 2003, the planned start of construction of the ship in this series.

Several years ago the Moscow-Chernigov Guards Marine Infantry Brigade was formed as a part of the Kaspian Flotilla, it participated in conducting the counter terrorist operation in Chechnya. Over 900 officers, warrant officers and warrant officers of the Flotilla were awarded the government awards. The Hero of Russia Chief Warrant Officer Grigory Zamyshlyak is an example in executing the military duty and service to the Motherland for the entire personnel of the Flotilla.

In August 2002, by decision of the President of Russia, the large-scale exercise of the Caspian Flotilla the Caspian Sea was carried out, involving units of the Air Force, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the RF Ministry for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Liquidation and the Ministry of Transport of Russia. This was the first exercise of such a scale conducted in the Caspian region in the last decade, the tasks, which were set by the President of Russia during his visit to Astrakhan’ and visits to the ships of the Caspian Flotilla, were fulfilled.

Also in September 2002, the Flotilla’s ships visited with a friendly visit the capital of the Republic of Azerbaijan – Baku.

In October 2002, the Caspian Flotilla celebrated its 280th anniversary and 10th anniversary of the withdrawal from Baku.

In May 2003, the group of warships of the Caspian Flotilla composed of missile boat «Stupinets», coastal minesweepers «Magomed Hajiyev» and small hydrographic vessel «GS-30» under the flag of the Flotilla’s Commander visited the port of Aktau, the Republic of Kazakhstan.

In July 2005, the Caspian Flotilla hosted the International Conference of representatives of the Navies of the Caspian States on establishing the Caspian naval group for operational cooperation «KASFOR». The Conference was initiated by the Commander of the Caspian Flotilla, which was supported by the Russian Defence Minister and the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy.

In 2010, the Caspian Flotilla continues the second phase of the reform of organizational structure in accordance with formation of a new make-up of the Armed Forces, as well as the work began on putting this association into the Southern Military District.

Today, the Caspian Flotilla gets the new make-up, improves its combat power, its composition takes missile, torpedo boats and gunboats, air cushion landing ships, base and inshore minesweepers, units of the Marine Corps, coastal missile-and-artillery troops, and others.
Currently, the Caspian flotilla is still the powerful, combat effective association, which is not only the southernmost outpost of Russia, but also the guarantee of the integrity of marine boundaries, the most important foreign policy tool of the state in the Caspian Sea.

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