The Russian Navy developed as an independent armed service of the Russian Armed Forces between late 17th and early 20th century. The development of the regular Navy in Russia was conformity to the laws of history driven by the country’s pressing need to overcome territorial, political and cultural isolation hampering Russia’s economic and social development in 17th-18th centuries. The first permanent task force, the Azov Fleet, consisted of ships and vessels built in 1695 – 1696. The task force’s function was to help the Russian Army conquer the Turkish fortress of Azov. On October 30, 1696 the Council of Boyars adopted the resolution on the Russian Navy submitted by Peter the Great. The resolution, which was the first document on the Russian Navy, contained the official date of its establishment.
The Great Northern War (1700-1721) determined the main objectives of the Russian Navy, which have only slightly changed until now. The objectives were: to fight enemy naval forces, fight at sea lines of communication and to conduct attacks and insertion of troops from the sea. The importance of each objective changed as equipment and nature of maritime operations evolved. Therefore, the role and place of the Navy’s branches changed as well.
Thus, surface ships were the main branch of the Russian Navy accomplishing all main missions before World War I broke out. During World War II the role was handed over to the naval aviation, while submarines became the main branch of the Navy during the postwar period as nuclear-missile weapons and nuclear-powered ships were developed.
The Navy hadn’t become a multi-type formation until World War I as it didn’t include coastal defense troops (naval infantry and coastal artillery) established in early 18th century. On March 19, 1906 submarine forces were established within the Russian Navy.
1914 saw the establishment of the first naval aviation units. In 1916 the naval aviation became an independent branch. The Naval Aviation Day, celebrated annually on July 17, marks the first victory of the Russian naval pilots in the air fight over the Baltic Sea in 1916. The Navy became a multi-type strategic formation in the middle of 1930s, as naval aviation, coastal defense troops and AD units became its part.
The present-day chain of command of the Russian Navy was ultimately developed on the eve of the Great Patriotic War. On January 15, 1938 the Central Executive Committee and Council of People’s Commissars issued the decree to establish the People’s Commissariat of the Navy, which included the Main Naval Staff. In the making of the regular Navy, its organizational structure and functions were vague. On December 22, 1717 Peter the Great ordered to establish the Admiralty Board. September 20, 1802 marks the establishment of the Ministry of Maritime Forces, which was renamed later as the Maritime Ministry and was disbanded in 1917. Command and control elements of the Russian Navy were created just after the Russo-Japanese War, with the Naval General Staff established on April 7, 1906. The Russian Navy was led by such outstanding commanders as Peter the Great, P.V. Chichagov, I.K. Grigorovich, N.G. Kuznetsov and S.V. Gorshkov.
Permanent task forces were developed in maritime theatres of war as Russia was addressing a number of historic problems, such as gaining access to the World Ocean and joining international economics and politics. The Baltic Fleet has existed continuously since May 18, 1703, while the Caspian Flotilla and Black Sea Fleet since November 15, 1722 and May 13, 1783 respectively. Northern and Pacific task forces established, as a rule, on a temporary basis or without being developed were occasionally disbanded. The present-day Pacific and Northern fleets have existed as permanent task forces since April 21, 1932 and June 1, 1933 respectively.
Mid-1980s saw the strongest Russian Navy. It included 4 fleets and the Caspian Flotilla, a total of over 100 squadrons and brigades of surface ships, submarines, naval aircraft and coastal defense troops.
At present the Russian Navy makes up the mainstay of Russia’s maritime capabilities. It is a tool of our country’s foreign policy, designed to protect through military methods the interests of the Russian Federation and its allies in the World Ocean, maintain military-political stability in the seas adjacent to Russia and ensure its maritime military security.
The main event within the combat training of the Russian Navy was the participation of the Pacific Fleet as well as the Peter the Great heavy nuclear missile cruiser (Northern Fleet) and Moscow missile cruiser (Black Sea Fleet) in the East-2010 (Vostok-2010) strategic exercise. Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev observed the exercise held in the Sea of Japan from the board of heavy nuclear cruiser «Peter the Great».
The Navy is developing cooperation with foreign fleets in navigation safety, counterpiracy, drug and contraband control, assistance to distressed ships and rescue at sea.
In 2010 the Baltic Fleet participated in the BALTOPS-2010 international exercise, while the Northern Fleet took part in the POMOR Norwegian-Russian exercise. The Severomorsk large antisubmarine ship of the Northern Fleet together with a number of US, UK and French warships participated in the FRUKUS-2010 international naval exercise held in the Atlantic.
It was the first time Pacific and Northern fleets had acted as part of foreign task forces during long-distance ocean marches.
The St. Andrew’s flag demonstration during visits to foreign ports continues to play an important role in the military-diplomatic sphere. The Russian Navy maintains its regular presence near the Horn of Africa and in the Gulf of Aden.