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Northern Fleet

Creation and formation of the Northern Fleet

The Northern Fleet is an operational-strategic force of the Russian Navy. Among all the Fleets the Northern Fleet of Russia is the youngest, in 2008 it was 75 years of age.

However, it should be noted that the first attempt to create a military fleet in the North was made more than 300 years ago. In 1693 on the order of Pyotr I the Solombala shipyard was founded in Arkhangelsk, and construction of warships was begun.

On August 14, 1694 the 24-gun frigate «St. Paul» built in Solombala, the 44-gun ship «St. Prophecy» bought in Holland and the yacht «Saint Peter» under the white-blue-red flag and headed by Pyotr I came out to sea accompanying eight British merchant ships.

However, the warships didn’t remain in the White Sea for a long time and were transferred to the Baltic.

In 1740 the North saw the first formation (squadron) of Russian warships, which performed cruising from the Norwegian to the Kara Sea, thus preventing calls of Swedish fleet into the Russian harbours and the arbitrariness of its ships to the coast of Murman.

The permanent, regular Northern Fleet began its way in 1933. On April 15, 1933 the People's Commissar of Defence of the USSR signed the order, under which destroyers «Uritsky» and «Kuybyshev», patrol ships «Uragan» and «Smerch», as well as submarines «Dekabrist» and «Narodovolets» made the voyage to the North. These ships became a part of the expedition of special purpose (ESP-1).

Circular of the Chief of Staff of the Red Army of June 1 formed the Northern Naval Flotilla with domiciled base in Murmansk – the Kola Bay. Flagman 1 Rank Zakhar Zakupnev was appointed as the first Commander.

On August 5, 1933 the EON-1 ships arrived at the port of Murmansk, the final destination of the cruise and the temporary base. Residents of the city warmly welcomed the sailors. Simultaneously with creation of the Northern Flotilla construction of a naval base in the city of Polyarny began. At all times the Northern Fleet’s seamen worked hard, mastering the northern maritime theatre, the ships and equipment, improving their combat skills.

On November 5, 1935 21 salvos from destroyer «Karl Liebknecht» guns were fired over the Yekateryninskaya harbour in honor of the cruise of warships from Murmansk to Polyarny for permanent basing.

In the same year a division of submarines for the first time made the cruise to the island of New Earth. On December 23, 1935 the decision of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR awarded the group of the Northern Fleet seamen the Orders of Lenin and Red Star for the successful development of the Northern sea theatre and the work to strengthen the defence of the North. Ten submariners were awarded the Order of Lenin.

In 1936, two destroyers «Voykov» and «Stalin» committed an unprecedented voyage from the Arctic to the Far East through the Northern Sea Route. Submarine D-1, D-2, D-3 under command of Captain 1 Rank K.N. Griboyedov successfully overcame the way through the Matochkin Strait into the Kara Sea. Submarines successfully conducted training on emergency dive. In the same year the submarine D-2 «Narodovolets» was recognized as the best ship.

On May 11, 1937 the order of the People's Commissar of Defence the Flotilla was reorganized into the Northern Fleet. Flagman 1 Rank Konstantin Dushenov was appointed as the Fleet's Commander. Before being appointed the Commander of the Northern Fleet he was already for 2 years in command of the Northern Flotilla. Under his leadership, the Northern Fleet continued construction of bases and airfields, set up coastal defences and shipbuilding base, mastered and equipped the maritime theatre.

In 1938 the submarine «D-1» was held at sea for 120 days, having passed more than 11 thousand miles.

In 1938, the submarine «D-3» carried out for the first time in the history of the Navy under-ice cruising, she sailed under the ice for 30 minutes.

On May 21, 1937 the polar pilot M.V. Vodop'yanov aboard the four-seater aircraft «USSR N-170» landed on an ice floe near the North Pole four polar scientists including the chief of the station «SP-1» I.D. Papanin, hydrobiologist P.P. Shirshov, magnetologist Ye.K. Fyodorov and radio operator E.T. Krenkel.

During 275 days the whole world was watching, how the scientists were conducting the scientific work, how they were fighting against the marine environment. In early February 1938 the floe split, and it was run away over to the Greenland Sea. People were in danger. Icebreakers «Taimyr» and «Murman», destroyers «Karl Liebknecht» and submarines «D-3», «Shch-402» and «Shch-404» and aircraft went to aid for them. The destroyer and submarine maintained radio contact between the ice-breakers and the radio centres of the Fleet. On February 19, 1938 the brave polar explorers were removed from the drifting ice by icebreakers «Taimyr» and «Murman».

In 1940 the first in the history voyage of submarine Shch-423 from Polyarny to Vladivostok by sea was implemented. From November 30, 1939 to March 13, 1940 the Northern Fleet took part in the fighting within the Soviet-Finnish war. It fulfilled all its tasks. As a result of occupying the ports of Liinakhamari and Petsamo the forces of the Fleet deprived Finland of the possibility of receiving aid by sea from Western countries, provided transporting personnel and equipment through the maritime flank and defended their coastline.

72 officers, sergeants and sailors were awarded orders and medals as a proof of their courage, bravery, endurance and discipline.

Creation and formation of the Northern Fleet in the thirties of the twenties of the XX century – this is only the initial page in the history of the Fleet and its people, who in spite of the harsh climate, the various hardships of service and life, carried out assignments conscientiously, responsibly, and sometimes beyond their capacity.

The Northern Fleet in the Great Patriotic War

The Great Patriotic War was a severe test for the young Northern Fleet. From June 22, 1941 till May 9, 1945 the Northern Fleet, regardless of the time, continuously through the years operated in the open sea theatre, which was distinguished by its huge size and severe physical and geographical characteristics.

In contrast to other Fleets in the Northern Fleet during the war had increased its forces in all classes of ships, aviation, coastal defence. In the beginning of the war the Fleet had 15 submarines, 8 destroyers, 7 escort warships, other ships. Aviation numbered 116 combat aircraft. By the end of the war in the Fleet there were a battleship, cruiser, 17 destroyers, 51 patrol boats, 45 submarine hunters, 43 minesweepers, 56 torpedo boats, 42 submarines, 718 aircraft of various classes, 256 coastal artillery guns, more than 25 thousand marines.

During the war the Fleet safely covered the seaside flank of the 14th Army from landings and attacks of enemy ships, defending its sea lanes, with continuous attacks against the enemy's communications violated transportation of the enemy and deprived it of the initiatives at sea.

The Fleet landed troops and reconnaissance units in the rear of the enemy, generated and sent to the land front the units of the Marine Corps. The Northern Fleet seamen were famed in the battles of Moscow, Leningrad, Stalingrad, in the North Caucasus. The feats of the Northern Fleet seamen were included in the heroic history of the Armed Forces as bright pages of the Great Patriotic War. The Northern Fleet airman Boris Safonov was the first within the Great Patriotic War to be twice awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

Throughout the whole war the Commander of the Northern Fleet Admiral Arseny Golovko skillfully organized and led the militant activities of the Fleet.

Showing hostilities to large enemy forces, the forces of the Fleet in the Second World War killed 628 and injured 237 warships and transports, 1308 enemy aircraft. The Fleet also provided carrying of 76 allied convoys with 1463 transports and 1152 escort ships. Internal communications of the Arctic Ocean were used for 1548 convoys. Formations and units of the Fleet acting in the land front cut off tens of thousands of Nazi soldiers and officers.

Even today the Northern Fleet seamen remember and honour the names of heroes-submariners Ivan Kolyshkin, Mohammed Gajiyev, Nikolai Lunin, Grigory Shchedrin, Israil Fisanovich, Fyodor Vidyaev, pilots Boris Safonov, Ivan Katunin, Zakhar Sorokin, Pyotr Sgibnev, boaters Aleksandr Shabalin, Vladimir Alekseyev, Sergei Korshunovich , brave scouts Viktor Leonov, Sergei Agafonov, Ivan Katorzhny, marines Vasily Kislyakov, Ivan Sivko, Anatoly Bredov and many other die-hard defenders of the Arctic.

For heroism and courage in battle 85 sailors, petty officers and officers were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, three of them – pilot B.F. Safonov, boater A.O. Shabalin and scout V.N. Leonov – became twice Heroes of the Soviet Union. For exemplary fulfillment of the commands during the war dozens of associations, Navy ships and units were awarded the Orders of Red Banner, Red Star and Ushakov of the 1st degree, 12 ships, units and formations of the Fleet were converted to the Guards ones, 47 were awarded with Medals, 14 were appropriated honorary names. On June 24, 1945 the Victory Parade was attended by 200 Northern Fleet seamen.

The Fleet fully complied with its duty to the Motherland. Two decades later, on May 7, 1965 to commemorate the 20 anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, the Northern Fleet was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.

Oceanic, nuclear-missile

In the postwar years the Fleet continued to be improved, it became the nuclear, missile-carrying, oceanic one.

In September of 1955 the first in the world ballistic missile’s launch was made from a submarine in the White Sea, and in June of 1956 the first submarine «B-67» with ballistic missiles was taken by the Northern Fleet.

On July 1, 1958 the Naval Flag was raised by the first Soviet nuclear-powered submarine «K-3» (later named as «Leninsky Komsomol»). On April 10, 1959 submarine «K-3» joined the Northern Fleet.

In September of 1960 the world's first launch of a ballistic missile was produced from the submerged submarine «B-67» (commander – Captain 2 Rank V.K. Korobov).

On July 17, 1962, having carried out the expedition under the ice of the Arctic, the nuclear-powered submarine «Leninsky Komsomol» for the first time in history emerged in the North Pole, where the National Flag and the Naval Flag of the Soviet Union were erected.

Since 1962 submariners have visited the North Pole and performed the tasks in the polar areas more than 300 times.

In September of 1963 two nuclear-powered submarines of the Northern Fleet for the first time in history made the voyage under the ice of the Arctic from the Northern Fleet to the Pacific Fleet. In subsequent years such voyages were realised by more than 25 submarines.

Submariners of the Northern Fleet from 1962 to 1996 realised more than 300 voyages to the polar latitudes, more than 25 submarines carried out inter-Fleet voyages through the Northern Sea Route from the Northern to the Pacific Fleet, and 3 ones from the Pacific to the Northern Fleet.

In 1966 the group of Northern Fleet’s submarines made a group circumnavigation, having passed without a single surfacing 25 thousand miles.

From 1972 to 1996 69 ships of the Atlantic squadron of surface ships completed tasks of 33 combat duties only with excellent and good grades.

The firstborn of the aircraft carrier fleet – the aircraft carriying cruiser «Kiev» – for the period from 1976 to 1992 carried out 16 combat duties, covered over 20 thousand miles. For the first time the plane was lifted into the sky from the deck of the ship by Colonel I.F. Matkovsky. Since 1991 deck aircraft of the heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser «Admiral Kuznetsov» fly at the polar sky. Heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser «Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union N.G. Kuznetsov» regularly performs the tasks of combat duty in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea.

Marines of the Fleet acted bravely and heroically during establishment of constitutional order in Chechnya. 10 of them were appropriated the title of Hero of Russia, more than a thousand soldiers were awarded orders and medals.

On the whole in the postwar period for the dedicated execution of military duty, courage and heroism of 41 Northern Fleet seamen were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, 28 warriors of the Fleet became Heroes of Russia.

In recent years, the Northern Fleet resumed its presence in the oceans. In the period of 2007-2009 heavy aircraft carrying cruiser «Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov» regularly performed training and combat tasks in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean, carried out two military services, during which deck pilots improved their skill.

In 2008-2009 heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser «Pyotr Veliky» with accompanying warships twice crossed the Atlantic, passed the equator in the «Golden point» with zero coordinates, made visits to Venezuela, South African Republic, India, France, Syria, took part in the international exercise «Venrus-2008», «Indra-2009». In 2010, the cruiser along the shortest route through the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean moved to the Far East, where she took part in strategic exercise «Vostok-2010». Shipboard watching the exercise was realized by the Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev. He highly praised the professionalism of the military and naval skills of the Northern Fleet servicemen, as well as in October 2008, when during the strategic command-staff exercise «Stability-2008» the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Russia observed episodes of exercise being on board of the heavy aircraft carrying ship «Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov».

One of the major tasks that currently carried out by the Northern Fleet seamen is securing civilian shipping. In the Gulf of Aden ships of the Northern Fleet are regularly cruising. Success in combating piracy have been reached by the sailors of the heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser «Pyotr Veliky», large anti-submarine ships «Admiral Chabanenko» and «Admiral Levchenko».

The commands of the Fleet, ships and units have good communications and business cooperation with the heads of administrations of the regions of basing the Fleet’s forces, of many other subjects of the RF.

The activities of the Interregional Association of the RF subjects and the cities, patronising over the ships and units of the Northern Fleet are developed and improved. Since 1997 the organization provides a variety of corporate assistance to ships and units, what in turn greatly enhances the combat and technical readiness of naval forces, the solution of social problems of personnel, improvement of heroic and patriotic education of the Northern fleet seamen. Among the leading partners of the Northern Fleet there is the North-Western Bank of the Savings Bank of Russia, which includes many social projects that improve the lives of servicemen and their families.

Today the Northern fleet seamen continue to improve military training and military skills, vigilantly carry the difficult watch, holding the high rank of a Northern fleet seaman preserving the traditions of predecessors.

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