Russian Navy
Военно-морской флот Российской Федерации
Voyenno-morskoy flot Rossiyskoy Federatsii
Emblem of the Russian Navy
Active1696 (1696)–1917 (1917), 1992 (1992)–present[1]
Country Russia
Size150,000-160,000 active duty (2020)[2]
Approx. 359+ aircraft[3][4]
Part of Russian Armed Forces
HeadquartersAdmiralty building, Saint Petersburg
PatronSaint Andrew the Apostle [5]
Motto(s)"С нами Бог и Андреевский флаг!" (God and St. Andrew's flag are with us!)
ColorsBlue, White, Black    
MarchQuick – "Экипаж—Одна семья" (English: The Crew—One Family)
Slow – "Гвардейский Встречный Марш Военно-Морского Флота" (English: Slow March of the Guards of the Navy)
AnniversariesNavy Day (last Sunday in July)
Submariner's Day (19 March)
Surface Sailor's Day (20 October)
Fleet1 aircraft carrier
3 battlecruisers
3 cruisers
16 destroyers
26 frigates
92 corvettes
28 landing ship tanks
32 landing craft
15 special-purpose ships
3 patrol ships
42 patrol boats
c. 48 mine countermeasures vessels
8-9 special-purpose submarines
c. 60 active ballistic missile/cruise missile and attack submarines[6]
EngagementsSince 1991: Russo-Georgian War
Anti-Piracy operation in Gulf of Aden
Annexation of Crimea
Syrian Civil War
WebsiteOfficial webpage
Commander-in-Chief Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov
First Deputy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Aleksandr Vitko
Deputy Commander-in-Chief Vice-Admiral Vladimir Kasatonov
Naval jack
Middle Emblem

The Russian Navy (Russian: Военно-морской флот [ВМФ], romanizedVoyenno-Мorskoi Flot [VMF], lit.'Military Maritime Fleet' [VMF]) is the naval arm of the Russian Armed Forces. It has existed in various forms since 1696, the present iteration of which was formed in January 1992 when it succeeded the Navy of the Commonwealth of Independent States (which had itself succeeded the Soviet Navy following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in late December 1991).

The first iteration of the Russian Navy was established by Peter the Great (Peter I) in October 1696. Ascribed to him is the oft quoted statement: "A ruler that has but an army has one hand, but he who has a navy has both."[7] The symbols of the Russian Navy, the St. Andrew's ensign (seen to the right), and most of its traditions were established personally by Peter I.

The Russian Navy possesses the vast majority of the former Soviet naval forces, and currently comprises the Northern Fleet, the Pacific Fleet, the Black Sea Fleet, the Baltic Fleet, the Caspian Flotilla, 5th Operational Squadron in Middle East, Naval Aviation, and the Coastal Troops (consisting of the Naval Infantry and the Coastal Missile and Artillery Troops).

The Russian Navy suffered severely since the dissolution of the Soviet Union due to insufficient maintenance, lack of funding and subsequent effects on the training of personnel and timely replacement of equipment. 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".[8][9] In 2013 some analysts suggested that the rise in gas and oil prices has enabled a sort of renaissance of the Russian Navy due to increased available funds, which may have allowed Russia to begin "developing the capacity to modernize".[10] In August 2014, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Russian naval capabilities would be bolstered with new weapons and equipment within the next six years in response to NATO deployments in eastern Europe and recent developments in Ukraine.[11] In 2021 Russian Navy fleet is modernized to 81 percent and curently they are building 6x Lider Destroyers 22x Frigates 24x Corvettes 4x Large Landing Ships 2x Helicopter Carriers 16x Submarines and 4x Special purpose submarines to carry Poseidon nuclear stealth torpedo.[citation needed]


Main article: History of the Russian Navy

Standard of the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy

The origins of the Russian Navy can be traced back to the period between the 4th and the 6th century. The first Slavic flotillas consisted of small sailing ships and rowboats, which had been seaworthy and able to navigate in riverbeds. During the 9th through 12th centuries, there were flotillas in the Kievan Rus' consisting of hundreds of vessels with one, two, or three masts. Riverine vessels in 9th century Kievan Rus guarded trade routes to Constantinople.[12] 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.[13] Lad'ya (ладья in Russian or sea boat) was a typical boat used by the army of Novgorod (length 30 meters with a width of five to six meters, and two or three masts, with the armament of 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.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Cossacks conducted military campaigns against the Crimean Khanate and the 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 that century, the Russians had accumulated some valuable experience in using riverboats together with land forces.

Under Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich, the construction of the first three-masted ship to be built entirely within Russia was finished in 1636. She was built in Balakhna by Danish shipbuilders from Holstein with a European design. She was christened the Frederick. In 1667–69, 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 River, which led to the Caspian Sea. In 1668, they built a 26-gun ship, the 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, explored the rivers Lena, Kolyma and Indigirka, and founded 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 along the Arctic coast. Rounding the Chukotsk Peninsula, Dezhnev passed through the Bering Sea and sailed into the Pacific Ocean.

Imperial Russian Navy

Main article: Imperial Russian Navy

The modern Russian Navy was created at the initiative of Peter the Great. During the Second Azov campaign of 1696 against the 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, understanding the vital importance of a navy for successful warfare, on 20 October 1696 adopted a decree on commencing the construction of a regular navy.[14][note 1]

Peter the Great

Early on in his reign, Peter made a tour to western Europe, England, and the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, 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 mathematics. Farquaharson's task in Russia was to create and administer a School of Mathematics and Navigation. 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.[citation needed] 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).[14]

Fleet of Peter the Great by Eugene Lanceray, 1709

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, the 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 (1720) penned by Peter the Great, Feodor Apraksin, Alexey Senyavin, Naum Senyavin and 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 (1783) 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.[15] 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.[16] The Russian Navy captured in 1780 two British cargo vessels, their cargo were hemp and iron.[17] The Republic of Ragusa became one of the chief carriers of the Mediterranean in 1783 with the help of the U.S., 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.

The Russian Admiralty in St. Petersburg is famed for its gilded steeple topped by a golden weather-vane in the shape of a sailing ship.

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 but only after the Russians sank their ships to prevent outside use of the harbor. 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 16 January 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.

Imperial Russian Navy sailors of the cruiser "Admiral Kornilov" during training in rifle techniques. 1895

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.

Soviet Navy

Main article: Soviet Navy

For the most part, Russian sailors welcomed the Russian Revolution of 1917, in which they participated. Earlier, in 1905, sailors of the 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 cruiser Avrora, whose blank shot from its forecastle gun signaled the October Revolution according to Soviet narratives. 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, the Soviet Union's portion of World War II. 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, much of the Soviet 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 conducted. On the Black Sea with the loss of the main naval base—Sevastopol, and effective actions of axis aviation as well as minefields the effectiveness of large surface ships was limited. The Northern Fleet, composed mostly of destroyers (World War I Novik-class and more modern Design 7 and 7U vessels), played a role in anti-aircraft and anti-submarine defence of allied convoys heading to Murmansk.

Sailors of the Soviet Navy, circa 1982.

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.[18] 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 Fleet Admiral of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov).[19]

In some respects, including speed and reactor technology, later Soviet submarines were, and remain, some of the world's best.[citation needed] Their primary shortcomings were insufficient noise damping (American boats were quieter) and sonar technology[citation needed]. The Soviets possessed numerous purpose-built guided missile submarines, such as the Oscar-class submarine, as well as many ballistic missile submarines, such as the Delta-class submarines, and attack submarines, such as the Victor and Akula-class submarine. The Soviet Navy's Typhoon-class ballistic missile boats are the world's largest submarines. The Soviet attack submarine force was, like the rest of the navy, geared towards the forward intercept and destruction of US/NATO naval forces, especially American aircraft carrier battle groups.

Russian Federation Navy

Russian Navy sailors in joint exercises of the Northern and Black Sea fleets.

The 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union led to a severe decline in the Russian Navy. Defense expenditures were severely reduced. Many ships were scrapped or laid up as accommodation ships at naval bases, and the building program was essentially stopped. Sergey Gorshkov's buildup during the Soviet period had emphasised ships over support facilities, but Gorshkov had also retained ships in service beyond their effective lifetimes, so a reduction had been inevitable in any event.[20] The situation was exacerbated by the impractical range of vessel types which the Soviet military-industrial complex, with the support of the leadership, had forced on the navy—taking modifications into account, the Soviet Navy in the mid-1980s had nearly 250 different classes of ship.[21] The Kiev-class aircraft carrying cruisers and many other ships were prematurely retired, and the incomplete second Admiral Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier Varyag was eventually sold to the People's Republic of China by Ukraine. 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 submarine Nerpa had been under construction for fifteen years.[22]

Storage of decommissioned nuclear submarines in ports near Murmansk became a significant issue, with the Bellona Foundation reporting details of lowered readiness. Naval support bases outside Russia, such as Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam, were gradually closed, with the exception of 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.[23] 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.[24]

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.[25] 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.[26] The exercise was to have culminated with the deployment of the Admiral Kuznetsov task group to the Mediterranean.[citation needed]

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.[27] Despite this improvement, the November 2008 accident on board the Akula-class submarine attack boat Nerpa during sea trials before lease to India represented a concern for the future.[28]

In 2009 Admiral Popov, former commander of the Russian Northern Fleet, said that the Russian Navy would greatly decline in combat capabilities by 2015 if the current rate of new ship construction remained unchanged, due to the retirement of ocean-going ships.[29]

In 2012, as part of an ambitious rebuilding effort, President Vladimir Putin announced a plan to build 51 modern ships and 24 submarines by 2020.[citation needed] Of the 24 submarines, 16 will be nuclear-powered.[30] On 10 January 2013, the Russian Navy finally accepted its first new Borei-class SSBN (Yury Dolgorukiy) for service.[citation needed] A second Borei (Aleksandr Nevskiy) was undergoing sea trials and entered service on 21 December 2013.[citation needed] A third Borei-class boat (Vladimir Monomakh) was launched and began trials in early 2013, and was commissioned in late 2014.[31]


ADM Nikolai Yevmenov


Naval Spetsnaz frogman

Since 2012 the headquarters of the Russian Navy (Russian Navy Main Staff) is once again located in the Admiralty in Saint Petersburg. Russian naval manpower 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 and reorganization were 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 in November 2012.[32]

The Russian Navy is organised into four combat services - the Surface Forces, the Submarine Forces, the Naval Aviation and the Coastal Troops.[33] Additionally the navy also includes support units afloat and ashore. It does not include special forces. The Naval Spetsnaz brigades are part of the Main Intelligence Directorate attached to the respective fleets and the Counter-Diversionary Forces and Assets (ПДСС) (which are units, protecting the Navy from incursions of enemy special forces) fall within the Coastal Forces.

During the Cold War the Soviet Armed Forces made the distinction between the various naval commands. The main fleets were the Northern and the Pacific Fleet. They were tasked with independent operations on the high seas and for that reason included strategic surface, submarine and air forces, including the country's naval nuclear deterrent. Due to the limited geography of the Baltic and the Black Seas the respective Baltic and Black Sea Fleets were given a more circumspect role in support of adjacent ground formation (the Main Command of the Troops of the Western Direction in Legnica (Poland) and the Main Command of the Troops of the South-Western Direction in Chișinău. These two fleets were armed with shorter-range weapon systems than the main fleets (diesel-electric submarines, Sukhoi Su-24 fighter-bombers and a larger quantity of frigates and corvettes). Due to the closed nature of the Caspian Sea (still connected to the Baltic and Black Seas through the Volga River and the system of rivers and canals and navigable for ships of corvette size) its Caspian Flotilla had an even more limited role than the Fleets and played a defensive role supporting the Main Command of the Troops of the Southern Direction in Baku.

With the end of the Cold War a significant reduction in forces followed. Before the 2008 Russian military reform, the four fleets were ranked as equal in status to the six Military Districts. With the reform measures going into force the number of Military Districts was reduced and became new Joint Strategic Commands and the four fleets and one flotilla were subordinated to them with status equal to the Ground Forces and the Air Forces armies. Due to Russia's increased interests in the Arctic region and the importance of Russia's western/northwestern maritime defense the Northern Fleet, originally part of the Joint Strategic Command West (Western Military District), on 12 December 2014 became the basis for the newly formed fifth Northern Fleet Joint Strategic Command.

Submarine and surface forces

The submarine and surface forces form the backbone of the Navy. The submarines form part of dedicated submarine squadrons and flotillas or part of squadrons and flotillas of mixed compsition together with major surface combatants. The Russian Navy retains a rigid structure, whose levels of command could, according to military regulations, be directly equaled to the corresponding ground and air forces counterparts:

Russian Navy organisation
Part of Fleet unit Officer commanding Ground and air forces equivalent Officer commanding Notes
General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Chief Commander of the Navy

(Главнокомандующий Военно-морским флотом Российской Федерации)

Admiral Chief Commander of the Land Forces

(Главнокомандующий Сухопутными войсками Российской Федерации)

Chief Commander of the Aerospace Forces

(Главнокомандующий Воздушно-космическими силами Российской Федерации)

Colonel general
Chief of Staff and First Deputy Commander of the Navy

(Начальник штаба — первый заместитель Главнокомандующего ВМФ)

Vice admiral Chief of the Main Staff and First Deputy Commander of the Land Forces

(Начальник Главного штаба Сухопутных войск — первый заместитель главнокомандующего Сухопутными войсками)

Chief of the Main Staff and First Deputy Commander of the Aerospace Forces

(Начальник Главного штаба — первый заместитель Главнокомандующего Воздушно-космическими силами)

Lieutenant general
Deputy Commander of the Navy

(Заместитель Главнокомандующего ВМФ)

Vice admiral /

Lieutenant general (Marines and Naval Aviation)

Deputy Commander of the Land Forces

(Заместитель Главнокомандующего СВ)

Deputy Commander of the Aerospace Forces

(Заместитель Главнокомандующего ВКС)

Lieutenant general
Northern Fleet Joint Strategic Command Commander of the Northern Fleet

(Командующий Северным флотом)

  • Army
  • Air Army
Colonel general
Eastern Military District Commander of the Pacific Fleet

(Командующий Тихоокеанским флотом)

Western Military District Commander of the Baltic Fleet

(Командующий Балтийским флотом)

Vice admiral Lieutenant general
Southern Military District Commander of the Black Sea Fleet

(Командующий Черноморским флотом)

Commander of the Caspian Flotilla

(Командующий Каспийской флотилией)

  • Army Corps
Major general




Kontradmiral Used to correspond to a ground forces or air forces Army.
  • Army Corps
  • Air Force of a (specific) Fleet
Major general Could be separate Flotilla or one forming part of a Fleet. For example, the modern day Primorskaya Mixed Forces Formation (formerly Mixed Forces Flotilla) of the Pacific Fleet.


Operational Squadron

(Оперативная эскадра)

  • Army Corps
  • Air Force of a (specific) Fleet
Major general Naval Task Force. For example, the 5th Operational Squadron.


Squadron (ships)


  • Army Corps
  • Air Force of a (specific) Fleet
Major general A permanent formation, combining several divisions and brigades. Equal to an Army Corps.
Squadron (ships) Division of major ships

(Дивизия кораблей)

Kontradmiral Division Major general For example, the Black Sea Fleet's 30th Surface Ships Division or the Northern Fleet's 7th Submarine Division.


Naval Base

(Военно-морская база)

Kontradmiral Division Major general A Naval Base is a command of divisional level, which is subordinated to a Fleet or Flotilla. It provides berthing, supply and repair to the Fleet's main forces, as well as defence against conventional and asymmetric threats. For that reason it includes a Brigade of ships of at least one missile corvette division and one minesweeper division. The base also deploys counter-diversion combat divers and possibly a coastal defence ground formation of marines and coastal artillery. The Naval Base could include a main base location and one or more secondary locations, in which case the secondary locations would deploy a mixed division of corvettes/ fast attack craft and minesweepers.
Squadron (ships) /

Naval Base

Brigade of ships

(Бригада кораблей)

Kontradmiral /

Captain 1st rank

Brigade Major general /


  • Submarine Boats Brigade (Бригада подводных лодок) includes diesel-electric submarines and is directly subordinated to a Fleet.
  • Landing Ships Brigade (Бригада десантных кораблей) includes large landing ships and is directly subordinated to a Fleet.
  • Waterborne Area Defence Ships Brigade (Бригада кораблей охраны водного района) normally includes an ASW corvette division and a minesweepers division and is subordinated to a Naval Base.
  • Brigade of Ships in Construction or Repair (Бригада строящихся и ремонтирующихся кораблей) subordinated to a Naval Base.
Division of major ships

(Дивизия кораблей)

Division of warships of 2nd rank

(Дивизион кораблей 2-го ранга)

Captain 1st Rank Regiment /

Air Regiment

Colonel Increasingly out of use as in modern days warships 2nd class form ships brigades and ships divisions.
Division of major ships

(Дивизия кораблей) /

Brigade of ships

(Бригада кораблей)

Division of warships of 3rd rank

(Дивизион кораблей 3-го ранга)

Captain 2nd rank Separate Battalion /

Air Squadron

Lieutenant colonel Division of corvettes.
Brigade of ships

(Бригада кораблей) /

Naval Base

(Военно-морская база)

Division of warships of 4th rank

(Дивизион кораблей 4-го ранга)

Captain 3rd rank Separate Battalion /

Air Squadron

Major Division fast craft or minesweepers.
Brigade of ships

(Бригада кораблей) /

Naval Base

(Военно-морская база)

Division of warships of 4th rank

(Дивизион кораблей 4-го ранга)

Captain 3rd rank /

Captain lieutenant

Separate Company / Separate Battery /

Air Flight

Captain In case of a division of small support craft of a naval base, such as tug boats, fire boats, courier launches etc.
Individual ships
Division of major ships

(Дивизия кораблей) /

Brigade of ships

(Бригада кораблей)

Warship 1st rank Captain 1st Rank Regiment /

Air Regiment

  • The departments of the Ship's Company are called Combat Units (Боевая часть (БЧ) and correspond to battalions)
  • ballistic missile submarine (submarine nuclear missile cruiser of strategic purpose (РПКСН))
  • attack submarine (nuclear submarine boat (АПЛ))
  • aircraft carrier (heavy aviation-carrying cruiser (ТАВКР))
  • nuclear battlecruiser (heavy nuclear missile cruiser (ТАРКР))
  • missile cruiser (РК)
  • large destroyer (guided missile destroyer 1st rank (Эсм. УРО 1-го ранга))
  • large ASW destroyer (БПК)
Brigade of ships

(Бригада кораблей)


Division of small ships

(Дивизион кораблей)

Warship 2nd rank Captain 2nd rank Separate Battalion /

Air Squadron

  • The departments of the Ship's Company are called Combat Units (Боевая часть (БЧ) and correspond to companies)
Lieutenant colonel
  • diesel-electric submarine (ДЭПЛ)
  • small destroyer (guided missile destroyer 2nd rank (Эсм. УРО 2-го ранга))
  • missile frigate (guard ship (СКР))
  • ASW frigate (large ASW ship 2nd rank (БПК 2-го ранга))
  • offshore patrol vessel
  • large landing ship (БДК)
Division of ships 3rd rank

(Дивизион кораблей 3-го ранга)

Warship 3rd rank Captain 3rd rank Separate Battalion /

Air Squadron

  • The departments of the Ship's Company are called Combat Units (Боевая часть (БЧ) and correspond to platoons)
  • missile corvette (small missile ship (МРК))
  • ASW corvette (small ASW ship (МПК))
  • coastal patrol vessel (small artillery ship (МАК))
  • seagoing minesweeper (МТ)
  • medium landing ship (СДК)
  • small air cushion landing ship (МДКВП)
Division of ships 4th rank

(Дивизион кораблей 4-го ранга)

Warship 4th rank Captain lieutenant /

Senior lieutenant /


Platoon Captain /

Senior lieutenant /


  • missile fast attack craft (missile cutter (РКА))
  • gun fast attack craft (artillery cruiser (АКА))
  • torpedo fast attack craft (torpedo cutter (ТКА))
  • anti-submarine craft (guard cutter (СКА))
  • coastal minesweeper (base minesweeper (БТ))
  • minesweeping boat (roadstead minesweeper (РТ))
  • landing craft (landing cutter (ДКА))

Coastal troops

Main articles: Coastal Troops of the Russian Navy and Naval Infantry (Russia)

Russian Naval Infantry during the Vostok Strategic Exercise in the Vladivostok area, 2010
Russian Naval Infantrymen

Coastal Troops include the Naval Infantry and the Coastal Missile and Artillery Troops.

The Russian Naval Infantry are the amphibious force of the Russian Navy and can trace their origins back to 1705, when Peter the Great issued a decree for an infantry regiment "of naval equipage". Since its formation it has seen action in the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, the Russo-Japanese War, the First and Second World Wars, and the Chechen and Georgian conflicts. Under the leadership of Admiral Gorshkov during the Cold War, the Soviet Navy expanded the reach of the Naval Infantry and deployed it worldwide on numerous occasions, but since the dissolution of the Soviet Union its role has been greatly reduced.

The Soviet Naval Infantry and their Russian successors have a reputation as elite shock troops. For their black uniforms and ferocious performance in combat in the Black Sea and Baltic Sea regions during World War II they received the nickname "The Black Death" (German: der schwarze Tod). The Russian Naval Infantry is a mechanised force, organised in brigades, independent regiments and independent battalions. The 55th Naval Infantry Division of the Pacific Fleet has been disbanded in 2009 and replaced by two separate brigades. Each brigade has a tank battalion, a self-propelled artillery battalion, a self-propelled air defence battalion, mechanised marine infantry battalions, other support units and one Airborne Assault Naval Infantry Battalion (десантно-штурмовой батальон морской пехоты), parachute and air assault qualified, with the mission to spearhead amphibious landings.

The coastal defence troops of the Russian Navy are conventional mechanised brigades with the main task to prevent enemy amphibious landings. An example of coastal defence troops are those of the Baltic Fleet. With Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania declaring independence at the end of the Soviet Union the Baltic Military District practically disintegrated. The massive ground forces formations left landlocked in the Kaliningrad Oblast were transferred from the ground forces to naval command and control. The integration of naval infantry and coastal defence troops is a relatively new tendency from the 2010s in order to simplify the naval command structure and the new Arctic infantry brigades in formation under the Northern Fleet Joint Strategic Command fall within that process.

The coastal artillery troops also play a very important role for the Navy. The geography of the Barents Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk as well as the Caspian Sea makes the deployment of shore-based, anti-ship systems in an area-denying role very effective. They deploy K-300P Bastion-P supersonic ASCM, 3M-54 Kalibr cruise subsonic ASCM and A-222E Bereg-E 130mm coastal mobile artillery system as well as self-propelled surface-to-air missile systems.

The Naval Infantry and Coastal Troops are led by the Deputy Commander for Naval Infantry/Commandant of the Naval Infantry of the Russian Navy, Lieutenant General (NI) Aleksandr Kolpatsenko. Their motto is: "Where We Are, There is Victory!"

Naval aviation

Main article: Russian Naval Aviation

A Sukhoi Su-33 from the 279th Shipborne Fighter Aviation Regiment on Admiral Kuznetsov's flight deck

The first naval aviation units in Russia were formed from 1912 through 1914 as a part of the Soviet Baltic Fleet and the Soviet Black Sea Fleet. Since its formation, it has participated in the Russian Civil War, World War II and in many other conflicts throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia (statement requires source citation). During the Cold War the naval aviation pursued a policy of deploying large numbers of bombers in maritime strike roles to counter the U.S. Navy's extensive fleet of aircraft carriers, by 1989 it operated over 1,000 fixed-wing aircraft with the majority being bombers such as the Tu-22M "Backfire" and the Tu-16 "Badger".[34] Since the fall of the Soviet Union however, it has been significantly reduced in size. The Tu-22Ms have been transferred to the Aerospace Forces and since then the combat arm of the Naval Aviation is built around Sukhoi Su-33s, Mikoyan MiG-29Ks, with Sukhoi Su-30s and Sukhoi Su-34s replacing the obsolete Sukhoi Su-24s.

As of 2007, the Russian Naval Aviation consists of the following components:[35]


Neither Jane's Fighting Ships nor the International Institute for Strategic Studies list any standard ship prefixes for the vessels of the Russian Navy. The U.S. government sometimes uses the exonymous prefix "RFS" (for "Russian Federation Ship"). However, the Russian Navy itself does not use this convention.

Ranks, rates and insignia

Main article: Naval ranks and insignia of the Russian Federation


The following table of navy ranks illustrates those of the Russian Federation. The English translation is given first, followed by the rank in Russian.[36]

Rank group General / flag officers Senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
 Russian Navy[37]
Адмирал флота
Admiral flota
Капитан 1-го ранга
Kapitan 1-go ranga
Капитан 2-го ранга
Kapitan 2-go ranga
Капитан 3-го ранга
Kapitan 3-go ranga
Старший лейтенант
Starshey leytenant
Младший лейтенант
Mladshiy leytenant

Warrant officers and ratings

Warrant officers[Note 1] and rates of the Russian Navy[36]

Rank group Senior NCOs Junior NCOs Enlisted
 Russian Navy[37]
Старший мичман
Starshy michman
Главный корабельный старшина
Glavny korabelny starshina
Главный старшина
Glavny starshina
Старшина 1 статьи
Starshina 1 statji
Старшина 2 статьи
Starshina 2 statji
Старший матрос
Starshy matros


Ships and submarines

For a more comprehensive list, see List of active Russian Navy ships.


For a more comprehensive list, see List of active Russian military aircraft § Russian Naval Aviation.

Military districts and fleets

The Russian Navy consists of four fleets and one flotilla with 3 of 4 fleets and the Caspian Flotilla subordinated to the newly formed Military Districts-Joint Operational Strategic Commands.

Joint Strategic Command Northern Fleet

Northern Fleet

Major bases and headquarters of the Northern Fleet

Main article: Northern Fleet

The Russian Northern Fleet, established as a modern formation in 1933, is headquartered at Severomorsk and spread around various bases in the greater Murmansk area. It is the main fleet of the Russian Navy and currently comprises:[39]

The Northern Fleet also includes patrol ships, mine countermeasures vessels, light amphibious ships and support and logistic ships.

Western Military District – Western Joint Strategic Command

Baltic Fleet

Headquarters of the Baltic Fleet in Kaliningrad

Main article: Baltic Fleet

The Baltic Fleet, established on 18 May 1703, is based in Baltiysk and Kronshtadt, with its headquarters in the city of Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Oblast. The Fleet consists of the following modern units:[39]

The Baltic Fleet also includes older corvettes (projected for replacement in the 2020s), patrol ships, minehunters, light amphibious ships and support vessels.

Southern Military District – Southern Joint Strategic Command

Black Sea Fleet

Main article: Black Sea Fleet

The Black Sea Fleet, established on 2 May 1783, 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 facilities on the Crimean Peninsula and facilities in Krasnodar Kray. The Fleet consists of the following modern units:[39]

The Black Sea Fleet also includes a small number of older corvettes (projected for replacement with new units in the 2020s), patrol and coastal protection ships, light amphibious ships, and support vessels.

Caspian Flotilla

Main article: Caspian Flotilla

The Caspian Flotilla, established on 4 November 1722, is based in Astrakhan and Makhachkala with its headquarters in Astrakhan. The Fleet consists of:[39]

The Caspian Flotilla also includes 4 artillery and 3 rocket corvettes and some patrol and mine warfare ships as well as landing craft.

Eastern Military District – Eastern Joint Strategic Command

Pacific Fleet

Main article: Pacific Fleet (Russia)

The Pacific Fleet, established on 10 May 1731, is headquartered in Vladivostok and based around Vladivostok and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy. The Fleet consists of the following modern units:[39]

The Pacific Fleet also includes coastal combatants such as corvettes (as of 2020, 23 vessels of older classes projected for replacement in the 2020s), patrol ships, mine warfare ships, light amphibious ships, and support vessels. There are also naval aviation and coastal troops and naval infantry components.

Future and modernization

Further information: Future of the Russian Navy

Russia's military budget expanded from 1998 until 2015, but economic problems including a sharp decline in oils led to budget cuts in 2016.[45] Higher expenditure led to an increase in numbers of ships under construction, initially focusing on submarines, such as the conventional Petersburg (Lada)-class and nuclear Severodvinsk (Yasen)-class. Some older vessels 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.[46] According to the Russian Defense Ministry, share of modern armament in the Navy has reached more than 50% in 2014.[47] A report from December 2019 estimated the figure at 68%.[48][49][50][51] However, in September 2020 it was reported that the defence budget was to be cut by 5% as part of a shift to social spending and in response the financial impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.[52] The resulting impact of such a cut on Russian Navy modernization plans was not immediately apparent.

Silhouette of Russian submarine B-585 "Saint Petersburg", Project 677 (Lada-class).

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,[53] 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.[54] The Russian Navy had been planning to procure a new class of destroyer, the general-purpose Project 21956. The Lider-class has been envisaged as a "green water" vessel and was anticipated to be nuclear-powered.[55] The project was reportedly suspended in 2020, apparently in favor of the less expensive Project 22350 Admiral Gorshkov-class frigates.[56] The Gorshkov-class vessels have themselves experienced technical challenges and in 2020 it was initially suggested that the larger 22350M variant of that class would not be proceeding.[57] However, it was later reported that design work on both the Lider and the 22350M variant of the Gorshkov-class were in fact moving forward.[58][59]

A rearmament program approved in 2007 placed the development of the navy on an equal footing with the Strategic Missile Forces for the first time in Soviet and Russian history. This program, covering the period until 2015, expected to see the replacement of 45 percent of the inventory of the Russian Navy.[60][needs update] Out of 4.9 trillion rubles ($192.16 billion) allocated for military rearmament, 25 percent 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."[61]

In keeping with the emphasis on strategic forces, the Navy's submarine fleet is being modernized by the acquisition of several classes of strategic and tactical submmarines. Up to 10 Borei/Dolgorukiy-class SSBNs are planned to replace older classes in both the Northern and Pacific fleets. These are being complemented by new Yasen and Khabarovsk-class SSGNs, as well as conventional submarines of the Improved Kilo and Lada classes. However, in terms of the tactical nuclear submarine fleet, it is unclear whether the new Yasen-class, Khabarovsk-class, and potential follow-on models, can be produced in sufficient numbers, and on a timely basis, to replace aging older model nuclear submarines on a one-for-one basis. It has been reported that Russian third-generation nuclear submarines have not been modernized to a level to avoid block obsolescence before 2030.[62]

On 28 April 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.[63] Subsequent to the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, this agreement has been officially invalidated by the Russian State Duma. The Russian Navy has also revealed that the Russia's Black Sea Fleet will receive 30 new ships by 2020 and will become self-sufficient with its own infrastructure in the Crimean peninsula. The fleet will be updated with new warships, submarines, and auxiliary vessels within the next six years. The new ships built for the Black Sea Fleet include three Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates (originally six, but at least two of the remaining three were sold to India)[64] and six Varshavyanka-class (Improved Kilo-class) diesel-electric submarines.[65]

On 27 December 2015, state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation declared that by 2019 the company would have the technical ability to build aircraft and helicopter carriers, which came as some surprise to analysts as previously the company had stated carrier-building would not take place until 2025 at the earliest. Russia's only existing carrier, the Soviet era Admiral Kuznetsov will remain in service at least until 2030.[66]

In a May 2017 ten year defence review the development of a new aircraft carrier and nuclear powered destroyers was cancelled in favour of concentrating modernisation efforts on the nuclear triad. Development of a sixth generation SSBN was announced even though the fifth generation Borei class are still under construction as was a fleet of sub-frigate sized surface combatants.[67]

Main Naval Parade in St. Petersburg

Main articles: Navy Day (Russia) and Culture of the Russian Armed Forces

Passage of warships to Kronstadt

Since 2017, by the decree of the President of Russia dated 27 July 2017,[68] the tradition of holding the Main Naval Parade in St. Petersburg on the Navy Day has been restored. The parade is composed of ships and sailors representing the several fleets and the Caspian Flotilla with small ships and submarines in the Neva River and the larger ones arrayed off Kronshtadt in the Gulf of St. Petersburg. It is celebrated annually on the last Sunday of July during the Navy Day holiday.

Recent deployments

The nuclear-powered missile cruiser Peter the Great during a naval exercise

Western Atlantic and U.S. eastern seaboard

North Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea

In February 2008 a Russian naval task force completed a two-month deployment in the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic which started on 4 December 2007. The operation was the first large-scale Russian Navy deployment to the Atlantic and the Mediterranean in 15 years. The task force included the Admiral Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, the Udaloy-class destroyers Admiral Levchenko and Admiral Chabanenko, and the Slava-class guided missile cruiser Moskva, as well as auxiliary vessels. During the operation the navy practiced rescue and counter-terror operations, reconnaissance, and missile and bomb strikes on the (theoretical) enemy's naval task force. Over 40 Russian Air Force aircraft took part in joint exercises with the navy as well.[71][72][73] Vice-Admiral Nikolai Maksimov, the Northern Fleet commander, said during the operations that the deployment was aimed at ensuring Russia's naval presence "in key operational areas of the world's oceans" and establishing conditions for secure Russian maritime navigation. "After this visit to the Mediterranean and France, the first in 15 years, we will establish a constant presence in the region" he said.[71][72] Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy summed up the results in February saying: "What is important is that we have appeared [in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean] at a scheduled time and not just that we appeared there. We'll do all we can to build up our presence where Russia has strategic interests", adding that Russia intended to carry out similar missions once every six months.[74]


Main article: Russian naval base in Tartus

Caribbean Sea

East Africa: Somali Coast

Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea

Main article: Cam Ranh Air Base[103]

See also


  1. ^ The date is based on the citation from the decision of the Boyar Duma (Russian: Боярская Дума) dated 20 October 1696 "Sea vessels there shall be..." ("Морским судам быть....") although the question was addressing the settlement of the Azov and the creation of the Sea of Azov fleet. This date was confirmed as the official birthday of the regular Russian Navy by the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation on 22 July 1992 during preparations for the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Russian Navy.
  2. ^ The Ukrainian merchant vessel Faina was seized by Somali pirates on 25 September. The deployment of the Neustrashimyy was not in response to the seizure of the Faina.
  1. ^ Warrant officer ranks may be abolished soon[38] but the abolition began in 2009 in accordance with defense regulations, which were reversed in 2013


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Further reading