Sunday was Navy Day in Russia, a national holiday in Russia celebrated each year on the last Sunday of July. The Russian Navy, recognized by the Symbols ВМФ (VMF) is a branch of the Russian Armed Forces and dates back to 1696 when established by Peter the Great.
The regular Russian Navy fleets are the Pacific (headquartered in Vladivostok), Northern (Severomorsk), Baltic (Kaliningrad), Black Sea (Sevastopol) and Caspian Sea (Astrakhan) . Many spectators of Navy Day events wear the traditional black/blue and white stripes, uniform colours of the Russian Navy.
In Russia’s northern capital of Saint Petersburg, hundreds of residents and guests lined Admiralty embankment to wave and cheer for Russian sailors. This week Vice Admiral Viktor Chirkov, Russia’s top Naval Commander, announced negotiations with Cuba, Vietnam and the Indian Ocean island country of Seychelles about the establishment of Russian naval ports.
Russian Navy Day celebrations began in 1939. This year Russia and Ukraine shared joint celebrations in the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol, the first time since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
In Naval cities across Russia, celebrations included laying flowers at monuments to sailors, parades of naval ships, picnics in parks and city squares, concerts in the evenings and capped off with fireworks displays. King Neptune and his entourage are often a part of Navy Day festivities.
In recent years the Navy has sent ships to more foreign port cities, including India and as far away as the Philippine Islands. Officials say that these visits are meant to strengthen existing friendly relations and enhance understanding and cooperation.
On Monday Russian President Vladimir Putin participated in the commissioning ceremony for the Knyaz Vladimir nuclear-powered submarine. The ceremony was held at the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk. The president promised that by 2020 Russia would have eight Borei-class submarines in operation around the world.
Knyaz Vladimir is the lead ship of the renewed Borei-A class submarines with improved nuclear-missile weapons: each submarine will carry 20 Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles. Sevmash is the only shipyard in Russia that constructs nuclear-powered submarines. Over the course of its history, the plant has produced 128 submarines for the Russian Navy.
The Borei class submarine is intended to replace the Delta III, Delta IV and Typhoon classes now in Russian Navy service. The class is named after Boreas, the North wind. Construction on the first of the Borei class subs (officially designated “Project 935”) began in 1996.
The Navy holds a place of special honour in the hearts and minds of many Russians. It was the Baltic Fleet’s battles on the approaches to Leningrad and its heroic defense during the Great Patriotic War that demonstrated the courage and ingenuity of Russian sailors in defending the homeland.