Pacific Fleet (Russia)

The Pacific Fleet (Russian: Тихоокеанский флот,[1] translit: Tikhookeanskiy flot) is the Russian Navy fleet in the Pacific Ocean.

Pacific Fleet
Russian: Тихоокеанский флот
Russian Pacific Fleet emblem
Allegiance Russian Empire
 Soviet Union
 Russian Federation
Branch Russian Navy
RoleAt sea nuclear deterrence;
Naval warfare;
Amphibious military operations;
Combat patrols in the Pacific/Arctic;
Naval presence/diplomacy missions in the Pacific and elsewhere
Sizec. 46 Surface Warships (major surface units, light corvettes, mine warfare, amphibious) plus support ships/auxiliaries
c. 24-26 Submarines (of which about 11 active as of 2024)
Part of Russian Armed Forces
Garrison/HQFokino (HQ)
EngagementsRusso-Japanese War
World War I
October Revolution
Russian Civil War
World War II
Decorations Order of the Red Banner
Adm. Viktor Liina
Adm. Nikolay Kuznetsov
Adm. Ivan Yumashev
Adm. Zinovy Rozhestvensky

Established in 1731 as part of the Imperial Russian Navy, the fleet was known as the Okhotsk Military Flotilla (1731–1856) and Siberian Military Flotilla (1856–1918), formed to defend Russian interests in the Russian Far East region along the Pacific coast. In 1918 the fleet was inherited by the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, then the Soviet Union in 1922 as part of the Soviet Navy, being reformed several times before being disbanded in 1926. In 1932 it was re-established as the Pacific Fleet, and was known as the Red Banner Pacific Fleet (Краснознамённый Тихоокеанский флот) after World War II as it had earned the Order of the Red Banner. In the Soviet years, the fleet was also responsible for the Soviet Navy's operations in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Red Banner Pacific Fleet was inherited by the Russian Federation as part of the Russian Navy and its current name was adopted.

The Pacific Fleet's headquarters is located in Fokino, formerly Vladivostok with numerous facilities within the Peter the Great Gulf in Primorsky Krai, and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and Vilyuchinsk in Avacha Bay on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Kamchatka Krai. Following the APEC Russia 2012 summit, it was announced that the main naval base of the Pacific Fleet in the Russian Far East will be moved to the town of Fokino, Primorsky Krai. The current commander is Admiral Viktor Liina, who has held the position since April 2023.[2]

History edit

In 1731, the Imperial Russian Navy created the Okhotsk Military Flotilla (Охотская военная флотилия, Okhotskaya voyennaya flotiliya) under its first commander, Grigoriy Skornyakov-Pisarev, to patrol and transport government goods to and from Kamchatka. In 1799, 3 frigates and 3 smaller ships were sent to Okhotsk under the command of Rear-Admiral I. Fomin to form a functioning military flotilla. In 1849, Petropavlovsk-na-Kamchatke became the Flotilla's principal base, which a year later would be transferred to Nikolayevsk-on-Amur and later to Vladivostok in 1871. In 1854, the men of the Flotilla distinguished themselves in the defense of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy during the Crimean War, (1853–1856). In 1856, the Okhotsk Military Flotilla changed its name to the "Siberian Military Flotilla" (Сибирская военная флотилия, Sibirskaya voyennaya flotiliya).

In 1860, the provisions of the Convention of Peking ceded parts of Russian Manchuria in northeastern China, including the modern day Primorsky Krai to the Russian Empire. A large squadron under Rear Admiral A. A. Popov was sent from the Baltic Fleet to the Pacific Ocean. During the American Civil War ships of the squadron visited San Francisco while the Baltic Fleet visited New York City. Parts of the squadron, including the Finnish corvette Kalevala, returned to the Baltic in 1865.

At the turn of the 20th century, the Flotilla was still small in numbers. Owing to a gradual deterioration in Russo-Japanese relations, the Imperial Russian government adopted a special shipbuilding program to meet the needs of the Russian Far East region, but its execution dragged on and in addition there were several clashes and defeats between Russian and Imperial Japanese Navy vessels. In response, the Naval headquarters in St. Petersburg ordered the Baltic Fleet to the Pacific to reinforce Russian naval forces, primarily the First Pacific Squadron on the east coast of Asia and its naval base at Port Arthur.

By the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, Imperial Russian naval forces in the Far East consisted of the 1st Pacific Squadron (7 battleships, 7 cruisers, 13 torpedo boats, 2 gunboats) and a number of ships from the "Siberian Military Flotilla" (2 minelayers, 12 torpedo boats and 5 gunboats), based in Port Arthur. Other ships of the "Siberian Military Flotilla" (4 cruisers, 10 torpedo boats) were stationed in Vladivostok.

During the Russo-Japanese War, most of the Russian Navy in the Pacific was destroyed. The Russian Baltic Fleet under Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky, renamed the Second Pacific Squadron, was defeated at the Battle of Tsushima.

The headquarters of the Pacific Fleet in Vladivostok

During the Russian Revolution of 1905, the sailors of the Pacific Fleet were actively engaged in the revolutionary movement, participating in armed revolts in Vladivostok in January 1906 and October 1907. During the October Revolution of 1917, the sailors of the Siberian and Amur military flotillas fought for the establishment of Soviet authority in the Far East and against the White army and interventionists. During the Russian Civil War, almost all of the ships of the Pacific Fleet were seized by the White army and the Japanese. After the departure of the interventionists in 1922, the Soviets created the Naval Forces of the Far East, under commander Ivan Kozhanov, as a part of the Vladivostok unit, and the Amur Military Flotilla (Амурская военная флотилия, or Amurskaya voyennaya flotiliya). In 1926, these were disbanded: the Vladivostok unit was transferred to the command of the frontier troops in the Far East, and the Amur flotilla became a flotilla of its own.

Establishment in 1932 edit

Owing to Japanese aggression in Manchuria in 1931, the Central Committee and the Soviet government decided to create the Naval Forces in the Far East on 13 April 1932. In January 1935, they were renamed the Pacific Fleet, under commander M. Viktorov. The creation of the fleet entailed great difficulties. The first units were formed with small ships delivered by railroad. In 1932, the torpedo boat squadron and eight submarines were put into service. In 1934, the Pacific Fleet received 26 small submarines. The creation of the naval aviation and coastal artillery was underway. In 1937, they opened the Pacific Military School.

By the beginning of World War II, the Pacific Fleet had two surface ship subdivisions, four submarine subdivisions, one torpedo boat subdivision, a few squadrons of ships and patrol boats, airborne units, coastal artillery and marines.

World War II edit

Light cruiser Lazar Kaganovich

During the Great Patriotic War (the Soviet World War II campaign against Germany from 1941 to 1945) the Pacific Fleet was in a permanent state of alert and ready for action, although the Soviets remained neutral with respect to the Empire of Japan, the only Axis power in the Pacific, even after Japan entered World War II. At the same time, the Soviets transferred a destroyer leader, three destroyers, and five submarines from the Pacific Fleet to the Northern Fleet. More than 140,000 sailors from the Pacific Fleet were incorporated in the rifle brigades and other units on the Soviet front against Germans in Europe. By August 1945, the Pacific Fleet consisted of two cruisers, one destroyer leader, ten destroyers, two torpedo boats, 19 patrol boats, 78 submarines, ten minelayers, 52 minesweepers, 49 "MO" anti-submarine boats (MO stands for Малый Охотник, or "little hunter"), 204 motor torpedo boats and 1459 war planes.

During the Soviet–Japanese War of 1945, the Pacific Fleet participated in the removal of the Empire of Japan from Northern Korea (a part of the Manchurian Operation of 1945), in the Invasion of South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands Landing Operation the same year.

Thousands of sailors and officers were awarded orders and medals for outstanding military service; more than fifty men received the title Hero of the Soviet Union. Eighteen ships and fleet units received the title of the Soviet Guards, and sixteen were awarded the Order of the Red Banner.

Ships of the Soviet Pacific Fleet at Vladivostok in 1990

Cold War edit

On 5 May 1965, the Pacific Fleet itself was awarded with the Order of the Red Banner.

The Pacific Fleet started deploying forces to the Indian Ocean, and established the 8th Operational (Indian Ocean) Squadron in 1968,[3] after the British government announced its intention to withdraw its military forces east of the Suez Canal by 1971. In addition to the defensive function of balancing the naval strength in the Indian Ocean against that of the United States Navy, the 8th Squadron played a role in promoting Soviet foreign policy. Regular visits and port calls were made in the Indian subcontinent, the Persian Gulf, and the East African coast.

The 8th Operational Squadron grew quite substantial at times; in 1980, a Soviet flotilla of 'about ten guided missile cruisers, destroyers and frigates and more than a dozen support ships' was juxtaposed to the U.S. Navy's Task Force 70 in the region.[4] There were also 23 other Soviet ships in the South China Sea, at the same time. In addition, Soviet Ilyushin Il-38 reconnaissance planes, based in Aden or Ethiopia, maintained a close watch on U.S. vessels, as did Ka-25 Hormone helicopters from Soviet warships. In 1981 the fleet suffered the loss of many of its senior officers, including its commander in chief, Admiral Emil Spiridonov, when the Tupolev Tu-104 transporting them back to Vladivostok after meetings in Leningrad crashed shortly after takeoff from Pushkin Airport. A total of 16 admirals and generals, and 38 lower ranking officers, were killed.[5][6][7]

Sailors of the aircraft carrier Novorossiisk, Red Banner Pacific Fleet (1984)

In the 1980s, Soviet naval strategy shifted to an emphasis on bastion defense, fortifying the Sea of Okhotsk for that purpose.[citation needed] By the mid-1980s, the Pacific Fleet had constituted 32% of all Soviet naval assets, up from 28% in 1975 and 25% in 1965. It included approximately 800 ships, over 120 submarines, and 98 surface combatants.[8] Two of the ships were aircraft carriers Minsk and Novorossiysk, which served from the 1970s and 1980s to the 1990s. The battlecruiser Admiral Lazarev of the Kirov class served with the fleet in the 1980s and 1990s as well.

In 1988 the Primorskiy Flotilla (Military Unit Number 20885) comprised the 165th Missile Ship Brigade (Uliss Bay (Vladivostok)); the 202nd Anti-Submarine Warfare Brigade (Abrek Bay (Fokino), Primorskiy Kray); the 4th Brigade of Constructed and Overhauled Submarines (Vladivostok, Primorskiy Kray); the 72nd Brigade of Constructed and Overhauled Submarines (Bolshoy Kamen, Primorskiy Kray); the 45th and 47th Coastal Defence Brigades; the 7th Minesweeper Brigade (Razboynik Bay (Vladivostok), Primorskiy Kray); and the 19th Submarine Brigade (Uliss Bay, Vladivostok.[9]

Recent events edit

In the 1990s and 2000s, the Pacific Fleet lost many of its larger units. Within a few years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Fleet lost all its aircraft carriers, and by early 2000 only one cruiser remained active with the Fleet. By the end of the 2010s, the Fleet consisted of one large missile cruiser, five destroyers, ten nuclear submarines, eight diesel-electric submarines plus numerous light units, amphibious ships and auxiliaries.

May 1992 saw the first of five large ammunition explosions at Pacific Fleet storage depots, 1992–2003.[10] The blast rocked the city of Vladivostok.

Between 5–12 July 2013, warships from the Russian Pacific Fleet and the North Sea Fleet of the People's Liberation Army Navy participated in Joint Sea 2013, bilateral naval maneuvers held in the Peter the Great Bay. Joint Sea 2013 was the largest naval drills yet undertaken by the PRC's navy with a foreign navy.[11] In 2021, a joint Russian-Chinese squadron sailed around Japan, passing between Japanese islands through the Tsugaru Strait and then the Osumi Strait. The Russian ships in the squadron included the destroyers Admiral Panteleyev and Admiral Tributs, the corvettes Aldar Tsydenzhapov and Gromkiy as well as auxiliaries.[12]

Plans for deployment of new large units to the Fleet were announced in the early 2010s. Several new ballistic missile submarines, and large cruisers were projected to join the Fleet.[13][14] However, these plans evolved over the course of the decade with a changed focus by 2020 on light units and submarines to renew the fleet. In this regard, the focus is now on new general purpose frigates (Gorshkov-class), multi-role and missile corvettes (Steregushchiy-class, Gremyashchiy-class and Karakurt-class) as well as on a full range of new submarines (the Borei, Yasen and Improved Kilo classes). Vessels of these classes are all projected to enter service through the 2020s.[15][16] In addition, the Pacific Fleet's amphibious capabilities will be modernized in the mid-latter 2020s through the acquisition of one or more of the Ivan Gren-class landing ships and possibly one of the new Priboy-class helicopter assault ships.[17][18]

While existing ballistic-missile submarine production will fully replace and increase numbers of SSBNs in the Pacific Fleet, it is unclear that the production of the Yasen-class vessels, and potential follow-on models, will be sufficient to replace aging older nuclear attack and cruise missile submarines on a one-for-one basis. Reports suggest that Russian third-generation nuclear submarines have not been modernized to a level to avoid block obsolescence before 2030.[19] The 2016 decision to add six new "Improved Kilo"-class conventionally-powered submarines to the fleet may be partly designed to mitigate such a gap.[20]

2008 submarine accident edit

An accident aboard Nerpa, a nuclear-powered attack submarine doing a test run during sea trials in the Sea of Japan on 8 November 2008, killed more than 20 people,[21] marking the worst submarine disaster since Kursk sank in 2000. Nerpa was an Akula-class submarine belonging to the Pacific Fleet. Its construction began in 1991, but was delayed due to lack of funding.[22]

Order of Battle edit

The Pacific Fleet is one component of the Russian Eastern Military District established in 2010. Other components of the Eastern District include the 11th Air and Air Defence Forces Army (providing both aviation and air defence units in the District) as well as four ground force army headquarters (the 5th, 29th, 35th and 36th Combined Arms Armies) and one independent corps HQ (the 68th) on Sakhalin island.[23]

The Russian Coast Guard provides additional armed patrol capabilities in the Pacific, including two Krivak-class frigates.[24]

Surface Warships edit

Major surface combatants of the Russian Pacific Fleet
# Type Name Class Year Notes
011 Cruiser Varyag Slava 1989 Active;[25] Flagship of the Pacific Fleet;[26][27] deployed in the Indian Ocean as of early 2024[28]
543 Destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov Udaloy I 1985 Active as of 2022[29][30][27]
564 Destroyer Admiral Tributs Udaloy I 1985 Active as of 2023[31][32][33][34][25]
572 Destroyer Admiral Vinogradov Udaloy I 1988 Refit as of 2020; upgrading to Marshal Shaposhnikov standard;[35] expected to return to service in 2024-5[36][37]
548 Destroyer Admiral Panteleyev Udaloy I 1991 Active as of 2022[29][38]
474 Destroyer Burnyy Sovremennyy 1988 Inactive since 2005 and still reported in refit as of 2019.[39]
333 Multi-role Corvette Sovershennyy Steregushchiy 2017 Active as of 2022[29][40]
335 Multi-role Corvette Gromkiy Steregushchiy 2018 Active as of 2022[29][41]
339 Multi-role Corvette Aldar Tsydenzhapov Steregushchiy 2020[42] Active as of 2022[29][38][40]
343 Multi-role Corvette Rezkiy Steregushchiy 2023[43] Active[44][45]
337 Multi-role Corvette Gremyashchiy Gremyashchiy 2020 Active as of 2022[29][46]
Small Anti-Submarine and Missile Ships (Light ASW & Missile Corvettes) of the Russian Pacific Fleet
# Type Name Class Year Notes
354 ASW Corvette MPK-221 Grisha 1987 Active as of 2022[47]
390[48] ASW Corvette Koryeyets Grisha 1989 Active as of 2022[49]
369 ASW Corvette Kholmsk Grisha 1985 Active as of 2022[50][51]
350 ASW Corvette Sovetskaya Gavan Grisha 1990 Active as of 2021[41]
332 ASW Corvette MPK-107 (former Irkutskiy komsomolets) Grisha 1990 Active as of 2022[50]
323 ASW Corvette Metel (Snowstorm) Grisha 1990 Active as of 2022[52]
375 ASW Corvette MPK-82 Grisha 1991 Active as of 2022[52]
362 ASW Corvette Ust-Ilimsk Grisha 1991 Active as of 2022[50][41]
423 Missile Corvette Smerch (Tornado) Nanuchka III 1984 Active as of 2022;[50] upgraded with new AK-176MA 76mm main gun and 16x Uran anti-ship missiles[53][54]
418 Missile Corvette Iney? Nanuchka III 1987 Active as of 2022;[55] scheduled for upgrade as of 2020;[56] reported as possibly to be decommissioned in 2021[57] but still active off Japan as of early 2022[52]
450? Missile Corvette Razliv? Nanuchka III 1991 Status unclear;[41] originally scheduled for upgrade[56] may now have decommissioned in 2021[57]
991 Missile Corvette R-261 Tarantul 1988
951 Missile Corvette R-297 Tarantul 1990
971 Missile Corvette R-298 Tarantul 1990
940 Missile Corvette R-11 Tarantul 1991 Active as of 2022[47]
924 Missile Corvette R-14 Tarantul 1991 Active as of 2022[47]
937 Missile Corvette R-18 Tarantul 1992 Active as of 2024[58]
978 Missile Corvette R-19 Tarantul 1992 Active as of 2022[47]
921 Missile Corvette R-20 Tarantul 1993
946 Missile Corvette R-24 Tarantul 1994
916 Missile Corvette R-29 Tarantul 2003
Amphibious Warfare Ships of the Russian Pacific Fleet
# Type Name Class Year Notes
066 Landing Ship Oslyabya Ropucha 1981 Active as of 2022[59][60]
055 Landing Ship Admiral Nevelskoy Ropucha 1982 Active as of 2022[52][61]
077 Landing Ship Peresvet Ropucha 1991
081 Landing Ship Nikolay Vilkov Alligator 1974 Active as of 2022[52][61]

Submarines edit

Submarines of the Russian Pacific Fleet
# Type Boat Class Year Notes
K-551 SSBN Vladimir Monomakh Borey 2014
K-550 SSBN Aleksandr Nevskiy Borey 2013 Active as of 2021[62]
K-552 SSBN Knyaz Oleg Borey 2021 Active; arrived in the Pacific September 2022[63][64][65]
K-553 SSBN Generalissimus Suvorov Borey 2022 Active; arrived at the Pacific Fleet on 16 October 2023[66][67][68]
K-553 SSBN Emperor Alexander III Borey 2023[69] Active; In the Northern Fleet operational area as of late 2023[70]
K-150 SSGN Tomsk Oscar II 1996 Active as of 2022[71]
K-456 SSGN Tver Oscar II 1991
K-442 SSGN Chelyabinsk Oscar II 1990 Being upgraded to carry up to 72 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missiles.[19]
K-132 SSGN Irkutsk Oscar II 1988 Projected to complete refit in 2023;[72] being upgraded to carry up to 72 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missiles.[73][19][36]
K-186 SSGN Omsk Oscar II 1993 Active as of 2022[71][74]
K-573 SSGN Novosibirsk Yasen 2021 Active; arrived in the Pacific September 2022[63][75][64][65]
K-571 SSGN Krasnoyarsk Yasen 2023[69] Active; In Northern Fleet operational area[76][77]
K-329 SSGN/Special Operations Submarine Belgorod Oscar II-class variant 2022[78] Deployed in initial experimental role in the Northern Fleet area of operations, then projected to transfer to the Pacific Fleet.[79][80][81]
K-331 SSN Magadan? Akula I 1990 In refit originally scheduled to complete in 2022; status unknown; name may change post-refit given same name assigned to "Improved Kilo"-class boat also assigned to the Pacific Fleet[82][83]
K-419 SSN Kuzbass Akula I 1992 Active as of 2022[71]
K-152? SSN Nerpa? Akula I 2009 Leased to India as INS Chakra 2012 to 2021; returned to Russia, status unclear [84]
K-295 SSN Samara Akula II 1995 Inactive; Scheduled for major life extension refit as of 2020.[85][86]
B-445? SSK Svyatoy Nikolay Chudotvorets? Kilo 1988 Status unclear; listed as possibly decommissioned in 2020[83]
B-394 SSK Nurlat Kilo 1988
B-464 SSK Ust'-Kamchatsk Kilo 1990
B-187 SSK Komsomolsk-na-Amure Kilo 1991 Status unclear
B-190 SSK Krasnokamensk Kilo 1993
B-274 SSK Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky[87] Improved Kilo 2019 Arrived in the Pacific November 2021.[46]
B-603 SSK Volkov Improved Kilo 2020 Arrived in the Pacific in November 2021.[46]
B-602 SSK Magadan Improved Kilo 2021 Arrived in the Pacific in October 2022.[88]
B-588 SSK Ufa Improved Kilo 2022 Deployed in the Mediterranean as of December 2023[89][90]
B-??? SSK Mozhaysk Improved Kilo 2023 Deployed in the Baltic as of November 2023[91][92]

Other Surface Units edit

Naval Aviation edit

Naval Aviation of the Pacific Fleet:[124][125]

  • 568th Independent Composite Aviation Regiment – HQ at MongokhtoTu-142MR/MZ/M3 (Bear-F) maritime-patrol/ASW aircraft[126] (M3 (Bear-F) variant reported delivered as of 2020[127]);
  • 317th Mixed Aviation Regiment – HQ at Yelizovo – One Squadron with Il-38/N ASW aircraft (upgrading with N-model variant of the aircraft as of 2017);[128] One Squadron reported deploying upgraded MiG-31BM fighters (2020).[129]
  • 71st Independent Military Transport Air Squadron – HQ at Nikolayevka, Primorskaya – An-12, An-24, An-26;
  • 175th Independent Shipborne Anti-submarine Helicopter Squadron – HQ at Yelizovo – Ka-27 ASW helicopters;
  • 289th Independent Anti-submarine Air Regiment – HQ at Nikolayevka – Il-38/N ASW aircraft; Ka-27 ASW and Ka-29 attack helicopters.

Additional aviation and air defence assets in the Eastern Military District are deployed as part of the 11th Air and Air Defence Forces Army, including Su-35s at Yelizovo on the Kamchatka Peninsula (deployed there on rotation as of 2021).[135][136]

Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 bombers (including with Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic and Kh-32 long-range supersonic anti-ship missiles)[137] deployed as part of Russian Long-Range Aviation, including in the Eastern Military District.[138][139]

Ground Forces edit

According to a report from the Institute for the Study of War, in March 2018 the Fleet contained two naval infantry brigades, a coastal brigade, and coastal regiment.[140] However, an expansion of these capabilities, introducing new units and formations, was underway as of 2020/21. In 2022, both of the Pacific Fleet's naval infantry brigades were transferred to Ukraine for operations as part of the Russian invasion. Up to the end of 2022, both brigades have reportedly experienced heavy losses.[141] In April 2022, the 155th Brigade was reportedly awarded the "Guards" title for its service.[142][143]

Commanders of the Pacific Fleet edit

In January 1947, the Pacific Fleet was divided into the 5th and 7th fleets:

5th Fleet:

7th Fleet:

In April 1953, the Fleets were once again combined under one Pacific Fleet command:

See also edit

References edit

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Further reading edit

External links edit

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