Pacific Fleet (Russia)

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Pacific Fleet
Russian: Тихоокеанский флот
Great emblem of the Pacific Fleet.svg
Russian Pacific Fleet Great emblem
Allegiance Russian Empire
 Soviet Union
 Russian Federation
BranchMiddle Emblem of the Russian Navy.svg Russian navy
RoleNaval warfare
Amphibious warfare
Size50 Warships
23 Submarines
Part ofMiddle emblem of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (27.01.1997-present).svg Russian Armed Forces
Garrison/HQVladivostok (HQ)
EngagementsRusso-Japanese War
October Revolution
Russian Civil War
World War II
DecorationsOrder of Red Banner.png Order of the Red Banner
Adm. Sergei Avakyants
Adm. Nikolay Kuznetsov
Adm.Ivan Yumashev
Adm. Zinovy Rozhestvensky

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

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 SFSR 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 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 Sergei Avakyants, who has held the position since May 2012.


Navies of Russia

Tsardom of Russia

Russian Empire

Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Russian Federation

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 Outer 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 19th 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 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, 8 cruisers, 13 torpedo boats, 2 gunboats) and a number of ships from the "Siberian Military Flotilla" (2 cruisers, 2 mine cruisers, 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 Nazi Germany of 1941–45) 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, two 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,[2] 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.[3] 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.[4][5][6]

Sailors of the Novorossiisk cruiser, 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.[7] 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.

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, and eight diesel-electric submarines.

Plans for deployment of new large units to the Fleet have been announced. Several new ballistic missile submarines, and large cruisers are to join the Fleet in the coming years.[8][9]

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.[10]

2008 Russian 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,[11] 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.[12]

Current fleet[edit]

Major active surface combatants of the Russian Pacific Fleet
# Type Name Class Year
011 Cruiser Varyag Slava 1989
543 Destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov Udaloy I 1985
564 Destroyer Admiral Tributs Udaloy I 1985
572 Destroyer Admiral Vinogradov Udaloy I 1988
548 Destroyer Admiral Panteleyev Udaloy I 1991
715 Destroyer Bystryy Sovremennyy 1989
333 Corvette Sovershennyy Steregushchy 2017
335 Corvette Gromky Steregushchy 2018
Active Submarines of the Russian Pacific Fleet
# Type Name Class Year
K-551 SSBN Vladimir Monomakh Borey 2014
K-550 SSBN Aleksandr Nevskiy Borey 2013
K-44 SSBN Ryazan Delta III 1982
K-150 SSGN Tomsk Oscar II 1996
K-456 SSGN Tver Oscar II 1991
K-442 SSGN Chelyabinsk Oscar II 1990
K-132 SSGN Irkutsk Oscar II 1988
K-186 SSGN Omsk Oscar II 1993
K-331 SSN Magadan Akula I 1990
K-419 SSN Kuzbass Akula I 1992
K-391 SSN Bratsk Akula I 1987
K-295 SSN Samara Akula II 1995
B-394 SSK Nurlat Kilo 1988
B-464 SSK Ust'-Kamchatsk Kilo 1990
B-494 SSK Ust'-Bolsheretsk Kilo 1990
B-187 SSK Komsomolsk-na-Amure Kilo 1991
B-190 SSK Krasnokamensk Kilo 1993
B-345 SSK Mogocha Kilo 1994
B-274 SSK Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky Kilo 2019

Naval Aviation[edit]

As of 2007 the Naval Aviation of the Pacific Fleet consisted of:[13][14]

  • 568th Independent Composite Aviation Regiment – HQ at MongokhtoTu-22M3, Tu-142MR/MZ;
  • 865th Red Banner Order of Labour Fighter Aviation Regiment PVO – HQ at Yelizovo-Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky AirportMiG-31 – transferred to Pacific Fleet on 1 July 1998;[15]
  • 317th Composite Air Regiment – HQ at Yelizovo – Il-38;
  • 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;
  • 289th Independent Anti-submarine Air Regiment – HQ at Nikolayevka – Il-38, Ka-27, Ka-29;

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.[16]

Commanders of the Pacific Fleet[edit]

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

5th Fleet:

7th Fleet:

  • Ivan Ivanovich Baykov (from January 1947)
  • Georgiy Nikitich Kholostyakov (November 1951 – May 1953)

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Тихоокеанский флот. (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2018-10-13. Retrieved 2018-12-07.
  2. ^ "8th Operational Squadron". Archived from the original on 2018-03-07. Retrieved 2018-03-18.
  3. ^ Time, 'Confrontation at Camel Station Archived 2008-12-07 at the Wayback Machine,' Monday, February 18, 1980
  4. ^ Koshelev, S. "ЧЕРНЫЙ ФЕВРАЛЬ" (in Russian). Morskaya Gazeta. Archived from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  5. ^ Smolyannikov, Sergei (7 February 2011). "Командование Тихоокеанского флота погибло из-за халатности и неосторожности". (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2 October 2018. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  6. ^ Sokirko, Viktor (8 March 2018). "История трагедии: как Тихоокеанский флот лишился руководства в авиакатастрофе 1981 года". (in Russian). Archived from the original on 8 February 2018. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  7. ^ Bernstein, Alvin H.; Gigot, Paul (Spring 1986). "The Soviets in Cam Ranh Bay". The National Interest. Center for the National Interest (3): 19. JSTOR 42894411.
  8. ^ "Missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov moves to Pacific Fleet". Archived from the original on 2011-10-15. Retrieved 2011-03-26.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-01. Retrieved 2011-03-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "China, Russia to hold joint military drills". Xinhua. 2 July 2013. Archived from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2013.Minnie Chan (3 July 2013). "China to join Russia in joint naval drills in Sea of Japan". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2013.; and "China to join Russia in Beijing's largest-ever joint naval exercise with foreign partner". Washington Post. Associated Press. 2 July 2013. Archived from the original on 11 January 2019. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  11. ^ Gutterman, Steve (9 November 2008). "Russian navy: sub accident kills more than 20". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 25 December 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2008.
  12. ^ "At least 20 die in accident on Russian nuclear sub". 9 November 2008. Archived from the original on 13 November 2008. Retrieved 9 November 2008.
  13. ^ ВВС ВМФ (in Russian). Archived from the original on 7 December 2008. Retrieved 19 November 2010.
  14. ^ Air Forces Monthly, August 2007 issue.
  15. ^ Michael Holm, 865th Fighter Aviation Regiment PVO Archived 2012-04-01 at the Wayback Machine, accessed October 2011
  16. ^ Catherine Harris and Frederick W. Kagan (March 2018). "Russia's Military Posture: Ground Forces Order of Battle" (PDF). Retrieved 30 March 2020.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)

Further reading[edit]