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New Year and New Hopes

Valery Valkov, RusNavy.com editor-in-chief
24.12.2009

At New Year's Eve it is customary to sum up results, appraise the expiring year whether or not it was fortunate and, of course, define objectives for the next year. Frankly speaking, mariners summarized results of training year-2009 as early as in November; since December 1 they started executing plan of winter training period 2010. It has been always like that in the Navy. Of course, New Year is celebrated on ships, although it's just another holiday, a brief rest breaking combat study. Even then this wig may wave goodbye to crew if ship is at sea or in storm alert.

Nevertheless, the expiring year has brought some particular results to be summarized.

The main thing is that in 2009 Russian Navy continued its presence in distant regions of World Ocean not only by "demonstrating the flag" but countering real opponent as well. Single warships and task units of Northern, Pacific, Baltic and Black Sea Fleets conducted anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden; located and assisted the crew of cargo ship Arctic Sea in the Atlantic. Ships of Black Sea Fleet together with Coast Guard vessels render help to independent Abkhazia and South Ossetia in keeping their sovereignty. Ships and coastal forces of Baltic and Northern Fleets successfully completed their tasks at exercises Zapad-2009 and Ladoga; that was mentioned in concluding documents.

The ship repair matter has considerably changed in 2009; under government's resolution, the efforts were focused on fastest completion of ships which are at final stages of repair. A number of orders obtained extra financing and shipyards managed to launch ships from slipways and start sea trials. One of them is Karelia, nuclear-powered submarine hosted V. Putin some years ago, the then President of Russia and current Prime Minister. Perhaps, the sub's crew will have a chance to see New Year at home but not at Severodvinsk where it stays since 2006.

Shipyards will not be disengaged in new 2010, too. The queue of orders for technical recovery and interim overhaul of subs and surface ships is set up for many years.

In 2009 shipbuilding industry constructed several ships of different classes. Among them are 2nd rank frigate Yaroslav Mudry and Project 21270 communication boat Seraphim Sarovsky for 12th Department of Russian MoD. Presently, only at Severnaya Verf shipyard there are 3 corvettes of Project 22350, Project 22350 frigate, Project 18280 special communication ship being built for Russian Navy; Northern Fleet's large ASW ship Vice Admiral Kulakov is under repair.

Sevmash shipyard prepares Project 885 Yasen SSN Severodvinsk for launch and mooring trials. Severodvinsk is a lead sub of the project. Kazan, the second sub laid down on July 24, 2009 is being constructed at Sevmash shipyard.

On a conservative estimate, in 2009 shipbuilding expenses only for surface ships made 30 bln rub, twice as much as in 2006-2007.

Military shipbuilding will definitely progress. In the nearest future it is planned to develop a 30-year Military Shipbuilding Program, stated Russian premier Vladimir Putin at the meeting held on Dec 17 at Admiralteiskiye Verfi shipyard (St. Petersburg). Even though the meeting was associated to launching ceremony of arctic tanker Kirill Lavrov, it had military technical nature as among attendants was Navy Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Vysotsky. "Russian armed forces should become more compact, mobile and effective; by 2020 the portion of state-of-the-art weapons should be increased to 70%. This is in full related to the Navy as well", underlined Mr. Putin.

In accordance with active program, within five years industry will deliver to the Navy three Project 955/955A strategic nuclear-powered submarines, one Project 885M nuclear submarine, three Project 677 diesel subs, two Project 22350 frigates, up to five Project 20380 corvettes and several auxiliary vessels.

In 2009 pilots of naval aviation carried out landing of shipborne helicopters on the deck of French ship Mistral; and MiG-29 fighters Ц built for Indian Navy, however Ц on the deck of aircraft carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov.

Units of coastal forces, logistic service and other departments have also distinguished themselves during exercises and at active service.

Unfortunately, we couldn't do without losses in 2009. Pacific Fleet's ASW aircraft Tu-142M3 wrecked over Tatarskiy Strait; all aircrew died. Search operation started right after the accident and lasts to the present time; although, almost unsuccessfully. The only sources of credible data for aircraft accident investigation Ц airborne recorders, so called blackboxes Ц have not been found so far.

We strongly believe that all positive trends of the expiring year will continue in the incoming one.

Let the next Borei and Yasen be laid down at Sevmash shipyard. Let missile cruisers of Project 1144 emerge from stagnant repairs. Let Bulava fly and Yury Dolgoruky finally obtain the basic weapon. Let Sankt-Peterburg and Stereguschiy finish shipyard's fitting-out and proudly join the ranks.

We wish all sailors and pilots safe return to native quays and airdromes. Let the 2010 pass without ghastly accidents and needless victims.

Happy New Year!