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Media: Black Sea Fleet Flagship Downgraded

Media: Black Sea Fleet Flagship Downgraded 22.10.2012
Text: Vzglyad
Photo: militaryphotos.net
Being the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) flagship, 1-st rank Guards missile cruiser Moskva ceased to be an independent military unit, a source in Black Sea Fleet HQ told Izvestiya newspaper.

The cruiser (formerly military unit No. 22813) was attached to BSF 11-th Antisubmarine Ship Brigade (military unit No. 42948). Main problem of such reorganization is an official stamp taken away fr om the ship's commanding officer.

"Without stamp, we can't receive even food. We issue a slip but it must be authenticated by official stamp. Where should we get it? So we have to go to the brigade headquarters, put the brigade stamp and only after that receive food. Now we have to do that every day. Except for food, there is fuel, leave slips, official letters. We spend all the time going to brigade headquarters to put stamps", said the BSF officer.

According to him, that was Russian General Staff who made such decision. Until recently, even a 3-rd Rank ship (missile boat, corvette, etc) was an independent military unit with own stamp. However, now defense ministry decides to release naval mariners fr om such "excessive" independence.

"A 1-st Rank ship is equivalent to an army regiment. After the recent military reforms, there are no regiments and divisions, only brigades. Those guys in mobilization department seem to liquidate regimental category in the Navy because there are no longer regiments in the Army. Let brigades be instead. An army brigade consists of battalions, and they are not independent military units. All paperwork is upon brigade headquarters. So, the General Staff enacted same structure for the Navy", said the BSF officer.

As for him, the top-level commanders ignored specificities of the Navy. Land-based brigades are deployed at one site and change location for exercises only once a year. In contrast, ships sail seas all the time not only around homeports but overseas, too. "Just imagine, we're at another port 400 km away from our homebase. The ship must replenish food and fuel. Bills and fuel tickets are not authenticated, so we can't receive any supplies. Moreover, at foreign ports, a ship's commanding officer put his stamp on currency slips for various purchases and services. What should he do in this case?" the officer says wonderingly.

However, Russian General Staff does not share naval mariners' concerns. According to an officer in mobilization department, that was done to prevent corrupt practices amid ship commanding officers.

"They used to put stamps wh erever they wanted. Several times military procuracy investigated cases when unfair commanding officers put stamps on fictious documents like travel orders, receipt bills for material assets, fuel, food, and then obtained benefits. Now this practice is over. Brigade commanders and their staff will carefully watch what they sign", explained the staff officer.

He added that except for the stamp, the ship's status was not harmed. Cruiser Moskva keeps main accessories of a military unit, i.e. historical logbook and combat colors. "In the long-range deployment, a group of staff officers is always attached to a ship. They will have a duplicate stamp and put it on all appropriate documents", said the officer of General Staff.

According to Read Admiral Vladimir Zakharov, such novelty is contrary to all naval rules and traditions. Warships have always had higher grade than army units, he said.

"Ship commanding officer every day signs and put stamp on immense number of documents. What if a ship is stationed hundred miles away from the site wh ere brigade headquarters is based? What you should do then? You'll have to go there everyday to put a brigade commander's stamp. Obviously, it is impossible. That is why even a small ship must be an independent military unit with all proper attributes", explained Zakharov.

Dmitry Boltenkov, a military historian and co-author of the book named "New Army of Russia" reminded that 1-st and 2-nd rank ships used to be independent military units not only in the Soviet Navy but at the times of the Russian Empire. All ships had not only own logbooks and colors, but stamps too, and commanding officer was personally liable for the stamp's use, writes Izvestiya.

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