Russian Navy

Iron Muscles Mean Successful Service

According to the Head of the Physical Training and Sports, Colonel of the Baltic Fleet Viktor Martyn, the physical conditioning problem of the recruits applies to the Baltic Fleet as well. Practically every other recruit arriving to the unit or to the ship is not able to pass the norms even with the grade “satisfactory”. Therefore, this problem has to be addressed in the process of serving on the ship or in the military units. But how can it be solved?

Daily routine of any ship’s crew includes physical training. But naval service is special. In recent years, the military training situation has changed – ships often sail out into the sea, oftentimes for several months. You can’t hold a hundred-meter race while at sea, and so, the muscle-strengthening exercises have traditionally been popular among the sailors. The tradition is alive to this day.

In Colonel Viktor Martyn's opinion, the sports facilities upgrade plan for the Fleet should include building 6 gymnasiums and 3 swimming pools in the next 3-4 years. But all this requires considerable financing. By most modest calculations, it would take seven hundred million rubles! Obviously no one would provide such money overnight.

But even under these circumstances, the commanders and physical education specialists don’t sit idly. The Fleet leadership and chiefs of the ships and coastal units seek to solve the problem with different sources of financing. In the past year alone, 91 weight-lifting machines of various design, 26 exercise bikes and as many treadmills, dozens of dumbbell and barbell sets, equipment for boxing and hand-to-hand fighting, rowing machines and ping-pong tables were delivered to ships, units, and large units…

Under the conditions of deficit of large sports facilities at the Fleet, commanders try to maximize the effectiveness of use of the procured sports equipment at their unit and small unit bases. A convincing example is the escort ship Neustrashimy, under the command of the Captain of the 2nd Rank Aleksei Apanovich. With active participation by the Commanding Officer himself and with the aid of numerous chiefs of the ships, despite the space deficit, a real “sports corner” was set up in one of the rooms. And now the sailors of the escort ship, under the direction by the officers, have the opportunity to do sports and physical training directly on board the escort ship.

The Head of the Physical Training and Sports of the large surface ship unit, Captain of the 2nd Rank D. Asonov, asserts that for a long time, physical training has been financed on leftover principle – a fact that is difficult to refute. That’s why the commissioning in 2001 of a swimming pool on the territory of the Baltiysk naval harbor was an important event in the life of not only the large unit, but of the entire garrison. The support of the former Baltic Fleet Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Vladimir Egorov, who at the time held the position of the Kalinigrad Oblast Governor, played an important role. To this day the pool is never empty. It is used for regular physical exercises and training by the surface ship combined teams, and provides an opportunity for sports activities with the servicemen family members…

The other side of the coin, characteristic of organizing full-fledged and effective physical training, in the opinion of my companions, is qualified personnel. Or, to be more precise, lack of thereof. Life itself dictates the necessity to introduce at least two new positions for heads of physical training for the large ship units, and around 40 physical instructor positions for the units and the ships.

But for now, there is no official position for a physical training specialist even in such an elite unit as the Independent Assault Battalion of the Baltic Fleet Marines. The “Black Berets” are lucky, though, to have a certified specialist, graduate of the Cheboksary School of Olympic Reserve, Independent Assault Battalion Commander’s Deputy for Morale and Welfare, Major (Guards) Andrei Lebedev, as their freelance head of physical training. Himself a Candidate Master of Sports (track and field athletics), he tries to instill love for physical training in his military personnel.

I had a chance to meet the Major (Guards) A. Lebedev in the sports room of the mortar battery, where his soldiers were “working the weights.”

“Unfortunately, the large unit’s gym is in reconstruction and so the guardsmen have to train in the sports area and in the fitness machine rooms,” said Andrei Mikhailovich.

To paint a full picture I will add that Major (Guards) A. Lebedev has quite a few junior officer aids. It could be due to the specifics of the officer recruitment process for the Independent Assault Battalion. Only the top graduates of the Ryazan, Kolomna, and Far Eastern (Dalnevostochny) Military Institutes are recruited. The enlistment in the battalion also depends on the results of physical education tests. The command tries to follow the same principles when recruiting contract soldiers. For those who passed through the fine filter of the selection process, physical training becomes one of the most important elements of the daily military training. The routine of the military professionals includes daily hour-long exercises in the athletic area.

Yet another fitness check is just around the corner. This time, in the context of the 11th Games of the Baltic Fleet Command Unit, the Baltic Fleet General Staff officers will have to pass the fitness norms.

Source: Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star), author: Captain of the 2nd Rank Aleksei BUDANOV. Photos by author

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