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Century-old traditions: Patronage for Russian Navy

One of the first demonstrations of benevolent organized indigenous help for the Russian Navy could arguably be considered the collection of donations for the creation of an all-voluntary fleet in the second half of the XIX century. Still far from being a full-scale social movement then, social support for the navy carried already in itself the traits of a modern social movement

The Russian-Japanese war was a serious challenge the Russian Navy had to face. The worry of the Russian society for the state of its navy translated into a huge drive for the collection of donations. So, a special committee for the support of the navy based on voluntary donations was created in February 1904. The committee included a half hundred governors, members of the government and the military, local authorities, members of the royal family, as well as famous naval architects

After the civil war, the movement was recuperated by the Komsomol, the Soviet youth movement. A most important side of the movement for the support of the navy became the rebuilding of warships. Through the komsomol, thousands of young men were dispatched to help reconstruct warships, the major part of which were in derelict conditions. Many warships, including the legendary Avrora, received a new lease on life, and the Red Navy received able and well trained professionals.

From the first days of the civil war, a mass patriotic movement for the collection of donations for the defense of the country began. During the war, some 158,913,000 rubles were collected by young people and directed towards the construction of the Soviet Navy. This helped build 167 ships, including 16 submarines, 5 big and 30 small destroyers, 73 torpedo ships, and 38 armored boats.

Even today, sponsorship is given serious attention in the Russian Navy. For over 10 years, an interregional association of subjects of the Russian Federation and towns for the support of divisions of the Northern Fleet has existed. The inclusion of delegations of parents of conscript sailors in such associations has become a good tradition. The naming of surface ships and submarines after cities has also become widespread.

Under the invitation of the Moscow city government, with the support of the command of the Northern Fleet and the administrations of closed administrative-territorial entities of the Murmansk region, the children of the servicemen of the Northern Fleet spent their New Year holidays in Moscow. They were treated to a huge cultural-entertainment program. The first to arrive in Moscow were members of the youth theater Troubadour from the Polyarnyi garrison.

The young artists gave a few performances for students of the military University. Children of the crewmembers of the nuclear submarine Daniil Moskovsky were welcomed in the Moscow region city of Orlenok. According to information released by the Information and Public relationship Service of the Northern Fleet, 10-14-year-old schoolchildren from different Northern Fleet garrisons visited the Kremlin, the Tretiakov Gallery, the dolphinarium, and the circus on Prospekt Vernadskogo during their stay in Moscow. The young people from the polar region were involved in four New Year presentations, including at Moscow City Hall and at the sports complex Olympisky. Such journeys have become a cherished New Year tradition for the children of seamen of the Russian Navy.

The same is true for children of the seamen of the Baltic fleet. Thirty schoolchildren, mostly form big families, went on a trip in the Yantar, a house train of the Baltic Fleet. The delegation of young Baltic schoolchildren was led by Captain First Class (Ret) Valery Kolomin, and Irina Koroleva, the chief inspector of the medial service of the Baltic Fleet. The children had a full cultural program in Moscow. They took part in many New Year celebrations, in particular a presentation at the Kremlin Palace; they visited Music House; took part in a New Year tree celebration, where they received wonderful gifts from Santa Claus; and attended a spectacle on ice at the Olympisky. They had a special bus tour of nightly Moscow.

Other fleets also stage many presentations for the children of seamen. For example, a New Year choir around a Christmas tree and competitions and entertainment for the children of crewmembers of the nuclear missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky (Peter the Great, NATO denomination), which is now sailing far from its native coasts, were organized in Severomorsk during New Year celebrations. The events were planned by specialists of the Severomorsk Officers Club, while Sberbank, which has been sponsoring the Pyotr Veliky, provided the gifts.

The servicemen of the Baltic Fleet are deeply involved in the patriotic education of the schoolchildren of Kaliningrad. For example, recently a speech about courage was given by the servicemen to schoolchildren of School #49. The veteran marines of the Kaliningrad regional civil organization Black Berets talked about their experience in battle during the Chechen war. The vets mentioned that five of their comrades were awarded the title of Hero of Russia for the courage they showed in battle. Among them are Guard Colonel E. Kocheshkov, Guard Colonel A. Darkovich, Guard Mayor E. Kolesnikov (posthumously), Guard Captain S. Sheiko, and Senior Lieutenant D. Polkovnokov. The Green Berets awarded certificates and gifts to the best children.

Here is an example of a sponsorship relation in another fleet, the Pacific Fleet. At the end of last year, a unit of Pacific Fleet diesel submarines turned 75. The event was celebrated in Vladivostok in a ceremony attended by representatives of civil organizations and the local government of the Mogochinsky district of the Chitinsky region. Siberians have been sponsoring one of the subs of the Fleet for about 7 years. The day before the celebration, the crew of the sub had returned to the base after successfully completing a mission with expertise and professionalism. During the visit, the resident of Mogochinskyi met with the commander of the Pacific Fleet, Vice Admiral Konstantin Sidenko and the commander of the unit, Captain First Class Vladimir Povorov. Many multiparty meetings with vets and seamen of the unit likewise took place. In a meeting with the commander of the Fleet, an agreement in principle was reached to name one of the subs of the unit after the city of Mogocha. Two other subs of the unit have already been named after the cities of Chita and Krasnokamensk.

After that, this entire unit of the Fleet can be referred to as the Zabaikal unit. The sub will celebrate the 15th anniversary of its launching on March 15, 2009. It is clear that the various sponsors of the Fleet will not want to miss this event.

Many warships and submarines of the Pacific Fleet today are named after our cities. For example, the Chelyabinsk Tractor Factory acts as a sponsor of the nuclear missile cruiser Chelyabinsk, which is based in the city of Viliuchinsk in Kamchatka. The seamen serving in the submarine attended the 75th anniversary of the factory, while a delegation from the factory visited the submarine.

When talking about help for our Navy, it will be uncouth not to mention the Moskva-Sebastopol fund. The main thrust of its efforts at the moment is help to the Russian Navy under a sponsorship program extending from 2007 to 2009. It includes the improvement of the material-technological basis of the ships of the Navy, military-patriotic education of students of military institutes and young Moscovites, providing help to veterans of the Russian Navy and children of servicemen, cultural-instructive education, as well as scientific information activities. There are instances when the fund helped paid for expensive surgery for servicemen in need. This is just a glimpse of what the sponsorship program does for our Navy, developing and multiplying century-old traditions.

Source: Krasnaya Zvezda author: Andrei Gavrilenko, picture: Yury Shipilov
Translation: RusNavy.com