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The Russian Naval Infantry, (Marines, Морская пехота, Morskaya Pekhota) is the amphibious force of the Russian Navy. The first Russian naval infantry force was formed in 1705, and since that time it has fought in the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, the Russo-Japanese War, and the First and Second World Wars. Under Admiral Gorshkov, the Soviet Navy expanded the reach of the Naval Infantry and deployed it worldwide on numerous occasions. Along with the rest of the Soviet Armed Forces, it has fallen on hard times since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and has been reduced in size.
The Marines are led by the Deputy Commander for Naval Infantry/Commandant of the Naval Infantry Corps of the Russian Navy, Major General (NI) Alexander Kolpatsenko. Their motto: "There, Where We Go, There is Victory!"
18th and 19th centuries
In November 1705, following a decree of Peter I, a regiment "of naval equipage" (морской экипаж) or in other words, equipped and supplied by the Russian Imperial Navy — was formed for boarding and landing operations, on the ships of the Baltic Fleet.
During the 18th century, Russian naval infantry was involved in several famous victories, including the Battle of Gangut (1714), the rout of the Turkish Navy at Cesme Harbor in 1770, and the taking of Izmail Fortress on the Danube, in 1790.
In 1799, during the Napoleonic Wars, Russian naval infantry took the French fortress at Corfu. In the same year, a Russian landing force took Naples by storm and entered the Papal States.
In 1854–1855, naval infantry defended Sevastopol against British, French and Turkish troops.
During 1904, naval infantry defended Port Arthur against Japanese forces.
World War II
During World War II about 350,000 Red Navy sailors fought on land. At the beginning of the war, the navy had only one brigade of marines in the Baltic fleet, but began forming and training other battalions. These eventually were
- six naval infantry regiments, comprising two battalions, each with 650 personnel
- 40 naval infantry brigades of 5-10 battalions, formed from surplus ships' crews. Five brigades were awarded Gvardy (Guards) status.
- numerous smaller units.
The military situation demanded the deployment of large numbers of marines on land fronts, so the Naval Infantry contributed to the defense of Moscow, Leningrad, Odessa, Sevastopol, Stalingrad, Novorossiisk, Kerch.
The Naval Infantry conducted over 114 landings, most of which were carried out by platoons and companies. In general, however, Naval Infantry served as regular infantry, without any amphibious training.
During the war, five brigades and two battalions of naval infantry were awarded Guards status. Nine brigades and six battalions were awarded decorations, and many were given honorary titles. The title Hero of the Soviet Union was bestowed on 122 members of naval infantry units.
The Soviet experience in amphibious warfare in World War II contributed to the development of Soviet operational art in combined arms operations. Many elements in the Naval Infantry were parachute trained and the SNI conducted more drops and successful parachute operations than the VDV.
The Naval Infantry was disbanded in 1947, with some units being transferred to the Coastal Defence Force.
In 1961, the Naval Infantry was re-formed and became a combat arm of the Soviet Naval Forces. Each Fleet was assigned a Naval Infantry unit of regiment (and later brigade) size. The Naval Infantry received amphibious versions of standard Armoured fighting vehicle, including tanks used by the Soviet Army.
By 1989, the Naval Infantry numbered 18,000 troops, organised into the 55th Naval Infantry Division, at Vladivostok and at least four independent brigades: the 63rd Guards Kirkenneskaya Brigade at Pechenga (Northern Fleet), 175th at Tumannyy in the North, 336th Guards Brigade at Baltiysk (Baltic Fleet), and 810th at Sevastopol (Black Sea Fleet).
By the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Navy had over eighty landing ships, as well as two Ivan Rogov-class landing ships. The latter could transport one infantry battalion with 40 armoured vehicles and their landing craft. (One of the Rogov ships has since been retired.)
At 75 units, the Soviet Union had the world's largest inventory of combat air-cushion assault craft. In addition, many of the 2,500 vessels of the Soviet merchant fleet (Morflot) could off-load weapons and supplies during amphibious landings.
On November 18, 1990, on the eve of the Paris Summit where the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty and the Vienna Document on Confidence and Security-Building Measures (CSBMs) were signed, Soviet data were presented under the so-called initial data exchange. This showed a rather sudden emergence of three so-called coastal defence divisions (including the 3rd at Klaipėda in the Baltic Military District, the 126th in the Odessa Military District and seemingly the 77th Guards Motor Rifle Division with the Northern Fleet), along with three artillery brigades/regiments, subordinate to the Soviet Navy, which had previously been unknown as such to NATO. Much of the equipment, which was commonly understood to be treaty limited (TLE) was declared to be part of the naval infantry. The Soviet argument was that the CFE excluded all naval forces, including its permanently land-based components. The Soviet Government eventually became convinced that its position could not be maintained.
A proclamation of the Soviet government on July 14, 1991, which was later adopted by its successor states, provided that all "treaty-limited equipment" (tanks, artillery and armoured vehicles) assigned to naval infantry or coastal defence forces, would count against the total treaty entitlement.
The Naval Infantry of the Russian Navy includes the 55th Naval Infantry Division of the Russian Pacific Fleet (55-я Дивизия Морской пехоты Тихоокеанского Флота), the independent brigades of the Northern and Baltic Fleets and of the Caspian Military Flotilla, and the independent regiment of the Black Sea Fleet. The main Arctic base of the Northern Fleet infantry is called Sputnik.
In 1994, Exercise "Cooperation from the Sea" was conducted, in and around Vladivostok, with the U.S. III Marine Expeditionary Force, to foster a closer relationship between the Russian Naval Infantry and the United States Marine Corps. U.S. Marines and Russian Naval Infantry conducted their first exercise on U.S. soil the following year, in Hawaii. "Cooperation From the Sea 1995" was a maritime disaster relief exercise, which included cross training and personnel exchanges, and culminated in a combined amphibious landing of U.S. and Russian marines. The purpose of the exercise was to improve interoperability, cooperation and understanding between U.S. and Russian personnel.
In 1998, the 22nd Motor Rifle Division, Far East Military District, at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka, was transferred to the Pacific Fleet. In 2000 the division became the 40th Independent Motor Rifle Brigade, and on 1 September 2007 the 40th Naval Infantry Brigade (40 отд. Краснодарско-Харбинская дважды Краснознаменная бригада морской пехоты).
From 2000 onwards, the Caspian Flotilla included a new naval infantry brigade, the 77th, based at Kaspiysk. The headquarters and two battalions of the brigade were scheduled to be established by August 1, 2000. It was reported by Agenstvo Voyenniykh Novostyei (AVN) in June 2000 that the new brigade, which may have inherited the lineage of the 77th Motor Rifle Division, was to have its troops housed in Kaspiysk and Astrakhan, along with as many as 195 combat vehicles and two hovercraft sent to it from Chukotka and the Northern Fleet, respectively. The brigade was also reported to have had helicopters assigned to it.
- 155th Separate Naval Infantry Brigade
- 59th Separate Naval Infantry Battalion
- 84th Naval Infantry Separate tank battalion
- 263rd Separate Artillery Battery
- 1484th Separate Communications Battalion
- 3rd Separate Krasnodar-Harbin Naval Infantry Regiment (Kamchatka) - redesignated from 40th Brigade March 2009.
- 299th Training Center Coastal Forces of the Baltic Fleet
- 336th Separate Guards Białystok Naval Infantry Brigade — Baltiysk
- 877th Separate Naval Infantry Battalion
- 879th Separate Landing-Assault (Desant) Battalion
- 884th Separate Naval Infantry Battalion
- 1612th Separate Self-Propelled Artillery Battalion
- 1618th Separate Anti-aircraft missile and artillery battalion
- 53rd Naval Infantry platoon of military escorts cargo — Kaliningrad
- 61st Separate Kirkinesskaya Red Banner Naval Infantry Brigade — Sputnik
- Brigade Headquarters
- 874th Separate Naval Infantry Battalion
- 876th Separate Landing-Assault (Desant) Battalion
- 886th Separate Reconnaissance Battalion
- 125th Separate tank battalion
- 1611th Separate Self-propelled Artillery Battalion
- 1591th Separate self-propelled artillery battalion
- 1617th Separate anti-aircraft missile and artillery battalion
- 75th Naval Hospital
- 317th Separate Naval Infantry Battalion
- 318th Separate Naval Infantry Battalion
Black Sea Fleet
- 810th Separate Naval Infantry Brigade — Kazachye Bukhta, Sevastopol (a Separate Naval Infantry Regiment until 1 December 2008)
- 880 Separate Naval Infantry Battalion
- 881 Separate Assault Battalion
- 888 Separate Reconnaissance Battalion
- 1613 Separate Artillery Battery
- 1619 Separate Air-Defense Artillery Battery
- 382 Separate Naval Infantry Battalion
- 414th Separate Naval Infantry Battalion
- 727th Separate Naval Infantry Battalion
- Separate Marine battalion — Moscow
- a separate military transport escort company — Moscow
A Naval Infantry Brigade, equipped with the PT-76 or T-80 and BRDM-2, consists of 2 Tank Battalions, and 4 to 5 Naval Infantry Battalions, one motorised with BTR-60-series amphibious vehicles. A tank battalion originally had 36 MBTs.
At least one infantry battalion is airborne trained, while all of the remaining infantry battalions are trained to be able to carry out air assault missions.
The Russian Naval Infantry have been gradually phasing out PT-76 amphibious tanks, but have not yet received a large number of T-80s. A full-strength Naval Infantry Brigade may have up to 70-80 Tanks. The APCs used by the Naval Infantry are either BTR-80s (in Assault Landing Battalions) or MT-LBs (in Naval Infantry Battalions). While Naval Infantry units were supposed to receive BMP-3 IFVs, few have been delivered, and it is far from certain such re-arming will take place. BMP-3s may equip one company per battalion.
According to Defense Ministry statement published by RIA Novosti (November 27, 2009), "All units of Russia's naval infantry will be fully equipped with advanced weaponry by 2015." Included in this upgrade would be T-90 tanks, BMP-3 IFVs, 2S31 120mm mortar/artillery tracks, BTR-82A armored personnel carriers, air defense equipment and small arms.
Heroes of the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation
Heroes of the Soviet Union
- Seaman Ahmed Dibirovich Abdulmedzhidov (1945)
- Seaman Mikhail Avramenko (1945)
- Petty Officer Noah P. Adamia (1942)
- Junior Sergeant Pavel Petrovich Artemov (1945)
- Lieutenant Mikhail Ashik (1946)
- Seaman Yakov Illarionovich Balyaev (1945)
- Major Mikhail Barabolko (1945)
- Petty Officer Sergey G. Zimin (1943, shironintsy)
- Seaman Kafur Nasyrovich Mamedov (1942, posthumous)
- Seaman Pavel D. Osipov (1945, posthumous)
- Private Andrey Arkadevich Skvortsov (1943, shironintsy)
- Private Aleksandr Fedorovich Toropov (1943, shironintsy)
- Lieutenant Pyotr Shironin (1943, shironintsy)
- Major Caesar Lvovich Kunikov (1943, posthumous)
- Midshipman Sergei N. Vasilyev (1942, posthumous)
- Captain Nikolai Belyakov (1943, posthumous)
- Staff Sergeant Varlam Gabliya (1946)
- Major General Petr Bordanovisy (1943)
- Corporal Ivan P. Dementyev (1945, posthumous)
- Lieutenant Petr Deikano (1943)
- Seaman (Marines) Pazhden M. Bartsits (1944)
- Chief Petty Officer (Marines) Pavel K. Dubinda (1945, also Cavalier of the Order of Glory)
- Gunnery Sergeant Nikolai Kuzhetsov (1943, also Cavalier of the Order of Glory)
- Second Lieutenant Nikolai Kirillov (1943)
- Guards Sergeant Viktor I. Medvedev (1945)
- Petty Officer 1st Class (Marines) Yuri Lisitsyin (1945)
- Seaman 1st Class (Marines) Aleksandr Komarov (1945)
- Major Pavel Litvinov (1943)
- First Lieutenant Konstantin Olyshanskiy (1945, posthumous)
- Lieutenant Nikolai Motshalin (1945)
Heroes of the Russian Federation
- Starshina (Warrant Officer) Gennadiy A. Azarychev (1995)
- Lieutenant Vladimir A. Belyavskiy (2006)
- Senior Lieutenant Vladimir V. Borovikov
- Captain Viktor Vdovkin
- Major Pavel Nikolaevich Gaponenko
- Major Andrey Y. Gushchin (1995)
- Guards Lieutenant Aleksandr Darkovich (1995)
- Midshipman (Warrant Officer) Andrey Vladimirovich Dneprovskiy
- Senior Midshipman (Sr. Warrant Officer) Gregory Mikhailovich Zamyshlyak
- Midshipman (Warrant Officer) Andrey N. Zakharchuk
- Major Vladimir V. Karpushenko
- Lt. Col. Dmitriy Nikolayevich Klimenko
- Guards Captain Yevgeniy N. Kolesnikov (1995, posthumous)
- Major General Yevgeniy Nikolayevich Kocheshkov
- Senior Lieutenant Yuriy Gerasimovich Kuryagin
- Major-General Aleksandr Otrakovskiy (2000, posthumous)
- Guards Captain Dmitriy Polkovnikov (1995)
- Seaman Vladimir Vladimirovich Tatashvili
- Senior Lieutenant Sergey Firsov
- Colonel Aleksandr Chernov
- Guards Major General Sergey Sheiko (1995)
- Major General Viktor Shulyak
The Alligator tank landing ship and more modern Ropucha-class landing ship is a typical amphibious assault ship. Propelled by diesel engines, this ship is relatively small, displacing about 4500 tons. In 1978, the Soviets launched a new amphibious ship, the Ivan Rogov. The advent of the Ivan Rogov was taken in the West as an indication that the Soviet Navy was planning to strengthen the power projection mission of Naval Infantry. Twice the size of earlier ships, it can launch amphibious vehicles from its open bow doors. It also carries helicopters. Among the various small assault landing vehicles to launch from the bow are hovercraft, such as the Aist, which can carry the naval infantry ashore at speeds of fifty knots.
The composition and the class of the main ships:
- 4 units - Alligator-class landing ship
- 12 units - Ropucha-class landing ship + 3 improved Ropucha-class
- 2 units - Zubr-class LCAC
- 1 unit - Dyugon-class landing craft + 4 under construction
- 1 under construction - Ivan Gren-class landing ship
- 2 under construction - Mistral-class amphibious assault ship
In 2011, the contract for the construction of two Mistral class amphibious assault ship.
- Solo Voyage
- 2008 Russian military reform
References and sources
- IISS Military Balance 1991–1992, p.30-1
- AVN Military News Agency, 'Chief of Staff Supervising Marine Brigade formation', 5 June 2000
- Agenstvo Voyenniykh Novostyei (AVN) - news agency in Moscow, Russia covering local society and Интерфакс-Агентство Военных Новостей
- Feskov et al. 2004
- Moscow Defense Brief #2, 2011 p. 18-22
- Russia's naval infantry to be totally re-armed by 2015
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