Standard of the Commander-in-Chief, Russian Navy.
The origins of the Russian navy may be traced to the period between the 4th and the 6th century. The first
Slavic flotillas consisted of small
sailing ships and
rowboats, which had been seaworthy and able to navigate in riverbeds. During the 9th through 12th centuries, there were flotillas in the
Kievan Rus' consisting of hundreds of vessels with one, two, or three masts.
Riverine vessels in 9th century Kievan Rus guarded trade routes to
 The citizens of
Novgorod are known to have conducted military campaigns in the
Baltic Sea (e.g., the siege of
Sigtuna in 1187)—although contemporary Scandinavian sources state that the fleet was from
 Lad'ya (ладья in Russian, or sea boat) was a typical boat used by the army of Novgorod (length 30 meters with a width of five to six meters, and two or three masts, with the armament of battering rams and catapults, complement: 50 to 60 men). There were also smaller sailboats and rowboats, such as ushkuys (ушкуи) for sailing in rivers, lakes and skerries, kochis (кочи), and nosads (носады), used for cargo transportation.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, the
Cossacks conducted military campaigns against the
Crimean Khanate and
Ottoman Empire, using sailboats and rowboats. The
Don Cossacks called them strugs (струг). These boats were capable of transporting up to 80 men. The Cossack flotillas numbered 80 to 100 boats. The centralized Russian state had been fighting for its own access to the Baltic Sea,
Black Sea and
Sea of Azov since the 17th Century. By the end of that century, the
Russians had accumulated some valuable experience in using riverboats together with land forces.
Mikhail Feodorovich, the construction of the first three-masted ship to be built entirely within Russia was finished in 1636. She was built in
Danish shipbuilders from
Holstein with a European design. She was christened the Frederick. In 1667–69, the Russians tried to build naval ships in a village of Dedinovo on the shores of the
Oka River for the purpose of defending the
trade routes along the
Volga River, which led to the
Caspian Sea. In 1668, they built a 26-gun ship, the
Oryol (Орёл, or "eagle"), a yacht, a boat with a mast and
bowsprit, and a few rowboats.
During much of the seventeenth century Russian merchants and Cossacks, using
koch boats, sailed across the
White Sea, explored the rivers
Indigirka, and founded settlements in the region of the upper
Amur. Unquestionably the most celebrated Russian explorer was
Semyon Dezhnev, who, in 1648, sailed the entire length of present-day Russia along the Arctic coast. Rounding the
Chukotsk Peninsula, Dezhnev passed through the
Bering Sea and sailed into the
The regular Russian Navy was created at the initiative of
Peter the Great. During the
Second Azov campaign of 1696 against the
Ottoman Empire, the
Russians employed for the first time 2 warships, 4
galleys and 1300
strugs, built on the
Voronezh River. After the
Azov fortress was taken, at Peter I's request the
Boyar Duma, understanding the vital importance of a navy for successful warfare, on 20 October 1696 adopted a decree on commencing the construction of a regular navy.
 Early on in his reign, Peter made a tour to western Europe, England, and the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, he became acquainted with the work of the mathematicians Hans Gouda, Dirk Raven, and Hans Isbrandtsen Hoogzaat, which sparked his enthusiasm for the value of mathematics. A major result of this tour was the hiring of large numbers of foreign specialists of various expertise, including mathematicians. Among those hired was Henry (or Harry) Farquharson, called in Russia Andrei Danilovich (Daniloff) Farkhvarson or Farvarson (1675–1739), who had taught mathematics and astronomy at the University of Aberdeen and was recommended by Halley and
Jacob Daniel Bruce (1670–1735), while John Colson was hired to teach mathematics. Farquaharson's task in Russia was to create and administer a School of Mathematics and Navigation. It was under Farquharson's guidance that he and Tsar Peter wrote the mathematics curriculum for the new school. He was accompanied by Stephen Gwyn (1684–1720) and Richard Grice (1682?–1709), who were graduates of the England's Royal Mathematical School. In 1700 at Voronezh the first major ships launched for the fledgling Russian Navy—for use with the Azov Fleet—were the 58-gun
Goto Predestinatsiya (God's Providence), the 80-gun Staryy Orel (Old Eagle), and the 70-gun Staryy Dub (Old Oak).
Great Northern War of 1700–1721, the Russians built the
Baltic Fleet and the city of St. Petersburg. In 1703–1723, the main base of the Baltic Fleet was located in
St. Petersburg and then in
Kronshtadt. Other bases were later established in
Revel (now Tallinn) and
Åbo. At first, the
Vladimirskiy Prikaz was in charge of shipbuilding. Later on, these functions were transferred to the
Basic principles of the Russian Navy, its educational and training methods, as well as methods for conducting military action were all summarized in the Naval Regulations [Морской устав] (1720) penned by Peter the Great.
Peter the Great,
Naum Senyavin and
Mikhail Golitsyn are generally credited for the development of the Russian art of naval warfare. Main principles of naval warfare were further developed by
Feodor Ushakov, and
Russo-Turkish Wars of
Catherine the Great resulted in the establishment of the
Black Sea Fleet, with its bases in
Sevastopol (1783) and
Kherson. It was at that time that Russian warships started to venture into the Mediterranean on a regular basis. In 1770, Grigoriy Spiridov's squadron gained supremacy in the
Aegean Sea by destroying the
Turkish fleet in the
Battle of Chesma. After having advanced to the
Danube, the Russians formed the
Danube Military Flotilla for the purpose of guarding the Danube estuary from the Turks and they came in 1771 as guests to
Dubrovnik in the
Republic of Ragusa.
Beluga caviar from the Danube was famous and the merchants from the Republic of Ragusa dominated the import-export business in
Serbia with the
 The Russian Navy captured in 1780 two British cargo vessels, their cargo were hemp and iron.
 The Republic of Ragusa became one of the chief carriers of the Mediterranean in 1783 with the help of the USA, when Britain acknowledges the United States independence, although the Americans agreed to allow Dubrovnik's ships free passage in their ports.
During the Mediterranean expedition of 1799,
Fyodor Ushakov single-handedly carved out the Greek
Republic of Seven Islands, proceeding to clear from the French
Corfu and all the
Ionian islands. His squadron then blocked the French bases in
Ancona, and successfully assaulted
Rome. Ushakov, proclaimed a
patron saint of the Russian Navy in the 21st century, was succeeded in command by Dmitriy Senyavin who reasserted Russian control of the southern
Dubrovnik's sea trade, and destroyed the Ottoman Fleet in the
Battle of Athos (1807). Between 1803 and 1855, Russian sailors undertook over 40
circumnavigations and distant voyages, which played an important role in exploration of the
Far East and culminated in
Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen's discovery of
in St. Petersburg is famed for its gilded steeple topped by a golden weather-vane in the shape of a sailing ship.
Notwithstanding these triumphs, Russia's slow technical and economic development in the first half of the 19th century caused her to fall behind other
world powers in the field of
steamboat construction. It was in 1826 that the Russians built their first armed steamboat
Izhora. At the outbreak of the
Crimean War in 1853, steamships were few and sailing ships heavily predominated. The
Battle of Sinope, won by
Pavel Nakhimov, is remembered in history as the last significant naval battle involving sailing ships. During the
Siege of Sevastopol in 1854–1855, Russian sailors set an example of using all means possible for defending their base from land and sea. Although the Russians introduced modern naval mining in the Baltic and repelled the
Siege of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy in the Pacific, Sevastopol was finally surrendered on honourable terms but only after the Russians sank their ships to prevent outside use of the harbor. In accordance with the
Treaty of Paris, Russia lost its right to have a military fleet in the Black Sea.
As a consequence, the Russian sailing fleet lost its significance and was rapidly replaced by steamboats, including the first steel armored
Opyt and one of the first seafaring ironclads
Pyotr Velikiy. On 16 January 1877 Admiral
Stepan Makarov became the first to launch
torpedoes from a boat in combat. He also proposed the idea and oversaw the construction of the world's first ocean-going
Yermak", commanding it in two Arctic expeditions in 1899 and 1901. At about the same time,
Aleksey Krylov elaborated the modern
The Russian Navy was considered the third strongest in the world on the eve of the
Russo-Japanese War, which turned to be a catastrophe for the Russian military in general and the Russian Navy in particular. Although neither party lacked courage, the Russians were defeated by the Japanese in the
Battle of Port Arthur, which was the first time in warfare that mines were used for offensive purposes. The warships of the
Baltic Fleet sent to the Far East were lost in the
Battle of Tsushima.
Soon after the war Russia devoted a significant portion of its military spending to an ambitious shipbuilding program aimed at replacing lost warships with modern
World War I, the fleets played a limited role in the Eastern Front, due to heavy defensive and offensive mining on both sides. Characteristically, the Black Sea Fleet succeeded in mining the
Bosporus, thus preventing the Ottoman Fleet from entering the Black Sea. After the revolution forced Russia to quit the war, the Baltic Fleet was evacuated from
Kronshtadt during the
Ice Cruise of the Baltic Fleet and many of the ships of the Black Sea Fleet found their last refuge in Bizerte.
For the most part, Russian sailors welcomed the
Russian Revolution of 1917, in which they participated. Earlier, in 1905, sailors of the Imperial Russian
Potemkin in the Black Sea Navy revolted. In 1906 rebellious soldiers gained control of some
Helsinki coastal fortifications during events known as the
Viapori Rebellion, which was subsequently put down, following bombardments from ships of the Baltic Fleet which remained loyal to the Tsarist government. The first ship of the Soviet Navy could be considered to be the rebellious
Avrora, whose blank shot from its forecastle gun signaled the
October Revolution according to Soviet narratives. In March 1921, the sailors of
Kronshtadt rebelled against the Bolsheviks, demanding freedom of speech and closing of concentration camps, but this belated revolt was ruthlessly suppressed by
After the Revolution, the Navy's restoration was slow, and only with the beginning of industrialisation in 1930 was a large shipbuilding program developed, but not accomplished before the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet Union's portion of World War II. As a result, the Soviet Navy during World War II consisted of some old World War I-era ships, some modern pre-war built cruisers and
destroyers, and a number of
torpedo boats. Unfortunately, much of the Soviet fleet on the Baltic Sea was blocked in
Leningrad and Kronshtadt by Finnish and German minefields during 1941–1944 and maimed by mines and air attacks, nevertheless numerous sorties by attack boats and submarines actions were conducted. On the Black Sea with the loss of the main naval base—Sevastopol, and effective actions of axis aviation as well as minefields the effectiveness of large surface ships was limited. The Northern Fleet, composed mostly of destroyers (World War I Novik-class and more modern Design 7 and 7U vessels), played a role in anti-aircraft and anti-submarine defence of allied convoys heading to Murmansk.
During the Cold War, the Soviets gave their navy a number of missions, in addition to its role as one of the legs of the nuclear triad, the navy was supposed to destroy American SSBNs and carrier groups, interdict NATO lines of communications, and assist the ground forces in continental theatre offensives.
 They were quick to equip their surface fleet with
missiles of various sorts. In fact, it became a hallmark of Soviet design to place large
anti-ship missiles onto relatively small and fast missile boats. The Soviet Navy also possessed several very large guided missile
cruisers with great firepower, such as those of the
Kirov class and the
Slava class cruisers. In the 1980s the Soviet Navy acquired its first true
aircraft carrier, Tbilisi (subsequently renamed
Fleet Admiral of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov).
In some respects, including speed and reactor technology, later Soviet submarines were, and remain, some of the world's best.sonar technology. The Soviets possessed numerous purpose-built
guided missile submarines, such as the
submarine, as well as many
ballistic missile submarines, such as the
Delta class submarines, and
attack submarines, such as the
submarines. The Soviet Navy's
Typhoon class ballistic missile boats are the world's largest submarines. The Soviet attack submarine force was, like the rest of the navy, geared towards the interception of NATO convoys, but also targeted American
aircraft carrier battle groups.
Their primary shortcomings were insufficient noise damping (American boats were quieter) and
Russian Navy work uniform
dissolution of the Soviet Union led to a severe decline in the Russian Navy.
Defense expenditures were severely reduced. Many ships were scrapped or laid up as accommodation ships at naval bases, and the building program was essentially stopped.
Sergey Gorshkov's buildup during the Soviet period had emphasised ships over support facilities, but Gorshkov had also retained ships in service beyond their effective lifetimes, so a reduction had been inevitable in any event.
 The situation was exacerbated by the impractical range of vessel types which the Soviet
military-industrial complex, with the support of the leadership, had forced on the navy—taking modifications into account, the Soviet Navy in the mid-1980s had nearly 250 different classes of ship.
Kiev class aircraft carrying cruisers and many other ships were prematurely retired, and the incomplete second
Admiral Kuznetsov class aircraft carrier
Varyag was eventually sold to the
People's Republic of China by Ukraine. Funds were only allocated for the completion of ships ordered prior to the collapse of the USSR, as well as for refits and repairs on fleet ships taken out of service since. However, the construction times for these ships tended to stretch out extensively: in 2003 it was reported that the
Akula-class submarine Nerpa had been under construction for fifteen years.
 Storage of decommissioned nuclear submarines in ports near
Murmansk became a significant issue, with the
Bellona Foundation reporting details of lowered readiness. Naval support bases outside Russia, such as
Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam, were gradually closed, with the exception of the modest technical support base in
Syria to support ships deployed to the Mediterranean. Naval Aviation declined as well from its height as
Soviet Naval Aviation, dropping from an estimated 60,000 personnel with some 1,100 combat aircraft in 1992 to 35,000 personnel with around 270 combat aircraft in 2006.
 In 2002, out of 584 naval aviation crews only 156 were combat ready, and 77 ready for night flying. Average annual flying time was 21.7 hours, compared to 24 hours in 1999.
Training and readiness also suffered severely. In 1995, only two missile submarines at a time were being maintained on station, from the Northern and Pacific Fleets.
 The decline culminated in the loss of the Oscar II-class
Kursk submarine during the Northern Fleet summer exercise that was intended to back up the publication of a new naval doctrine.
 The exercise was to have culminated with the deployment of the Admiral Kuznetsov task group to the Mediterranean.
As of February 2008, the Russian Navy had 44 nuclear submarines with 24 operational; 19 diesel-electric submarines, 16 operational; and 56 first and second rank surface combatants, 37 operational.
 Despite this improvement, the November
2008 accident on board the
submarine attack boat Nerpa during sea trials before lease to India represented a concern for the future.
In 2009, Admiral Popov (Ret.), former commander of the
Russian Northern Fleet, said that the Russian Navy would greatly decline in combat capabilities by 2015 if the current rate of new ship construction remained unchanged, due to the retirement of ocean-going ships.
Vladimir Putin announced a plan to build 51 modern ships and 24 submarines by 2020.
 Of the 24 submarines, 16 will be nuclear-powered.
 On 10 January 2013, the Russian Navy finally accepted its first new Borei class SSBN (
Yury Dolgorukiy) for service.
 A second Borei (
Aleksandr Nevskiy) was undergoing sea trials and entered service on 21 December 2013.
 A third Borei class boat (
Vladimir Monomakh) was launched and began trials in early 2013, and was commissioned in late 2014.