May 13 is the Day of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy. This holiday was established 22 years ago, on July 15, 1996, in accordance with the order of the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy "On the introduction of annual holidays and professional days in the specialty." In the current political situation on the southern borders of Russia, the Black Sea Fleet plays a strategically important role. He literally stands at the forefront of the defense of the southern borders of our country. Confronting Ukraine and the US NATO allies in the Black Sea basin, protecting the Russian coast of Crimea and the Caucasus, participating in supporting the anti-terrorist operation in Syria - this is not a complete list of the tasks that the Black Sea Fleet is successfully solving today. Although the Black Sea Fleet is not the most powerful and numerous among other Russian fleets, it has an impressive, heroic history. The Black Sea sailors more often than the sailors of other fleets had to participate in the wars waged by Russia over the past centuries.
The very history of the emergence of the Black Sea Fleet is a history of continuous struggle, Russia's expansion to the south to protect its borders and neutralize potential adversaries. Officially, the Black Sea Fleet was founded in 1783 by order of Empress Catherine II. Its creation became possible after the lands of the Crimean Khanate, primarily the Crimean Peninsula, became part of the Russian Empire. The basis for the creation of the Black Sea Fleet was the Azov and Dnieper military flotillas, created during the Russian-Turkish war of 1768-1774. On May 13, 1783, 235 years ago, 11 ships of the Azov military flotilla entered the Akhtiarskaya bay on the southwestern coast of the Crimea (now the Sevastopol bays are located there). In 1784, 17 ships of the Dnieper military flotilla were redeployed here. It is in memory of these events that the Day of the Black Sea Fleet is celebrated on May 13 each year.
Since its inception, the Black Sea Fleet has been subordinate to the Yekaterinoslav and Tauride Governor-General, who in 1783-1791. was Count Grigory Aleksandrovich Potemkin-Tavrichesky - one of the most prominent political and military figures of Catherine's era, who served as Governor-General of the Novorossiysk Territory and made a colossal contribution to the development of the lands of Novorossiya and Crimea, for which he was nicknamed Tauride. It was Count Potemkin who was the main initiator of the creation and subsequent strengthening of the Black Sea Fleet.
The staff of the Black Sea Fleet was approved in the next 1785 and included 12 battleships, 20 frigates, 5 schooners, 23 transport ships. The personnel of the fleet at that time totaled 13,500 people. The body of command and control of the fleet was the Black Sea Admiralty, located in Kherson.
Since at that time the main strategic enemy of Russia in the Black Sea basin was the Ottoman Empire, the country developed and strengthened the Black Sea Fleet at an accelerated pace. Of course, it was not possible to immediately equip the staff with the required number of ships, but already in 1787 the fleet had 3 battleships, 12 frigates, 3 bombardment ships and 28 warships for other purposes. The Black Sea Fleet acquired its first combat experience four years after its official creation - during the Russian-Turkish war of 1787-1791. Then the Ottoman Empire presented an ultimatum to Russia, demanding to give back the Crimean Peninsula. Our country's response was negative, after which the war began. Despite the numerical superiority of the Ottoman fleet, which by that time had a long history, the Black Sea Fleet inflicted a number of serious defeats on the Turks.
In 1798-1800. The Black Sea Fleet took part in hostilities against French ships in the Mediterranean. By this time, the Black Sea Fleet was under the command of Vice Admiral Fyodor Ushakov, whose name is inscribed in golden letters in the history of the Russian Navy. Ushakov assumed command of the Black Sea Fleet in 1790 and remained in command until 1798, after which he was appointed commander of a Russian squadron in the Mediterranean. One of the most outstanding Russian naval commanders, Ushakov won 43 naval battles and in his entire admiral's career did not suffer a single defeat.
The Black Sea Fleet is generally rich in outstanding naval commanders. So the history of the fleet developed that it was always at the forefront, fought a lot and, accordingly, gave the national history heroes - admirals, officers, sailors. The history of the Black Sea Fleet is full of heroic pages. This is the Mediterranean campaign of the squadron of Admiral Fyodor Ushakov, during which the Ionian Islands were liberated and the island of Corfu was taken by storm, and the victory of the squadron of Vice Admiral Dmitry Senyavin in the Dardanelles and Athos battles in 1807, and the famous Navarino battle, which took place on October 8 (20) 1827 between the united squadron of the Russian Empire, Great Britain and France on the one side, and the united Turkish-Egyptian fleet on the other side. The defeat of the Turkish fleet in this battle brought the victory of the Greek National Liberation Revolution closer. In the Battle of Navarino, the 74-gun sailing battleship Azov, the flagship of the fleet commanded by Captain 1st Rank Mikhail Petrovich Lazarev, later became the famous Russian admiral and commander of the Black Sea Fleet, became especially famous.
The 18-gun military brig "Mercury" remained in the history of the fleet, which in May 1829, during the Russian-Turkish war (1828-1829), having entered into battle with two Turkish battleships, defeated them. The brig was commanded by Lieutenant Commander Alexander Ivanovich Kazarsky. The feat of the brig "Mercury" is immortalized in works of art, and the brig itself was awarded the stern St. George's flag.
By the middle of the 19th century, the Black Sea Fleet had become the best sailing fleet in the world. By this time, it consisted of 14 sailing battleships, 6 frigates, 4 corvettes, 12 brigs, 6 steam frigates and other ships and vessels. The real test for the Black Sea Fleet was the Crimean War of 1853-1856, which the Russian Empire waged against a whole coalition of hostile countries - Great Britain, France, the Ottoman Empire and Sardinia. It was the Black Sea Fleet that took on one of the main attacks of the enemy, sailors and officers of the fleet fought not only at sea, but also on land, being one of the main forces in the defense of Sevastopol and Crimea as a whole. On November 18 (30), 1853, the squadron commanded by Vice-Admiral Pavel Stepanovich Nakhimov utterly defeated the Turkish fleet in the Battle of Sinop, after which Great Britain and France entered the war on the side of the Ottoman Empire, knowing full well that the Sultan would not be able to to cope with the Russian Empire and then Russia will be able to gain control over the Bosporus and Dardanelles.
The sailors of the Black Sea Fleet had to fight on land after, during the defense of Sevastopol, most of the ships of the Black Sea Fleet were sunk in the Sevastopol roadstead. Defense of Sevastopol - the main naval base of the Black Sea Fleet and the city - a symbol of Russian naval glory,headed by the Black Sea admirals - the commander of the Sevastopol port and the temporary military governor of the city, Admiral Pavel Stepanovich Nakhimov, Chief of Staff of the Black Sea Fleet Vice Admiral Vladimir Alekseevich Kornilov, Rear Admiral Vladimir Ivanovich Istomin. All of them died a heroic death during the heroic defense of Sevastopol.
The inequality of forces and capabilities of the Russian Empire and the opposing coalition of European states led our country to defeat in the Crimean War. As a result of the war, according to the Paris Peace Treaty of 1856, Russia was deprived of the right to maintain a fleet in the Black Sea. For the needs of the Russian coastal service, it was allowed to have only six steam ships on the Black Sea. But as a result of the flooding of the fleet during the defense of Sevastopol, there were not so many warships on the Black Sea, so six corvettes were transferred to the Black Sea from the Baltic Sea. After the restrictions were lifted in 1871, the Black Sea Fleet began to revive rapidly. The new fleet was built as a steam armored fleet, and the battleships of the Black Sea Fleet were more powerful than the battleships of the Baltic Fleet. The strengthening of the Black Sea Fleet was due to the fact that at that time Russia considered the Ottoman Empire and the England behind it as more likely opponents than Germany in the Baltic Sea or Japan in the Pacific Ocean.
The Black Sea Fleet met the twentieth century as the most powerful fleet of the Russian Empire, having in its composition 7 squadron battleships, 1 cruiser, 3 mine cruisers, 6 gunboats, 22 destroyers and other ships. At the same time, the development of the fleet continued: by 1906, it included 8 battleships, 2 cruisers, 3 mine cruisers, 13 destroyers, 10 destroyers, 2 mine transports, 6 gunboats, 10 transport ships. The revolutionary events of 1905-1907 did not pass by the fleet either. It was on the battleship "Prince Potemkin-Tavrichesky" and the cruiser "Ochakov", which were part of the Black Sea Fleet, where the most famous performances of the revolutionary sailors took place.
During the First World War, the Black Sea Fleet had to collide in the Black Sea with German ships with more outstanding technical characteristics. However, then, due to the mining of the exit from the Bosphorus, enemy ships until 1917 no longer had the opportunity to penetrate into the Black Sea. After the October Revolution of 1917, the management of the fleet was disorganized, in December 1917 - February 1918. in the navy, more than 1,000 officers were killed, including retirees. In 1919, the Black Sea Fleet was created in Novorossiysk under the control of the Armed Forces of the South of Russia, and at the end of 1920, during the evacuation of the troops of Baron Peter Wrangel, most of the ships of the Black Sea Fleet left Sevastopol for Constantinople.
Back in May 1920, the Naval Forces of the Black and Azov Seas were formed, which took part in the battles against the Black Sea Fleet of the All-Soviet Union of South Russia. In 1921, on their basis, the restoration of the Black Sea Fleet began as part of the Workers 'and Peasants' Red Fleet, which was completed by 1928-1929. In the first two decades of Soviet power, the Black Sea Fleet was rapidly modernized. The fleet included naval aviation, air defense, and the coastal defense system was strengthened.
By the time the Great Patriotic War began, the Black Sea Fleet included 1 battleship, 5 cruisers, 3 leaders, 14 destroyers, 47 submarines, 2 brigades of torpedo boats, divisions of minesweepers, patrol and anti-submarine boats, over 600 aircraft in the military air forces of the fleet, coastal artillery and air defense. The Black Sea Fleet included the Danube and Azov military flotillas. The Black Sea sailors had to take the blow of Hitlerite Germany, which was making its way to the Crimean Peninsula. The Black Sea Fleet defended Odessa and Sevastopol, participated in the Kerch-Feodosiya operation, the Battle for the Caucasus, the Novorossiysk landing operation, the Kerch-Eltigen landing operation and many other important sea and land battles of the Great Patriotic War.
In the post-war period, the Black Sea Fleet played a crucial role in ensuring the Soviet naval presence in the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean, being one of the key components of the enemy's containment system in this region.
A serious blow to the Black Sea Fleet was dealt in 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet state and the emergence of an independent Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine had to share the Black Sea Fleet and the naval base in Sevastopol, which led to numerous problems and contradictions. Ukraine, which inherited a significant part of the ships and forces of the Black Sea Fleet, could not maintain its combat effectiveness. Although the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the 1990s - early 2000s. was also not in the best condition, his position was still strikingly different from the situation in which the Black Sea sailors found themselves swearing allegiance to Ukraine. Nevertheless, the deployment of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol was the subject of fierce criticism by Ukrainian nationalists, who demanded that existing agreements with Russia be broken. This problem disappeared by itself after Crimea officially became part of the Russian Federation on March 18, 2014. The Sevastopol naval base was in the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation, and the Black Sea Fleet received a new powerful impetus for its development.
Currently, the Black Sea Fleet is based in Sevastopol, Feodosia, Novorossiysk, includes ships, naval aviation and coastal troops. Since the beginning of the operation in Syria, the ships of the Black Sea Fleet are serving as part of the Permanent Task Force of the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean Sea. The strengthening of the fleet continues, and the combat training of personnel is being improved. The Black Sea Fleet has a glorious history and no less glorious present. On this holiday, Voennoye Obozreniye congratulates all servicemen of the Black Sea Fleet and their families, fleet veterans and civilian personnel on the holiday, wishes them success in their service and life and the absence of combat and non-combat losses.