NINETEEN COMBAT VESSELS

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Navy Commander discusses the Navy’s reform plans

Navy Commander Admiral Vladimir Masorin has announced a number of changes: the Navy will cease using conscripts as crewmembers as of 2009 and change the training system for commanding officers. Russia’s sole aircraft-carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, will remain in service until at least 2015.


Navy Commander Admiral Vladimir Masorin gave a speech at a graduation ceremony for lieutenants over the weekend. He spoke of substantial changes anticipated in the Russian Navy.

Admiral Masorin’s major announcement concerns future sailors. He confirmed that the Navy will cease using conscripts as crewmembers as of 2009.

“We have some very complex hardware, requiring trained operators. Therefore, only contract personnel will serve on ships and submarines,” Masorin explained.

But this doesn’t mean that the Navy will have no conscripts at all within a couple of years. Young men will still be conscripted into the Navy, but there will be fewer of them, and they will spend their conscription period on land.

It has also been decided to change the training system for the Navy’s young commanding officers. Their training currently takes a total of eight years: five years at a Navy institute, one year for special classes, and two more years at an academy. According to Masorin, spending so long in the classroom is an unaffordable luxury, and the officer training period should be reduced. At the same time, the Navy Command will launch an intensive public relations campaign to promote service in the Navy. The admirals hope this will make enrolment at Navy institutes more competitive. It has also been proposed to increase the numbers of future officers by recruiting in Siberia and the Urals, where young men who choose the military as a career tend to join the Army, not the Navy.

These future officers will go to sea aboard modern destroyers, corvettes, frigates, nuclear submarines, and aircraft-carriers. The new state armaments program entails serial production of such ships and submarines. For example, Russia plans to build a 50,000-ton aircraft-carrier. Masorin admitted that Russia does not intend to build vast floating airfields for 100-130 planes, as the Americans are accustomed to doing. In order to defend Russia’s national interests, aircraft-carriers capable of holding 30 or so fighters and helicopters will suffice. Masorin noted that Russia’s sole existing aircraft-carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, will remain in service until at least 2015.

Perhaps for the first time in the Russian Navy’s history, the exact number of ships and submarines currently on patrol has been revealed: there are 19 of them.

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