On Thursday, upon returning from operations in Syria, the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and the heavy nuclear missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy were welcomed with celebrations in Severomorsk. Within two months, pilots of the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov made 420 sorties and destroyed 1252 terrorist sites. It is the first time in Russian Naval history that carrier-based aircraft attacked ground targets at such a great distance from the ship. Invaluable experience. Dmitry Kaystro reports.
The ships returning to their home base from deployment received salutes from many different cannons. One can't imagine these snowy hills without the steel silhouettes of their two flagships in the Severomorsk port, the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and the nuclear-powered cruiser Pyotr Velikiy. Although during the last few years, the ships have been deployed primarily at sea. This deployment one was the most prolonged and complex.
"I congratulate you on the successful completion of your assigned tasks! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!" Fleet Commander Vladimir Korolev greets the crew from the commander’s cutter. A ceremonial troop inspection is held on the aircraft carrier. It’s an emotional moment, where even the toughest of sailors can’t hold in their feelings. National awards are conferred. And in the old naval tradition, roasted pigs are given as presents. It seems that it was not so long ago: firefights in Syria, flights with full loads of ammunition, the stress, and full composure of each member of the crew. «The naval aircraft carrier campaign is a special page in the annals of the Navy. In the combat missions against the terrorists, you showed solidarity, commitment, courage, and loyalty to the Flag of St. Andrew. Every mile travelled along the way was used with maximum efficiency».
They waited four long 4 months for these very minutes. Smiles of joy and tears in people’s eyes, which today they don't have to be ashamed of. «I’m full of good emotions, I’m very happy to see my beloved wife. We got married not so long ago, not even a year has passed. You got married and went to sea? Pretty much yes, you can say that».
The deployment in Syria was the biggest in the history of the Russian Navy. The ships under St. Andrew’s flag travelled 18 thousand nautical miles, performing missions in the Mediterranean Sea to destroy the terrorists in the Syrian Arab Republic. After two months of direct flights of deck-based fighters — their first use in history— the planes hit firing positions, support points, places where terrorists gather, and military equipment. The success of this operation has been recognized even in the West. «The amount of flights, our combat flights, there were 420 of those. There were more than from the Charles de Gaulle or from our other partners who came out there. Once we got the order, we worked with real targets, destroying the real enemy: international terrorism. 1200 destroyed targets, those speak for themselves».
The work of the pilots was supported by hundreds of officers, warrant-officers, and ship-based sailors. On board the aircraft carrier, crewman Sergei Petrov works as an operator for the radio Intel group. The eyes and ears of the ship. The deployment of the Russian aircraft carrier to the coast of Syria, to put it nicely, did not elicit joy among many of our Western partners. Sergei’s task was to listen to transmissions to prevent possible provocations against the ship and its deck-based fighters. «About 15-20 NATO ships were keeping an eye on us. The atmosphere starting getting tense; We didn’t know what they wanted».
It was necessary to monitor the situation, to be in control of every minute. It depended on each sailor, on each combat unit. It depended on the entire crew. They were like one family at sea, all focused on doing the same thing each and every minute. The Deputy Commander responsible for military unit communication personnel is the one those they call «the soldiers' father». He is still a very young man, but at sea, during the performance of important operations, it's not age that's most important, but principle and the personal example set by the commander. Dmitry recalls that sailors would request overtime watch on their combat posts, knowing how much depended on the efforts of each one of them: «The task assigned to us by our country was very important for us. We had to perform it with dignity. The whole country was watching us. We couldn’t do it any other way».
More than five thousand sailors from Severomorsk participated in this long deployment. This is more than 10% of the population of the capital of the Northern Fleet. It wasn't just husbands and sons who returned to Severomorsk, it was the soul of the city that returned. This campaign and its heroes will surely be described in Russian textbooks on naval history and strategy as the pride and glory of St. Andrew's flag and the Russian Navy, as new glorious pages are written in its annals. Each takeoff and landing from the Admiral Kuznetsov, which was followed by unflagging attention from both the West and the East, were not just the work of carrier-based aircrafts. Our presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, the most tension-filled part of the world today, was a demonstration of the operational and strategic capacity of the country, and, in a broader sense, of all the armed forces of Russia, a projection of Russia's ability to solve any problem in any part of the world if the need arises.