Naval Infantry (Russia): Wikis


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{{Infobox Military Unit | unit_name=Naval Infantry |

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The Russian Naval Infantry, (Marines, Russian: Морская пехота, Morskaya Pekhota) are the amphibious force of the Russian Armed Forces. The first Russian naval infantry force was formed in 1705, and since that time they have 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 them worldwide on numerous occasions. Along with the rest of the Soviet Armed Forces, they fell on hard times since the collapse of the Soviet Union and have been reduced in size.



Medal for the 300th anniversary of naval infantry issued by the Department of Defence in 2005.

The history of Russia's naval infantry began in November 1705 when, pursuant to a decree of Peter I, was formed a regiment of naval equipage (Russian: морской экипаж) for boarding, landing and marching service on the ships of the Baltic Fleet. Since that time, the naval infantry had a long and glorious part in the Military history of the Russian Empire. The Russian naval infantry won victories over the enemy in the Gangut sea battle of 1714, during the rout of the Turkish Navy in Cesme Harbor in 1770, and in taking the Ismail fortress on the Danube in 1790.


Napoleonic Wars

Naval infantry's combat record in the Napoleonic Wars begun with the taking of the French fortress of Corfu in the Ionian Sea in 1799. Within three weeks in that same year a Russian naval infantry landing force took Naples by storm and shortly thereafter entered Rome.

During the War of the Sixth Coalition the Russian naval infantrymen distinguished themselves in the battles against the French near Borodino (1812), Kulm (1813) and in the siege of the Danzig fortress.

The Crimean War

In 1854-1855 the naval infantrymen defended Sevastopol from the Anglo-French and Turkish troops

Russo-Japanese War of 1904

In 1904 naval infantrymen defended Port Arthur from the Japanese troops.

Second World War

Дейнека оборона Севастополя.jpg

During the years of World War II about 350,000 Red Navy sailors fought on land in the many 650 man naval infantry battalions, six naval infantry regiments (purpose raised with two battalions each) and 40 naval infantry brigades (each with 5-10 battalions using surplus ship's crews), plus numerous smaller units. Five of the brigades were awarded the Guards designation. The NI conducted over 114 landings with most being by platoons and companies, the rest fought as regular foot infantry without any amphibious training. The NI conducted four operations which involved a large number of troops: two were conducted on the Kerch peninsula, one was conducted at Novorossiysk and the other was conducted at Moon Sound in the Baltic. 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 SNI were parachute trained and the SNI conducted more drops and successful parachute operations than the VDV. In the beginning of the war the Red Navy had only one brigade of marines in the Baltic fleet, but with the start of the war began forming and training of brigades, battalions and brigades. The military situation demanded the dispatch of large numbers of Marines on the land fronts, so the NI contributed to the defense of Moscow, Leningrad, Odessa, Sevastopol, Stalingrad, Novorossiisk, Kerch. During the fighting 5 brigades and two battalion of were awarded Guards status, 9 brigades and six battalions were awarded Orders, and many were awarded vacant honorary titles. 122 Naval Infantrymen were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union.

Post-War and the Cold War

Soviet Naval Infantrymen in 1985.
Soviet Naval Infantrymen during a demonstration in 1990.

The Naval Infantry was disbanded in 1947 with some units being transferred to the Coastal Defence Force. In 1961 the naval infantry was reformed and became a combat arm of the Soviet Naval Forces. Each Fleet was assigned a NI unit of regimental and later brigade size. In 1989 the naval infantry numbered 18,000 troops organised into the 55th Naval Infantry Division at Vladivostok and three naval infantry brigades: the 63rd Guard Kirkenneskaya at Pechenga (Northern Fleet), 36th Guards at Baltiysk (Baltic Fleet), and Sevastopol (Black Sea Fleet). Naval Infantry had its own amphibious versions of standard armoured vehicles, and tanks used by the Ground Forces.

By the end of the Cold War the Soviet Naval forces had over eighty landing ships as well as two Ivan Rogov-class amphibious assault docks. The latter were assault ships that could transport one infantry battalion with forty armoured vehicles and their amphibious landing craft (However that has now been reduced to one). At seventy five units, the Soviet Union had the world's largest inventory of combat air-cushion assault craft. In addition, many of the Soviet merchant fleet's (Morflot [1]) 2,500 ocean-going ships could off-load weapons and supplies in an amphibious landing.

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 Klaipeda in the Baltic Military District, the 126th in the Odessa Military District and possibly the 77th with the Northern Fleet), along with three artillery brigades/regiments, subordinate to the Soviet Navy, which had previously been unknown as such to NATO.[1] 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 statement by the Soviet Union (later adopted by its successor states) enacted on July 14, 1991 provided that all treaty-limited equipment (tanks, artillery, and armoured combat vehicles) assigned to naval infantry or coastal defence forces count against the total treaty entitlement.

Russian Federation service

Russian Naval Infantryman during an exercise at Ustka, Poland. The marine is armed with the AKS-74 assault rifle.

The naval infantry of the Russian Navy today includes the 55th Naval Infantry Division of the Russian Pacific Fleet (Russian: 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.

Sputnik, is the Arctic main base of the Northern Fleet naval infantry.

Exercise Cooperation from the Sea was conducted in support of the American III Marine Expeditionary Force engagement plan, and to foster a closer relationship between the Russian Naval Infantry and the United States Marine Corps. The III Marine Expeditionary Force Marines from Okinawa and Russian naval forces participated in "Cooperation From the Sea 1994," which took place in and around Vladivostok, Russia. United States Marines and Russian Naval Infantry conducted their first combined training exercise on US soil, in Hawaii, from August 27 to 31, 1995. Russia Navy anti-submarine destroyers Admiral Panteleyev (DDG 548), Vladimir Kolechitsky (AOR) and a Ropucha Class tank landing ship (LST 11) steamed into Pearl Harbor on August 27, 1995. With units of the Russian Federation Naval Infantry aboard, they came to train with U.S. Navy and Marine Corps forces.

The exercise, "Cooperation From the Sea 1995," was a maritime disaster relief exercise. It included cross training and personnel exchanges, and culminated in a combined amphibious landing of US Marines and Russian Naval Infantry. The purpose of the exercise was to improve interoperability with Russian military forces in conducting disaster relief missions and to promote cooperation and understanding between US and Russian service members. The general operating area of the exercise was off Oahu's northeastern coast, near MCB Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay. The amphibious landing took place at Bellows Air Force Station on Waimanalo Bay. This exercise marked the second time that US and Russian forces have participated in this type of operation. The Russian military units remained in Hawaii after the exercise to participate in the 50th anniversary commemoration of VJ Day, September 1-3, 1995.

Amongst the Caspian Flotilla's units from 2000 onwards has been 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.[2] It was reported by Agenstvo Voyenniykh Novostyei (AVN) [2] [3] in June 2000 that the new brigade, which may have inherited the lineage of the 77th Motor Rifle Division,[3] previously identified as disbanded, was to have its troops housed in Kaspiysk and Astrakhan, and have as many as 195 combat vehicles and two air-cushion assault craft sent to it from Chukotka and the Northern Fleet, respectively. The brigade was also to have helicopters assigned to it according to a June 2000 report.


There is at least one naval infantry regiment attached to each of the major Russian fleets. In total the Russian Naval Infantry numbers 12,000 men and has very little organic firepower or support, and if committed to combat it would require reinforcement within less than a week. Russian military doctrine calls for the naval infantry to be used as shock troops spearheading an assault that would be followed up by ground forces.

Its primary wartime missions would be to seize and hold strategic straits or islands and to make seaborne tactical landings behind enemy lines as well as defending critical naval basing areas. During the 1980s Soviet Naval Infantry exercises in the Kuril Islands north of Japan indicated that the intended target of Naval Infantry was the shores bordering various chokepoints. In a conflict, these troops would most likely be sent ashore to capture the Dardanelles or the Kattegat straits and then wait for rapid reinforcement.

Current deployment

Pacific Fleet

55th Naval Infantry Division - Vladivostok; now disbanded, with 165th Naval Infantry Brigade formed on its base

  • 165th "Cossack" Naval Infantry Regiment - deployed in the brigade
  • 390th Naval Infantry Regiment - disbanded
  • 106th Naval Infantry Regiment - disbanded, December 1, 2007
  • 921st Naval Infantry Artillery Regiment - disbanded
  • 923rd Naval Infantry Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment - disbanded
  • 84th Naval Infantry Separate tank battalion
  • 263rd Separate Reconnaissance Battalion
  • 1484th Separate Communications Battalion

40th Separate Krasnodar-Harbin Twice Red Banner Naval Infantry Brigade (Kamchatka)

186th Separate Naval Infantry Engineer Battalion

Baltic Fleet

  • 299th Training Center Coastal Forces of the Baltic Fleet
  • 336th Separate Guards Bialystok Orders of Suvorov and Alexander Nevsky Naval Infantry Brigade - Baltiysk
    • 724th Separate Reconnaissance Battalion - Mechnikovo
    • 877th Separate Naval Infantry Battalion
    • 878th Separate Naval Infantry Battalion
    • 879th Separate Landing-Assault (Desant) Battalion
    • 1592nd Separate Self-Propelled Artillery Battalion
    • 1612th Separate Artillery Battalion
    • 1618th Separate Anti-aircraft missile and artillery battalion
  • 9th naval crew - Naval Infantry platoon of military escorts cargo - Pioneer

Northern Fleet

  • 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)
  • 882nd Regiment and a separate assault craft-battalion
  • 382nd and a separate battalion
  • A separate tank battalion

Caspian Flotilla

  • 77th Separate Guards Moscow-Chernigov Order of Lenin Red Banner Orders of Suvorov Naval Infantry Brigade - Kaspiysk


  • Separate battalion - Moscow
  • a separate company escort military cargo - Moscow


A Soviet Naval Infantryman posing in front of a PT-76

A Naval Infantry Regiment, equipped with the PT-76 and BRDM-2, consists of 1 Tank Battalion and 3 Naval Infantry Battalions, one motorised with BTR-60-series amphibious vehicles.

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.[4]

Heroes of the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation

Heroes of the Soviet Union

(not an exhaustive list)

  • Seaman Ahmed Dibirovich Abdulmedzhidov (1945, [1])
  • Seaman Mikhail Avramenko (1945, [2])
  • Petty Officer Noah P. Adamia (1942, [3])
  • Junior Sergeant Pavel Petrovich Artemov (1945, [4])
  • Lieutenant Mikhail Ashik (1946, [5])
  • Seaman Yakov Illarionovich Balyaev (1945, [6])
  • Major Mikhail Barabolko (1945, [7])
  • 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)

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


Ivan Rogov amphibious assault ship.

The Alligator tank 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.

References and sources

  1. ^ IISS Military Balance 1991-1992, p.30-1
  2. ^ AVN Military News Agency, 'Chief of Staff Supervising Marine Brigade formation', 5 June 2000
  3. ^ Feskov et al. 2004
  4. ^


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