Russian Federation Navy Fleet Review on Neva River in Saint Petersburg

Article by WO2 M.L. Thabethe
Photos by Capt Z.G. Sithole

In response to an invitation from the Russian Federation Navy (RFN) Commander-In-Chief, Admiral V.I. Korolev, the Chief of the South African Navy (C Navy) Vice Admiral M.S. Hlongwane, attended RFN Fleet Review in Saint Petersburg from 27 - 31 July 2018. In addition to South Africa, more than eight countries including India, Pakistan, Thailand, South Korea and Indonesia attended and participated in the parade.

CNAVY responding to media questions

The visit was characterised by a variety of activities including a courtesy call to the Commander-In-Chief of RFN, visiting both the State Hermitage Museum and Central Naval Museum.

In his introductory remarks during the courtesy call, the Russian Chief Navy expressed gratitude at the presence of the South African delegation and assured C Navy that such attendance would contribute to further development of bilateral cooperation between the two countries. He further brought to the attention of C Navy that since 2016 Russian Navy had been promoting the idea of combined exercises between the two countries. “We hope these exercises will, in the near future, take place not only for the benefit of participating countries but for the entire international community”.

CNAVY with Commander-In-Chief of the Russian Federation Navy, Admiral V.I. Korolev

Arrival of President Vladimir Putin at the Fleet Review

Furthermore, Admiral V.I. Korolev used the discussion to express determination to participate in IBSAMAR which he described as a crucial means to achieve military incisiveness of all member states. Russian also requested the South African National Defence Force expand its participation in the military exercises (military games) that happen every year in Russia. The issue of cooperation on education was also tabled and it was suggested that the exchange of delegation in the field of education would be the best step to enhance further cooperation.

Upon the arrival at the venue of the Fleet Review, the South African delegation was enveloped by media houses from different countries requesting responses to a variety of questions. The following were the areas media requested C Navy to address:

a. Importance of South Africa’s participation in the Russian Federation Navy Fleet Review.
b. Military relationship between South Africa National Defence Force and the Russian Federation Defence Force.
c. C Navy’s experience in Russia during the days of struggle.

The Fleet Review took place on 29 July 2018 and was officiated by President Vladimir Putin himself with a naval parade on the Neva River. Saint Petersburg is geographically gifted with navigable rivers where different vessels such as frigates, submarines and destroyers can sail in and out of the town freely. According to Daniel Brown, Business insider US, more than 39 warships, 38 aircrafts and 4000 troops physically participated in the event. In addition, all naval units that could not physically participate in the fleet review used a satellite live broadcast capability to report directly to the Commander-In-Chief and also demonstrated their capabilities to the satisfaction of the audience.

Without a doubt, the South African Navy must continue to represent the South African National Defence Force in these events in order to keep on shaping the thinking patterns of the participants about the role South Africa plays in promoting international maritime security.