The Day of the Russian Northern Fleet – an annual holiday, is celebrated on June 1 in honor of the creation of the Northern Fleet in 1933. It is the youngest of all the military fleets of Russia.
Established in 1933 by the Soviet Union as the Northern Flotilla, the fleet is considered to indirectly descend from the Arctic Sea Flotilla established in 1916 by the Russian Empire to protect the White Sea during World War I. It was developed into a full fleet of the Soviet Navy in the 1930s, and after being awarded the Order of the Red Banner in 1965, it was officially known as the Red Banner Northern Fleet until 1991. During the Soviet era the Northern Fleet operated more than 200 submarines, ranging from diesel-electric to nuclear-powered ballistic missile classes. The Northern Fleet is tasked with responsibility for operations and defense in the Arctic seas along Northern Russia, including the Barents Sea and Kara Sea, as well as the northwestern maritime approaches to Russia including the Norwegian Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
The Northern Fleet’s headquarters and main base are located in Severomorsk, Murmansk Oblast, with secondary bases elsewhere in Kola Bay. Today, the Northern Fleet is the basis of the recently established Joint Strategic Command Northern Fleet which includes all Russian armed forces located in the Murmansk Oblast and Arkhangelsk Oblast, and on Russia’s offshore islands along its northern coast. The current commander is Admiral Nikolay Anatolyevich Evmenov, who has held the position since November 2015.
The 57th Naval Missile Aviation Division of Tu-22s and electronic warfare Tu-16s from the Baltic Fleet at Bykhov, Mogilev Oblast, in the Belorussian SSR transferred to the Northern Fleet in December 1991 as the 57th Combined Ship Aviation Division. The division commanded the 830th and 38th Shipborne Anti-Submarine Helicopter Regiments and the 279th Shipborne Fighter Aviation Regiment from Severomorsk-3 in Murmansk Oblast until disbanded on 1 May 1998. The 5th Naval Missile Aviation Division commanding the 524th and 574th Naval Missile Aviation Regiments. The 574th Regiment was based at Lakhta air base (Katunino), until disbanded in 2002. On 12 August, 2000, the Kursk submarine disaster gained international attention when the Oscar-class submarine Kursk of the Northern Fleet perished in a torpedo accident during exercises in the Barents Sea near Murmansk Oblast, resulting in the deaths of 118 sailors.
The Northern Fleet includes about two-thirds of all the Russian Navy’s nuclear-powered ships. The flagship Kirov-class battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy is named after Peter the Great. The Fleet staged a series of major Barents Sea exercises in January 2004 involving thirteen ships and seven submarines including Pyotr Velikiy, Admiral Kuznetsov, with President Vladimir Putin was aboard the Typhoon class ballistic missile submarine Arkhangelsk. The exercise was marred by two RSM-54 SLBM launch failures aboard Novomoskovsk and Kareliya. In January 2016, Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu announced that the 45th Air Force and Air Defence Army had been formed under control of the Northern Fleet in December 2015.