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SEVEROMORSK, Murmansk Region, January 11 (Itar-Tass) - President Vladimir Putin signed an executive order decorating the heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky with the Order of Nakhimov.
The award ceremony took place at Severomorsk, the Northern Fleet’s home base on Thursday, January 10. Putin, accompanied by the ship’s Commander Vladislav Malakhovsky, proceeded to the upper deck where he attached the order and its ribbon to the naval flag and handed it over to the commander. The flag was then hoisted to the Russian national anthem, after which the president congratulated the ship’s crew on the award.
The Pyotr Veliky was awarded for “the courage, dedication, and high level of professionalism the ship’s crew have shown in the performance of their military duties” in the Northern Atlantic and the Arctic and a successful anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden, the executive order said.
The Pyotr Veliky is the first surface ship in the Russian Navy to have received such a high award.
“This military decoration was introduced during the Great Patriotic War as a tribute to the glory, courage and feats of the sailors who made a great contribution to the victory over the enemy,” Putin said.
“Today, the Order of Nakhimov has regained the prestigious status of a state decoration. I see it as yet another symbol of the revival and development of the Army and Navy’s historical martial traditions,” he said.
He stressed that the Pyotr Veliky is a ship “that is without equal in the world”. “Both the cruiser and its crew rightly deserve this decoration. The cruiser has repeatedly excelled in long sea missions, performed combat duty and flew the Russian flag in key strategic areas of the world’s oceans. The crew has successfully carried out its missions and showed impeccable professionalism, skills and bravery,” the president said.
“Courage, valour and honour were always characteristic of our sailors. So it was under Peter the Great, when the Russian fleet was born, and in the days of Admiral Nakhimov, the legendary naval commander and hero of the Sevastopol defence, as well as during World War I and the Great Patriotic War,” Putin said.
He lauded the Navy sailors in the Northern Fleet and other fleets for performing their duty “with honour and making a major contribution to enhancing security and improving the defence capability of our homeland”.
The president emphasised that “the development of strong and effective Navy is one of Russia’s key priorities”.
“We will consistently develop underwater and surface vessels, strengthen conventional forces and naval strategic nuclear forces. In coming years, the fleet will receive over one hundred new surface ships and submarines of different classes. We are fully committed to implementing this ambitious programme,” he said.
At present the Russian shipyards are developing and building new ships; design centres are creating new marine technology. A new nuclear-powered missile submarine Yury Dolgoruky has been commissioned into the Navy. “We are planning to build up the rate of the fleet’s renewal and growth,” he said.
The Pyotr Veliky is a heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser, the fourth Kirov class battlecruiser of the Russian Navy. It is the flagship of the Northern Fleet.
Because of economic problems it was not commissioned until 1996, ten years after the construction started. After completing acceptance trials in November 1996, the vessel was transferred to the Northern Fleet at Severomorsk becoming its flagship.
The ship is equipped with 20 Granit long-range anti-ship missiles and the S-300F Fort air-defence system with 12 launchers and 96 missiles. There is also the Kinzhal self-contained ship air-defense system designed to protect the cruiser from anti-ship missiles, aircraft and ships.
The vessel’s artillery is made up of an AK-130 coaxial 130-mm system, which can fire up to the maximum range of 22 kilometres at 90 rounds a minute. The ship also carries Kortik (Dirk) quick-firing automatic systems.
Three Ka-27PL or Ka-25RT helicopters, the Vodopad-NK (Waterfall) anti-submarine missile system, and the Udav (Boa) missile and bomb system provide for anti-submarine defence.
The 140,000 HP nuclear power plant has two 300MW reactors and two auxiliary steam boilers. The ship’s maximum speed is about 30 knots, or 17 knots if propelled by steam. It can sail for 60 days.
The ships has been repeatedly named the best vessel in the Northern Fleet and won three prizes of the Navy Commander-in-Chief for successful performance of missile firing exercises.
The Pyotr Veliky helped fight pirates off the Horn of Africa and prevented a seizure of the dry-cargo ship Ocean Diamond.
In 2012, the ship participated in a long-term mission to the Arctic and reached the New Siberian Islands that separate the Laptev Sea from the East Siberian Sea.