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The Russian Navy (Russian: Военно Морской Флот (ВМФ) - "Voyenno Morskoy Flot (VMF)" or Military Maritime Fleet) is the naval arm of the Russian armed forces. The international designation of Russian naval vessels is "RFS" - "Russian Federation Ship".
The Russian Navy possesses most of the former Soviet naval forces, which is currently composed of the Northern Fleet, the former Soviet Pacific Fleet, the Black Sea Fleet, the Baltic Fleet, the former Soviet Caspian Flotilla, Naval Aviation , Naval Infantry (marines) and coastal artillery.
The origins of the Russian navy may be traced to the period between the 4th and the 6th century, when Early East Slavs were engaged in a struggle against the Byzantine Empire. The first Slavic flotillas consisted of small sailing ships and rowboats, which had been seaworthy and able to navigate in riverbeds. In the 9th-12th century, there were flotillas in Kievan Rus' consisting of hundreds of vessels with one, two or three masts. The citizens of Novgorod are known to have conducted military campaigns in the Baltic Sea (e.g., the siege of Sigtuna in 1187). Lad'ya (ладья in Russian, or sea boat) was a typical boat used by the army of Novgorod (length - 30 m, width - 5 to 6 m, 2 or 3 masts, armament - battering rams and catapults, complement - 50 to 60 men). There were also smaller sailboats and rowboats, such as ushkuys (ушкуи) for sailing in rivers, lakes and skerries, kochis (кочи), and nosads (носады), used for cargo transportation.
In the 16th-17th century, the Cossacks conducted military campaigns against the Tatars and Turks, using sailboats and rowboats. The Cossacks of Zaporizhian Sich used to call these boats either chaika, or cheln (чайка, челн). The Don Cossacks called them strugs (струг). These boats were capable of transporting up to 80 men. The Cossack flotillas numbered 80 to 100 boats.
The centralized Russian state had been fighting for its own access to the Baltic Sea, Black Sea and Sea of Azov since the 17th century. By the end of this century, the Russians had accumulated some valuable experience in using riverboats together with land forces. In 1667-1669, the Russians tried to build naval ships in a village of Dedinovo on the shores of the Oka River for the purpose of defending the trade routes along the Volga, which led to the Caspian Sea. In 1668, they built a 26-cannon ship Oryol (Орёл, or Eagle), a yacht, a boat with a mast and bowsprit and a few rowboats.
See also: Category:Russian Navy ships
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