The Russian Northern Fleet: New Acting Commander and Several New Submarines

Vice Admiral Konstantin Kabantsov has stepped in as the new Acting Commander of the Russian Northern Fleet. Here is one of the fleet's submarines, Severodvinsk of the Jasen class, which is now joined by an increasing number of new submarines of various types. (All photos: the Russian MoD)

The Russian Northern Fleet has gained a new Acting Commander in Vice Admiral Konstantin Kabantsov. He replaces Admiral Alexander Moiseyev, who has been promoted to acting Commander-in-Chief of Russia's Navy. The Northern Fleet has also received four new submarines, and another is underway.

Les på norsk.

The Russian Navy's Commander-in-Chief from 2019, Admiral Nikolay Yevmenov, recently left this position for unknown reasons, which triggered several changes of command in the navy.

Kreml does not want to comment on the navy's change of command as it is not the subject of a public decree, writes the Russian state-controlled news agency TASS. The changes can be linked to the navy's defeats in the Black Sea as part of Russia's war against Ukraine.

Admiral Alexander Moiseyev, Commander of the Northern Fleet since 2019, was introduced Tuesday as the Russian Navy's new Acting Commander-in-Chief. This occurred during a commemoration of the Day of the Submariner in Kronstadt, located in the innermost part of the Gulf of Finland.

At the Northern Fleet's headquarters in Severomorsk in Murmansk County, Vice Admiral Konstantin Kabantsov has taken over as acting commander. This is reported by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Konstantin Kabantsov as Chief of Staff in the Northern Fleet during the autumn's celebration in Severomorsk of the fleet having completed its twelfth long-term cruise in the Arctic. (Photo: the Russian Ministry of Defense)


Kabantsov comes from the position of chief of staff and first deputy commander of the Northern fleet, of which he took position in October 2021. He also made his first public appearance in his new position on Tuesday during the commemoration of the Day of the Submariner in the North. 

"The Northern Fleet's submarine forces are confidently looking into the future and are developing systematically and purposefully. During the past months, two fourth-generation vessels the submarines Krasnoyarsk and Tsar Alexander III as well as the diesel-electric submarine Kronstadt have been transferred to the fleet," said Kabantsov. 

He has a background as head of the Northern Fleet's 24th submarine division, chief of this fleet's base by the White Sea, as well as head of the Primorsky Flotilla of the Pacific Fleet.

Murmansk County Governor Andrey Chibis was also present and spoke to the submarine forces:

"Anytime in the year, day as night, in various places in the world seas, you are conducting all tasks assigned to you in a precise and efficient manner. Now, in an unstable international situation, your service is particularly important," maintained Chibis.

Redirected submarines and new military district

In December, a flag ceremony was conducted for the two nuclear submarines at Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk, Arkhangelsk County.

"Soon, the ballistic missile submarines Tsar Alexander III and Krasnoyarsk will start their service as part of the Pacific Fleet to guard the eastern borders of our fatherland," said President Vladimir Putin during the ceremony.

In other words, these two submarines have since then been redirected to the Northern Fleet.

Since the middle of January, the Northern Fleet has also lost its status as a military-administrative unit in line with a military district – and is now part of the re-established military district Leningrad.

This reorganization, which also includes the re-establishment of the military district Moscow, has taken place in light of NATO's expansion in the Nordic region, according to the Russian MoD.

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Intended new submarines

The aforementioned diesel-powered submarine Kronstadt of the Lada class, armed with Kalibr cruise missiles, is also quite new. It had its flag ceremony at the end of January in St. Petersburg and was presented as an addition to the Northern Fleet.

The nuclear submarine Prince Pozharsky of the Borei-A class (SSBN) is an even more recent addition to the Northern Fleet. It was launched at the Sevmash shipyard at the beginning of February. Like its sister ship, Tsar Aleksandr III, it is equipped with strategic missiles and torpedo weapons.

In 2024, the nuclear submarine Arkhangelsk of the Jasen-M class (SSGN) will also be ready for the Northern Fleet, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense. Like its sister ship Krasnoyarsk, it is equipped with Kalibr cruise missiles and the ability to carry hypersonic Tsirkon missiles.

Ceremony for the launch of the nuclear submarine Prince Pozharsky at the Sevmash shipyard on February 3rd. It was led by Russia's now resigned navy commander Nikolay Yevmenov. (Photo: the Russian Ministry of Defense)

The Northern Fleet

– The Northern Fleet is one of the Russian Navy's fleets and Russia's most important military force (sea, air, and land forces) in the Arctic.

– In 2014, a joint operational strategic command for Arctic operations was established at the Northern Fleet's headquarters in Severomorsk, Murmansk County.

– In 2021, the Northern Fleet also gained status as one of Russia's most central military-administrative units (on par with a military district). The unit includes the Republic of Komi, the counties of Arkhangelsk and Murmansk, and the Nenets Autonomous Area.

– The Northern Fleet's status has changed due to the re-establishment of the Leningrad and Moscow military districts. The reorganization is being done in light of Finland's NATO membership and Sweden's upcoming admission to the alliance, Russia's defense minister said in December.

– The Northern Fleet has a large area of responsibility, which includes the North Atlantic, the Barents Sea, and the border areas with Norway and Finland, as well as Russian Arctic sea areas as far east as the East Siberian Sea. The fleet's ships are also periodically sent on operations elsewhere in the world.

– Most of the Northern Fleet's bases and garrisons are located on the Kola Peninsula, located near the borders with Norway and Finland. Russia has also upgraded and expanded its military infrastructure in the Arctic over the past 10-12 years, such as on the archipelagos of Novaya Semlya, Franz Josef Land, and the New Siberian Islands.

Map showing a selection of the Northern Fleet's bases, installations, and capacities, as well as civil ports in Northwest Russia. (Source: Jonas Kjellén 2022, Arctic Review on Law and Politics)

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