Russian President Vladimir Putin, accompanied by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, the head of the Navy, inspected some of the ships from a launch boat on the Neva before making a speech.
Putin delivered a short speech to mark the occasion. He said that the navy plans to acquire 30 new ships “of various classes” this year to replenish the fleet. One is a missile corvette named Mercury.
“Russia is confidently implementing the large-scale tasks of the national maritime policy, consistently increasing the power of its fleet,” he added.
According to Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, four African heads of state who stayed in St. Petersburg following a Russia-Africa summmit joined Putin for the parade.
Forty-five ships, submarines and other vessels took part in Russia’s annual Navy Day event, a traditional show of military might which takes place in the Gulf of Finland and on the River Neva in St Petersburg. Around 3,000 navy personnel also took part in a parade on land, according to the Kremlin.
The Naval Day celebration was established in 1939. It was originally held on July 24, then changed to the last Sunday in July in 1980. The largest parades are held in Russia’s major port cities.
One of the main traditions of the holiday is the solemn raising of the St. Andrew’s flag, the symbol of the Russian Navy.