On Thursday, Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias visited the flagship of the Northern Fleet, the nuclear-powered battlecruiser TARKR 099 Pyotr Veliki, the world’s largest non-aviation warship. On 28 July 2012, a decree of the President of the Russian Federation awarded the Order of Nakhimov to the cruiser “for the courage, dedication, and professionalism shown by the ship company in performing its command assignments”. During his pastoral visit, he told sailors:
The readiness of the Northern Fleet, which keeps the peace in Russia and abroad, depends largely on the spiritual strength and faith of its sailors; spiritual support of our forces is one of the key tasks of the Church. Those who take the military oath especially need spiritual help; we all believe that the sailors of the Northern Fleet will show full combat readiness if they have strong faith and strong spirit.
Addressing the staff of the Northern Fleet after his arrival in Severomorsk, Vladyki Kirill emphasised:
As we’re a nuclear power, spiritual healthiness in our personnel is key to maintaining the peace, both domestically and globally; it guarantees that they can carry out their duties, with all that such brings to the life of the Motherland. Maybe, one day, there may come a time that the outcome of a battle or a successful endeavour will depend precisely on the spiritual state of our soldiers.
In turn, Vice-Admiral N A Yevmenov, Commander of the Northern Fleet, told the patriarch:
For all Orthodox, a word from our pastor and the Word of God mean a lot. Let’s take some examples… Admirals Ushakov and Nakhimov are holy names for every one of the Orthodox warriors under the flag of St Andrew the Apostle. Our grandfathers fought under this flag… under this flag, we go out to sea and carry out our service. The words, “All those who go to sea pray to God”… these aren’t empty words for us.
18 August 2016