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    Russia to build up naval presence in world's oceans in 2008 - 2

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    Russia's Northern Fleet will dispatch ships and submarines on tours of duty to various regions of the world's oceans in 2008, the fleet's commander said on Tuesday.

    (Adds details, Maksimov's quote in paras 7-8)

    SEVEROMORSK, May 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Northern Fleet will dispatch ships and submarines on tours of duty to various regions of the world's oceans in 2008, the fleet's commander said on Tuesday.

    "There will be tours of duty this year, involving surface ships, submarines and aircraft," Vice-Admiral Nikolai Maksimov said. "We will visit the Atlantic, the Indian and the Pacific oceans, and the Mediterranean."

    Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said last year that Russia's Navy had resumed and would build up its continual presence in different regions of the world's oceans.

    A naval task force from Russia's Northern Fleet, consisting of the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the Udaloy-Class destroyers Admiral Levchenko and Admiral Chabanenko, as well as auxiliary vessels, conducted from December 2007 to February 2008 a two-month tour of duty in the Mediterranean Sea and North Atlantic.

    The flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva guided missile cruiser, joined up with Russian naval warships in the Mediterranean on January 18 and participated in maneuvers in the Atlantic from January 28 to February 2.

    Over 40 aircraft from Russia's Air Force, including Tu-160 Blackjacks, Tu-95MS Bears, Tu-22M3 Backfire C strategic bombers, A-50 Mainstay airborne early warning aircraft, Il-78 Midas aerial tankers, MiG-31 Foxhound long-range interceptors and Su-27 Flanker frontline fighter aircraft participated in the drills jointly with the navy.

    Maksimov also said that the Northern Fleet would be fully manned with professional seamen under contracts by 2009.

    "At present, only the submarines are completely manned with contract servicemen, while only 45% of crew members on surface ships are contract seamen," the admiral said. "We will resolve this situation by 2009."

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