A Russian naval task force from the Northern Fleet has left its base in Severomorsk on a training mission in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, a fleet’s spokesman Capt. 1st Rank Vadim Serga said.
The task force, led by Russia's only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, also includes Udaloy II class destroyer Admiral Chabanenko, rescue tugboat Nikolai Chiker, and three tankers.
“The goal of the mission is to maintain Russia's naval presence in vital maritime zones around the world,” Serga told reporters on Tuesday.
The mission is part of the Russian Navy’s annual training plan and will most likely involve a comprehensive program of naval pilot training to further develop the skills acquired by pilots at the Nitka Naval Pilot Training Center in Ukraine.
The task force will be joined in the Atlantic by the Baltic Fleet’s Neustrashimy class frigate Yaroslav Mudry and a tanker for the rest of the mission.
Russia’s Chief of the General Staff, Gen. Nikolai Makarov, said in November that the mission had been scheduled long time ago and is not connected to the current political crisis in Syria.