Russia just threw an epic birthday party for its navy
The Russian Navy turned 320 on July 31, and The Motherland marked the occasion with massive parades and displays of firepower at the homeports of the country's three major fleets.
The celebrations centered on Saint Petersburg, where the Baltic Fleet is based, Sevastopol, the home of the Black Sea Fleet and Vladivistok, the main Pacific Fleet base.
During the celebration, Russian sailors marched through city streets in parades across the country. But the big shows were on the country's waters as ships passed in procession.
Marines also got into the action with displays of their capabilities and equipment, some driving amphibious vehicles off ships and right into the reviewing areas.
Russia first established a formal navy under Tsar Peter the Great in 1696. In the over 300 years since then, it has undergone a number of changes from the Imperial Navy to the Soviet Navy to today's Russian Federation Navy.
The navy is very important to Russian defense and power projection, analysts say. Russia has approximately 2.5 times as much coastline as it has land borders, according to a guide from the Russian Office of Naval Intelligence.
Despite the navy's prestige in Russia, the military branch faces a lot of problems.
Its only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, is outdated and in ill repair. It often needs an oceangoing tug to accompany it on long trips in case it breaks down. Its plumbing is also bad, leading to uncomfortable conditions for the crew.
Meanwhile, Russia has pitched an ambitious plan for a new carrier fleet and other navy modernization efforts, but low oil prices and a shortage of skilled shipbuilding talent and facilities are slowing the work.