Gist: The task force led by the heavy nuclear guided missile cruiser Peter the Great is setting course for Toulon, France. The time spent on the way to Toulon is not idle. On the way the crew prepares the aviation assets for day and night flying. Our correspondent watched the training:
The Russian K-27 helicopter over the Med. It has two tasks - to patrol the waters around the task forces and to maintain the skills of the pilots and navigators. They have to fly dozens of hours.
The training proceeds from easy to hard, from flying in daylight conditions to flying in full darkness, landing at night on a moving ship, that is the best form of training.
The helos on the TRKR Peter the Great and the BPK Admiral Chabanenko are modernized with the newest Russian control systems and the newest Russian satellite navigation systems (GLONASS) on board.
Most of all its important to train with the instruments on board so as not to use outside sources, so mainly we fly around on instruments.
The flights are pre-planned and the routes are planned a day ahead of time. The pilots and navigators use the charts to find the nearest airports and the places they can land on dry land. The aviators admit that the conditions in the Med are great for flying and the the high temperatures in the Med do not bother the Severomorsk dwellers.
The temperature isn't a problem, there's air conditioning on the helo. If it's a little warm, you can add some cool air and if it's a little cool, you can add some warm air. In general it doesn't interfere.
The Black Sea Fleet tug Shakhter delivered spare parts, equipment and stores. This will allow the cruiser to spend an extra month at sea since the local stores aren't big enough to carry that much. While the Peter the Great just stands there because of her great size the Shakhter pitches up and down two or three meters. In these conditions the stores load it done with jeweller's precision.
These meetings are planned for the whole route the task force takes. One or two times a week they will meet a tanker or tug, which will deliver stores like fuel, drinking water and food. In the future is the transit through Gibraltar and then exercises in Venezuela. For now we are at anchor in the Med, preparing for the joint exercises between the two countries.