Parade of Ships at the Port of Riga Opens the Latvian Navy's Centenary Celebrations

Today, 9 August, a parade of military ships took place in the Port of Riga next to the Sea Gate in honour of the centenary of the Latvian Army’s Navy, and the port solemnly welcomed the ships of the naval forces of Latvia and its allies. 

The parade of ships was welcomed by President of Latvia Egils Levits near the gate of the Port of Riga. Minister for Defence Artis Pabriks, Commander of the National Armed Forces Lieutenant General Leonīds Kalniņš and Commander of the Naval Forces Commodore Ingus Vizulis were among the participants. The parade was marked by a salvo of cannon-fire at the Bolderāja Shipyard and involved the Naval Forces’ A-53 Virsaitisstaff and support ship, the A-90 Varonissupply ship, the M-04 Imantaand M-05Viestursminehunter, the P-08 Jelgava and P-09 Rēzeknesupply ships, as well as naval vessels belonging to other allied forces — the Swedish multifunctional naval corvette — the Helsinborg, the Finish minelayer — the Pyharanta, the German supply ship — the Werra, the Estonian staff and supply ship — the Wambola, the Lithuanian anti-mine ship — the Selis, and the Polish search and storage ship — the Lech.

As part of the events tied to the centenary of the Latvian Navy, anyone interested will have the opportunity to visit the naval vessels of Latvia and her allies in the Port of Riga, next to the piers of the Riga Passenger Terminal on 10 and 11 August from 12:00 to 17:00.

The Port of Riga can be proud of featuring crucial moments of Latvia's history during the Latvian War of Independence and the proclamation of the State of Latvia, including the establishment of the Latvian Navy and its first battles. The official date of the Latvian Navy’s inauguration is considered to be 10 August 1919, when the Naval Division was founded at the Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the Latvian Army. During the Latvian War of Independence (1918-1920), the newly established State of Latvia had a marked need to establish its own navy. Military activities involved private trade ships, motorboats, steam ships and tugboats, and it can be considered that the newly created Navy executed one of its first combat missions exactly at the Port of Riga. 

When in 1919 the soldiers of the new Latvian Army, fighting against Pavel Bermondt’s forces, consolidated their positions on the Rigan coast and the attempted counter-attack across bridges failed, the decision was made to build an assault force and attack Bermondt’s soldiers in the area of Daugavgrīva-Bolderāja. On 15 October, covered by the allied bombing, the assault force was dropped off next to the Daugavgrīva Fortress and Bolderāja by the newly created Latvian landing fleet. The fleet consisted of river steamers, port tugboats and barges, on which iron plates and sand bags had been installed to protect against incoming fire bullets. The assault force landed successfully, and this marked the beginning of the end of Bermondt’s risky undertaking — the freeing of Latvia started at the Port of Riga.

The launch of the first Latvian Navy’s ship, the Virsaitis, on 12 June 1921 also turned out to be a great event at the Port of Riga, and this date was celebrated as the day of establishment of the Latvian Coast Guard Squadron until 1937.