San Francisco has always been a Navy Town, but the port of call has seldom seen a brighter spotlight than during a high-profile port visit of international significance in June when she welcomed officers and sailors of the Russian Navy. RFN Slava-class cruiser Varyag sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge Sunday morning June 20, 2010, and moored to pier 30-32 for a five-day port visit – the first by a Russian warship in 147 years. Joining the “carrier killer” Russian cruiser was American guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) – serving as fleet host – and three Japanese Self-Defense Force (JDF) ships on a training mission.
San Francisco Navy League Board members Angus Blackwood (Council Vice President), Walt Usinowicz, and Joan Leone attended a reception for the visitors onboard the Bunker Hill the first full evening in port.
During the historic visit, Former US Secretary of State George Shultz joined both Bunker Hill and Varyag crews as they paid their respects at a dedication ceremony for a plaque commemorating Russian sailors killed fighting a fire in San Francisco in 1863. The following day a Wreath Laying Ceremony was held at USS San Francisco Memorial and later in the week the Bunker Hill crew played a soccer game against the Varyag crew on Treasure Island. The ships departed Friday morning June 25, 2010.
A View of the infamous multipurpose long-range SS-N-12 Sandbox nuclear-capable supersonic anti-ship missile system used against coastal targets as well as ships. Also pictured are an anti-submarine rocket launcher and several artillery systems of different caliber and purpose. NATO has dubbed Russian warships of this class “aircraft carrier killers.” Photo by Angus Blackwood.
Tight Security for the Varyag: The ship was protected by fencing and by NIS agents keeping would-be visitors 50+ yards away. The ship was “open” to visitors from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Thursday June 24, 2010 — its last full day in port. Thousands of Bay Area citizens turned out to see and tour the ship, but most were turned away due to overwhelming demand. Photo by Angus Blackwood.
Rear Admiral Vladimir L. Kasatonov, Commander Fleet Diverse Forces, joins Rear Admiral Ted Branch, Commander of US Carrier Strike Group 1, for a cake-cutting ceremony aboard USS Bunker Hill on Monday, June 21, 2010. Photo by Angus Blackwood.