The Russian nuclear submarine Aleksandr Nevsky will be fitted with its own Orthodox chapel after the vessel finishes its sea trials. It has become the second nuke-carrying sub equipped with a sanctuary in addition to ballistic missiles.
The military chapel will allow sailors to attend religious services right on board during the sub’s long missions.
It was donated to the vessel’s crew by the Omophor Fund (omophorion), which brings together both able-bodied and war-wounded veterans who spent their lives serving their motherland and who are continuing that service in the field of social and church charity.
It is the sixth military chapel to be donated by the fund. The other five were installed on the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, the heavy cruiser Pyotr Veliky, Russian Navy sail training ship Kruzenshtern, guided missile cruiser Moskva, and nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine K-433 Svyatoy Georgiy Pobedonosets.
The fund organizers said that their initiative was inspired by an episode in 1903, when St. Elizabeth Romanova of Russia donated several Orthodox military chapels to the Russian fleet.
The church was consecrated in the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra in the name of blessed Alexander Nevsky on September 15.
Construction on the Alexander Nevsky began in March 2004 and it was launched in December 2010. Its sea trials began on October 24 in the White Sea. After the trials, the sub will return to port, where the chapel will finally be installed.
The development of clergy activities in the Russian army has support from the highest level. Some 240 clergy and nine priest positions have appeared in the Russian army in 2011, and by the end of the year the military is expected to fill all the vacancies with representatives from all official religions.
A full-scale military priesthood existed in Russia from the 18th century until the beginning of the Soviet era. In 2009, President Dmitry Medvedev supported a project to restore the military priesthood to Russia.