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Project 1155 Fregat I Udaloy-I class
Project 1155.1 Fregat II Udaloy-II class
Guided Missile Destroyer

The Russian Navy confirmed on 09 September 2008 that a fleet of warships belonging to the Russian Northern Fleet was preparing to cross the Atlantic Ocean and head for the Caribbean. Washington immediately responded by mocking the Russian move, which is widely considered a response to NATO's increased naval presence in the Black Sea. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack jokingly said that if Russia really intended to send ships to the Caribbean, "then they found a few ships that can make it that far."

The squadron, led by the Northern Fleet's flagship nuclear-powered Kirov-class battlecruiser Pyotr Veliky (named after Peter the Great, Czar Peter I of Russia) - one of the world's largest heavily-armed nuclear-powered guided missile cruisers - will participate with the Venezuelan fleet in the Caribbean naval exercise in November 2008. During the joint exercises, the Russian navy is expected to deploy Moscow's most modern destroyer, the Udaloy-class Admiral Chabanenko anti-submarine destroyer, a rescue vessel and a tanker ship. This will be Russia's first maneuver in the US backyard in nearly 20 years. The naval exercise will be conducted in Venezuelan waters between the 10th and 14th of November. The Russian and Venezuelan Navy will together perform dry runs of relief operations and test their tactical communication systems.

The official Russian governmental news service Russia Today stated that "The fact that the Russian cruiser was not designed as an instrument of attack, but instead for nuclear containment and defending nuclear submarines, this exercise looks more like an invitation to a dialogue with America rather than a military threat. Moreover, the fact that the American presidential campaign has entered its final stage, it is expected that both candidates Barack Obama and John McCain are going to exploit this naval exercise to their own benefit, verbalizing on the "return of the Russian threat". This rhetoric may become the decisive factor for one of them to make the White House his home for the next four years."

Russia announced in 2007 that its Navy had resumed, and would build up, its constant presence in different regions of the world's oceans. A naval task force from Russia's Northern Fleet, consisting of the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the Udaloy-Class destroyers Admiral Levchenko and Admiral Chabanenko, as well as auxiliary vessels, conducted from December 2007 to February 2008 a two-month tour of duty in the Mediterranean Sea and North Atlantic.

Designed primarily as an anti-submarine warfare platform, with a long cruising range and underway replenishment capabilities, Udaloy class ships provide support to surface task forces. Udaloy reflects design changes that addressed the shortcomings of the previous Krivak program; namely the lack of helicopter facilities, limited sonar capabilities, and light air-defenses. The Udaloy has two helicopter hangars with doors that serve as a ramp to the flight deck. The ship uses a Polinom active/passive search/attack sonar system. The Udaloy's air-defense system consists of 8 Klinok launchers, and the AK-630 and AK-100 gun mounts.

The Project 1155 dates to the 1970s when it was concluded that it was too costly to build large-displacement, single-role combatants. The concept of a specialized surface ships was developed by Soviet designers. Two different types of warships were laid down which were designed by the Severnoye Design Bureau: Project 956 destroyer and Project 1155 large antisubmarine ship. Generally the Soviet equivalent of the American Spruance class, there are variations in SAM and air search radar among units of the class. Based on the Krivak class, the empahasis on ASW left these ships with limited anti-surface and anti-air capabilities.

Following Udaloy's commissioning, designers began developing an upgrade package in 1982 to provide more balanced capabilities. The Project 1155.1 Fregat II Class Large ASW Ships [NATO Codename Udaloy II] Russia's only multipurpose warship -- intended to be the Russian counterpart to the American Arleigh Burke-class ships. The Udaloy-II is modified by the replacement of the SS-N-14 by the SS-N-22, reflecting a change in emphasis from ASW to anti-shipping. Other changes include an improved self defense capabilit with the addition of the gun/SAM CIWS systems. Similar to Udaloy externally, it was a new configuration with the Moskit antiship missiles, a twin 130mm gun, the Udav antitorpedo system and several anti-aircraft systems. Powered by a modern gas-turbine engine, it was equipped with more capable sonars, an integrated air defense fire control system, and a number of digital electronic systems based on state-of-the-art circuitry.

The first ship of this new class -- the Admiral Chabanenko -- was laid down at the Yantar Shipyard in Kaliningrad on 28 February 1989, and was launched on 14 December 1992. The ship, 98 percent complete, remained within the shipyard's wall for several years due to financially motivated delays in acceptance tests. The hull of the second Project 1155.1 ship, already assembled by the shipyard, was scrapped.

At the end of 1997 the only large surface combatants active in significant numbers were the newer units of the dozen remaining Sovremennyy-class guided-missile destroyers and a few of the half-dozen remaining operational Udaloy-class destroyers. The Admiral Chabanenko, launched in 1992, was not yet fully operational at the end of 1997. On 28 January 1999 the Admiral Chabanenko BPK large antisubmarine ship was finally commissioned in the Russian Navy.

Under a December 1996 agreement China purchased two Russian Sovremenny-class destroyers. With the Russian Navy's consent, Severnaya Verf used some of the money to repair the Large ASW ship Admiral Levchenko ($98 million), Large ASW ship Severomorsk ($33 million), and cruiser Marshal Ustinov ($54 million) for the Northern Fleet. Severnaya Verf is now repairing the big ASW ship Vice Admiral Kulakov, which has spent a decade moored, on a similar basis.

Refits of Udaloy-class destroyers was delayed pending the completion of a production capability for large marine gas turbines in Russia. The Admiral Levchenko arrived at St. Petersburg for a refit in February 2000. The Vitse-Admiral Kulakov, which had been laid up at Kronshtadt since 1990, arrived at Severny Werf in June 2000 for a refit to be completed in 2002. Previously, Western observers had doubted whether the Kulakov would return to service. Indeed, as of January 2004 Kulakov remained in the repair yard. The Severomorsk completed refit on 30 August 2000.

During the period 16-19 February 2004, Russia conducted its largest military exercise in two decades. Naval units that participated in the exercise included the heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov, large anti-sub ships Admiral Levchenko and Admiral Chabanenko, and the heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky.

According to some reports, the eventual goal was to deploy at least fourteen Udaloys in two brigades of seven ships each [roughly 12 Udaloy Is and 2 Udaloy IIs], and possibly three brigades with a total of 21 ships. However, follow-on ships of this class were cancelled in the early 1990s. The nearly complete second unit was scrapped in 1994, and a third planned unit was never laid down.

As of 2007, there were 8 operational Udaloy-class destroyers in the Russian Navy. The Admiral Kulakov and Admiral Levchenko were slated to undergo repairs sometime during the year. The remaining ships had each undergone repairs at some point since entering service, but most still possessed outdated systems and had not yet received upgrades. As of 2008, there were 7 operational Udaloy-I class destroyers in the Russian Navy, and a single Udaloy-II. The International Institute of Strategic Studies repored 8 operational Udaloy-I, but this is not widely attested.

A nominal 35 year operating life for these ships would see them in service through around the year 2020, but all but the single Udaloy-II would be withdrawn from service soon thereafter. The Vitse-Admiral Kulakov has been in refit since 1992, and had not returned to service as of mid-2008. The Marshal Vasil'yevsky had been expected by some observers to decommission as early as 2004 or 2005, but by mid 2008 this unit remained in service. It may be that Vitse-Admiral Kulakov will conclude refit and resume active service when Marshal Vasil'yevsky is finally retired. The Admiral Spiridonov and Admiral Tributs remain in reserve, but as of 2008 it was not apparent what contribution they might make to future force structure.



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