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Project 956 Sarych
Sovremenny class
Guided Missile Destroyer

The Sovremenny Class is a Russian class of destroyers designed to engage hostile ships by means of missile attack, and to provide warships and transport ships with protection against ship and air attack. Intended primarily for anti-ship operations, it was designed to compliment anti-submarine warfare (ASW) Udaloy destroyers. The ships have anti-ship, anti-aircraft, anti-submarine and coastal bombardment capability. The ships, with a maximum displacement of 8,480 tons are similar in size to the US Navy's Aegis-equipped missile cruisers, and are armed with an anti-submarine helicopter, 48 air defense missiles, 8 anti-ship missiles, torpedoes, mines, long range guns and a comprehensive electronic warfare system. The first Sovremenny Class destroyer was commissioned in 1985.

The hull design is derived from the predecessor Kresta II cruisers. The ship's propulsion system is based on two steam turbine engines, unlike the gas-turbines used on the Udaloy, each producing 50,000 horsepower together with four high pressure boilers. There are two fixed pitch propellers. The ship's maximum speed is just under 33 knots. At a fuel-economic speed of 18 knots the range is 3,920 miles. The endurance is 30 days.

The ship is equipped with the Moskit anti-ship missile system with two quadruple launchers installed port and starboard of the forward island and set at an angle about 15 degrees to the horizontal. The ship carries a total of eight Moskit 3M80E missiles. The air defense system is the Shtil surface to air missile. Two Shtil missile systems are installed, each on the raised deck behind the two-barreled 130 mm guns fore and aft of the two islands. The ships are further equipped with AK-130-MR-184 130 mm guns and four six-barrel AK-630 artillery systems for defense. Anti-submarine defense is provided by two double 533 mm torpedo tubes installed port and starboard, and two six-barrel anti-submarine rocket launchers, RBU-1000, with 48 rockets, and a Ka-27 helicopter.

The late units of the class, designated Project 956A, are modified with the improved SA-N-17 (Grizzly) surface-to-air missile and the 3M-82 Moskit anti-ship missile.

An improved Sovremenny II design, fitted with the CADS-N-1 point defense system, was projected but delayed indefinitely due to a lack of funding. During the 1980s as many as 28 Sovremenny-class ships may have been planned.

Under a December 1996 agreement China purchased two Russian Sovremenny-class destroyers, each equipped with eight supersonic 3M-80E Moskit SS-N-22 SUNBURN (75/155nm range sea-skimming) and two SA-N-7 launchers.

In 1997 there were two remaining unfinished Sovremennyys. Vazhniy and Aleksandr Nevskiy (ex-Vdumchivyy), were lying 65% and 35% complete, respectively, at St. Petersburg, with only the first in the water. The first was delivered to China in early 2000, with the second following in January 2001.

In November 2000 the Northern Fleet Rastoropnyy entered Sverny Werf at St. Petersburg for refit. The ship was thought by some to be one of two earmarked for eventual sale to China.

Two additional units were cancelled before being laid down. One additional unit remains incomplete -- intended for the Russian Navy, the construction status and projected commissioning date are highly uncertain. There is some disagreement among sources as to the identity and chronology of the pair of ships acquired by China and the remaining incomplete unit reportedly slated for the Russian Navy.

In January 2002, it was announced that Russia and China had signed a contract for two modified Sovremenny-class destroyers. The two new 956ME vessels were due for delivery in four years and would include upgrades relative to the first pair delivered to China. Each new warship would carry one dedicated helicopter The warships are to be built at the Severnaya Verf shipyards in St. Petersburg. Government sources reportedly estimated the value of the deal as over $1 billion. Other sources suggested that the contract could be worth as much as $1.5 billion, including weapons. Severnaya Verf put in the water the first of two project 956E destroyers for the Chinese navy on 06 May 2004.

Reports surfaced that 7 of the 17 Sovremenny-class destroyers built during the early 1980s suffered from poor maintenance and a structural design flaw in the high-pressure steam boiler system. In 2004 only the Bespokoyniy and the Nastoichiviy, of the Baltic Fleet and the Besstrashniy were deemed fully operational. The Northern Fleet destroyers Bezboyaznniy and Rastoropniy were derelict at Severniy Wharf in St. Petersburg, while the Bezuprechiy was expected to soon follow, along with the laid-up Gremiashiy of the Northern Fleet. The Bezuderzhniy was also kept in reserve in unsatisfactory condition. In the Pacific Fleet, the Bystriy, Burniy, Bezboyaznniy and the Boyevoy were all in a so-called "limited" condition of fitness, and the first two are the only ones that ever go to sea, even though they were were restricted in their operational capabilities.

In 2007 the Burniy and the Rastoropniy were slated for repairs.

In 2008 the International Institute of Strategic Studies reported that six Sovremenny-class destroyers were in service. Other sources suggest that seven remained in service, with at least three additional hulls in reserve with the potential to return to service.

A nominal lifetime of 35 years would see all these vessels remain in service through the year 2020, with all being retired in the decade thereafter.

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