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Project 1144 Orlan - History
Kirov class
Guided Missile Cruiser (Nuclear Powered)

The first surface warship with nuclear power (Project 1144 "Orlan") was undertaken in the mid-1960s, initially as an atomic destroyer escort intended for long-duration continuous tracking of enemy nuclear strategic ballistic missile submarines with the object of sinking them immediately upon the outbreak of military operations. This project took the form of a heavy nuclear missile cruiser only another decade of designing work at the Severnoe TsKB (previously TsKB-530, under chief designer B.I.Kupenskiy, accompanied by military-economic studies on its technical and tactical characteristics.

The 20,000 ton nuclear powered missile cruiser Project 63, was to be a response to the American CGN-9 Long Beach. With shipbuilding money at a premium in the late 1950's, it was felt that a nuclear cruiser should have both ASW and AAW capabilities, as was the case with the Long Beach. Long Beach was ordered on 15 October 1956, laid down 2 December 1957, and launched 14 July 1959. Initially envisioned as the first of a class of such ships, the second unit Long Beach remained unfunded in 1957 and thereafter. The Soviet Project 63, which may have initially been planned to carry a variant of the 48-foot long number X-20M AS-3 KANGAROO missiles, and later anywhere from 8 [conventionally propelled Version XN], or 15 [nuclear powered Version VIII] up to 32 of the missiles that ultimately were deployed as the SS-N-19 SHIPWRECK / Granit, was cancelled in 1959.

After the last Project 58 Kydna missile cruiser was delivered in 1965, almost a decade went by during which ships of this type, intended to fight enemy surface ships, were not built, since the nuclear submarines were considered as the basic attack force, and the surface ships were given primarily an antisubmarine role. In 1967 an Egyptian missile boat of Soviet manufacture sank the Israeli destroyer "Eylat" in 1967. This highly visible demonstration of the effectiveness of surface-launched antiship cruise missiles allowed the Navy command to eventually convince the national military and political leadership that it was necessary for the surface ships to have attack capabilities.

Initially it was intended that the Project 1144 nuclear-powered ship would have a standard displacement of about 9000 tons. It was to be equipped with a universal missile complex (for the defeat of submarines, air and light surface targets), along with air-defense guided missiles [ADGM] for self-defence, either 57-mm or 76-mm artillery, along with torpedo devices and RBU and also by unmanned helicopters. At the final stage of development of technical order, the Metel, S-300F, 100- and 30-mm artillery, two manned antisubmarine helicopters, and also SSN Malakhit, which was replaced later by "Granit", were included in the ship armament; though the displacement in technical order was not specified. In the Outline Sketch in 1969 the ship was classified as a "large nuclear antisubmarine warfare ship" [BPK], but in its Assertion Decision in 1970, it had already been reclassified as a "nuclear antisubmarine cruiser".

Another nuclear-powered ship was planned by the Navy at that same time, an abortive 1970 cruiser design with 32-48 missiles. Project 1165 "Fugas" was conceived of as a nuclear powered missile cruiser with 32-45 P-700 "Granit" Anti-Shipping Missiles of operational-tactical designation (theater, not strategic) and the S-300F anti-aircraft missile. Information on 1165 is very scarce. The dimentions this vessel, in order to have enouch space for both 32 Granits and S-300s, would surely make the 1165 was a larger vessel that the original concept of the 1144.

By a decision dated August 1971, the design of both developments were united into one design of a multipurpose nuclear antisubmarine cruiser with anti-shipping missile weapons (16 SSN "Granit"). The resulting 1144.1 Orlan which was the first Soviet attempt to make a DDN. After the merger the Granit missiles were introduced in 1144 instead of Malakhit and the displacement started to grow. Critics argued that the ships were extremely expensive to build and maintain, and that they would be close to defenseless without proper protection from aircraft.

In the technical Project 1144 developed by the Servernoe KB in 1971, for the first time in the world the practice the arrangement of the below-deck launchers of vertical (S-300F) and inclined (SSN "Granit") launch was realized. An automated hydroacoustic system was used (with the antennas in the nose dome and towed array), capable of detecting submarines in the first distant zone of acoustic illumination. During the working drawings developing the number of SSN "Granit" missiles placed on the ship was increased up to 20 units.

In June 1977, by the order of the Navy Command the ship Project 1144.2 was re-classified as the Heavy Nuclear Missile Cruiser. When the first 1144 (Kirov) was already on the slip, an attempt was made to separate Anti-Air, Anti-Submarine escort and surface strike functions once again, starting design of nuclear escort 11990 and nuclear strike cruiser 12930. The 12930 was a quite short lived, with preference given to the conventionally powered 1164 instead.

Project 11990 Anchar had much longer life-span, although on paper only, before it was eventually cancelled in 1990. At 12,000 tons, Anchar was envisaged to escort the future nuclear propulled Orel-class Soviet aircraft carriers. Anchar was entrusted to the engineers V. Perevalov and V. Yukhnin, even if the true father of the project was always Admiral Gorshkov. New anti-aircraft missiles and ASM with vertical launching, and a new turret of 130mm were developed. The propullsion system was original: gas turbines for cruising and a nuclear reactor for high speed. Abandoned up in 1990, at the same time as the Ulyanovs aircraft carrier, Anchar was used as a basis for a study of two classes of future general-purpose ships, which projects were announced on the occasion of the centenary of the Russian navy in 1996, the Squandron Ship and and the "Universal Ship".

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:10:46 ZULU