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Project 50 "Ermine" / Riga class

The Riga Class frigate was designed as an improved but more lightly armed version of the earlier Kola class escort frigate. The first example appeared in 1952. By one account forty-eight examples were produced before production ended in 1958. Another source estimated that 65 Rigas were built between 1955 and 1959, and the last was scrapped in the early 1990s. The most authoritative estimate indicates that 58 units ere built in the Soviet Union, and another 2 in Red China.

The Riga Class was intended as a simple escort designed to protect larger vessels from hostile submarines and aircraft. The ships defensive armament was quite capable during the 1950s but by the 1970s they were unable to discharge their defence duties against more modern threats and most of the vessels had been removed from active service.

Small patrol ships of the project 50 type "Ermine" - were developed at the personal direction of I.V. Stalin for sentinel service and the protection of small coastal convoys. The main designer of the project at the initial design stage was D.D. Zhukovsky, then (in SKB-194) - V.I. Neganov, and from the end of 1953 - B.I. Kupensky, and captain 1st rank V.S. Avdeeva..

The ship pr.50 as well as the SKR pr.42 was flush-deck with longitudinal sheer, single-stack, with one mast and two superstructures. The bow structures compared with SCR pr. 42 were significantly sharpened, which, according to experts, was to significantly reduce spray formation. This was used by the last chief designer in his future projects. For all combat posts and premises, with the exception of bomb cellar N6, the midshipmans compartment and tiller compartment, a closed passage was provided, which was unusual for such a small ship. Standard 78 mm thick anti-fragmentation armor was used to reserve the power bays, the wheelhouse and the artillery shield. The whole hull was electrically welded except for the connection of the upper deck with the side and removable sheets. According to the test results, both general and local strength were found to be satisfactory. Vibration of the aft end at all turns turned out to be less than that of EM pr.30bis and corresponded to contemporary standards.

Despite many shortcomings that were discovered in the power plant due to breakdowns of TV-9 turbo gear unit, the construction of pr.50 ships went quite quickly and by the end of 1958 the entire series of 68 ships was built. Comparison of SKR pr. 50 of the first series with foreign analogues shows that if our ship surpasses them in terms of driving performance, it is significantly inferior in range. This is understandable, as the Soviet ships were not intended to accompany ocean convoys. An integrated assessment of armaments shows that the characteritics of Project 50 was at the level of the DE-339 Butler and was inferior to the DE-1006 Dealy type Frigates built of the 1950s by the US Navy. For artillery weapons, considering only the maximum firing range and the size of the minute salvo, then SKR pr. 50 was somewhat superior to foreign analogs, however, their turret installations allowed the use of artillery in conditions of more intense splashing and sea unrest. Finally, the automatic 76-mm artillery mounts of the DE-1006 Dealy were significantly more effective than the domestic B-34USMA guns when firing at air targets. In terms of anti-submarine weapons, the superiority of the DE-1006 Dealy was significant. The American torpedo tubes used self-guided anti-submarine torpedoes, the Mk108 rocket launcher had an effective firing range of 4.5 kabs and a rate of fire of up to 12 rounds per minute. Only for ships upgraded to the 50PLO project, anti-submarine weapons and their means of supply began to more or less meet that time, but the leading naval powers already had other ships with even greater anti-submarine capabilities.

The head "Ermine" entered service with the Black Sea Fleet in 1954. Ships were built at the factory number 445 in Nikolaev (20), the factory number 820 in the city of Kaliningrad (41) and the factory number 199 in the city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur (7)

The vessels went through a series of upgrades during the 1960s and early 1970s. Almost all TFR pr. 50 of the domestic Navy in 1959-1960. were upgraded to pr.50PLO. They were reinforced with anti-submarine weapons: the MBU-200 bomb was replaced by two RBU-2500s, the two-tube TA was replaced by the three-tube TTA-53-50 for firing homing anti-submarine torpedoes, and the Pegas-2 GAS was replaced by the Pegasus-3M. The ships of the early series had the Guys-1M4 radar, which was subsequently replaced by the Fut-N radar. The Anchor fire control radar as part of the SVP-42-50 was replaced by the Anchor-M2 radar, and the Lin radar was replaced by the Neptun-M radar. On two ships (SKR-76 and Lun) a Don navigation radar was installed, on a Jaguar in 1957, a sound-communication sonar MG-16 Sviyaga was installed. In connection with changes in armaments, the components of the load also changed. To maintain stability at a given level, designers had to put solid ballast on modernized TFRs on the latest series. But despite these efforts to keep them effective the Soviet Navy began to withdraw them from service in the mid 1970s.

Riga Class frigates also saw service with other Warsaw Pact navies. East Germany purchased four between 1956 and 1959 and the Bulgarian navy purchased two between 1957 and 1958. Two ships went to the Finns in 1964 and Indonesia bought eight between 1962 and 1965. Finally the People's Republic of China bought ship components and used them to build four Riga-type vessels for coastal patrol duty.

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Page last modified: 25-12-2019 18:54:41 ZULU