Polnocny Class Medium Landing Ship
The revival of the Naval Infantry entailed the building of a modern amphibious fleet. Starting in the late 1950's, the Soviets started by building sixteen MP-2 and twenty-five MP-4 class landing ships. While the MP-2s could only carry infantry, the MP-4s could carry up to eight APCs and were eventually converted from transporters to fully fledged landing ships. In the 1960's ten cargo ships of the 'Bira' class were converted as well, creating the MP-6 class and were followed by the eighteen ships of the MP-8 class, which were heavily armed and could carry 12 APCs or 400 tons of material. Finally, the forty-six ships of the MP-10 class, which were capable of carrying three tanks, concluded the first generation of post-war Soviet landing ships.
After a short pause in the build up, the first ships of the Polnocny [ Polnochny ] class were laid down at the Stocznia Polnocna shipyard at Gdansk, Poland. In 1955 the Shipyard had began to co-operate with the Navy. The nomenclature "Polnocny" is based on the name of the ship-building shipyard that constructed them, which means "Northern" or "midnight". Up to the early 1990's the Shipyard continued to build warships and special units for the Navies of Poland, Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and East Germany, mainly hydrographic ships, torpedo boats, landing craft, rescue, fire-fighting and training vessels. Export orders for vessels of the Type 773 class were built by Poland's Stocznia Marynarki Wojennej [ Naval Shipyard Gdynia]. These ships are presently in service with the Navies of Vietnam, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Yemen, Ethiopia, Cuba, Syria and Bulgaria. Although both are located in Gdansk, this shipyard is separate and distinct from the Stocznia Polnocna shipyard at Gdansk which built the Polnocny landind ships for the Soviet Navy.
These were formerly the standard landing ships of the Russian Naval Infantry and its Pact counterparts. Though largely replaced in Russian and Polish service by hovercraft in the 1980s, they were widely exported and converted into civilian ferries. Most of these ships were actually built in the shipyards in Gdansk in Poland, and a few were built there during the war. Unlike most Western landing craft, the Polnocny series are heavily armed and can put up a large amount of covering fire for its troops. They can beach themselves for cargo and troop exit and then remove themselves again from the shore.
In the space from 1967 through 1974 more than 80 landing ships of projects 770, 771 and 773 were built. The Polnocny were to become the standard Soviet landing ship. They were built in at least four versions, similar with respect to construction, but which are slightly differed in detail. The Polnocny III could carry eight APCs or 500 tons of stores, and could give substantial support to its Naval Infantry with its two sets of fourteen rocket launchers. Fire Control radar is the H/I-band MR-104 (Drum Tilt), although some of the ships have had this radar removed. In this case, the AK-230 30mm guns are controlled by the Kolonka optical sight. The Polnochny D features a flight deck forward of the bridge and different radars.
The Project 773, the largest ships from the family of Polnochny has a displacement almost to 300 tons greater than in project 771. In comparison with the ships of project 771, the 773 has 1000 miles greater range, and the increased landing section can take 40 tons more load. The armament, power plant and composition of the radio-electronic equipment of the ships of project 773 are not differed from equipment of the previous projects. The landing ships of project 773 were constructed in 1971-1974 in Poland on the northern shipyard (Stocznia Polnocna) of Gdansk city. To order of the USSR were built 8 ships of this project.
The class is not particularly well-characterized in the literature, and there is some confusion among sources as to the Soviet-era Type designators. The production shipyard is quite specific that a total of 36 were Type 771 were produced for the USSR and Poland, while 8 Type 773 were produced for the USSR.
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