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Fleet Modernization

Admiralty Shipyards259m x
200 tons70,000 ASR 21300 Igor Belousov
SSK 636 Kilo
SSK 677 Lada
Amur200m x
100 tonsunknown PCG 20381 Stereguschyy
Baltiysky Zavod350m x
80 tons 100,000 LHD Mistral III/IV
Severnaya verf 168 m x
100 tons12,000 FFG 22350 Admiral Gorshkov
FFG 1244.1 Novik
PCG 20381 Stereguschyy
Sevmash 302m x
520 tons100,000 SSN 885 Yasen / Graney
SSGN 949 Oscar ??
SSBN 955A Borei
SSK 636 Kilo
CV ex-Gorshkov / INS Vikramaditya
Volga Shipbuilding Plant m x
tonsunknown LCU 21820 Dyugon
Vostochnaya Verf m x
tonsunknown LCU 21820 Dyugon
Yantar 306m x
80 tons12,000 AGOR 22010 Kruys
FFG 11356R Grigorovich / Krivak VI
LST 11711 Ivan Gren
Yaroslavlm x
tonsunknown LCU 21820 Dyugon
Zelenodolskm x
tons3,920 PCG 21631 Bunyan
Zvezda Far East Plant192 m x
100 tons unknownsubmarine repair

The fleet has a tradition of transferring the names of decommissioned ships to new ones. In the Soviet navy, patrol ships were called atmospheric phenomena “Hurricane”, “Storm”, “Blizzard”, etc. These ships took an active part in the Great Patriotic War. In the 70s, such names were received by Project 1234 RTOs. The formations of such ships in the Navy are called "bad weather divisions."

It is no secret that the Russian Navy is experiencing big problems with timely updating of its naval staff. Soviet-built ships are not eternal. The modern Russian defense industry does not have the ability to create adequate replacements, given that the Russian state does not devote the resources made available by the Soviet state. Therefore, in the best case, Soviet cruisers and destroyers are replaced by frigates and corvettes. The surface component of the Navy is increasingly turning from the oceanic into the coastal one, and Kalibr long range cruise missile is advanced as the general purpose remedy to all threats.

Russia does not have such a military budget as the United States, therefore, it is rebuilding its doctrine under the so-called “mosquito fleet”. It will be based on small-sized ships that are capable of carrying powerful missile weapons and systems to provide various combat missions. Most clearly, this problem is observed in the framework of the construction of small missile ships (RTOs). Ultimately, it is hoped that such a "mosquito fleet" will not only be compared in efficiency with the American forces, but will bypass them in many aspects. The implementation of projects occurs in the implementation of new types of ships.

The consequences of the collapse of the USSR by the beginning of the 21st century came a tsunami reduction in the warship composition of the Russian Navy. In Soviet times, the fleet was planned to be brought up to 1,400 ships, but only about 1,000 units were built. According to a former commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, in the future such an amount of Russia is not needed, it will be three times less.

The total number of nuclear powered submarines has fallen from over 180 in 1990 to around 30 by the year 2018. The number of major surface combatants [cruisers, destroyers and frigates] declined from 111 in the Soviet Navy in 1990 to 23 in the Russian Navy in 2018. The Cold War legacy ships have worn out, and have not been replaced.

There is a tension between the desire of the Russian industry to do at least something new, and not endlessly repeating the old, and "Zhigulinost" - the philosophy of the Soviet automotive industry, according to which it is possible to infinitely improve the infinitely outdated model.

The idea of deep modernization of ships and submarines with the installation of new equipment and weapons in itself looks very interesting and promising. Such a technique does not require the construction of large and complex hull structures, power plants, etc. As a result, it becomes possible to save time and money. However, practice shows that it is far from always possible to obtain the desired savings and expected benefits. almost always ships return to operation with some delay relative to the original plans. However, it can not be denied that - with all the delays and problems - the technology, with very few exceptions, nevertheless embarks on the service and makes its contribution to the combat capability of the navy.

Even the increased defense expenditures do not allow construction or modernization to be carried out in the shortest possible time and at the desired levels. Now, the reasons for the failure of the deadline are the lack of production capacities, their limited capabilities and organizational problems. Also, the precondition for the difficulty of working on military projects may be the existence of other orders, for the fulfillment of which it is required to distribute the available resources.

The dates of the ship's laying and its coming into operation are rather provisional. The official laying ceremony was often tied to visiting the shipyard by an official person and could be conducted both on an empty slipway and near an already almost completely constructed section. Even more questionable are the dates of commissioning. As a rule, they suspiciously gravitated towards the end of the year, especially the final five-year plan. Managers had to "close the plan." As a result, for example, the destroyer Sovremenny started operation on 29 December 1980, with almost unarmed Artillery, missile systems were installed and tested for another couple of years, and officially were adopted only in the middle of the decade. However, for all the conventions of individual dates, events, names, history is history.

Vladimir Voronov wrote in 2015 that "attempts by obstinate officers in the armed forces to stand their ground ended badly. The most telling example was the case of Admiral Nikolai Kuznetsov. Stalin dismissed him in early 1947 and went on to concoct the so-called “Admirals’ Plot”, because Kuznetsov and his team were a pain in the neck of a whole galaxy of defence industry moguls.

The naval high command found themselves under fire from the commissars of shipbuilding, iron and steel (who produced armour steel), arms, ammunition, and the electronics industry. Admiral Kuznetsov categorically opposed the construction of heavy cruisers to obsolete designs, had a low opinion of the quality of Soviet shipbuilding, and also insisted on the need to build aircraft carriers.

The protagonists of the defence industry found it far more comfortable to carry on building ships using the existing designs, with obsolete armaments and electronics. As Kuznetsov later wrote in his book, On the Eve, “The shipbuilders had a material incentive to hand ships over on time, since otherwise the workers lost their bonuses.”

Accordingly, “The industry wanted a safe, easy plan whose implementation would ensure payment of the bonuses.” The renowned commander was demoted to the rank of rear admiral to discourage others in the services from standing in the way of “the working class”. Only in 1951 did Stalin reshuffle the pack and appoint Kuznetsov minister of the navy."

After the breakup of the Soviet Union it was impossible for Russia to renew fleet elements adequately. Shipyards in Ukraine had built all Soviet surface warships with a displacement over 9,000 tons, and Russia did not build new surface warships larger than half that size. As a result, by 2010 the Black Sea Fleet became Russia's most obsolete because the majority of its capital warships were launched in the 1970s. Although the Moskva cruiser, the Kerch anti-submarine warfare ship, as well as the Ladny (Well-Built), Pytlivy (Inquisitive) and Smetlivy (Keen) escort ships, have a long and glorious service record, they should have been replaced. The Moskva was the only ship on this list that can continue to serve beyond 2020 after a major overhaul.

Severnaya Verf in St.Petersburg had built the 5,500 tons [full load] Project 58 Grozny [Kynda] class guided missile cruisers in the early 1960s, and the 7,700 tons [full load] Project 1134 Berkut [Kresta] guided missile cruisers in the 1960s and 1970s. Severnaya Verf also built the 7,940 ton [full load] Project 956 Sarych [Sovremenny] class guided missile destroyers from the late 1970s through the end of the Cold War. Four units of the class, which had been laid down towards the end of the Cold War [two were launched in the 1990s, and two in 2004], were later completed and sold to China, the fourth being delivered in 2008. Severnaya Verf [and Yantar in Kaliningrad] built the 8,900 tons [full load] Project 1155 Fregat [Udaloy] class guided missile destroyers. All of this class were subtantially completed prior to 1991, apart from the Admiral Chabanenko, which was launched by Yantar in 1995 and placed in service in 1999.

As of May 2011 Severnaya Verf was fulfilling 75 percent of state orders for the construction of warships for all four Russian fleets. The shipyard had four Steregushchy class corvettes, two Admiral Gorshkov class frigates and a Project 18280 intelligence ship. Severnaya Verf was also fulfilling orders to upgrade four Koni class frigates for the Algerian navy.

Sevmash has experience with modular construction techniques. However it has primarily only built submarines, with its surface warship production ending in the late 1950s. It more recently struggled with retrofitting the ex-Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier on schedule for the Indian Navy. As the sole current producer of nuclear submarines for the Russian Navy, Sevmash is operating close to capacity. Sevmash Director General Nikolaj Yakovlevich Kalistratov stated in 2009 that with the announced submarine building program, his yard would be operating at capacity until 2020.

Russian shipyard crane capacity as a whole lags behind modern shipyard construction cranes throughout the world. As examples, the Northrop Grumman Corporation Newport News shipyard which builds the Nimitz and Ford class nuclear aircraft carriers has a 900 ton capacity crane, soon to be upgraded to an 1100 ton crane. The Navantia Fene-Ferrol Shipyard in Spain which builds the Juan Carlos LHD has a 800 ton capacity crane for assembly of modular portions of ships.

Fleet Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, Commander of the Russian Navy, said during the July 2010 Navy Day parade that the fleet would receive 15 new warships in the next decade. He promised that the first two warships would arrive before the year was out. The Baltic Fleet is to contribute its Project 1154 frigates Yaroslav Mudry (Yaroslav the Wise) and Neustrashimy (Intrepid) frigates to the Black Sea Fleet. The latter ship was commissioned in 1994. The Baltic Fleet will receive the more advanced Project 11356 and 22350 frigates, as well as the upgraded Project 20380 Steregushchy-class frigates. The Black Sea Fleet is to receive additional new warships soon. The keels of three frigates and three submarines were to be laid in the near future.

Even in the most difficult stage, Russia did not give up its dream of establishing an ocean-going navy. In view of the status quo of the Russian navy, Russia regards underwater power as a starting point for naval construction. It has always been Russia's dream to have a strong ocean-going fleet. In the "Basic Principles of Russian Navy Policy Before 2030," Russia vowed to consolidate its navy's second position in the world. However, in the current economic situation, Russia has a long way to go to develop an ocean-going navy.

In its heyday, the strength of the Soviet navy was second only to that of the United States. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russia inherited nearly 80% of the conventional armed forces of the Soviet Union, but this wealth was once regarded as "more like a burden" for Russia, which was in a dilemma at the time. Military expenditures were severely inadequate. A large number of warships were reluctantly retired, and almost all overseas naval bases were forced to close. In 2000, the sinking of the "Kursk" nuclear submarine further exposed the weakness of the Russian Navy.

Since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis in 2013, Western countries led by the United States imposed comprehensive sanctions on Russia, continuously squeezing Russia's strategic space. According to a report from the US Naval Network, in order to increase its influence and voice in the Black Sea, the US Sixth Fleet will send Burke-class Aegis destroyers into the relevant waters of the Black Sea to navigate freely. Previously, in February 2018, the US Navy had already taken similar actions.

In addition, Russia and the United States are still wrestling in the Arctic direction. Russia has actively promoted the Arctic Strategic Plan in recent years. The new version of "Russian Federation Maritime Theory" issued in July 2015 pointed out that the Arctic is the priority direction of Russia's maritime strategy. At the same time, Russia has repeatedly sent the Northern Fleet’s flagship "Peter the Great" nuclear-powered cruiser to the Arctic to perform ocean-going strategic cruise missions.

In recent years, with the increase in economic strength, the Russian Navy has gradually come out of the trough, showing a recovery growth trend. At present, in the face of tight military expenditures, Russia has modified and upgraded some old ships to maintain the number of large warships. For example, the "Slava" class cruiser "Marshal Ustinov" was modernized in 2011 and returned to the Northern Fleet to continue its service in 2015. However, these minor repairs cannot change the reality of the shortage of large surface ships of the Russian Navy. This shows that whether it is now or in the future, if Russia wants to regain its status as a major power, it is urgent to establish an ocean-going navy of a corresponding size.

In fact, even in the most difficult stage, Russia has not given up its dream of establishing an ocean-going navy. In view of the status quo of the navy, Russia regards underwater power as a force point for naval construction. On November 17, 2017, the fourth Russian-built strategic nuclear submarine "Grand Duke Vladimir" of the "Borei" class was launched in Severodvinsk. The Russian Navy plans to build 8 "Borei" by 2020, and by 2018 three boats had been delivered to the Russian Navy. According to the plan, the "North Wind God" class strategic nuclear submarine will become the backbone of Russia's maritime strategic nuclear deterrence.

At the same time, struggling with the development of large surface warships, Russia began to promote the construction of a new generation of small and medium warships. On the one hand, Russia focuses on building fine small ships represented by small frigates of 500, 800, and 900 tons. Take the 22800 type as an example. Although the tonnage is small, it has the weapon configuration of other countries' main general frigates, and the endurance is not weak. It can be called a modern version of the "offshore heavy gunship." On the other hand, Russia has also put a lot of effort on the 2000, 2500 and 4000-ton light frigates. Most of these frigates have general-purpose features. Take the 22350 type as an example. The ship has anti-ship, shore strike, and certain anti-submarine and air defense capabilities. It is one of the main ships of the Russian Navy in the future.

Unlike the Soviet era, which emphasized the specialization of surface ships, Russia's newly built frigates are veritable all-rounders. Analysts pointed out that compared with ordinary light ships in other countries, Russian frigates have larger displacements and sizes, good seaworthiness, long patrol periods, and large controlled sea areas.

Of course, to build an ocean-going navy cannot rely solely on nuclear submarines and small-tonnage ships. Large surface ships are also an essential part. At present, through the modernization and transformation of old warships, Russia has maintained the scale of large warships to a certain extent, enabling the navy to maintain the necessary combat effectiveness. But a reality that cannot be ignored is that Russia has not built a large surface warship of more than 10,000 tons for nearly 30 years.

Judging from the current situation, Russia still faces many challenges in building large surface ships. On the one hand, to build an ocean-going navy, financial support is essential. Russian President’s Press Secretary Peskov stated in Moscow on 23 March 2018 that the Russian defense budget will decline in stages and is expected to fall below 3% of GDP in five years. Russian President Putin has repeatedly pointed out that in recent years, most of the various equipment and facilities of the Russian army have been updated. Therefore, the proportion of the Russian defense budget in the total government budget will decline in stages. At the same time, the Russian government will use a large amount of budget to develop the economy and improve people's livelihood.

In previous years, due to lack of funding, many new naval equipment expected to be mass-produced have not been completed as scheduled. As a star project of the Russian Navy, the 22350 frigate project had been delayed several times. In Russia's newly revised "Russian Weapons and Equipment Plan 2018 to 2025", the air and space forces and the army became the focus of future development, while naval funding had been cut. In this context, the Russian Navy’s plan to build large surface ships can only be temporarily shelved.

On the other hand, the development of Russia's defense industry encountered constraints. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, its complete defense industry system was hit hard, and the naval shipbuilding field was the hardest hit. Several large shipyards (such as Nikolaev Shipyard and Odessa Shipyard) capable of building ships of more than 100,000 tons class were inherited by Ukraine. In addition, most of the gas turbines of large Russian ships need to be imported from Ukraine. After the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis, Russia and Ukraine suspended all military cooperation, and many Russian shipbuilding plans were stalled due to lack of power plants.

At the moment, in the Russian Navy there is a huge variety of types of ships, with minimal unification between them. For example, among small missile ships there are ships of project 1234.1, which are replaced by two types of ships - 21631 and 22800. And there are also anti-submarine ships of project 1124, corvettes of project 20380 both in service and in construction, corvettes of project 20385 and now here are 20386. The last representative of the “mosquito fleet” of the Russian Federation are the project 22160 patrol ships under construction.

There is no need to talk about the discrepancy among the large class ships, among them there is a real "zoo", starting from the Smetlivy missile system, launched in 1967, to different frigates of projects 11356 and 22350 being simultaneously built. , will again be built in a small series, becoming the basis for some new project, now known as 22350M. Similarly, ocean-going ships of the first rank of still Soviet-built.

All this creates a lot of difficulties in supplying ships with spare parts, in repairs, in training officers and midshipmen. It is easy to guess that from a financial point of view, it is more profitable to have a spare part of the same type in the warehouse than ten non-interchangeable analogues. For comparison, the US Navy has one type of destroyer (class "Arleigh Burke"), one type of cruiser (class "Ticonderoga"). Aircraft carriers are mainly of the "Nimitz" class, which is replaced by the "Ford" class, universal landing ships are mainly of the "Wasp" class, replaced by the "America" class, etc. Moreover, these ships are very much unified with each other.

The program for updating the Navy, which began in the mid-2000s, could well have led to uniformity. Instead, the fleet began to be saturated with ships of different classes that were not unified with each other. If it is correct and profitable for the Navy to have unified ships, then for design organizations it is beneficial to design and build many different classes of ships to perform the same tasks, ideally - one at a time. This is also beneficial for the industry, because it allows literally everyone to work - the ships are different and the systems on them must be different, which means that both Kolomna [diesel] and Rybinsk [gas turbine] will work on engines, for example. And with other systems everything will be similar.

The All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) found that the majority of Russian citizens (67%) believe that the Russian Navy was the strongest in the world, in the second place, according to Russians, was the American fleet (40%), the third - Chinese (15%). This was evidenced by survey data published on 31 July 2019. Also, the majority of respondents (89%) expressed confidence that the Russian Navy was able to protect the country's maritime borders in the event of a real threat from other states, and this figure has increased by 19 percentage points over the past 14 years (89% in the current survey against 70%). in 2005). Along with this, 85% of respondents noted that service in the Navy was, in their opinion, prestigious, while only 5% of respondents adhere to the opposite opinion. More than half of survey participants (56%) would approve of the choice of their children and grandchildren to become naval officers. In general, today, like 14 years ago, almost every fifth Russian respondent (17% in 2019 against 18% in 2005) had friends, relatives or acquaintances who serve or work in the Russian Navy.

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Page last modified: 13-09-2021 17:22:19 ZULU