The Slava class was designed as a surface strike ship with some anti-air and ASW capability. Falling midway between the massive 'Kirov' battle-cruiser and 'Sovremenny' class destroyers, this smaller contemporary of the Kirov may have been intended as a less-expensive complement to the larger ships. Slavas were built at the same yard that built the 'Kara' Class cruisers, and the hull appears to be a stretched version of the earlier design.
The sixteen SS-N-12 Sandbox anti-ship missiles are mounted in four pairs on either side of the superstructure, giving the ship a distinctive appearance. Many sources credit the Slava with the ability to carry nuclear armed SA-N-6 surface-to-air missiles, and 21-inch nuclear torpedoes, in addition to the SS-N-12. Soviet sources denied that the SA-N-6 missiles on the ship was even nuclear capable. They also indicated that the crane aboard the ship was used for handling boats, and not for loading or reloading SA-N-6 missiles, a procedure accomplished only at portside.
Initially designated Black Com 1 [Black Sea Combatant #1] by Western intelligence and subsequently the Krasina class , the first Slava class cruiser became operational in 1983, and by 1990 three were in the fleet, with the third beginning sea trials in August 1989. Some sources suggested that the Soviet Navy intended to build as many as 21 units of this class, which would have enabled the Soviets to replace the Kynda and Kresta classes as they retired in the 1990s. But such plans were not evident in actual Cold War era building activity. The low priority attached to this class was evident from the unusually long construction period of the units completed by the end of the Cold War, and the fact that only four units were laid down. The design is said to be marred by large quantities of flammable material and poor damage-control capabilities.
The fourth Project 1164 class cruiser (the class is also referred to as Slava, by the name of its initial ship) was laid down at the 61 Communards shipyard in 1983 or 1984 as Admiral Lobov. Under the project, its missiles were designed for use against high-survivability warships accompanied by auxiliary vessels with air and missile defense weapons systems. It was to be supplied to the Russian navy in 1990, but construction slowed down in the late 1980s after the Soviet Union cut its military spending. The vessel was eventually launched in August 1990, but was in practice only 75% complete, lacking some non-essential equipment and weapons.
In 1990, the cruiser was set afloat. After the USSR disintegrated, the warship was in dry dock for several years, as Russia said it did not need it (the shipyard recently finished repairs on an analogous Russia cruiser, the Moskva (former the Slava). Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, the cruiser, with 75 percent degree of completion, was turned over to Ukraine on 1 October 1993, which had no money for completing it, and renamed Ukraina. In 1994, a team was formed to examine completing the ship, but for lack of funds, it was dissolved, and the renovation of discontinued. At first, the Russian navy could not buy it, and later, the deal was prevented by political differences between the two countries.
Once the unfinished ship project was transferred to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, the Ukrainian parliament’s main contribution has been to rename the ship as the Ukraina. Providing funds to bring the ship to completion has proved an impossible task. In 1996, its completion was stopped due to the lack of funding.
The vessel remained incomplete as of late 1997. On 17 February 1998 the President of Ukraine made the decision about the renovation of cruisers. On 21 February 1998 the government of Ukraine announced plans to complete the fourth Slava-class cruiser [ordered for Russia as the Admiral Flota Lobov] as its new fleet flagship, the Ukrayina. A second team was formed, which subsequently also was dissolved. The ship was to have been completed for the Ukraine Navy in November 2000, but lack of funds slowed work to the point that by early 2001 a new completion date was projected. This time, the cruiser was finished at 95%.
The future flagship of the Ukrainian Navy twice became flagship of the regional election campaign. First in 1998 when Premier and NDP leader Valery Pustovoitenko said at a campaign rally in Mykolayiv that the cruiser would be completed for the Ukrainian Naval Forces. After the elections no one remembered the promise. A year later, the warship was remembered by the Defense Minister who said in an interview with The Day that the Admiral Lobov, renamed the Ukraine, would join the Ukrainian Navy in November 2000, that it would be commissioned personally by President Kuchma, and that to finish construction the 61 Communards would receive 100,000 hryvnias.
In 2004, it was declared that the Cruiser was ready to take tourists, which would mean converting it into a museum, but these plans remained plans. The warship could not be sold to China or India because its weapons, in particular the Bazalt/Vulkan (SS-N-12 Sandbox) missile system with a range of 1,000 km (622 miles), could not be exported as exceeding the 300-km (186-mile) international range limit on exported missiles.
When Viktor Yanukovych won the presidential election in Ukraine in 2009, and a change in the political climate ensued, Russia and Ukraine resumed talks on the completion of the cruiser for the Russian navy. In 2010, during a working visit to Nikolayev Defense Minister Mikhail Yezhel said Ukraine "better sell it to Russia because our own State never finished and equipped the cruiser".
In May 2010 the Russian and Ukrainian presidents agreed that Russia will help Ukraine complete the building of the guided missile cruiser Ukraina, which had been docked unfinished at the Nikolayev (Mykolaiv) shipyard in Ukraine. The question was what fate the future held for this cruiser, the last commissioned unit of a class of warships known as Project 1164, and, in particular, who will the ship ultimately belong to?
With the market a little soft for unfinished, technologically outdated missile cruisers, President Viktor Yanukovych may be forced to place a “Reduced Price – Distress Sale” sign on Ukraine’s missile cruiser Ukraina. Yanukovych made his sales pitch to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during a recent meeting, but Putin managed to keep his enthusiasm for a deal well in check. A transcript of the meeting between Yanukovych and Putin in which the matter was discussed, posted on the Russian government website, makes clear that Putin viewed the possible purchase of the Ukraina for the Russian Navy an expensive proposition. "I am very grateful that you have decided to build it (the cruiser), but now concrete steps are also needed. Our military authorities are prepared on both sides to propose a final project, the value of which, as I was reported, will be about $70-75 million," the transcript quoted Yanukovych as saying during the meeting.
In turn, Putin noted that it remains unclear where exactly the cruiser would be finished. "It is not clear where to finish it. To complete the construction in a modern form in Mykolayiv, it is necessary to retool the shipyard. If the yard is not converted, then it [the Ukraina] should be towed to Severodvinsk. Both are expensive and difficult," Putin said. At the same time, Putin promised that Russia would do everything necessary and examine the issue. Earlier, there were reports that Russia had agreed to finance the completion.
In July 2010 the Ukraine-Russia Special Commission started its work at the 61 Communards Shipbuilding Yard. The aim of the Commission is to give a complex assessment of the expediency of completion of the missile cruiser “Ukraine”. The Commission was established by a decision made at the meeting of a Security Committee of the Ukraine-Russia Interstate Commission that was held in the Crimea in June. The Commission must give a realistic appraisal of the vessel including the actual tear and wear and restoring resource of the equipment; prepare propositions on modernization as well as the cost of modernization and additional equipment for the military ship. One of the peculiarities of the missile cruiser project is high specific amount of available weapons on the cruiser. It must have attack missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, artillery guns, torpedoes, antisubmarine and antitorpedo weapons as well as radio and aircraft armament.
The Verkhovna Rada canceled its resolution on naming the cruiser Ukraina, explaining that finishing her construction and adding her to the Ukrainian Navy were not legally envisaged, so the name Ukraina was irrelevant. The Supreme Council of Ukraine passed Resolution ?6357 of 06.07.10 “On Acknowledging as Void the Resolution of the Supreme Council of Ukraine “On Giving the Name “Ukraine” to the Missile Cruiser (Project 1164, Serial Number 2011)”. The Resolution was passed inasmuch as there were no plans for completion of the missile cruiser and its adoption by the Ukrainian Navy.
Yanukovych’s allegation that this will serve to improve cooperation in the shipbuilding sphere was hard to digest. The problem is it cannot be completed according to the initial design because the equipment created in the 1970s and 1980s is no longer produced. The idea is to undertake an extensive overhaul to modernize the ship and arm it with modern weapons systems. Besides, the equipment mounted on the cruiser needs to be repaired or replaced after its long stay in the dock.
Most importantly, considering Russia's serious need for large modern warships, it could actually buy the cruiser Ukraina (and possibly rename it again). A modernized cruiser armed with a modern combat command and control system, a multipurpose shipboard fire-control system and sonar equipment would be among the world's most powerful and effective warships, if supported by the new-generation corvettes and frigates that are being built for the Russian navy, against any enemy. And if the modernization of the cruiser Ukraina proves a success, it could also be used on the other Project 1164 ships - Moskva, Marshal Ustinov and Varyag.
The cruiser Ukraina has a firepower second only to the Project 1144 heavy missile cruisers, such as Pyotr Veliky, currently the only ship of this class on combat duty. Its foreign analogue is the Ticonderoga class of missile cruisers, which have better electronic and air defense systems, but a weaker anti-ship capability.
An upgrade of the Project 1164 cruisers, with installation of new combat command and control systems and replacement of the S-300F Fort missile systems with new-generation weapons, would ensure them superior firepower compared to their main rivals.
Most likely she will be sold to Russia, as soon as a bargain is struck, said Russia’s Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov in Vladivostok on 01 March 2011. His statement was confirmed by his Ukrainian counterpart, Mykhailo Yezhel. He was sure the issue would be resolved in the near future. “I wouldn’t want to make guesses, but today we visited the Pacific Fleet’s Varyag cruiser of the same type and saw what she was all about. I wouldn’t order the Ukraina cut down, not with her 95-percent combat readiness. I think Serdyukov wants the Russian Navy to have another such cruiser.” He went on to say that the Ukrainian cruiser no longer bears the name Ukraina, that she is on record under some number.
Perhaps coincidentally, when asked by a journalist about what price would be acceptable to Russia, Serdyukov replied jokingly: “For free.” His reply to the question about where the cruiser would be deployed if and when purchased by Russia sounded derisive: “On the Black Sea.” Short and to the point. In other words, the former Ukraina will most likely be deployed at Sevastopol, now that the Russian naval base has a term of 25 years.
The annual maintenance of the vessel currently is around UAH 5 million (UAH 7.91 / USD 1). But the bargain was still to be made. Moscow may find Kyiv’s price excessive and will tell Ukraine to find another buyer or let the ship rust in the harbor. The condition of Ukraine’s defense budget would suggest that completion might never be accomplished unless a ready buyer put up the necessary funding. Any small country in the world looking to augment its navy in a major way should contact Ukraine’s presidential administration for a look at this low mileage, one-owner little fixer-upper. Selling the cruiser to a third party was impossible; it turned out to contain secrets of the former Soviet military- industrial complex. Experts were also skeptical about finishing the cruiser’s construction for the Ukrainian Navy, because using a ship of this class in the Black Sea, Ukraine’s area of interest, was considered ill- advised and prohibitively expensive. In addition, the cruiser was designed to carry nuclear warheads. Considering Ukraine’s nuclear-free status, it could now carry only conventional weapons, which does not befit a warship of this class. To finish the project 1164 missile cruiser "Admiral Lobov" (former "Ukraine") would require nearly a half billion UAH. This was stated by the Minister of Defense in late 2013.
During joint US-Ukraine Seabreeze exercises in mid-September 2015, Naval Forces Commander Sergey Gaiduk announced plans to sell Ukraine's ill-fated naval cruiser Ukraine. According to Gaiduk it had no future operational role in Ukraine's scaled-down fleet, and could be sold to another navy or for scrap.
At the opening of Kyiv's major arms fair “Arms and Defence 2015” on 22 September 2015, Bogdan Corporation, Ukraine's second largest car assembler, impressed crowds with the presentation of the new Bars-8 multifunctional light armoured vehicle, intended for Ukraine's military as well as for export. Bogdan also produces Hyundai all-wheel drive trucks with dual civilian and military use.
The Leninska Kuznya shipyard also displayed its new military vehicle designs at the arms fair: the Baran amphibious armored personnel carrier designed for use by Ukraine's National Guard, and the Triton amphibious multi-purpose armoured vehicle with attack capabilities.
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