Russian Navy Refits Cold War Submarine – Orders French Assault Ships

By George Backwell at December 03, 2011 23:26
Filed Under: Navy insights, Navy News

Russia plans to have ten new nuclear powered attack submarines by year 2020, the first now delayed until the end of 2012; in the meantime the Navy has to make the best they can of it with an ageing fleet. A case in point –  the Russian nuclear submarine SSN Voronezh  (K-119) –  an Oscar ll class veteran ‘cold war’ warrior launched in 1988 came out of the Zvezdochka Ship Repair Centre last week after entering dock (no less than five years’ ago) for ‘emergency’ repairs to the main steam turbine engine and a change of uranium fuel in her two reactors. According to Russian Navy News Service the warship has now been repaired and refitted so that her service life with Russia’s Northern Fleet will be extended for another three years. One more cold war nuclear submarine veteran has already replaced Voronezh in the repair dock.

Russian Nuclear Submarine SSN Voronezh: Photo courtesy of JSC Zvezdkochka Repair Centre

Analysts consider that defense shipbuilding capability has deteriorated to the extent that the Russian Navy may be left with few modern operational warships by the end of the decade unless urgently needed funding is provided. Overhaul and repair of a fleet well past it’s ‘sell-by date’ carries on, while two state-of-the-art Mistral (L9013) amphibious assault ship/helicopter carriers are on order from France to plug another gap in the capabilities of the surface fleet.

Russian Navy Order for Mistral Class Amphibious Assault Ship/Helicopter Carriers

Reportedly the first tranche of advance cash was recently paid by Moscow to French defense shipbuilder DCNS under a $1.2-billion contract for the construction of the first two Mistral class ships and construction is already underway. The contract, which includes the transfer of advanced naval technology, specifies delivery in 2014 and the second assault ship a year later.

According to Russian news source Ria Novosti the hulls of the third and fourth ships of the class will be built in Russia, the United Shipbuilding Corporation and the Baltiisky Zavod shipyard having signed a 2.5 billion ruble ($80 million) contract to this effect on Friday last.

Mistral Amphibious Assault Landing Ship at Toulon: Photo credit – FaceMePLS – Twitter (CCL)

Propulsion system of France’s Mistral-class is diesel-electric (two currently in service with the French Navy are propelled by azimuth thrusters) with four Wärtsilä  (3 x 16V32 and 1 x 18V200) marine diesel engines powering the two electric motors to give a 19 knot service speed.

Sources indicate these ships can carry 16 medium or 35 light helicopters and the Russian version of the Mistral class is expected to have eight Ka-52K and eight Ka-29 helicopters as well as 70 armoured vehicles for amphibious operations, carried to the shore by 4 landing craft launched from the stern. It is not yet clear what armaments the new Russian versions will have.



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