Russia’s juggernaut Admiral Nakhimov cruiser is about to return to service after spending the past two decades in the shipyard.
“We can say that our work is proceeding as planned … I think the cruiser will go into testing in 2023,” said Vladimir Korolyov, deputy general manager of the United Shipbuilding Corporation for Russian military shipbuilding. Recount reporters earlier this week. Nakhimov was stowed in the Russian shipyard Sevmash for repairs in 1999; however, work on the cruiser did not begin in earnest until after 2013. Admiral Nakhimov was previously scheduled to start testing in 2021 and join the Navy in 2022, but that timeline would have been repulsed due to unspecified “supplier issues”.
With a displacement of 28,000 tonnes at full load, the Kirov class is the largest and heaviest class of surface combatant in the world. Within the Russian navy, the Kirov cruisers come in second after the 58,000 tonnes problem. Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier. Intended to serve alongside a planned but never completed line of nuclear-powered Soviet aircraft carriers, the Kirov class was to herald a new era of projection of Soviet world power.
The warship that has become Admiral Nakhimov was commissioned in 1988 as the Kalinin and, like all other Kirov cruisers, renamed in the early 1990s following the Soviet collapse. The warship was armed to the teeth, in accordance with its primary purpose of endangering US strategic submarines and carrier strike groups. Nakhimov carried up to twenty P-700 Granit cruise missiles, ten torpedo tubes which also supported anti-submarine missiles, four anti-submarine rocket launchers of the RBU family, the naval variant of the system of S-300 surface-to-air missiles, and six units of the Kashtan close-quarters weapons system.
Vladimir Putin’s administration considered modernizing the four cruisers that the Russian Navy inherited from its Soviet predecessor, but ultimately decided to sacrifice half of the Kirov floats to free up the funds needed to save the other. Admiral Ushakov and Admiral Lazarev are expected to be scrapped in 2021, while Nakhimov and Petr velikiy will be repaired and refitted. There are few details on the progress of work in progress on Nakhimov. Korolyov noted, without giving further details, that the engineers in charge of the refit had to solve many problems with the cruiser’s power plant. He added that the Sevmash team are revamping the ship’s missile launch systems.
Nakhimov is expected to be upgraded with a drastically overhauled arsenal of weapons as part of its ongoing modernization. It is widely believed that both Nakhimov and Petr velikiy will receive Russia’s new 3M22 Tsirkon, a winged anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile, as well as a naval variant of the S-400 missile defense system, P-800 Oniks supersonic anti-ship missiles and Kalibr cruise missiles.
The full extent of Moscow’s deployment plans for Nakhimov are unclear, but the cruiser is expected to remain in the Northern Fleet after entering service. The two Admiral Nakhimov and Petr velikiy should serve well in the decades to come.
Mark Episkopos is a national security reporter for the National interest.