Neustrashimy, Proyekt 41 destroyers

Destroyer Neustrashimy (1952)

In service 1955-74

Neustrashimy (“Dauntless”) was an attempt by the admiralty to replace the large-scale Skoriy class destroyers in the early 1950s by a larger, more capable ship, comparable to the new generation of 1950s USN “feet escorts”, and with an equally large producton scale. This prototype however was considered too large and costly for series production and shelved by Kruchtchev after the death of Stalin, while a modified, more modern design, the Kotlin class was chosen instead. Soviet Designation was Project 41 and she was reported by NATO as the “Tallinn class”. Built by Zhdanov Shipyard (Leningrad) between 1950 and January 1952 she was only commissioned on 31 January 1955, after making extensive trials and receiving fixes in between. She served in the Baltic Fleet, decommissioned in February 1974.

Skoryy class destroyers, the current mass-built postwar serie (just started at the time)

Genesis of a new destroyer (1947-50)

Project 48 and 48K, better known as the “Kiev class”

The new first true Soviet post-war destroyer project was not proyekt 30-bis (Skoryy) class (largely a souped-up WW2 Ognevoi), but in reality project 41, the tactical and technical assignment for its development being approved on June 14, 1947, by TTZ. This was essentially a successor of both the Ognevoi and Skoryy class, mass-produced new generation destroyer designed for a cold war context. It was larger, faster, had a greater range, and was better armed than previous ones in many ways. This was the greenlight for development. Project 41 was the result of a fusion between project 48 development, never completed, and Project 40 destroyers. Project 48 was the prewar Kiev class, successors of the Tashkent flotilla leader. They were never completed but in size and power, were something as an upper limit for Soviet destroyers at the time.

Project 40 destroyers (1943) which inaugurated the new turret type in development at the time, adopted by postwar destroyers.

Project 40 was a successor design to the late 1930s Ognevoi class: It had three twin 130 mm turrets, two quintuple torpedo tubes over a displacement of 2,890 tons standard and 4,090 tons fully loaded, 135 m x 13.5 m x 3.87 m, 2 GTZA geared steam turbines and 4-6 water-tube boilers on 2 propellers rated for 72,000, up to 81,200 shp and a top speed between 36 and 40 knots. Project 40N saw a lot of discussions about armament, three twin 130mm/57 SM-2-1 DP and six twin 45mm/78 SM-16 twin AA or in the modified version four quadruple 45mm/78 SM-20-ZIF heavy quad AA or the same with 57mm/78 ZIF-75 heavy quad mounts and later a combination of two twin 57mm/78.7 ZIF-31, two quadruple 25mm/79 4M-120 and new 53-56 13.0km type torpedoes, later upraded to the 53-57 (18.0km range) model.

The new design, a synthesis of both, was entrusted to the TsKB-53 team headed by V.A. Nikitin as lead designer. The latter was really an outstanding shipbuilder, making great contribution to to the Soviet fleet for years. The observation group from the Navy participated also in the project, led by Engineer-Captain 2nd Rank M.A. Yanchevsky. Preliminary draft and design work went for a full year, completed on August 19, 1948, its results were approved by a decree of the USSR Council of Ministers. A year later, on September 28, 1949, the technical design was approved.


In September 1949 also, decision was made to develop a new series of destroyers with innovative and advanced features, to be delivered gradually, with a lead ship followed by a pre-production and then full serial production of no less than 110 ships, intended to replace older models FY1955. In December 1949, Zhdanov shipyard started construction of Project 41, now officially named “Neustrashimy”. The official keel laying took place on July 5, 1950. In December 1950 preparations started for the construction of the whole serie in other shipyards, tooling and modularity in mind for fast delivery dates to be met. Neustrashimy was launched on January 29, 1951, and on January 26, 1952, without even waiting for completing her stating tests, at mooring, she sailed out for her sea trials.



In technical terms, she was a qualitatively new stage in destroyer, or even soviet ship development at the time, across the whole spectrum of surface shipbuilding in USSR at large, a brave leap forward in the future. According to the projects manager, her the hull was for the first time flush-deck, with a slight sheer aidships. Except for her bow, the boiler casings on the upper deck brand new weapons, she was very “clean”, with little observable superstructures. There were also almost no portholes and she was for the first time also designed to met NBC requirements (anti-nuclear protection), brought to the maximum extent possible. In addition, the lack of superstructure meant weight was saved for passive protection and so the main command post, bridge, boiler casings, main caliber turrets, anti-aircraft guns, even the stabilized FCS were all protected by armor, ranging from of 8-10 to 20 mm in thickness. Never a destroyer has been so well protected.

Original publication deeper look at the internals and other details


Stern view

The main power plant was also radically different from previous destroyers, with a two-shaft power plant housed in two independent and fully autonomous compartments in case of torpedo hit. If one was submerged, other compartments, forming an echelon could still assume propulsion of the ship. Each of these units housed a TV-8 type GTZA steam turbine which had by itself developed a total output of 33,000 hp on a small package. Two main boilers served them each. These Automated boilers of the 3-drum KV-41 “turbo” type used forced blowing directly into the furnace for a pressure pressure of up to 64 kg/cm 2. It was even launched without preliminary warming up. The ship with its two shafts still had better maneuverability than the Skoryy, with less propeller shaft revolutions. The whole powerplant was a feat of engineering by itself, beind reduced weight and dimensions, 100 tonnes lighter than the on the 30-bis project vessels. Fuel consumption turned out to be also 20% lower. Electrical power was also revolutionary: It called for the first time on a three-phase alternating current 220V at 50 Hz. The project 41 powerplant was the single greatest success of the design, copied on the Projects 56, 57bis, 58, 1134/1134A, 1123, and presumably also 1164 and 956.


Main armament:

It comprised two twin turret with 130-mm stabilized universal guns SM-2-1. Both were installed on deck level fore and aft. Each had its own enslaved Shtag-B radar rangefinder. They could be both operated through local and remote control, which was also brand new at the time. These 58 caliber guns received a common cradle so no independent barrel elevation however. This looked a step step backward compared to the Project 30 Skoryy turrets, but the reason for this was the total trust and hope into the new innovative stabilization system used, which precluded the turrets to have separate barrels due to dimensions issues. Such stabilization however turned out to be a fiasco and its development was discontinued. Firing data was generated by the Yakor-M radar, helped by a stabilized targeting gear SPN-500, assisted by a ZDMS-4 rangefinder. This data was processed via the Zenit-41 PUS system.

Anti-aircraft artillery:

It included four stabilized twin 45 mm SM-16 mounts, and two quadruple 25 mm 4M-120 mounts. The SM-16 were controlled either from the main local FCS, or from MZA telemeters, fed by data from the Foot-B radar. The 4M-120 guns were operated manually. They were provided with 4,000 and 10,000 rounds respectively total.

Torpedo armament:

It was represented by two quintuple 533-mm torpedo tubes, relatively classic and standardized. It was the same type as found on light cruisers of the project 68-bis (Sverdlov class). The torpedoes fired were likely of the PTA-53-41 Stalingrad T-41 coupled with the Zarya fire control system. This type which was later replaced by the model 53-51 (entering service in 1951), still a non-homing model but weighting, 4,134 lbs. (1,875 kg) for 299 in (7.6 m) in lenght, carrying a 661 lbs. (300 kg) warhead up to 4,400 yards at 51 knots or 8,750 yards (8,000 m) at 39 knots, using a Kerosene-air wet heater.

Mines & Depth charges:

In addition of mine rails mounted on the upper deck to carry up to 48 KB Krab naval mines or 48 GMZ models could be carried in all, conveyed to the mud chutes at the stern. In addition, Neustrashimy carried six BMB-2 DC projectors (48 in store) on the broadside, and two depht charge throwers, automated reload, with 57 in reserve. There was a General-purpose long range radio equipment and of course the the Foot-N air target detection radar, and Rif surface targeting system, plus the Pegasus Sonar.


Noted design issues and fate

-Poor Agility: Despite all its promises, the innovative Neustrahimy was a difficult ship to complete and put into service due to the number of new systems invilvd and the general complexity which resulted of it. Neustrashimy was overll not a successful design. Soon trials revealed it was very slow to react to the helm, the rudders demultiplication gear seems to have been grossly underpowered, and the ships in fact turned better when using the two shafts. The rudders themselves were replaced by the ship still proved to be a “pig” when manoeuvering at full speed or even mid-speed. In addition also she vibrated badly aft.

-Poor speed: The biggest surprise came out also on trials, was the poor full speed reached and equally poor cruising range despite promising fuel efficiency: TTZ initially fixed the goal of reaching 36 knots, but only trials only 33.5 knots could be reached, weeping the boilers red hot.

The cruising range maintained at 14 knots was also supposed to be 5,500 miles, but it in the end, sea trials showed only 5,210 could be reached, by lowering speed and avoiding manoeuvers. In the trials acceptance report was noted the following: “… this happened due to the insufficient design capacity of the mechanical installation and errors in the methodology for calculating the propulsion by the Central Research Institute 45”. In this regard, “Fearless” was identified as an excessively large ship, too much for mass-production or reaching acceptable performances for destroyer standards, but still possessed significant reserves for modernization. However other problems were identified in the first live fire tests.

-Compromised AA fire: Another issue was the twin 45-mm AA guns. As they were placed in tandem, they could not be used simultaneously, and this was true for the forward and aft semi-batteries and broadside batteries that were unable to fire forward correctly and had overall limited arcs of fire. In addition, the SM-16 mounts themselves were non-serial and experienced lots of lingering teething problems. Also, the shape of the bow was noted to create way to much spray, again hampering the efficiency or even the all-weather use of the forward 130mm and 57mm AA guns;

-Radar issues: In addition, the untested Foot-B radar turned out to be unreliable.

This serie of initial mishaps conducted in June 1951 the Council of Ministers, to decide project 41 was going nowhere and the whole program was to be discontinued. Serial production was shelved, meaning all expensed made by preparing mass-production, procuring materials and sub-systems, and even all the hull down already were to be dismantled and recycled.

Sea trials in 1955

Career of the Neustrashimy


A short service time, of about 16 years

Neustrahimy was given the serial 614 and enlisted in January 31, 1955, but after long and gruelling trials of all kinds, she was only admitted into operational service on December 27, 1957 part of the 4th fleet from 26/07/1955. She was later transferred to the DKBF (Baltic Fleet). The whole detail: She made a trip around Denmark, and in summer, made another one to the Great Belt, Kattegat and Skagerrak and close to Scorland, past the Faroe Islands and Jan Mayen, then roamed the Norwegian Sea and the Orkney Islands. She returned to Barents Sea, and joined Severomorsk (Northern Fleet). She was back in the Baltic in late July 1955 and in August, sailed to the Shetland Islands, reached the 55th parallel. After a first refit followed in November 1960 ship’s composition was somewhat weakened and she was back in service in the spring of 1960. Her AA SM-16 mounted were replaced with the proven quad 45-mm SM-20-ZiF and the 25-mm mounts were removed altogether. The DC launchers were replaced with two RBU-2500 ASWRL, and the experimental “Foot B” replaced by an older, but proven and tested radar. In May she paradede at the Nevsky celebration, and after a stop in the baltic prepared for her first long oceanic cruiser, departing by August, and reaching the the Mediterranean Sea. She however never headed for the Black Sea, and came back to Portugal, the Channel, and back in September. In September under her Captain 3rd Rank B.V.Ivanov, Nikita Khrushchev decided to cross the Atlantic by sea, not on her board but the “Baltika”, and she became an escort.

Sea trials

She received a major modernization which took place from 21.5.1962 to 23.12.1963. It started on May 21, in “Tosmare” shipyard in Liepaja and she returned into service until October 1967, for her new overhaul. From 10.10.1967 to 6.1.1969 she underwent her second major overhaul, in Liepaja (Libau). This consisting of keeping the four quad 45mm/89 SM-20-ZIF of the first refit, plus two sextuple 16 RBU-2500 Uragan-2 ASWRL added, a Fut-N, and Yakor’-M2 systems, P-10 radars, Pegas-2M sonar and Machta-P4 ECM suite. But this only granted her six more years of active service.

On January 6, 1969, she was back into the channel and she became part of the 176th BEM in the Baltic. In October she saw her first and last “combat” damage while live firing she fired on a Project 56 (Kotlin) project “hastily”. One of her their 130-mm round hit the bottom of her freeboard aft superstructure, went through but did not made more damage nor crew casualty. In the summer of 1970 (Captain 2nd rank V.M.Demkin) she participated in the Polish People’s Republic Navy 25th anniversary, carrying Commander Admiral V.A.Kasatonova on board together with the battlecruiser Kirov (Captain V.P.Makarov). It was her last long trip abroad. After she participated in the Anniversary of the Revolution aval parade, she returned in Liepaja to take part in the new task force of the Baltic.

Baltic sea 1966

In autumn 1972 she was transferred in the 166 training Brigade in Kronstadt, alongside “Kirov”, “Zheleznyakov” and “Admiral Ushakov” and the training ships Borodino and Hanko; and “Bars” (project 50 ship) For the remaining 2 years of service, “Fearless” paraded in Leningrad on the Neva River in the autumn of 1973. On January 25, 1974 she was decommissioned but placed in reserve with preservation measures taken. She was eventually mothballed in Kronstadt. On 02/22/1974, she was fully disarmed, and sticken from the Navy list. She was put on the disposal list as a hulk 03/12/1974 and in in 1974-75 scrapped at the Glavvtorchermet base, Leningrad. This did not went out without a fight however: Sailors and workers at the Kronstadt Marine Plant, wanted to preserve her as a museum ship, due to the number of innovations she pioneered. Alas, they were ordered after a month to start dismantle her, including secret equipment. By mid-April this was done, and she was transferred to the Department of property stock. On board, however she was used by a floating Studio for the Ministry of Defence to create educational film on survival onboard such ship. The upper deck was put ablaze for it, successfully extinguished in accordance with the script, but her superstructure was completely ravaged. Towed to Leningrad she was beached at Turuhtannye Island, Coal Harbour, at the Leningrad Forestry port, waiting for the metal cutters to come.

After her second refit in 1972

New revelations about Neustrashimy’s issues

Further sea trials later showed that the lack of speed of project 41 depended on deeper reasons. Indeed, the “Spokoiny”, lead ship of the project 56 program (Kotlin class) which was developed as an improvement of project 41, had both a lighter displacement by 400 tons and significantly more power at 10,000 shp but was still only able to reach one knot faster than Neustrahimy. This conducted to a thorough and exhaustive examination of both designs, by a specially created technical commission. The latter comprised all the best minds, mathematicians and experts in ship theory, headed by Professor Engineer-Rear Admiral V.G. Vlasov. They worked out the entire “stern-propeller-rudder” system developed for both designs and concluded it was designed incorrectly. The main problem was found in the grave distortion of the hydrodynamic flow created by the combination. It prevented the propellers to develop the necessary cavitation to reach these speeds, notably because of the generation of bubbles that sabotaged the water pressure around them. What was excellent for stealth was detrimental for high speeds. In the end, “Spokoiny”, the first Kotlin class destroyer, was to return in drydock for a rebuiding of the whole stern section, replaced by the corrected one suggested by the commission. It was not done on Neustrahimy though, which had a much shorter career.

Replacement by the Type 56 (Kotlin)

From the standpoint of today’s vision, the transition from Project 41 to Project 56 was unjustified. Most of its shortcomings could be eliminated by some time on drydock, as well as rapidly adjusting tooling and setup to launch the serie as initially planned, when considerable expenses had been done already. Project 41 still had a lot of valuable advanced technologies that could have been all been iron out, especially in comparison with the far less ambitious Project 56 in terms of greater survivability, autonomy, cruising range and a large size acting as a reserve for modernization. All these qualities were lacking in project 56 (Kotlin class) and it was felt especially acutely during the modernization phase, project 56-K “Bravy”. Indeed, engineers had to place solid ballast and use other tricks to meet requirements from the TTZ. Project 56, a far less satisfactory project replaced the Type 41 which never went into serial production, but it was not because of Stalin, which died in 1953 (decision was taken under Khrushchev). Old habits remained and mass production was decided against innovation. Only with the Kashin class USSR had the final word on this question, finding a valuable compromise.


There were many similarities between the Project 41 destroyer program and the T-64 Soviet main battle tank. Like the latter which replaced the very large postwar serie contemporary to the Skoryy-class destroyers, the legendary T-54/55, Project 41 was a revolutionary design, perhaps too ambitious for her age. She never reached full production but instead was replaced by a new serie, less ambitious in scope but more practical, the Kotlin class, and in tank equivalent, the T-72. With hindsight however, it’s clear that the Type 41 (Neustrahimy) would have been a kind of “elite” destroyer alongside the Kotlin, just as were the T-64 compared to the T-72s. The initial production of 110 ships was also very ambitious, but it could have led to numerous modifications and modernization and many exports along the way, well until 1990, so overall a cheaper proposition than the succession of short series that followed: 32 Kotlin, 8 Kildin, 14 Kashin, ann based on new plans and asking for extensive R&D. Nevertheless, Neustrashimy was indeed a “dauntless” proposal in 1950 that breakthrough many technologies and paved the way for these. Note: There are regular claims that plans were nevertheless sold to the Chinese and they became the base for the excellent Luda class, proving that the design was not “too large” or flawed.

Author’s old rendition

⚙ Specifications

Displacement 3100 tons (standard), 3,830 tons (full load)
Dimensions 133.83 m (439.1 ft) x 13.57 m (44.5 ft) x 4.42 m (14.5 ft)
Propulsion 2× shaft geared steam turbines TV8 GTZA, 4 boilers, 66,000 hp
Propulsion (electric) 2×400 kW TD-12 turbine generators, 1×100 kW turbine generator, 2×200 kW DG200/1 diesel generators
Speed 36 knots (67 km/h; 41 mph)
Range 20 days, 5210 nmi/14,1, 4300/17,7, 3080/23,8, 1000/33,5 kts
Armament 2×2 130mm DP, 4×2 45mm, 2×4 25mm AA, 2×5 533mm TTs (2×5), 2 DCM, 6 DCT, 48 mines
Electronics Radar Fut-N (air search), Ryf (surface), Sonar Pegas
Crew 305

Soznatelnyy of the Kotlin class (Pr.56) which followed.

Read More/Src
On Navypedia
Extra photos on
Book on wunderwaffe about coldwar DD development
On 51-58 M1957 130mm
GG Book Stalin’s ocean going fleet
Gardiner, Robert (ed.) (1995). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1947–1995.
Pavlov, A. S. (1997). Warships of the USSR and Russia 1945–1995.
Бережной С. Эсминец “Неустрашимый” (проект 41) «Морская коллекция» : Журнал. — 1995


Various details (same source as all in this post but two marked “cc”:

wow’s depiction of “Grozovoi” Pr.40N, an intermediate project close to Pr.41.

Kresta I class cruisers – Project 1134 Berkut (1964)

Kresta I class cruisers – Project 1134 Berkut (1964)

Admiral Zozulya, Vladivostok, Vitse-Admiral Drozd, Sevastopol.

Though considerably larger, more effective and reliable than the previous Kynda class, the Kresta I carried half the number of antiship missiles, with just a quarter in reserve. SS-N-12 Sandbox (P-500 Bazalt) protracted development meant they went into service with the obsolete SS-N-3 instead, but it self-defence armament was considerably increased as well C&C and communications facilities. Completed in 1967-69 they served until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990-95. The class was known by NATO “Kresta I” but it is known in Russia as Proyekt 1134 Berkut (golden eagle) in the navy listing and Admiral Zozulia class cruisers in the general public.

The first versatile Soviet missile cruisers

Development (Proyekt 934)

Project 1134 was in fact the remnant of the large program od large anti-ship rocket cruiser (RKR), stopped when priorities went to ASW warfare. Still armed with large P-35 antiship missiles, they were reduced in numbers and the vessels became “BKP” (large ASW ships). The initial program called for a brigade of seven heavy AsuW ships armed with long range missiles and two brigades of the same number (so 14 in all) of short-range missiles cruisers.
Both were designated as Proyekt 934 and Project 934A respectively. A few command ships (934K) were also planned, but Nikita Khrushchev then in charge rejected these flagship vessels, preferring to stick to the original number, originally to be a lead ship and three pairs of “regular” vessels.
Their proposed main battery was to be replacement for the SS-N-3, the new Ramjet Bazalt (SS-N-12), considered four time as effective at the time. However, their development took time, with many twists and turn, so that when the 934 design was ready, they were still far from being ready for service, leading to a redesign.

A Krest I cruiser shadowing USS John F. Kennedy in the Mediterranean sea, 1969

Evolution to Project 1134

Estimations led the admiralty to renounce implementing them and instead choosing a modified and smaller class with older missiles, the P35 Termit (SS-N-3). The program evolved into Project 1134 Berkut, with emphasis on self-defense, with two SAM launchers (instead of one) and ASW helicopters (not on the previous Kynda). With a much larger hull, 6,000 tonnes rather than 4,000, there was enough room to fit also more extensive C&C and communication facilities as well, quintuple torpedo tubes, but smaller 57 mm AA turrets (rather of the now obsolete 75 mm twins on Kynda) and two more RBU ASW launchers. Powerplant wise, this was the same essentially, and both ships had the same speed, but better range. Better even, the Kresta were far less top-heavy, better balanced, and in the end way better seaworthy ships, with good handling characteristics.

Design of the Kresta I

The general design first called an emphasis in size. The displacement was to be 2,000 tonnes heavier so 1/3, than the previous Kynda. Ths meant an overall length of 155 m instead of 141.7 m, and 17 m instead of 15.8 m, and relatively similar draught, 5.5 vs 5.3 m fully loaded. They displaced 6,000 tonnes standard (nominal) versus 4,400 tonnes, and 7,500 tonnes fully loaded (versus 5,600). The hull design was completely different also: The forecastle extended for much of the length, stopping just abaft the hangar doors, with a redesigned poop large enough to accomodate an helicopter spot. On the Kyndas, there was a massive superstructure to reload the missiles fore and aft, while no such system existed on the Kresta.

Project 1134’s two twin launcher tubes were placed on either side of the bridge instead, with its wings above. The superstructure was much elongated, lower, and instead of two masts and two funnels a single “mack” combining a large funnel and electronics above was mated to the mainmast, supporting the largest aerials in a single block amidship.
The superstructures fore and aft were elongated to support the reload systems of both SA-N-1 twin arms missile systems. Their fire control radars were placed on raised platforms for and aft, one over the main bridge forward and one 10 m aft of the mack and mainmast. Both twin 57 mm AA turrets were located abaft the aft SAM control radar. The torpedo tubes were placed on deck, broadsides, in between the aft control radar and mack. The RBU launchers were of two types; the larger (RBU-6000) were placed traditionally at the prow with a wide arc of fire, the smaller (RBU-3000) either side of the hangar aft.

Top view of Vitze admiral Drozd, 1985
Top view of Vitze admiral Drozd, 1985


The Kresta I and Kynda shared the same powerplant: Two shafts steam turbines and four pressure boilers for a total of 95 to 100,000 shp (68,000–75,000 kW), which allowed for a nominal top speed of 34 knots (63 km/h; 39 mph). The change was the better radius of action, 10,500 nautical miles (19,400 km; 12,100 mi) at 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph) rather than only 7,000 nmi at 14.5 knots.
No change was made even during reconstruction o the powerplant in their later years, just maintenance.


SS-N-3 Shaddock (P-5 “Pyatyorka”)

The Kynda operated a previous generation of the same turbojet-powered cruise missile designed by the Chelomey design bureau. It was first experimented on modified Whiskey class submarines and later equipped the Juliet and Echo class SSGN. The Kresta had just four of these in non-reloading tubes.
Dimensions(C): 11.75 x 0.98m x 5 m
Weight: 5000 kg
Propulsion: Turbojet with launch rocket boosters
Top speed: Mach 0.9
Range: 750 km
Guidance: Inertial guidance, mid-course data link updates, terminal active radar homing.
Warhead: 1000 kg conventional/200-350 kt nuclear

SA-N-1 Goa (M1 Volna)

This ubiquitous system also called S-125 Neva/Pechora was largely exported. It was short-range, weighting 953 kg, 6.09 m long with the booster for a 37,5 cm diameter, 2.2 m winsgpan, and carried a frag-HE 60 kg warhread with proximity fuse. It was propelled by a solid propellant rocket motor and reached 35 kilometres (22 mi); Guidance used the RF CLOS system.

Twin 57 mm AK-725

The 57 mm (2.2 in) were 70 caliber twin turreted guns (denomination AK-725), it was an evolution of the ZIF-31 L/70 57mm (Type 66/76) cannon. The ZIF-31/71/75 mountings were much improved with the AK-725 which became a standard. Mzv: 3,346 fps (1,020 mps), RPM: up to 150. Max Ballistic Range: 9,210 yards (8,420 m)

Quintuple 533 mm TTs

Standard antiship torpedo tubes. Likely the 53-51 non-homing model: Weight 4,134 lbs. (1,875 kg) for 299 in (7.600 m) long, carrying a 661 lbs. (300 kg) warhead at a setting of 4,400 yards (4,000 m)/51 knots or 8,750 yards (8,000 m)/39 knots. It was powered by a Kerosene-air wet heater. It was replaced by the 53-56V from 1966. The latter could reach 14,200 yards (13,000 m) at 40 knots.

On board aviation

The greatest change was of course the presence of a permanent helicopter. The cramped Kynda was able to host an helicopter in her aft spot, but there was no protection nor facilities for it. On the Kresta class, this was now allowed. A single Ka-25 Hormone B helicopter was carried for three purposes:
-Main: Targeting the cruise missile and mid-course corrections (data link)
-Secondary: ASW patrol and strike
-Tertiary: SAR -Search & Rescue)


NATO designations are within brackets.
-MR-500 Kliver air search (Big Net)
-MR-302 Rubka (Head net C)
-Two MR-310 Angara (Head Light)
-Two Don-Kay and a Don-2 navigation/SS radar
-MG-312 Titan (Blue Nose)/MG-26
Fire control Radars:
-4R90 Yatagan (Muff Cob) (SA-N-1)
-MR-103 FCS (Bass tilt) (AK-725)
-Binom P35 Progress FCS
-Khrom-2M IFF (Side Globe)

Two views of the Admiral Zozulia in 1979
Two views of Amiral Zozulia in 1979

Author’s old rendition of the Kresta I

Specifications Kresta I as completed

Displacement: 6,000 tons standard, 7,500 tons full load
Dimensions: 159 x 17 x 6 m (522 x 56 x 20 ft)
Crew 340-360
Propulsion 4 shafts steam turbines, 4 boilers, 91-100,000 shp
Speed 34 knots (63 km/h; 39 mph)
Range 12,100 nmi at 14 knots
Armament 2×2 SS-N-3, 2×2 SA-N-1, 2×2 57mm, 2×5 533mm TTs
Electronics Radars MR-500, 502, 506, 103, FCR Yatagan, Binom P35, Khrom 2M, Sonar MG-26/312
Aviation Kamov Ka-25 “Hormone” helicopter

Drozd in 1985

Further development of the Kresta I class

Proyekt 934:

“armed with eight short range anti ship missiles (SS-N-9) otherwise similar to the ships built. This design evolved into Project 1134A, better known as the Kresta II class (NATO designation).

Project 934K:

Impression of the Project 934K
This was a larger Kresta cruiser (Kommandatur) modified with much more extensive command facilities and larger hangar accepting 4-5 helicopters. It was cancelled.
Project 934K would have received an elongated hull and enlarged helicopter deck aft, larger hangar as well. The five helicopters were to provided data link between the missiles waves launched by the several cruisers it lead.

Career and modifications of the Kresta I

Front view of Murmansk in March 1970
Front view of Murmansk in March 1970

The initial plan was for a single squadron of seven ships armed with long range missiles and two squadrons of fourteen ships armed with shorter range missiles. In reality only four ships were built before production switched to the anti-submarine variant the Kresta II class.
All the crusiers were built at the Zhdanov Shipyard in Leningrad: Admiral Zozulya was launched on 17 October 1965, Vladivostok on 1 August 1966, Vitse-Admiral Drozd on 18 November 1966, Sevastopol on 28 April 1967. They were commissioned in 1966-69, one year apart each.


In the early 1970s they received two twin P-35 SSM (4 4K44) missiles plus two twin launchers for the Progress SSM (4 4M44) missiles.
Later, in the mid-1970s, they received the Don radar (2nd model). In 1974 Admiral Zozulia received a MR-212 Vaygach radar. In 1976, Vitse-admiral Drozd and in 1991 Admiral Zozulia received four extuple 30mm/54 AK-630 CIWS and two MR-123 Vympel-A radars.

Admiral Zozulya

Admiral Zozulya in the 1980s, credits

Built at A.A. Zhdanov yard (serial no. 791), she was laid down on 26.7.64, launched on 17.10.65 and on completed 8.10.67. Her sea trials started on 15.2.67.
On 7.11.67 took part in the naval parade off the Neva estuary, 50th anniversary of the October Revolution. In Nov-Dec. 67 she cruised in the Baltic, from Baltiysk to Severomorsk. From 18.1.68 she was attached to the 120th Missile Ship Brigade.
In the Summer 1968 she took part exercises “Sever-68” and “Arktika-68”. In October, she made her first launch of the P-35 missile. The next year took part in the “Kolskiy Bereg” exercise
From August to October, she took part in the endurance exercise “Zarya-2”, from Severomorsk to Crete and back.
Until July 1970 she was in operations in the Mediterranean, in support of Egypt. In April she took part in the “Okean-70” exercise in the Northeastern Atlantic, until July 1970 she was back in the Mediterranean again and in August 1970 return north, in the Barents and White Seas, launching her P-35 missile for tests.
From November 1971 to June 1974 she was undergoing her major overhaul, repairs and modernization at the A.A. Zhdanov Yard in Leningrad.

The remainder of 1975 and 1975 were spent in post-refit trials and training of the crew. In December 1975 she was back in operations in the Mediterranean and Central Atlantic with “Admiral Isakov”. In August 1975 she visited Annaba in Algeria and lost her Hormove helicopter in a crash on 11.9.75. Until November 1977 operations she operated in the Northern Atlantic and Mediterranean, alternating between the summer and winter. On 18.10.77 she visited Dubrovnik.
By late 1977 she was reclassified as a Missile Cruiser (RKR) and in September 1978 she shadowed and tracked NATO exercise “Northern Wedding-78” together with Admiral Makarov and Smyshlenyy. From 31 march to 8 april 1984 she took part in the “Atlantika-84” exercise.
She underwent another long overhaul and modernization in drydock from 22.4.85 to 1992 at KMOLZ, Kronshtadt, by the 95th independent battalion. This saw the installation of four AK-630M 30mm CIWS guns and updated electronics and IFF. In 1986 she was officially transferred to the Baltic Fleet and by May 1992 she was attached to the 12th Missile Ship Division. Following a boiler accident, her powerplant was deactivated in the summer 95 and she remained in harbour, decommissioned in 24.9.94, and scrapped.

Vitse-Admiral Drozd

Drozd in 1986

Also from, A.A. Zhdanov (serial no. 793) laid down on 26.10.65, launched 18.11.66 and completed 27.12.68 in May 69 after sea trials and training, she was assigned to the 120th Missile Ship Brigade.
Until 16 September 1969 she operated in the Northern Atlantic and in August took part in the “Kolskiy Bereg” exercise with Gremyashchiy and Smyshlennyy. In March-April 1970 she took part in the “Okean-70” exercise and until July 1970 operated in the Norwegian Sea, before a sweep in the Central Atlantic and Caribbean Sea. She visited Cienfuegos in Cuba (possibly Havana too) as the traditional reward for the crew after good service.
In ealry 1971 Vitse-Admiral Drozd was in operations in the Northern Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and Mediterranean seas, making another Cuban stop but from 13 April 1971 she started to track a foreign submarine, northeast of Ireland with the destroyer Skromnyy. She also tracked the NATO task force off the Faroe Islands. later she took part in the exercise Orbita and by December was back to the Central Atlantic, until 1972.

In January, she veered south to visit Conakry in Guinea, passed the equator for the first time and took part in March in a large rescue operation for the missing “K-19” in the Bay of Biscay. In May she was visited by Soviet Navy commander Gorshkov. In Sept-October she operated in the Faroe Island and Iceland submarine barrier. From 1973 to February 1975 she underwent her first long overhaul, repairs and modernization in her former builder, A.A. Zhdanov Yard in Leningrad. In March 1975 she departed to Severomorsk to operate with Admiral Isachenkov and the destroyer Smyshlennyy. Until the summer 1976 she took part in several operations in the Central Atlantic and Mediterranean, always escorted with Smyshlennyy. In the black sea she took part in the “Krym-76” exercise and visited Annaba in Algeria twice in between. In October she shadowed and observed the NATO exercise “Strong Express”.

By late 1977 she was reclassified as a Missile Cruiser but collided in June 1980 with the submarine K-508, slightly damaged on her keel, so she was repaired until 1984 repairs and modernized another time at KMOLZ in Kronshtadt, with the installation of four AK-630M 30mm CIWS. She was back in Severomorsk and in 1985 was in operations in the Mediterranean with Kiev, Sovremennyy and the destroyer Otlichnyy, Marshal Timoshenko and the Stroynyy. In May 1985 she visited Dubrovnik and until June 1986 was back in operations in the Mediterranean with the destroyers Otlichnyy and Smyshlennyy, and the cruiser Ognevoy. In April 1986 she visited Tripoli and Tobruk. Back to homeport she was immobilized in 1988 until decommission in July 1990, and sold for BU in 1992 to an Indian company but sank en route, in tow to India.


Vladivostok in hawaiian waters, with the Foxtrot class submarine
Vladivostok in hawaiian waters, with the Foxtrot class submarine

Like her sister ship she was built in Zhdanov NyD (Leningrad) under the hull serial no. 792. She was laid down 24.12.64, launched 1.8.67 and completed 11.9.69. In August and until 1969 to February 1970 she made her training cruiser in the Baltic. She transited to Vladivostok via the Black Sea and Suez canal, escorted by the Strogiy ande landing ship BDK-66, making joined operations in the Indian Ocean on her way, and visited Lagos in Nigeria, Berbera, Mogadishu and Chisimayu, Aden, , being refuelled by the tanker “Egorlyk”. From February 1970 she was attached to the 175th Missile Ship Brigade.

In October 1970 she made a missile firing exercise with the cruiser Varyag, oberved by the Strogiy. On 26 May 1970 she was visited by the Bulgarian General Secretary Zhivkov and at the end of this month, visited by a Polish delegation. In early August, she made other missile launches with the submarine K-23 notably to test the datalink. She also took part in an exercise with Admiral Fokin and the destroyer Strogiy, Odarennyy, Upornyy, Burlivyy and Bezboyaznennyy acting as the admiral and command ship, squadron leader. The mineweepers SKR-4, SKR-74, Sakhalinskiy Komsomolets, MT-59, MT-750 accompanied her until October 1971 for operations in the Central and Northwestern Pacific.

She was the center of another task force, with the destroyers Upornyy and Bezboyaznennyy, the submarines K-108, B-8 and B-135 and the landing ship Ivan Vakhrameev and tanker Zhitomir. This was a high mission profile, potentially hazardous as together they investigated USN training areas and tested US defences along the US west coast. Between December that year and March 1972 she was sent to the Indian Ocean as an observer during the Indian-Pakistan conflict, with the cruisers Dmitriy Pozharskiy and Varyag and the destroyers Strogiy and Veskiy. Their main task was to dissuade any intervention by the US and Royal Navies.

Vladivostok in Hawaiian waters, 1971
Vladivostok in Hawaiian waters, 1971

From there, she was assigned to the 201st Anti-Submarine Warfare Brigade, in Zolotaya Rog. in April she was anchored and open to the public in Vladivostok, until june, sailing with the minister of defence Grechko onboard, the Soviet Navy commander Gorshkov, and other high officials. Vitse-Admiral Drozd sailed from Vladivostok to Abraya Bay and back. In June 1973, while returning from a missile training mission, she collided with the science research ship Akademik Berg, sinking with 27 dead and leading to an investigation. She took part in the rescuing as well as the cruiser Vladivostok. By late 1977, she was reclassified as a Missile Cruiser (RKR) and until November 1977, her missile training has he moving in the Sea of Okhotsk.

By Aril 1978 she took part in an exercise with her escort the cruiser Marshal Voroshilov, Admiral Oktyabrskiy and the destroyers Sposobnyy and Razyashschiy. This was a high-profile parade and exercise observed by General Secretary Brezhnev and the Minister of Defence Ustinov, both from the bridge of the cruiser Admiral Senyavin. Until August 1979, she was operations in the Indian and visited Port Louis (Mauritius) with the minesweeper SKR-133 and the tanker Akhtuba. The squadron also stopped at Victoria (Seychelles), Maputo (Mozambique), Cam Ranh Bay (Vietnam), Dakhlak (Eritrea), and Aden in South Yemen twice. In Aprilto December 1980 she was back for exercises in the Indian Ocean, stopping in Mauritius, and later visited Beira (Mozambique), Cochin in India, and operated with the destroyer Odarennyy and tanker Pechenga from there.

In April 1984 she tracked the aicraft carrier USS Kittyhawk, directing the submarine K-314 to it for a mock attack. By 1987n she was seen in operations in the South China Sea. From September 1988 up to 23 April 1990 she was in drydock for overhaul and modernization at Dalzavod (Vladivostok). But the latter was only 90% completed when stopped due to the lack of funds following the collapse of the Soviet Union. She was by then attached to the 173rd Missile Ship Brigade. The overaul was never completed and she was decommissioned on 19 April 1990.


An unidentified Kresta I cruiser off Naples
An unidentified Kresta I cruiser off Naples

The cruiser Sevastopol was from the same Zhdanov yard (hull serial no. 794), laid down in June 1966, launched in April 1967 and completed in September 1969. She was accepted into the Northern Fleet on the 21 October 1969, assigned to the 120th Missile Ship Brigade. In March-April 1970 she took part in the “Okean-70” exercise. From July to December she operated in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, escorted by the destroyer Smyshlennyy, two submarines and a tanker. The squadron successful tracked an unknwon SSBN of the George Washington class in the Mediterranean. In October-November, Sevastopol visited Havana in Cuba, as a reward to the crew.

In October 1972 and until April 1973 she was operating in the Atlantic, taking part in two anti-submarine exercises (“Duet” and “Ladoga”), Northeastern Atlantic, Norwegian Sea with Admiral Nakhimov and the destroyer Byvalyy. Until February 1973 she took part in a large ASW operation, temporarily based at Cienfuegos in Cuba. In April she visited Algiers and made later missile launches with the submarine K-128, using her helicopter and testing datalink between missiles. In May, she made a submarine hunt in the Northern Atlantic with Admiral Isakov and Admiral Makarov.

She was overhauled in drydock and modernized from December 1975 to March 1980 at SRZ-35 in Rosta. By late 1977 she was reclassified as a Missile Cruiser. From 19 October 1980 she was transferred to the Pacific Fleet, with the 175th Missile Ship Brigade. She sailed in July 1981 from Murmansk to Vladivostok along the northern arctic route. She stopped at Provideniya Bay and Petropavlovsk in the Kamchatka peninsula. In 1981 she mostly operated in the Indian Ocean, visiting Victoria in the Seychelles and Bombay. Until June 1983 she was repaired at Dalzavod in Vladivostok.

In October she made a sortie to search for the remnants of the downed Korean Airlines Boeing 747 together with Petropavlovsk, amidst international uproar and tensions. In July 1984 she was attached to the 173rd Missile Ship Brigade (Kamchatka Flotilla), after another overhaul and maintenance in January 86 at Dalzavod in Vladivostok. Until 1989 she experiences numerous preobles shortening her career, being under repairs three times at the SRZ-49 yard in Vilyuchinsk. In 1988 heavy ice damaged her hull eneough that she was decommissioned on 15 December 1989 decomissioned. A fire broke out in mid-1990 while she was mothballed. She was sold to an Indian company for scrapping and towed there in 1991.

Read more

Gardiner, Robert, ed. (1995). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1947–1995

Quebec class submarines (1950)

Quebec class submarines (1950)

30 submarines (1950-54)

Preserved M-296
Preserved M-296

These thirty conventional attack submarines called internally project 615, were the smallest Soviet models ever deployed during the cold war. They proceeded from the idea of a cheap, mass-produced coastal submarine to ensure close defense of Soviet harbours and trade lines. They were also the first users of the closed loop Kreislauf system, recovered from the archives of the Third Reich and manufactured with the help and expertise of German engineers fetch in 1945-46, the Soviet equivalent or Operation paperclip. Although this propulsion system had its advantage, it limited the submarines to coastal operations only, while the field of nuclear propulsion appeared much more appealing. As a result, the serie was cut short after the 30th submarine and USSR would never return to this type of coastal submarine. This class would nevertheless remain in service until the 1980s, despite many serious accidents, explosions and fires as the adopted system was far from reliable. This system pioneered by German engineers during WW2, and perfected, was a desperate measure at a time the regime was ready to accept even the most outlandish propositions as trump cards.

3D Rendition of the svg
Author’s 3D Rendition of the svg “flat” of the Quebec, illustration by Mike1979 Russia (CC)

Project 615 Development history

In 1938, OKB-196 (also called the “Slezin Bureau” according to commanding NKVD officer, Slezin) began to create a project for a small experimental submarine powered by the ED-KhPI system, using a close sloop system using liquid oxygen. Soviet intelligence knew the Germans were working on it, as the Kreislauf system. This unit was particular as its workforce was made of imprisoned engineers, which worked on the creation of new military equipment in the field of submarine.
The development of the project raised much attention as it concerned a promising propulsion solution, and its early phase consisted in eliminating shortcomings found during the construction and testing of the REDO powerplant used on the R-1 boat. Issue works on were notably ensuring gas tightness in the diesel compartments, and improving submerged habitability. These issues were all fixed and at the beginning of 1939, the OKB-196 project was approved. On June 16, 1939, the Defense Committee of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR voted the construction of an experimental submarine, with a single engine using this system. The resolution led on November 16, 1939, a first prototype named M-401 (C.135) to be laid down at plant No. 196. This project had critics however, notably according A.K. Nazarov, M.P Frinovskiy, the head of People’s Commissariat of the Navy, was very skeptical about it. However the invasion in 1941 stopped all developments on the project which went silent until 1945.

Project 615 was developed from 1945 as a development of the Malyutka class submarines. It was triggered by a resolution of the Council of Ministers of the USSR for the further development of submarines using a single cycle engine issued in July 1946. TsKB-18 started work on a new prototype submarine using the 1938 ED-KhPI system of single engine with a chemical lime absorber under direction of chief designer A.S. Kassatsier, assisted by A.K. Nazarov and S.E. Lipelis. The propulsion system was not capable of producing a large output, so it was found more suitable for a small submarine. The type was described as fit only to protect ports, naval bases and bases of the USSR, patrolling their approaches but also attack trade lines in international waters close to their bases in wartime. Like the Malyutka class, these were to be small enough to be cut in modular sections, and transferred to other theaters of military operations by rail. According this, transportation by rail imposed minimal dismantling of the hull, separated in self-contained modules.

Mike1979 Russia's profile of the Quebec class
Mike1979 Russia’s profile of the Quebec class (cc)


Initial studies and project

Apart their very small dimensions, the distinctive feature of this class was of course the unified air-independent engines used for underwater navigation, whereas a 32D diesel with a capacity of 900 hp was the surface main engine. At tome point it was suggested for forced speed modes to use two diesel engines M50P of 700 liters capacity each, but with a much smaller underwater resource. For diving on diesel engines, the lead boat had two tanks with liquid oxygen weighting 8.5 tons each, plus a 14.4 tons tank with lime-type chemical absorber. The middle shaft had a PG-106 electric motor with a 100 liters capacity.

About the Kreislauf system:
The latter was based on the use of pressurized liquid oxygen, decomposed and stored on board. This process allowed for very long underwater dives and better speeds, but above all, they had the merit of more stabily than the earlier Walter system. The ED-KhPI system operated in a closed cycle, using oxygen to oxidize fuel, and solid chemical absorber to remove carbon dioxide.
This gave rise to a single experimental submarine, S-99. (called “Whale” by NATO). It made many dives in 1949-50 but exploded and sank during a test. Designed TsKB18 under the patronage of Kassatier, their adaptation for Project 615 was risky, but overall these units gave relatively good satisfaction, although both their speed and above all, their autonomy was limited and indeed obliged them to coastal operations only. The project had many critics at the time, notably preventing to allocate more resourced in the more promising nuclear propulsion. Project 615 boats entered service at a time when they were already out of date and production was limited to the first batch of 30 boats, and the idea of using the Kreislauf system went no further.

The designers gave this small submarine one and a half hull. The sturdy hull was divided by transverse bulkheads, creating seven independent, modular compartments in order to be carried by rail when dismonunted. The transverse bulkheads binding the third compartment, central post, had to withstand a pressure of 10 kg of force/square cm. and the rest were calculated to endure 1 kgf/ only.

The project “whale”


In 1949, at the Sudomekh plant, a life-size wooden model was built to check the location of equipment in each module. In March 1950, the experimental boat (M-254) was laid down. In August 1950, she was launched and her fixed trials started in September. In July 1951 she had performed all her factory tests. A year later it was possible to start sea trials for official Navy tests. After these successful tests for the lead ship, mass production was approved for the A615 modification, differing only in the installation of one tank for liquid oxygen instead of two, while maintaining the same capacity.

The construction of the entire series was headed by E.P. Korsak. It was a fast process, as between the completion and start of mooring trials in 1954-1955 it had been reduced to 1-2 months on average. Duration of these tests was at the start 5.5 months. Factory and State tests were carried out in the Tallinn base. Construction was performed at the A. Marty plant, experiencing great difficulties: The shipyard indeed had not built a submarine for fifteen years. But in contrast to the modular method of construction applied on the lead boat from Sudomekh yard, production boats were built as a single unit. This method proved more effective as the slipway construction time was reduced to just 120 days, total construction cycle reduced by 20-25%, as well as costs and labor time. Overall this made for a far cheaper submarines (including the material used, as it was a smaller boat) and cost decreased massively. The “Sudomekh” boat was launched by using two floating cranes, while production boats at A. Marty plant just rolled on trolleys directly into the floating dock, later flooded. This was a simpler and faster process too.


In total, from 1953 to 1959, in addition to the lead boat “Sudomekh” (Project 615) 29 boats of the production Project A615 were launched and completed. 23 of them came from the Sudomekh Shipyard, six from the Admiraly Shipyard, previously known until December 1957 as the A. Marty Shipyard.

Surviving boats:
Until now, three submarines of the A615 project survived as exhibits – M-261 is on display today in Krasnodar, and M-296 in Odessa (exhibited under the designation M-305). M-361, completed as a research and test boat (project 637) continues to be listed in service, used for this intended purpose as a fixed training boat for the Naval Engineering Institute, Pushkin.


Displacement: 460-540 tons Surface/dive
Dimensions: 56 x 5,1 x 3,8 m
Propulsion: 3 shafts diesel engines, 1 electric motor xxx hp 19/19 knots Surface/dive
Crew: 30
Range: 2750 nmi (5090 km) at cruise speed, surfaced
Armament: 4 x 533 mm (21 inches) prow, 2 x 25 mm AA (early).
Electronics: Radar Snoop Plate, Sonar Tamir, antenne passive Feniks.

The conning tower of a Quebec class boat at the Battery 411 memorial, Odessa

Read more
Типы подводных лодок ВМФ СССР и России
Почтовый (подводная лодка) — дореволюционная подводная лодка с единым двигателем (гл. конструктор И. Г. Бубнов)
C.92 (РЕДО) — программа по разработке регенеративного единого двигателя (гл. конструктор С. А. Базилевский)
М-92 (ЕД-ВВД) — программа по разработке единого двигателя с удалением отработанных газов в воду (гл. конструктор Б. Д. Злотопольский)
М-401 (ЕД-ХПИ) — программа по разработке единого двигателя с химическим поглотителем (гл. конструктор В. С. Дмитриевский) // Проект 637
Производство Адмиралтейского завода.
М-361 достроена как лодка-лаборатория по проекту 637.
Логотип Викисклада На Викискладе есть медиафайлы по теме Подводные лодки проекта 615
Проект А615 на
Подводная лодка «М-261» на сайте Черноморского флота
36 фотографий М-305, установленной на мемориале 411 береговой батареи г. Одесса
историческая справка о МС-296, являющейся ныне музейным экспонатом «Малютка М-305» на мемориале 411 береговой батареи г. Одесса.
Фотографии УТК М-361 в ВВИИ, Пушкин.

Service records of the Type 615

The A615 boats were notorious among Soviet submariners because of their high risk of fire hazard. So much so they were called “lighters”. Here are the major incidents:
-August 12, 1956: M-259, under the command of Captain 3rd Rank E.V. Butuzov, was training in the western part of the Gulf of Finland; Suddenly there was a decrease in the proportion of oxygen in the gas mixture, followed by a massive explosion in the enclosure of the diesel engine. The explosion killed three crew members and their mechanical engineer, senior lieutenant engineer Nikolai Pervukhin which suffocated in the smoke. Six more ratings were seriously injured and burned. The wounded were evacuated by destroyers while the submarine was towed to Kronstadt by an ASW corvette. The state commission investigating the accident did not find any flaws in the design and considered the cause of the incident linked to human error and crew management. Captain E.V. Butuzov was demoted of his post as a result.

-September 26, 1957: M-256 was passing speed tests on the measured mile of the Tallinn test site, near Vimsi Peninsula in the Gulf of Finland. It also experienced a rapid drop of the proportion of oxygen in the gas mixture. It was again, followed by a violent explosion next to the diesel engine and the fire, fueled by oxygen from the tank, spread to the fourth, fifth and sixth compartments. Bulkhead doors were blocked by debris and bodies of the dead. Captain 3rd Rank Yu. S. Vavakin ordered the crew of the remaining compartments to go to the upper deck and exit the boat, which was surfaced fortunately. The rescue ship arrived at the scene launched a towing rope on the propeller, while fearing an explosion, it moved away from the boat in distress for a considerable distance. Due to the lack of fire extinguishing systems, the fire raged on until seals of the outboard openings burned out, provoking a massive flood into the hull. In the end, M256 lost its longitudinal stability and sank by the stern. Only seven crew members escaped, rescued by the destroyed, the only ones with life jackets. After this accident, the project A615 project were forbidden to sail when diesel engines were operating in a closed cycle, until the enquiry concluded anything.

Investigation also watched after the construction plants, and oxygen system. It was concluded it needed a more thorough check for quality problems in all boats while it was also modernized, and an automatic equipment installed, measuring the composition of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Also a foam extinguishing system was installed in the engine compartment as well as other safety systems. The commissioned established the use of liquid oxygen as a fuel oxidizer was the main reason of these accidents, by its inherent instability, leading to operational and technical difficulties. Soon, on the basis of the A615 project, the modernized Project 637 was developed, replacing liquid oxygen by the B-2 product, sodium superoxide instead. It was stored in the form of granules and reacted onlu under the influence of sea water, generating oxygen. It was also coupled with the same carbon dioxide absorber. In 1958-1959, the last boat of the A615 project, M-361, was re-equipped to test the Project 637 new powerplant. Tests were carried out at the Admiralty plant, followed by commissioning tests, but in May 1960, they were abruptly interrupted. The Main Directorate of Naval Shipbuilding indeed ordered to stop working on the project, as the general staff preferred now to concentrate on nuclear power. The 4th compartment’s powerplant was dismantled and the unique Project 637 boat was transferred to Leningrad VVMU im. Lenin for training and educational purposes.
But this was not the last incident: The M-351 also sank in the Black Sea Fleet, but without loss of personnel. Everyone was able to escape the surfaced boat and the fire stayed “measured”.

For the anecdote, the Quebec class also took part in a river parade, submerged and surfaced. Only a small boat could perform this. in 1960, M-301 submarine was taking part in Navy Day celebrations in Leningrad and was scheuled to pass underwater along the Neva, making an ascent in front of the cruiser Aurora. However the turbulence of the water flow constantly blows her bow, so there was a high risk of collision with the okd cruiser. The crew under command of Rostislav Agapov successfully coped with the task but never again the passage of a submerged submarine along the river under bridges was carried out again.
The design in the late 1960s, was put into question as the importance of the noise reduction underwater increased, notably compared to western standard. In the early 70s the very noisy Project A615s were no longer relevant under the new standard, and gradually withdrawn from the Soviet Navy service.


Quebec Quebec had the enormous disadvantage of not having to move far away from a port in order to get supplies of liquid oxygen. Moreover, their reliable dimensions made them semi-coastal units.

Cold War Soviet Submarines

Cold War Soviet Submarines

circa 1,450 submarines 1950-90


The Soviet silent service in the cold war: Like in the 1930s, Submarines made the bedrock of a navy that saw itself at first still efensive, but grew in global ambition until the 1980s when the surface fleet capability reached its zenith. The USSR had the largest submarine fleet in WW2, and it was the case again during the cold war, with a grand total of around 1,450 submarines. To put that in perspective, it’s 300 more than all U-Boats built in WW2. A minority of these were nuclear submarines, and in 1958, soviet attack subs became a very real threat in the Atlantic, so chief concern, even for NATO combined forces. The Soviet Navy boasted the largest serie of attack submarines anywhere, the legendary “Whiskey”. The era of massive-production and conventional naval warfare of the 1950s ended with the death of Stalin.
Khrushchev’s new admiral, N. Kuznetsov, was instrumental in the complete re-thinking of the Soviet Navy. He was a bit of a revenant, a veteran of the Spanish civil war and WW2, purged by Stalin in 1948, but reinstated in 1951 in a lower rank, and then, re-established to his former rank after Stalin, demoted again by his rival Zhukov, and back to his post afterwards. From 1955 as Commander-in-Chief of the Naval Forces and Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union, he stopped Stalin’s mass conventional programs. In accordance to the Soviet premier, he tried to push for an ambitious and innovative missile program that would impact not only the surface fleet, but submarines as well. Some “Whiskey” class served as testbeds already, and the Soviet submarine navy began to test various branches for specific purposes.

cold war submarines poster
Soviet Cold War Submarines Poster. Using Mike1979 Russia profiles (also in this page), released under the same creative common licence in open source (CC).

-Conventional attack submarines (SSK)
-Conventional cruiser missile attack submarines (SSG)
-Conventional ballistic missile attack submarines (SSB)
-Nuclear attack submarines* (SSN)
-Nuclear cruise missile attack submarines (SSGN)
-Nuclear Ballistic missile submarines (SSBN)
*Late SSN classes were also missile-capable, torpedo-launched and silo launch

NATO retook its identification system used for the Japanese in WW2 to name these different classes, which were officially identified inside USSR with a project name and sometimes a nickname. In all, USSR developed about 40 different classes, a path quite different to the USA which preferred, like for the conventional surface fleet, incremental steps over a larger production. This also participated in the dispersion of efforts in R&D and maintenance issues which made this force quite interesting on the standpoint of engineering, but a financial disaster.
The SSG and SSGN were a particular type quite unique to USSR, which were tailored as “carrier-killers”, firing cruise missiles with tipped with tactical nuclear warheads. In the 1980s this culminated with the massive Oscar class, largest attack submarines ever built.
USSR was relatively late in the game of SSNs, the USN took the lead with Zumwalt’s USS Nautilus, but the “November” class was the world’s fastest SSN at the time. Later, innovation drove the construction of titanium-hull models in order to record diving operations -a way to escape ASW defences of the west- and unconventional propulsion solution like the “Alfa” and their liquid metal cooled pressurized reactors.

Submarine Vepr(Akula class) today, photo by Ilya Kurganov (cc)

USSR was also relatively late at building ‘conventional’ SSBN, making a long transition with models such as the “Golf” and “Hotel” and their fin-mounted tubes. The “Yankee” class appeared in 1967, when the Georges Washington class was already in service since 1959, and already succeeded by the Ethan Allen, Lafayette, Madison, Franklin classes (lead ship comm. 1965) while the large Ohio were in early design phase. The “Delta” class which followed in the 1970-80s were growing larger at each iteration, but NATO was awe-struck in the 1980s by the “Typhoon”, completed from 1981 up to the fall of the Soviet Union. These 25,000 tonnes behemoth are still the record holders of the largest submarines ever built. They were also the only ones fitted with a twin hull, side by side, and the largest ballistic missiles ever fitted on a submarine. This era which also saw the Kirov class cruiser, Akula and Oscar class missile attack subs, really showed the will of the Soviet Navy to be at the top of their game for each class, a costly risk as we saw. The fleet was tailored since the 1960s around the concept of eliminating USN task forces and their centrepieces, the super-carriers. This started with the very fast November, and dedicated cruise missile launching subs like the Juliett, Echo, Charlie and Oscar.

In this long article for good reasons, we will try to put the light on each and every model of submarine used by the Soviet Navy during this era, including those studied before the fall of the USSR in 1988-89 and lesser known “special purpose” submarines, prototypes, research, rescue, and spy models.

“Whiskey long bin”, one of the early cold war conversions of the class, in an all-out quest for missiles launching submarine.

Soviet conventional attack submarines

Whiskey class SSK (1951)

Project 613, 644, 665. Prod. 215 USSR, 21 China
whiskey class

The classic “Whiskey” class attack submarines (Project 613) were after the Type VIIC U-Boats the most prolific submarines in history. With 265 units, they indeed exceeded the fleet of “Fleet Snorkels” (Gato class) of the last war. This comprised also the 21 built by China from Russian parts and equipment. All were registered with an “S” against a “B” for large conventional subs. like “Foxtrot” or “Zulu”, or “K” for nuclear (heavy) and “TK” for the Typhoon series (super-heavy), or SS for special units.

They were registered from S-80 to S-393 in non-consecutive sequences, built between 1951 (S-80, prototype) and 1958 (the last, S-365), at Gorkiy, Nikolayev, Baltic and Komsomolsk. Whiskey was one of the three projects studied as early as 1946 by the office (TTZ). The 613 projects concerned medium submersibles, Zulu, large ones. They inherited the 608 project from 1939 and 1943 claiming a 600-700 ton unit diving to 120 meters, but after the study of the refloated U250, the project was totally questioned. In 1947, the TTZ having been redesigned, the design of the new project 613 began and ended in 1948. The S-80 was put on hold in March 1950.

They incorporated the study of the type XXI but still draw the deadlock on the Walter patent. They thus had a great electric power in battery and a gun, as well as two others of 25 mm AA. Their hull and equipment work not much different from WWII units, but the specification for diving to more than 200 meters, and greater autonomy, as well as in mass production results in a submersible of over 1000 tons. Their artillery differed according to the initial versions (Whiskey I, II, III and IV, the latter having a snorkel).

A model of the Orzel, a Polish Whiskey-type submarine. (Credits: Wikipedia license GNU Topory pl: Grafika: Orzel typu Whiskey.jpg)

The Whiskey V on the other hand had a new, more streamlined hull and no artillery (Project 613M). They formed the new production standard in 1955. Their sonars were very inspired by those of the Type XXI whose engineers were now working (awarded a golden bridge) for the USSR. The Whiskeys formed the backbone of the Soviet High Seas Navy throughout the first part of the Cold War, like the modernized “gato” (Guppy) for the Americans. There were many transfers abroad from the end of the 1950s: Albania 4, Bulgaria 2, China 5, Cuba 1, Egypt 7, Indonesia 14, North Korea 4, Poland 4, Syria 1. There were also accidents, such as the S-178, sinking after a fatal collision with a refrigerated ship in 1981 in front of Vladivostok, the S80, converted into a missile launcher, in 1961, or the S-137, the famous “Whiskey on the Rocks” which the Western press mocked and who had come up on the rocks by wanting to spy on the Swedish naval base of Karlskrona in 1981. But overall, they were to be considered very successful and solid. There were still 60 in service in 1985, of which 50 were now in the active reserve.

In 1990, there were still 18 in reserve. On the other hand, there were many conversions and modifications, experimental test variants. This was the case with the series of 26 units of the 613V project, with a range of action increased by “Jumboization”, the 4 of the picket-radar version (NATO “Canvas Bag”), the 6 anti-ship missile launchers with 2 ramps. SS-N-3 (NATO “Twin Cylinder”), 6 sheets of 4 SS-N-3 ramps on the sides of the kiosk (NATO “Long Bin”), and 13 other prototypes. One of these “Whiskeys” is currently being visited in the USA. In addition, the S-194 is for sale in Sweden for 250,000 € and another in the USA for 450,000 $.

Whiskey I
Whiskey I
Whiskey Long Bin
Whiskey Long Bin
Whiskey Twin Cylinder
Whiskey Twin Cylinder


Displacement: 1050-1350 t surf./sub.
Dimensions: 76 x 6.3 x 4.55 m
Propulsion: 2 diesel, 4 elect generators, 6800 hp. and 18.25 / 13 Knots Surf / Sub.
Depht: 220 m max
Armament 6 TLT 533 mm 4 bow 2 stern (12 torpedoes), 2 guns 57 mm, 2 of 25 mm AA.
Sensors: Feniks Radar, Tamir, Nakat and Flag Sonars

Quebec class SSK (1950)

Project 645: 30 submarines (1950-54)
m296 quebec class
Preserved M-296

These 30 conventional attack submarines (project 615) were intended users of the closed Kreislauf power system, recovered from the archives of the Third Reich and produced by the expertise of German engineers courted in Russia in 1946. This system was based on the use of liquid oxygen pressurized, decomposed and stored on board. It allowed long dives, interesting speeds, and above all had the merit of being more stable than the Walter method. This last place gave rise to a single submarine, the S-99 called “Whale” by NATO, which made many dives and finally exploded and sank during a test.

Quebec The ‘Quebec’ had the enormous disadvantage of not having to move far away from a port in order to get supplies of liquid oxygen. Moreover, their reliable dimensions made them semi-coastal units. Designed by the TsKB18 under the patronage of Kassatier, these units gave relatively good satisfaction, but their speed and autonomy left the naval staff to push on researches in the field of nuclear propulsion. As a result, these units entered service at a time when they were already out of date, and the project went no further. The Quebec class will remain in service until the 80s, but many were victims of serious accidents, explosions and fires: The closed circuit system called “Kreislauf”, experienced by the Germans in 1945 was far from reliable.


Displacement: 1330-1700 tons Surface/dive
Dimensions: 77 x 6,7 x 4,9 m
Propulsion: 3 shafts, 2 diesels, 1 Kreislauf 6,900 hp, 18/16 knots Surface/dive 200 m max
Crew: 30
Armement: 4 TT 533 mm bow (12 torpedoes), 2 x 25 mm AA.
Electronics: Radar Snoop Plate, Sonar Tamir, passive antenna Feniks.

Zulu class SSK (1952)

Project 611: 26 submarines

Project 611 (NATO Zulu class) were early post-war conventional attack submarines, roughly as capable as the American GUPPY fleet-boat conversions and contemporary of the Whiskey-class. They notably shared a similar sonar arrangement and their design was massively influenced by the German Type XXI U-boat. The earlier units were given twin 57mm deck guns and twin 25mm anti-aircraft guns in the CT, and no snorkels. The guns were removed and omitted from later units, and snorkels added soon into service. Six were converted in 1956 as ballistic missile submarines (the very first ones), testing the R-11FM Scud missile. One had a single fin tube, the other two each. Known internally as Project AV 611 (NATO Zulu V) they inaugurated the formula of enlarged sail reused in future models.The ain disavantage was the submarine had to surface and raise the missile before firing it, a long process leaving it vulnerable to radar detection. The B-67 first launched a missile on 16 September 1955. The Zulus were largely transitional: They were the basis for the Foxtrot-class submarine, sharing an hull with the Golf class.
26 were built until 1957, in Leningrad and Severodvinsk, named B-61-B-82, B-88-B-91, and renamed in the 1970-80s. NATO identified saw five versions, called Zulu I through Zulu V. Exact converions for each types are still not clarified. They were gradually retired to be used for experimental purpose and scrapped in the 1980s.


“Zulu” class Specifications

Displacement: 1875 tons/2387 tons surface/submerged
Dimensions: 90 m (295 ft) x 7.5 m x 5.14 m
Propulsion: 3 diesel engines (6000 hp), 3 electric motors (5400 hp) 18/16 knots (surf/sub)
Test depth: 200 m (656 ft)
Complement: 70
Armament: 6 bow, 4 stern 533-mm (21-in) TTs 22 torpedoes, R-11FM Scud missiles (6)

Whale class SSK (1952)

Project 617: 1 submarine, S-99
This unique S-99 experimental submarine (Project 617, NATO “Whale class”) tested for the first time ever a Walter engine fuelled by high test peroxide (HTP).
Initial design was based on recuperated documentation for the top secret Type XXVI in 1945. It was used in the 1945–1946 to develop Project 616 as the first “true” submarine with a closed loop system. It could reach 19 knots submerged and its 10% buoyancy reserve were seen good but insufficient and the project stopped as a dead end, but another went on in Leningrad. The hull comprised six sections, in order from the bow: A torpedo room, the battery and living quarters, the command room, the diesel room, the turbine engine control and maintenance room and the turbine room itself (unoccupied and sealed) and the electric engine room.
Built in 1951-52 at Sudomekh, S-99 was commissioned in 1956 after making her sea trials. She became the fastest Soviet submarine of the time at 22 knots in underwater trials (41 km/h; 25 mph). In 1956-59 she served briefly in the Baltic fleet, and during maintenance was modified for turbine tests at depths of 40-60 m (130 to 200 ft); After a serie of successes, she was wrecked by a turbine explosion at 80 m (260 ft), but the emergency ballast pumps system worked and she surfaced. She reached her base on battery power aloe but was decommissioned and scrapped soon after.

“Whale” class Specifications

Displacement: 950 tons/1500 tons surface/submerged
Dimensions: 62.18 m (295 ft) x 6.1 m x 5.06 m
Propulsion: 1 shaft walter turbine powerplant (7250 hp) (11/20 knots), 26-cell electric motor (540 hp) 9.3 knots, creep motor 140 hp, auxiliary diesel 8-cyl, 4-stroke 450 hp.
Test depth: circa 200 m (656 ft)
Complement: 51
Armament: 6 bow 533-mm (21-in) TTs, 12 torpedoes
Sensors: Nakat radar, Tamir-5, Mars 25 sonars

Romeo class SSK (1957)

Project 633: 21 submarines
Romeo class

The 21 classic “Romeo” class attack submarines (Project 633) were upgraded “Whiskeys”, with a more solid hull allowing them to dive deeper and more spacious to improve range. They used a new passive antenna (Feniks M); an Arktika sonar, and a “fez” type underwater telephone (NATO code). They finally had two more torpedo tubes. But the project did not continue, research was done on a new generation (The Foxtrots). Long bin versions with missiles would never see the light of day, and one unit, the S188, would serve as a test bed for 650mm encapsulated missiles until 1989. Most of the “Romeo” were sold or transferred: 2 to Algeria, 4 to Bulgaria, 3 to Syria, 6 to Egypt, and 12 to North Korea, China recovering the licenses and the manufacturing equipment to continue the series: 35 Chinese Romeo will see the day, of which 7 were then sold to North Korea.The surviving Russians were struck off the lists in 1987.


Displacement: 1,330-1,700 t
Dimensions: 77 x 6.7 x 4.9 m
Propulsion: 2 diesel, 4 electric generators, 8,000 hp. 15.5/13 Knots, Diving 300 m
Crew: 90
Armament: 8 x 533 mm TTs (6 bow 2 stern, 14 torpedoes, 28 mines).
Sensors: Radar Snoop Plate, Sonar Herkules, Fenika passive antenna, CME Stop Light.

Juliet class SSKG (1962)

Project 651: 16 submarines

Typical of the proliferation of models intended to counter the American Task Forces, the Juliett (Nato Code J) are also “aircraft carrier killers”, designed on the same model as the Echo, but without nuclear propulsion, and with a less armament. Much more economical, they could also use the SS-N 3 in a tactical nuclear warhead version. Designed for the Black Sea and the Northern Fleet (Arctic), some were transferred to the Baltic in 1981. These 16 units, completed between 1963 and 1968 began to be withdrawn from service in 1988: Two, followed by two others at the end of 1989. They were then gradually sent to the scrapping: 4 in 1991, another was demolished following a deplorable state (it sank at the quay), yet another in 1992. Two were still in service in June 1994.

Juliett class SSG

Displacement: 3000t, 3750t FL
Dimensions: 90 x 10 x 7 m
Propulsion: 2 DE turbines, 5,000 hp. 16 Knots max. Dive 300 max.
Crew: 78
Sensors: Front Door/Front Piece Radar Electronics, Snoop Slab, Sonar Artktika, Feniks M, Herkules.
Armament: 4 AN SSN3, 6 x 533 mm (bow, 16), 4 x 406 mm (aft, 12).

Foxtrot class SSK (1963)

Project 641: 74 submarines

Cuban Foxtrot.

The “Foxtrot” class attack submarines (NATO Code F) were the best known and most widely used conventional Soviet submarines during the second half of the Cold War. They were still in service in 1990. 62 units were built until 1983, the last 12 additional being intended for export: Cuba, India, Libya, Poland. The Foxtrots were also built under license in China.

They should have been mentioned in the “1960” part of the Soviet Navy, because the B94, production prototype, was started in October 1957, launched in December 1957 and completed in 1958. The Foxtrots had the same on-board electronics as the Tango. They were developed in parallel, with the same snorkel, but had a new fire control system for torpedoes. Heavier than the Zulu, which they succeeded, they had better autonomy (90 days against 60) and plunged deeper (280 meters max.), At the cost of a reinforcement of the hull, resulting in 150 additional tons, and a drop in speed in diving and on the surface. The Foxtrots were planned for an operational life of 27 years: In 1987 the first was struck off the lists, followed by four more until 1988. By 1989, a total of 20 had been withdrawn from service. There were therefore 42 left in January 1990. The B-475, retired in 1994, was bought to be exhibited in London. Currently cruelly lacking in maintenance, they are all in reserve, many unable to go to sea.


Displacement: 1957t, 2484t
Dimensions: 91.3 x 7.5 x 6 m
Propulsion: 3 shafts diesels, 6,000 hp. 16.6/15.9 Knots, 250-280 m dive
Crew: 75
Electronics: Radar Nakat M, Sonar Feniks M, Artika, hercules, interceptor sonar
Armament: 10 x 533 mm TTs (6 bow, 4 stern).

Tango class SSK (1972)

Project 641 Buki “som”: 19 submarines
tngo class

The 18 classic attack submarines of the “Tango” class (Soviet code name projekt 641 “Som” BUKI) succeeded the Foxtrots of the large series. They were a new milestone in the evolution of attack submarines thanks to BUKI technology (In Russian: “New armament – Enlargement – New command system – Emergency design”. At the same time, they had a hull relatively conventional, inspired by previous ones: The “Kilos” will be more revolutionary in this. They were built quickly using unfinished sections of SALE class Juliett and numerous elements from the “Foxtrots”. (These sections allowed to “inflate” the internal volume 7.8 to 9 meters).

The additional space was used to accommodate a new large sonar, guidance equipment for SSN-15 missiles launched by torpedo tubes, three types of sonar being present. The first of these “Tango” was operational in 1973 and presented during the Naval Review of the Black Sea in Sevastopol, but they were all assigned to the Northern Fleet, tracking the American ANS. They were also associated with the Delta, in order to protect their flanks during outings on the high seas. The last of this class were launched in 1981 and operational in 1982. Their tubes were originally defined to be capable of launching SS-N 15 encapsulated missiles. . They were operational in 1990, but were taken out of service between that date and 1995 for the most part: In 2000, there were 4 in the Northern fleet, at the quayside, in general condition excluding an operational outing, and 6 others in reserve. The much more modern Kilos have easily supplanted them.


tango class profile
Displacement: 3,100t, 3,900t
Dimensions: 91.5 x 9 x 7 m
Propulsion: 3 shafts DE, 6,000 hp. 20/16, 300m dive
Crew: 72
Armament: 6 x 533 mm TTs bow, 24 torpedoes or mines.

Kilo class SSK (1986)

Project 877: 72 submarines

These classic attack submersibles (project 877) introduce a style and philosophy radically different from the Tango, the last conventional ones built in 1972-81. They were designed by the venerable design office of Rubin, the great specialist in Soviet submarines, known under the NATO code name “Kilo” (Granay project, and Warshavyanka project for export), with 24 units produced for the Soviet Navy, then Russian, from 1980 to 1992, and 29 for export. (Iran, India, China, Algeria, Poland, Romania). The series continues under license in China, like the “Foxtrots” of old.

In appearance, the Kilo are massive and short, very different from the older, slimmer ocean units. But the Kilo are above all coastal submarines specifically designed around a computer system for the management of fire and the control of organs at a central station. Most of the functions were indeed automated. The space saving compared to the old system results in a drastic reduction in tonnage. In addition, the “Kilo” have an incomparably reduced acoustic and magnetic signature thanks to the UEP system, with the elimination of ballast openings, suspended diesel-electrics, a painted and treated hull with an anechoic structure. Finally, the hull was treated to the new “Albacore” standard, giving it much better performance underwater and as a corollary a reduced speed on the surface. Unlike the old “Foxtrot” and “Tango”, fast and optimized to navigate most of the surface, the “Kilo” are true “submarines”, perhaps the most faithful heirs of the U-Boote Type XXI of the last world war.

Kilo class subs

In addition, this optimization of shapes was dictated for the first time in a much more obvious way for export and responded to the desire to meet the demands of most potential and regular customers in the USSR. Despite the shorter dimensions, the internal volume was much greater (especially with two full decks) than the old “Foxtrots”. These dimensions are also the result of space savings made by the adoption of a first true diesel-electric system. Last but not least the “Kilo” are distinguished by their AA missile launching ramp, with an SA-N-5 “Arrow” or SA-N-8, with 16 vectors in reserve, and 6 bow tubes including two special for torpedoes guided. A new slightly lengthened version is currently under construction for export, a significant windfall for the Russian State, at $ 250 million per unit for the latest 877 KEM (E for export) projects.

The latest “Kilo” designed are type 636: They are 2 meters longer, 55 tonnes heavier. It was the Rosvoorouzhenie, a state-owned company, which took charge of this new design specifically for sale abroad. “Jumboised” by the addition of a short section of 1.20 meters, these new “Kilo” have more powerful diesel-electric, improving speed and range, and better suspension, to further reduce the acoustic. Externally, the inverted “Y” rudder is another original feature. Its 6 bow TLTs are able to “drop” 24 mines. As the reloading operations are automated, it only takes 15 seconds thanks to the computerized system to reload the tubes. 30 “Kilo” models 877K and 877M and 636, of which 15 examples of the latter models are currently in service in the Russian Navy. This class currently exists with 14 active and 7 in reserve.


Displacement: 2325t, 3076t
Dimensions: 72.6 x 9.9 x 6.2m
Propulsion: 2 shafts diesel 3,650 hp, 1 Mot. elect. 5,790 hp 10/17 Knots, 300 m dive
Crew: 53
Sensors: Sonar MGK 400 “Shark Teeth”.
Armament: 1 silo, 16 missiles SAN-5, 6 x 533 mm TTs (bow, 18 res.).

Soviet nuclear attack submarines

This wide chapter comprises three types of submarines:
-Pure attack types (TTs only)
-Cruise-missile types (wtill with TTs)
-Intermediate types (TTs and TT-launched med-range missiles)

November class SSN (1962)

Project 627 Kit: 15 submarines

The “November” class ANS (Project 627 Kit) were the first nuclear submarines and the first ANS in the Soviet Union. with a hull derived from that of the Zulu (not yet cigar-shaped), and a new streamlined kiosk, they were significantly larger (110 meters, 4500 tons) to accommodate the 70MW reactor which made a lot of talk: Never the Soviet Union had attempted to design a reactor small enough to fit into a submarine. It was not a success of reliability otherwise, in view of the losses suffered by the 15 units of this class, and this despite exceptional performance, the best of the time. Even within the Russian Navy, he was referred to as the “widowmaker”. However, although disastrous, these repeated accidents made it possible to release a profitable experience for the new generations of ANS. The K-3 will be the first Russian craft to surface at the North Pole in 1962, four years after the USS Nautilus.

The “November” were derived from a first project in 1952, intended to launch torpedoes with nuclear warheads for lack of ballistic missiles: The enormous T15 torpedoes (24 meters long by 1.55 meters in diameter) were supposed to make up for the absence. ballistic missiles on board at this time. This project was canceled, then drifted until 1955 on a more conventional ANS project. The prototype, the K-3 (Leninsky Komsomol), was designed by the SKB143 office, the same one that had adapted the Walter patent (the revolutionary propulsion system developed by the Germans but never operational in 1945). The famous 70MW reactor drove two groups of turbines and was coupled to a diesel (to navigate on the surface). It was efficient, giving 30 knots underwater and more in the tests carried out from July 4, 1958 at 10:03 am and ended on December 1, 1958, 3 years after those of the USS Nautilus. The K-3 made a strong impression on the Americans by following the USS Enterprise at 31 knots on January 17, 1968, to such an extent that this episode, widely reported by the press, allowed the Pentagon to press the Senate for the vote on the budget concerning the new Rapid SNA Class Los Angeles.

Production started with the K14, then the “production prototype”, the K5. The K27, launched in 1962, was experimenting with a liquid metal cooled reactor. It was only operational in 1964 and made two cruises before being definitively struck off the lists following a powertrain accident and demolished in 1969. The k-42 was the last of the series, in 1963. Subsequently, the K-8 was lost body and goods in front of Cape Finisterre in April 1970 (reactor accident and fire), the K3 suffered the same fate in 1967 (39 direct deaths, many others irradiated) but was saved.

The K11 and K5 also had severe engine damage. All ANS of this class were withdrawn from service in the years 88-92: There remained one, the K159, struck off the lists since 1988, and which was towed for demolition on August 30, 2003 and sank with the 9 sailors who were edge. this other tragedy after that of the Kursk went more unnoticed, but President Putin promised an investigation, the conclusions of which immediately excluded any involvement of nuclear: The reactors had been deactivated since 1988. However Admiral Suchkov was implicated and a The trial opened, but it ended with a dismissal, the responsibilities not being directly attributable in what was classified as an accident caused by an error of human origin.


Displacement: 4500t, 5300t FL
Dimensions: 110 x 9 x 7.7 m
Propulsion: 1 NR, 2 turbines, 30,000 hp. 30 Knots
Crew: 80
Armament: 8 x 533 (bow 24 torpedoes).
Sensors: Park Lamp Antennas Sensors, Arktika sonar, Mars 16KP.

Echo I/II class SSNG (1957-60)

Project 659: K-45, 59, 66, 122, 259
Project 675: 29 boats
Echo II

The “Echo” (or Chaika) class attack submarines were the world’s first SNALE (nuclear missile attack submarines). The “Echo I” were launched in Komosmolsk in 1959-61, and operational in 1961-62. They were equipped with the “Hotels” reactor, and had 8 lateral orientable ramps for SSN-3 missiles, capable of being equipped with a tactical nuclear charge, with the aim of making these 5 units perfect door destroyers. planes. However, they did not have a radar for driving these missiles. It was decided to convert them in 1970-72 into pure SSNs, without their ramps. Three suffered accidents, including two from serious fires. In 1990, only 4 remained in service.

The “Echo II” class attack submarines were the successors of the Echo I in 1962-67. The first had served as prototypes, highlighting the weaknesses of their reactor. They were 29, built in Severodvinsk and Komsomolsk. They were extended by 5 meters to fit a radar for guiding anti-ship missiles. Their reactor was more or less the same type as that of the Echo I, with however some improvements of detail. This did not prevent the considerable number of accidents recorded: 6 due to reactors, 4 by collisions and 2 for other causes, and all serious: One of them was even lost in 1968 in the Gulf of Kola.

As a result of these damages, it was decided in 1990 to gradually withdraw all units fitted with the first generation reactors. However, the “Echo II” thanks to their radar, then later to the conversion of 14 units to the new standard to carry SSN-12 Bazalt missiles, will keep their missile ramps. Three would later be converted to satellite missile guidance. By 1990, however, there were only 27 in service, and by the end of 1991, 16. The Echo Is that remained with the old SSN-3 missiles were deactivated in 1993 and the last in 1994.

Specifications Echo I

echo I
Displacement: 4500t Surface, 5500t Dp
Dimensions: 110 x 9.1 x 7.5m
Propulsion: 2 turbines, 1 reactor, 24,000 hp. 20/25 knots
Crew: 75
Armament: 8 SSN-3 missiles, 6 x 533 mm (bow) TTs, 4 TLT 406 mm lateral.

Specs Echo II

Echo II
Displacement: 5,000t Surface, 6,000t Dp
Dimensions: 115 x 9 x 7.5m
Propulsion: Same but 20/23 knots
Crew: 90
Armament: same

Victor I/II/III class SSN (1965-72-76)

Project 671/671V/571K Ersh – Project 671 RT, 671 RTM Shchuka

Victor III underway

The “Victor” class ANSs (project 671 Ersh) were the first “pure” ANSs in the Soviet Union (PLA, Podvodnaya Lodka Atomnaya) since the sinister November, the “widowmakers” who had served as test beds for development of nuclear breeder reactors in order to turn them into “submarine interceptors”. Finally the “Alfa” will benefit from these studies. The “Victor” were more conventional, with a perfectly cylindrical hull, and no longer oval as on the November, a reduced kiosk, and a characteristic boss at the bow. They were studied in 1958, and very inspired by the American ANS in particular the USS Tullibee. The specifications included 4 TLTs and 8 torpedoes in reserve, a submerged speed of 30 knots, a more powerful sonar, an operational immersion capacity of 300 meters, all not exceeding 2000 tons.

They had to be fairly versatile, hunters of surface ships and attack task forces, hunt enemy ANS while protecting SSBNs, and escort convoys. They adopted a twin engine mounted side by side, of the same type as that of the Yankee and Delta, with a single turbine and propeller shaft, and had two small aileron thrusters for maneuvering. They had 7 compartments, and underwent some modifications in the 70s to remain new guided torpedoes, with the Kolos system. 15 units were built in Leningrad at a rate of one unit per year, until 1971. Traditionally, they were certainly fast, but noisy, a fault which was only resolved with the Victor IIIs. They also received the new SS-N-15 anti-ship missiles, which required the adaptation of their torpedo tubes, mounted moreover in an in-line configuration which left more room for the imposing sonar.

Victor I class underway

These 15 units served until 1990. From there, the retirements would begin. It should be noted that the K-314 suffered serious damage following the removal of one of its reactors during its major refit in 1985: The crane which handled it saw its cable give way, the reactor falling on the quay causing immediate overpressure which blew it up. There were officially 10 deaths in the instant, and another 50 later by varying degrees of radiation. He was struck from the Pacific Fleet lists. The Victor Is began to leave active service in 1991, and by 1996 they were all in reserve. The demolitions started in 2000.

The 7 units of the Victor II class (project 671RT) were in short only enlarged Victor I, redefined around the new encapsulated SS-N-16 missiles, requiring special tubes bored to 650 mm. They had a recharge, two in time, of war. Their 533mm torpedo tubes could launch MG 74 Korun decoys or implement the Shkval system. Their speed and handling were down, although the removal of their unsightly bow “hump” significantly improved hydrodynamics. These Victor IIIs, launched and completed in 1977 and 1978 for the last, were all operational in 1990. In 1994, on the other hand, 4 had been put in reserve to concentrate resources on the 3 others. Currently, they are all in the demolition phase.

The 26 units of the Victor III type were the last and final variation on this prolific class of “pure” SNA. It was the 671 RTM, M project for modernized, with a new sonar assembly, 4 encapsulated missile launcher tubes of 650 mm instead of 2, a new machine and a silent propulsion system. Larger, they also had a new computerized central management system, called “second captain”. A little later, the intelligence services highlighted the appearance of a new subclass, the 671 RTMK project with a new Viking navigation system apparently copied from that of the Norwegian Ula. They were bigger to house this system. One unit, the K-292 was used to test the SS-N-21. They could descend to 400 meters and were equipped with an anti-cavitation tandem propeller system. These units, the last of which was operational in 1991, were of course the spearhead of the Soviet ANS force in 1990. However, they were gradually retired. At present, there would be ten operational Victor IIIs.

Victor Profiles

Specifications VICTOR I

Victor I
Displacement: 4,300t, 5,100t sub
Dimensions: 95 x 10 x 7m
Propulsion: 1 propeller, 1 turbine, 2 NR 30,000 hp. 30 Knots
Armament: 6 x 533 TTS (bow, 18 torpedoes/missiles SS-N-15).
Sensors: Radar Snoop Tray, Sonar Shark Teeth.
Crew: 94

Specifications VICTOR II

Victor II
Displacement: 4,500t, 5,700t sub
Dimensions: 102 x 10 x 7 m
Propulsion: same but 28 Knots
Armament: 4 c 533, 2 x 650 mm TTs (bow, 18 torpedoes/missiles SS-N-15).
Sensors: Radar Snoop Tray, Sonar Shark Teeth.
Crew: 100

Specifications VICTOR III

Victor III
Displacement: 4,900t, 6,000t
Dimensions: 104 x 10 x 7m
Propulsion: same
Armament: 4 x 533, 4 x 650 mm (bow, 20 torpedoes/missiles SS-N-15).
Sensors: Radar Snoop Tray, Sonar Skat KM.
Crew: 100

Charlie class I/II SSNG (1968)

Project 607A Skat, 670M Skat M: 12+6 submarines

The “Charlie” class nuclear missile attack submarines succeeded the “Echo”, with containers in silos very similar to those of the papa class SSBNs defined at the same time. Under the official name of Skat, 12 units entered service between 1968 and 1973. It was initially to be a nuclear submarine simple enough to be mass produced. But their reactors suffered from a few failures and their anti-ship missiles proved disappointing, due to the abandonment of the use of the initial P50 Ametysts, not ready on time. We fell back on adaptations of the old SS-N-2 “Styx”, the SS-N-7 “Starbright”.

In 1973, this series was followed by that of the “Charlie II”, 6 larger tonnage units. One of the “Charlie I” was rented in 1988 to the Indian fleet for 3 years, taking the name of Chakra, but the Indians returned it without renewing the lease: They had neither the right to access the silo room nor at the fire control post, for safety reasons. The Soviet Navy recovered it in such a bad condition that it was struck off the lists shortly after; Many “Charlie I” were thus withdrawn from service between 1992 and 1993. Two would have remained in service in 1994 in the Pacific fleet. Some are currently stranded for lack of funds to operate them, their maintenance leaving something to be desired, and the others have been demolished.


The “Charlie II” class nuclear missile attack submarines (project 670M, Skat M) succeeded the “Echo”, and were derived from the Charlie I. Their hull was significantly more spacious, rising to 103 meters. long for 400-500 tons more. Like the Charlie I’s, it was a smaller and less expensive version of the “Papa” prototype; unlike the Echo, their missiles were launched submerged, and they only had a single nuclear reactor coupled to a single turbine. Their limited speed did not allow them to follow American Task Forces; the missiles were guided by satellite.

The on-board SS-N-9s (SS-N-7 for Charlie I, improved version of SS-N-2 “Styx”) had a shorter range than the old SS-N-3 Echo, but their exposure time to a countermeasure or in-flight destruction was reduced accordingly. The submarine did not guide them and was less vulnerable, according to the principle of interceptors, the “fire and forget”. These missiles, however, had double their range (60 miles, 111 km). They also carried a mix of conventional or tactical nuclear-charged torpedoes and SS-N-15 Starfish short-range encapsulated missiles.

The “Charlie” series left the Admiralty dissatisfied and did not continue; in the end, it was decided to choose the solution of an offensive mass of quadruple missiles on a single carrier, and this was the 949 Antey project, better known under the code name “Oscar”. In 1985, the k314 suffered serious engine damage, and the K429 sank in 1983 off Petropavlovsk, was refloated and sank again alongside in 1985, was again refloated (and her captain imprisoned for gross negligence) but sentenced to become a training ship, permanently anchored. By 1990 the 6 Charlie IIs and 11 Charlie Is were operational, but by 1994 they had all been withdrawn from service. The demolitions began shortly after.

Specifications Charlie I

Displacement: 4,000t, 4,900t FL
Dimensions: 79 x 10 x 8 m
Propulsion: 1 turbine reactor, 15,000 hp. 24 knots, Dive max 600 m
Crew: 100
Armament: 4 x 533 mm bow, 2x 406 mm stern, 8 x SS-N 7 missiles.

Specifications Charlie II

Displacement: 4500t, 5400t FL
Dimensions: 103 x 10 x 8 m
Propulsion: same
Crew: same
Armament: 6 x 533 mm TTs bow, 8 SS-N-9 siren missiles, 12 torpedo launched missiles SS-N-15 starfish.

Papa class SSNG (1968)

papa class

The unique “Papa” of the 661 Anchar project was designed as the missile counterpart of the titanium-hulled “Alfa”. It had to be able to dive to more than 400 meters, be very manoeuvrable and go over 38 knots. Studies began in 1959, and this “second generation” ANS project was particularly long because all the systems envisaged were radically new: Very large titanium double hull, missile / torpedo combination, new Sonar system, navigation, batteries, air conditioning, new hydraulic system at very high pressure, and combine the two thrusters reducing the acoustic signature. The 10 long-range missiles were stored in single inclined ramps in the forward flanks of the hull.

In terms of pure speed, the “papa” (K-222) was indeed automatically in the Guinness World Records by reaching 44.7 knots in forced gear, which remains exceptional, and for the moment still holds ; But the maximum admissible speed, of 42 knots, was in practice reduced to 35 due to exceptionally strong vibrations occurring beyond this level: During the tests at very high speed, a kiosk door was released, three shutters and the buoy ejector hatches were deformed and came out of their hinges.

This simple fact, which meant limited equipment life and unacceptable noise when diving, added to complexity, cost and too long construction time (the K-222 was started in 1963 and completed in 1969, but its tests lasted another 2 years), led the office to issue a negative report on the continuation of the project … The K-222 has been stored since 1995 in Severodvinsk awaiting demolition, removed from the lists in 1991.


Displacement: 4,000t, 4,900t
Dimensions: 79 x 10 x 8m
Propulsion: 1 shaft turbine, NR 15,000 hp. 24 Knots, 600 m dive
Crew: 100
Armament: 4 x 533 mm bow, 2 x 406 mm stern, 8 x SS-N 7 missiles.

Alfa class SSN (1976)

Project 705 Lira: 7 submarines
Alfa class ubs

The “Alfa” or “Alpha” class attack submarines (project 705 Lira) constitute a completely new concept of underwater interceptor intended to gain a significant advantage over NATO forces in matter in particular of speed and depth of diving, in particular starting from the idea emitted as of 1957 of a submarine able to catch up with the task forces sailing at 30 knots and to escape their escort. The Novembers were initially supposed to respond to this demand but experienced a series of tragedies following their poorly controlled technological advance. The Alfa were supposed to mark a new milestone with the technical advance acquired, in particular the study by Professor A. B. Petrov of the Malakhit design office. The latter proposed a revolutionary solution combining a lighter titanium inner shell coupled with an outer shell of reduced size and particularly worked, with a brand new fully automated experimental reactor to simplify the maintenance of these units.

The titanium shell was already a first challenge, being very expensive and complex to machine but much more resistant and light than steel. In addition, this reactor, effectively far ahead (with however the technology still simple and rudimentary at the time) on the standards of its time, used liquid lead for its cooling, and capable, while being very copact, of delivering 155 MW , which combined with the small size of the Alfa should give them the required speed. There were seven units built, whose official name is “Lira”. The first was launched in 1967 but entered service only in 1972. But this ship had a short career: The cooling system of its reactor left something to be desired, because this liquid lead froze. It was demolished in 1974. Modified, others were launched in 1974, 1976, 1978, 1980 and 1981. One of the examples, built in Severodvinsk and launched in 1977, was apparently a variant, called the Nato code name “Mike”. It suffered serious damage following a failure of its reactor, and began a 9-year overhaul, after which it received the new reactor pressurized by water.

The “Alfa”, despite their recurring engine trouble, indeed shone by their performance: Their top speed during testing was close to 46 knots (73 km / h!), An absolute record in the category, still unmatched. But in service, it rarely exceeded 42 knots. In addition, their maximum operational depth was 800 meters, while it was expected to be more than 1000 meters. At least two units received a more standard reactor than their initial system of two Lead-Bismuth reactors, cut with two turboelectric groups. Three had all-steel, not Titanium, shells. The first of these submarines, the K377, was withdrawn from service with the Northern Fleet (where they were all based) in 1974, the K463 in 1986 and scrapped in 1988, the others were withdrawn from service between 1993 and 1997 There are said to be four more currently in reserve.

Alfa class SSN


Displacement: 2800t, 3680t FL
Dimensions: 81.4 x 9.5 x 7 m
Propulsion: 1 turbine, 2 reactors cooled by liquid metal, 45,000 hp. 43/45 knots sub. Dive 800 m max
Crew: 31
Armament: 6 x 533 mm TTs, 36 Mines/16 SS-N 15 missiles

Oscar I/II class SSGN (1979)

Project 949 Antey: 2+8

The SNA of the class “Oscar I” (project 949 Granit) and “Oscar II” (project 949A Bazalt) (project “Antey” according to other sources) are doubly famous: First by the fact that they are ( and undoubtedly will be for a long time) the largest attack submarines ever built (14,600 tons, the weight of a small aircraft carrier), but also by the much publicized (and controversial) tragedy of the tenth and last of the series, the Kursk.

It all started with the study by Rubin in Severodvinsk in the 1970s of a replacement for the Echo II class SNLEA (nuclear missile attack submarines, or SSGN). The backbone of this research is the last tactical nuclear-warhead anti-ship missile in development, the supersonic SS-N-19 Chelomey Granit (Mach 1.6), launched without surface, unlike those of the Echo. These missiles were also to be guided by satellite, but this system was not adopted and this role fell to the Oscar radars. The silos, inspired by those tested on the unique “Papa”, were in pairs, inclined at 40 ° between the inner shell and the outer shell. This system has the lack of a recessed habitability, but the advantage of better sound insulation and greater survivability in the event of impact of a conventional torpedo.

The Oscars are slow to dive and not very manoeuvrable, but fast when diving (30 knots). Their arsenal of 24 anti-ship cruise missiles, with a range of 550 km, with a 100 kt nuclear warhead. or classic 750 Kgs. make them unparalleled ANS in the world, always designed in response to the United States, as “aircraft carrier killers”. The Oscar IIs have been lengthened by 10 meters, equipped with new electronics, and a better acoustic signature, in particular thanks to 7-blade propellers, causing less cavitation and making them more manoeuvrable. They also have a mix of 533 and 610 mm torpedoes to launch SS-N-15 Starfish and SS-N-16 Stallion encapsulated missiles (45 and 100 km range). Finally, the Oscar’s have in common with the “Typhoons” two small emergency evacuation capsules (for the whole crew) located behind the kiosk.

The 2 Oscar I, K208 and the K523, were launched in 1980 and 1982. The 11 (or 12?) Oscar II, in 1986, 87, 88, 90, and 92 and 97 for the last. There were therefore 4 in service in the Soviet Navy in 1990. Today these units are the spearhead of the Russian SNA launch-missiles and are all (except the Kursk, disappeared and the two Oscar I, put in reserve in 1996) in service in 2005. They have all been renamed. (The sources differ on the denominations, attributed in an obscure way by the Soviet command, but agree the construction of at least 10 units of the Oscar II class.). Fleet assignments also vary depending on the source, but the Oscar’s are mostly based in the Pacific and the rest in the Northern Fleet. Currently, 7 ANS are reported in the Pacific Fleet and 4 in the Arctic.

Oscar class

The Oscar I (K 252 and K206, Arkhangelsk and Murmansk according to some sources) were demolished by Sevmash in January 2004, dismantling financed by a European fund for the reduction of nuclear threats. As the maintenance of the Oscar IIs was poor, on January 26, 1998, one of these units, although practically new, suffered a serious internal accident due to a leak of liquid nitrogen and ammonia during a fuel test. routine. There were 5 addicts and one death. This would be the K-512 (Tomsk), accepted into service in 1997 despite many recurring problems of this type during testing. In September 1994, another got caught in the nets of the Spanish trawler Jose maria Pastor. He was stranded there for an hour before escaping. History says nothing about the reimbursement of the damage caused by his 16,000 tonnes in said net. An old Russian tradition of taking oneself for a bleak in order to better spy on capitalist fishing methods.

Oscar class

The Kursk tragedy:
But the most infamous anecdote about these units was probably that which occurred at the “Kursk”, K-141, which sank 100 nautical miles from Murmansk in the Arctic in the Barentz Sea. On August 12, 2000, he participated in one of those annual large-scale exercises in which every fleet is engaged, such as the Arctic fleet here. Drive the nail: The story does not officially say if one or more American ANS secretly participated as in the past to learn about Russian tactical methods. But factually, the Kursk sank very quickly (without sending a distress beacon), for reasons which have remained obscure; It did not carry nuclear weapons and its reactors presented no risk other than that of a fire a priori. One of the official hypotheses adopted which is currently used by the Russians, concerns a case of fatal collision with a “particularly massive underwater object”, according to expert results, including a piece of hull found not far away from the place of the shipwreck and not identified as part of the Kursk.

On the other hand, the Soviet command contradicted itself in a series of questionable hypotheses. President Vladimir Putin, entrenched in a silence of several days, moreover opposed any immediate interference by refusing the aid of the Westerners while there was still a hope of saving the submariners still alive remained on board. . for a week no help could be given to the survivors. In addition, the cruiser Peter the Great (ex-Kirov), instead of lashing towards the scene of the tragedy moved away at full steam.

Oscar 2

On the 14th, two days after the disaster, a later denied dispatch noted that the Kolokol rescue submarine had supplied the Kursk with air and energy and that radio communication had been established with its commander Gennadi Lyachin. The reports were not very optimistic then on the chances of saving at least part of the crew: The weather conditions had deteriorated, the current too strong, the visibility zero, and the Kursk being submerged only to 170 meters of depth. Their best chance would have been the two “Indies” specializing in this role, but they were struck off the lists in 1995 to save budget. When the Norwegian team arrived at the scene and finally unlocked the rear airlock, it was only to find that the entire interior of the submarine was submerged. There were finally 118 victims.

One of these Russian hypotheses relates to an explosion of a mine dating from the Second World War … Hypothesis not very credible if it is seen the low probability of meeting any still functional after 60 years, and especially capable of causing such damage. In addition two other persistent hypotheses and clearly more credible, but rejected by the Russian command which tries to safeguard the credibility of its forces, report the explosion of a torpedo, or the impact of an ASM machine launched by the cruiser Pierre le Grand. Indeed, Norwegian seismologists have indeed recorded a mini-earthquake in the area of ​​the sinking, two tremors that could have been caused by the explosion of the hydrogen peroxide engine of one of these torpedoes, then of the entire stock, at two minute intervals, 1.5 and 3.5 on the Richter scale. The NATO countries are in favor of this hypothesis, which moreover suits the US Navy on which the suspicions still weigh, despite its denials. But she could well backfire on them. Indeed the Kursk was refloated by the Dutch (Mammoet) for investigation from August to October. It showed the huge opening that had been caused by an internal explosion.

According to the sensationalist thesis of Jean-Pierre Petit (to take with a massive pincer of salt), the koursk would have been “stamped” and torpedoed intentionally by a Los Angeles-class SNA, USS Toledo. The latter was indeed postponed for repairs to its bow in Norway, again this month of August. It is also said that the Kursk would have undergone modifications by the addition of a new tube intended for the launching of new generation torpedoes, thermodynamic and capable of spinning at 200 knots and more. That one of them would have exploded and that to protect this secret, there was the blackout and the refusal of any interference, until the witnesses of the tragedy disappear. There is also question of a deliberate torpedoing of the Kursk by this mystery SNA, would the latter have replied with very little coolness to the opening of the Kursk tubes for testing? There is also talk of a deliberate torpedoing to avoid the sale of this torpedo to the Chinese. We finally talk about a mutiny (an officer fished out with a bullet in the head), and three strange drowned, a Chinese general and two Arab clients.

The hypothesis of Jean-Michel Carré (film broadcast on Fr3 in 2003), on which Petit’s article is based, remains the most romantic of all: The Kursk was to demonstrate its new torpedoes special at very high speed to foreign observers (and customers for the Russian navy which in great need of them), and would have been approached deliberately by not one but two American ANS, and torpedoed “hull against hull”. The confusion that would have followed would have allowed the affair to be jointly covered up in the White House and the Kremlin. This incident would have been as serious, if not more, than the affair of the rockets in Cuba in 1962 … Finally, the escape pods and the two emergency exits must have been blocked at the same time, which remains a mystery. We still do not know moreover which portion of the crew had survived following these two explosions, although the men of the technical team of the reactors took refuge in the only sealed compartment at the rear.


There is also another hypothesis which reports a firing error of Peter the great. It was the latter who was closest to the Kursk and could it be that, in accordance with naval exercises, he fired an ASM missile that had become uncontrollable? Was the Kursk deliberately targeted and should it oppose its countermeasure equipment or the strength of its double-hull? It seems more than doubtful that such a risk is taken with a modern and expensive submersible. But Peter the Great was perhaps unaware of the presence of the Kursk, supposed to “surprise” her. Peter the Great therefore carried out real shooting exercises just like the Kursk. We now know that the Kursk was in periscope immersion (18 meters from the surface) when the first explosion occurred in the torpedo compartment.

This, already strong, – less than a ton of TNT – succeeded in causing a large breach in the double hull, sufficient for the first compartments to fill up and cause the submarine to “fall” to the bottom, this which would explain the second recorded impact, much more violent, undoubtedly resulting from the explosion of the torpedoes loaded in the tubes when its bow struck the bottom. It was this second explosion which opened the entire front of the Kursk and completed filling it in record time. As for the origin of the first explosion … It is also possible that the Kursk was struck by its own high speed torpedo. One thing is certain: These Kursk exercises were very important and no less than 11 observer officers were on the list of people embarked on the day of the tragedy.


A testimony collected in the pocket of the uniform of Lieutenant (Navy) Dmitry Kolesnikov, one of the drowned: “13.15. The crew members of compartments 6, 7 and 8 went into compartment 9. We are here 23 people . We made this decision following the accident. Nobody can get out of the submarine “, and further:” 13, 5 … I write in the dark … “.

(see for example the article from the diplomatic world See also:



Specifications (OSCAR I)

Displacement: 12,500t, 14,600t FL
Dimensions: 143 x 18.2 x 9 m
Propulsion: 2 NR, 2 turbines, 90,000 hp. 30-33 Knots
Crew: 130
Armament: 24 SS-N-19, 2 x 533, 4 x 650 mm TTs (bow 24 torpedoes or missiles).
Sensors: Rim Hat Antennas, sonar


Specifications (OSCAR II)

Displacement: 13,900t, 18,300t FL
Dimensions: 154 x 18.2 x 9m
Propulsion: 2 turbines, 1 RN 30,000 hp. 30 Knots.
Crew: 136
Armament: 24 SS-N-19, 2 x 533, 4 x 650 mm TTs (bow 24 torpedoes/miss)
Sensors: Rim Hat Antenna

Sierra class SSN (1983)

Project 945A, 945B Barrakuda: 4 submarines

The “Sierra” were defined at the same time as the Akula, to take over from the “November” and support the “Victor”. The 945 Barrakuda project was in line with the Victor IIIs. The NATO intelligence services spoke for a time of a “Victor IV”. They had a new very fluid hull entirely in titanium, like that of the Alfa, giving them a depth of more than 1000 meters, a rare thing for a military submarine. They had the same sonar system as the Victor IIIs while adopting the new, particularly reliable and silent Arktika reactor. They had a non-acoustic, environmental listening system, antennas attached behind the kiosk. The size of the stern sonar, forming a sphere, moved the torpedo tubes on either side.

They could carry 40 vectors (torpedoes with conventional and nuclear charges, Granat ASM / AN encapsulated cruise missiles, or mines), had a sonic countermeasure system and a hull coating made up of kinds of “shark scales “, forming a perfect anechoic blanket. Better than the last American “Los Angeles”, they also had an escape pod (for four men) located in the center of their booth.

A building of the Sierra I class. Img Wikipedia DPI There were a total of four units, all built in Gorky: The Sierra I, named Barrakuda and Kondor, entered service in 1983 and 1985, and the two Sierra II, K-239 and 276, in 1989 and 1992. (three therefore in service in 1990). These Sierra IIs, project 945B, were 5 meters longer, their kiosk extended by 6 meters, and widened to accommodate the masts and periscopes on the port side, and two rescue capsules on the starboard side. The Russian Defense Ministry will later report the finally canceled construction of three other units: The TsKb 112 Lazurit office, in charge of its construction, was rewarded with this cancellation according to the cost ratio of the Sierra, significantly more expensive than the Akula in steel. The latter were preferred and the series ended. The Four Sierra are not currently in service: The K239 (Sierra II) collided with a Los Angeles type ANS, the USS Baton Rouge in February 1992 near Kildin Island (off the peninsula de Kola) and had to return to his base, then to Severodvinsk for long repairs. The lack of funds condemned to the reserve the first two Sierra seems it, but the two Sierra II are currently operational.


Displacement: 7100t, 7900t
Dimensions: 107 x 12 x 8.8 m
Propulsion: 1 shaft turbine, 1 RN, 43,000 hp. 18/35 Knots
Crew: 60
Armament: 2 x 533, 4 x 650 mm (bow 40 torpedoes/missiles).
Sensors: Arktika-M sonar.

Akula class SSN (1983)

Project 971 Bars: 16 submarines

The “Akula” class attack submarines succeed the 1983-85 “Sierra”. Their real name is “Bars” (bear), that of the first unit of this class, and “Akula” stands for “shark” and are believed to respond to American Los Angeles. The different units of the first series are nine in number, including the Pantera, Volk ‘, Leopard, Tigr, Rys’, Vepr’, Yaguar and Drakon. The series continued with a total of 13 units. The eighth and ninth were completed in 1996 and 1997. All these units are the spearhead of the Russian SNA fleet, inspired by revolutionaries “Alfa” but considered as reliable versions, with even reduced acoustics:

These boats constitute also an economic progress compared to “Sierra” because their hull is out of steel, for the large series. They are also heavier (1,600 tonnes more), and more spacious. Their noise level at low speed is known to be lower than the Los Angeles of the last generation. They were intended to implement the new encapsulated sea-to-sea missiles of the SS-N 21 type, and were unofficially equipped with torpedoes whose sound mimicked the signature of submarines, which could mislead an opposing submarine and put his reaction to sleep. All these units were transferred to the Pacific Fleet, based in Vladivostok. Soviet authorities in 1992 announced their intention to demolish the six additional units in the program.


Displacement: 7500t, 9100t
Dimensions: 115 x 14 x 10.4m
Propulsion: 1 turbine, 650B reactor, 7-blade propeller, 43,000 hp. 20/35 Knots, Dive 900 m max
Crew: 65
Armament: 4 x 533 mm, 4 x 650 mm TTs or 12 SS-N 21 missiles

Soviet nuclear ballistic submarines

Hotel I/II class (1958)

K-19, 33, 55, 40, 16, 145, 149, 179 (8)

Hotel II class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN).

The 8 “Hotel” built in 1958-64, (project 658), seemed to be inspired by the “Golf” with their missile silos behind the kiosk, but they were made on the same hull as the “November” class SNAs. They were therefore the first Soviet SSBNs, but not the first SSBNs in the world: The first of the Georges Washington came out on the wire, that same year 1958. But these Hotel had not resolved the system of silos in the hull, and were strongly inspired by American units with their following “Yankees”. We can therefore consider “Hotel” as a Transition class.

Having the same hull and the same thrusters – and reactors – as the “November”, the “Hotel” quickly had a sinister reputation among the Russian sailors: The K-19, seeded, was even long called “Hiroshima”. She was indeed the victim of a reactor accident on June 4, 1961, which cost the lives of ten sailors, and unlucky, in 1969 stamped the USS Gato in the White Sea, then another ship in 1972, losing 29 men. Also called “widowmaker” because of his reputation (fatal accidents during its construction, accidents during tests, baptismal bottle not broken at launch …), he justified a film in 2002 (K19, the “trap of depth”).

The “Hotel” had SS-N-5 missiles fired underwater and two 406mm rear defensive tubes; they were significantly faster than the “Golf”. There was a single variant-test, a “Hotel III”, which tested the SS-N-8 with a hull raised to 130 meters and a displacement of 6500 tons underwater. At the end of the SALT agreement, this ship was decommissioned, and in 1989, all the others. Two became communication relay ships, the others being scrapped in the 1990s.

author illustration

Displacement: 5000t, 6000t FL
Dimensions: 115 x 9 x 7 m
Propulsion: 2 shaft 1 RN, 30,000 hp. 20/25 Knots, Dive 400 m max
Crew: 72
Armament: 3 miss. SSN-5, 6 TLT 533 mm (bow) and 2 TLT 406 mm stern, 16 torpedoes.

Golf class (1959)

B-36, 40-42, 45, 61, 91, 92, 110, 118, 121, 125, 142, 153, 156. (24 boats)

An aerial starboard bow view of a Soviet Golf II class ballistic missile submarine underway.

These unique examples (but not among the Russians) of strategic submarines launching ballistic missiles with conventional propulsion (diesel-electric), had made it possible to give the Russians a head start in nuclear deterrence: The American SSBNs will not be operational than in 1969, almost 10 years later. By the 1950s, a number of conventional attack submarines had been converted for this purpose. The Golf series was based on the work carried out with the small series of Whiskey, and especially Zulu converts. No less than 25 Golf type units were designed on hulls derived from those of the Zulu, but much larger. Their main features were their long kiosk fitted out for three silos for SS-N-4s (and initially R11 Scud). The series will begin with the Golf I, firing their missiles on the surface, then the 18 Golf II (including units converted after the fact), able to fire them submerged. They were built in Severodvinsk and Komsomolsk. There was also a single Golf III, to test the SS-N-8 at longer range, a Golf IV, for the SS-N-6, and a Golf V, for the SS-N-20 in 1978.

The Golfs (project 628 and derivatives 629A -Golf II -, 601, 605, 629R, 629I) also underwent transformations for tests in transmission relay ships, missile guidance, minelayers. They had good autonomy (70 days at sea) but were slow and noisy. They formed a very profitable test bench for future Hotel and SSBNs in the Soviet Navy. Launched in 1958-62, they were used until the 80’s and 90’s, but many had been converted to serve as a test bed, and 14 under the name “Golf II” were converted to R21 missiles in 1966-72. The first to retire did so in 1987, and quickly all the others, with the exception of the three transmission Golfs (NATO SSQ), which were struck off the lists in 1995. An additional Golf was completed in China.

Chinese Golf class

One of the Golfs, the K-102, was the first in the world to launch a ballistic missile underwater, in 1962, and another, the K-129 was lost in the Central Pacific on April 11, 1968 and warranted special interest from the CIA. The Glomar Explorer, a huge rescue ship built by the Hugues Company in order (officially) to collect polymetallic nodules along oceanic faults, was dispatched in the greatest secrecy to the scene in order to bring the submarine back from the abyss, but which only rose from 6700 meters deep in its front section, containing, in addition to 8 drowned sailors disfigured by the pressure, two nuclear torpedoes and interesting indications on the sonars of this period. But the reassembly operation, which was known to the Soviets, who did not attempt anything, mainly aimed at the central section of the submarine, comprising, in addition to the missiles, confidential information, such as firing codes, decryption of messages, of paramount importance. On this top secret “Operation Jennifer”.


Displacement: 2500t, 2900t FL
Dimensions: 99 x 8 x 6.6 m
Propulsion: 3 shafts 3 DE, 6000 hp. 20/12 Knots Diving 300 m max
Crew: 72
Armament: 3 x SSN-4, 10 x 533 mm TT, 6 bow, 4 stern, 16 torpedoes.

Yankee class SSBN (1966)

Project 667A – 32 ballistic submarines

The “Yankee” class SSBNs (project 667A) were the first modern SSBNs in the Soviet Union. Resulting from the long experience gleaned with the “Hotel” and “Golf”, they had a battery of missiles in silos carried in 16 tubes behind the kiosk, and arranged in a characteristic “bump” which will be the hallmark of SSBNs. following, the “Delta”. A configuration similar to that of contemporary SSBNs of the Georges Washington then Lafayette class. The majority were built in Severodvinsk, and others in Komsomolsk under the respective project names of Navaga and Nalim. Finally, they had a new “cigar” type shell, offering minimal water resistance.

It was the Rubin firm, which in 1962-1963 designed these units, under the successive authority of Kassatsiyer then Kovalev. The novelty consisted of these ballistic missiles in vertical tubes in pairs embedded in the hull and fired submerged at shallow depth, unlike the Hotel and Golf. These missiles were to be Bazalt, but the 668 project was not ready in time and we had to fall back provisionally in 1959 on the SS-N-3 which could not be launched submerged. These are the SS-N-6 which were chosen, after a brief study for the transport of 12 SS-N-5 in inclined tubes. These missiles were integrated into the pressurized double hull and therefore directly accessible by diving technicians. This nuclear capacity was doubled by 4 tubes of 533 mm of attack and 2 of 406 mm of defense, all in the stern and the guidance consisted of several antennas and two radars.

Automation had reached a considerable level, with a central computer controlling the firing parameters and the pre-launch. They also had a satellite tracking system. Their VM-4 reactor was similar to that of the Victor and Charlie I. It could generate 72 megawatts and its core had a lifespan of 5 years (although changed every 3 years in practice). 34 units will be built in total, the last (K430) being launched in 1972. They will form the basis of the Soviet SSBNs to come, namely the Delta series until recent years.

The “Yankee” received for 4 of them a redesign in 1984, for a new type called “Yankee notch”. The Yankees had indeed following the SALT agreements phasing out the Yankees from 1980, and the 667AT Grusha project consisted of allowing them to implement the new SS-N-21 anti-ship missiles, at the rate of 40 distributed in their segmented tubes. Their kiosk was therefore enlarged to accommodate the new dedicated radar-buoy. They were operational in 1988 and remained so until 1994 (K446 of the Pacific Fleet).

The K140, victim of a serious reactor accident in 1968 in the Kara Sea, served from 1982 to 1988 as a test platform for solid fuel SS-NX-24 or P31 fired from 50 m from depth (667AM Yankee II project). In 1984, another unit, the K403 was rebuilt, (called “Yankee Pod”) and served as a test bed for a sonar and two towed antennas. Finally in 1990, the K411, “Yankee stretch”, was lengthened to 160 meters to serve as mother ship for S and PL type rescue submarines or to supply AS type research submarines. It should be noted that the K219 suffered a missile launching accident in 1973, and another of the same kind caused its final loss in 1986. The Yankees were gradually withdrawn from service: As early as 1980 as an SSBN, they were withdrawn. of active service in part and kept in reserve and some rebuilt to test systems (above). There remained 12 operational (6 in the Northern Fleet and 6 in the Pacific) as SSBNs in 1991, but by 1987, they had ceased their patrols along the American coasts.

Author’s rendition of the type


Displacement: 8,000t, 9,600t FL
Dimensions: 130 x 12 x 8.8m
Propulsion: 1 NR, 2 turbines, 6 boilers, 50,000 hp. 27 Knots max.
Crew: 120
Armament: 16 SSN-6, 4 TLT 533, 2 406 mm (bow 12 + 8 torpedoes).
Sensors: Radar Snoop Tray, Shark Teeth.

Delta I class SSBN (1972)

Project 667B Murena: 18 boats

The “Delta I” class SSBNs were the first of this long series, identifiable by their high double silo boss protruding behind the kiosk. Designed by the famous Rubin design office, they were derived directly from the “Yankees”, with the same extended hull, the same kiosk and the same equipment, but carrying 12 missiles at longer range. The purpose of these missiles was to allow these units to stay on the side of sonar barriers erected by NATO and to remain on operational alert in “strongholds” protected by the rest of the Soviet fleet. The project officially was called 667B Murena, simple version derived from the 667A “Yankee”. It was also the first Soviet SSBN to benefit from a computer-based automated control and firing system, once data was entered manually.

These SSBNs were 18 in number, by far the most important Delta class. They were divided equally between the Pacific Fleet and the Northern Fleet – (9 and 9). It would seem that in 1977 the K-171 was the victim of a reactor accident, but the sources are not all positive. They were all in service by 1990, and in 1994, withdrawals from service began. At the end of the early START II agreement, in 1997 it was expected that all units would be withdrawn from service. They are currently kept in reserve, but their dilapidated state would prevent them from returning to sea in the event of conflict. At the moment, there is talk of a wave of demolitions, which has started and continues. Eventually (2008), thanks to the international funds allocated, they should all have been properly recycled.


Displacement: 9,000t, 11,750t FL sub
Dimensions: 140 x 12 x 8.7m
Propulsion: 2 shaft turbines, 1 NR, 50,000 hp, 25 Knots sub
Crew: 120
Armament: 12 SSN-8, 4 x 533 mm TTs (bow 12 torpedoes), 2 x 406 mm TTs (Bow, 6 torpedoes).
Radar: Sensors Snoop Tray, Sonar Shark Teeth

Delta II class SSBN (1975)

Project 667 BD Murena-M: 4 submarines

A Delta II. Note the very elongated hull at the back

Appeared in 1973, alongside the Delta I, the “Delta II” class SSBNs were much larger and heavier, in order to be able to carry four additional missiles. The official name assigned by Rubin for the project was 667BD (D for “lying down” in Russian), Murena-M. Only 4 buildings were built. They actually tested the realization of the following Delta IIIs which automatically carried 16 SSN-18 missiles. The hull was also improved in terms of insulation and acoustic signature. They were all four based in the Northern Fleet, in Yagyelnaya Bay. Built in Severodvinsk, they used the new Rubikon sonar. They were all operational in 1990, but after START I, they were all withdrawn from service before 2000, and are currently being demolished.


Displacement: 10,000t, 12,750t FL
Dimensions: 155 x 12 x 8.8m
Propulsion: 2 shafts turbines, 1 NR, 50,000 hp. 25 Knots
Crew: 126
Armament: 16 SSN-8, 4 x 533 mm TTs (bow 12 torpedoes), 2 x 406 mm TTs (Bow, 6 torpedoes).
Sensors: Radar Snoop Tray, Sonar Rubikon

Delta III class SSBN (1976)

Project 667 BDR Kalmar: 14 submarines

Starboard quarter view of a Soviet Delta III Class strategic missile submarine. (Soviet Military Power, 1983, Page 16)

The Delta IIIs are basically an improved version of the Delta IIs, carrying new SS-N-18 missiles with much longer range and multiple warheads (from 3 to 7 MIRVs), with a system allowing them to fire more than 4 missiles in one. only salvo. Their weapon system was managed by an Almaz BDR platform computer and had the new Tobol M2 inertial system and the Bumblebee hydroacoustic locator system allowing them to navigate their way through NATO sonobuoy barriers. Named project 677 BDR Kalmar and designed by the Rubin design office, these 14 units were built in Severodvinsk between 1974 and 1982.

They were notably able to dive to 580 meters in emergency, the operational depth remaining at 350 meters. These 14 steel monsters (at the time the Redoutable Français moved 8,900 tonnes and the older Lafayettes 8,500 tonnes.) Were based in the North and Pacific Fleet, broken down at the rate of 5 and 9 units for each. Since the START I agreements signed in 1991, a single Delta III was retired in 1994, but 13 remained operational in 2000. From the K44 Ryazan, the custom to give a name to one of these SSBNs in sponsorship exchange is spreading as a solution to the lack of fleet funds. In 2004, only 7 remained in service.


Displacement: 10,500t, 13,250t FL
Dimensions: 155 x 12 x 8.8m
Propulsion: 2 shaft turbines, 1 NR, 50,000 hp. and 25 Knots
Crew: 126
Armament: 16 SSN-18, 4 x 533 mm TTs (bow 12 torpedoes), 2 x 406 mm TTs (Bow, 6 torpedoes).
Sensors: Radar Snoop Tray, Sonar Rubikon

Delta IV class SSBN (1985)

Project 667 BDRM Delfin: 7 submarines

The “Delta IV” class SSBNs were the last of this prolific series with its 43 units since 1973, the spearhead of the maritime component of Soviet nuclear deterrence. They represented the ultimate result with a certain resemblance to the Delta III, in particular with their characteristic “bump” with silos. In addition, they had a new Skat-2 sonar, and three antennas are on board (including one flank, one stern and one towed), including the MK200 for guiding the 533 mm self-defense torpedoes. The bow was reworked and looked like Oscar’s.

Last but not least, they implemented the new SS-N-23 vectors with multiple heads (4 Mirv of 100 kt each). The first of these large units built in Severodvinsk (13,500 tonnes fully loaded – the weight of a large heavy cruiser – against 11,750 on the Delta I but also 164 meters against 140), was docked in 1984, launched in 1985 and completed in 1985. It was followed by six others. The K117, K18 and K407 were not yet in service in 1990. (They were in 1990, 91 and 92). The K114 and the K64, 84 and 51 were active. The launch of the K51 was celebrated as it should be because it was the thousandth Russian submarine. 5 other units were started on the same model but were scratched and demolished before launch in 1991. The official name of this class in the USSR was “Delfin”.

With a stern shape modified in the Oscar style, and all the electronics and sensors from the SNA Victor III. On December 7, 1989, a missile firing exercise in the White Sea turned into a tragedy: One of the K89 devices failed to take off and exploded in its silo. The submarine survived this serious damage but 30 men were killed. In March 1993, the old game of cat and mouse played between Russian and American submarines degenerated: One of these units was “buffered” with full force by the USS Grayling in March 1993.

It is possible that it ‘and one of those “games” or a mistake that also caused the destruction of the Kursk. (See “Oscar”). The Delta IVs currently in service are in the name of 5: The K64 was scrapped (after 16 years of service), the K51 was put in reserve for modernization in 1993, and has not been released since. As for the K84, its general condition is so dire for lack of maintenance that it is only kept active on paper.


Displacement: 11 800t, 13 500t FL
Dimensions: 164 x 12 x 8.7m
Propulsion: 2 shaft turbines, 1 NR, 70,000 hp. and 25 Knots
Crew: 130
Armament: 16 SSN-23, 6 x 533 mm TTs (bow 18 torpedoes).
Sensors: Radar Snoop Tray, Sonar Rubikon

Typhoon class SSBN (1980)

Project 941 Akula: 6 submarines

The “Typhoon” class SSBNs were the last of the Cold War era Leviathans. They are arguably the biggest, most famous and most powerful submarines in the world. They alone embody all the disproportionate ambition of the USSR to face a giant like the USA. They are also the first and last submarines designed for a post-nuclear strategic purpose. In the scenario defined by the Kremlin, an American nuclear strike by surprise would have destroyed all the major land firing facilities and strategic ports, destroying any response capacity a priori. A priori only, because enormous black cigars of 20,000 tons would await the end of the nuclear winter, well sheltered under the ice of the North Cape, placed at the bottom of the water, to emerge and strike, and thus guarantee the final Soviet response.

As a result, Typhoons are designed to stay a year at sea. Their habitability is extraordinary, and as such, they have extravagant facilities for any other submarine, such as a sauna, a swimming pool, a large padded living room with stylish woodwork and furniture and even an aviary. The stock of living was sufficient without rationing for the three daily meals of the 150 crew members for more than a year.

The submarine renewed the air thanks to a long snorkel tube, piercing the polar ice thanks to its huge reinforced kiosk. Among the many specificities of its design are a double titanium/steel hull, which gives it a considerable width according to the catamaran principle, the two reactors being housed in each hull, as well as the wells for the new SS-N- missiles. 20 (R39) with multiple vectors (up to 10 MIRVs of 200 KT each, that of Hiroshima was 70 KT, which represents for each Typhoon 200 heads, or 571 times Hiroshima …). They have 8,300 km of range.

Typhoon class

Moreover, these units studied by Rubin under the official name of project 941 Akula (“Shark”), became known to Westerners in 1974, following a personal indiscretion of Leonid Brezhnev to President Ford, threatening to launch his “typhoons” (Tayfun , the first official Russian name for this project) if the US persisted with the Trident. The project was in fact approved as early as 1972. Its acoustic signature was particularly careful and much lower than that of its antecedents. Likewise its maneuverability was excellent, and it had a new computerized data processing system. It also had the ability to launch anti-ship missiles thanks to its enlarged tubes. 6 units were built in Severodvinsk, operational between 1981 and 1989. They were split as usual between the Pacific and the Northern fleets. This submarine made such an impression on Westerners that the intelligence services claimed to have seen two other units under construction, which was true, the first never being completed (likely commissioning 1991).

Rumors during the Reagan and Bush era swelled about a new derivative of this class, a hypothetical Project 941 D “Typhoon II”. The American writer Tom Clancy made a long and rich novel brought to the screen in 1992 (“Red October”). Ultimately, the end of the cold war and the implementation of START I and II signed their programmed death sentence: They had a lifespan of 20 to 30 years but with revisions and a large refit every 7-8 years. The Russian lack of resources from 1991 was to condemn them to inaction.

In 1997, 2 units were retired early due to lack of maintenance. The others were to follow this path, but at least two are maintained in activity, in particular to embark the new missiles SS-N-28 Bars. The Russians are particularly proud of it, and rightly so, as the “typhoons” (a name now also adopted by the Russians), accumulate records and have almost become a “tourist attraction” in Arkhangelsk. There is a very high probability that one of them will be kept as a museum, and in the future, as a witness to the Cold War.

Typhoon illutstration


Displacement: 28,500t, 25,000t FL
Dimensions: 171.5 x 22.8 x 12.2m
Propulsion: 2 shaft turbines, 1 NR, 90,000 hp. 25/27 Knots
Crew: 150
Armament: 20 SSN-20, 2 x 533 mm, 4 x 650 mm TTs (bow, 36 torpedoes and SS-N-15 or 16 missiles).

Yasen – Proyekt 885 Graney class SSN (1993)

Severodvisnsk, Kazan, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Arkhangelsk, Perm, Ulyanovsk, Voronezh, Vladivostok

Cited here as studied started in the late 1980s, so before the fall of the wall, the Project 885 and 885M are currently the first post-cold war SSNs of the Russian Navy, planned replacements for the Alfa, and destined to succeed to the Akula, from which they were derived. The 1990s were not tender for Russia, which economical situation was dire. Construction started in 1993 and so far five keels had been laid out of nine planned, one active since December 2013, the others coming in 2020 and beyond. With a development and construction time of twenty years this was another “record” the Russians are not too proud, but explained profund revisions in design all along:

This was a multipurpose attack submarine studied by Firma Rubin, based around an “Akula” powerplant with pumpjet propulsor, but a brand new combat system. Like the Seawolf, it ahad separate and part spherical receiving and transmitting array, in a more massive ensemble than for the Akula, which forced engineers to angle down the torpedo tubes, four 65 and two 53 cm, downards to make room above, like in a Sierra class. Also crucially, there were also believed to possess 12 tubes abaft the sail for cruiser missile, reminiscent in concept to the Los Angeles class. The tubes were underlined when promoting the new submarines by this new generation medium range antiship missiles Chelomey “Yakhont” and ‘Alfa’. The level of modification for the next one, K-561 Kazan, identified it as a 885M. These are the K-561 to K-564, laid down in 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015. But the next (Perm) is yet unidentified, started in 2016 and the following in 2017 and 2020.
Since 20 years, we know these SSNs are far larger than previously thought, with a fully loaded displacement underwater of 13,800 tonnes, fast speeds, submerged (silent) of 28 kn (52 km/h; 32 mph) up to 35 kn (65 km/h; 40 mph) in emergency mode, and 20 on the surface. Safe depth is registered as 1,475 feet (450m), max test one at 1,804 feet (580m) for a crush depth of 2,160 feet (658m).

Original Specifications Yasen (*Conways 1995)

Displacement: 8,600t, 13,800t FL (*5,800t, 8,200t FL)
Dimensions: 139.2 m (457 ft) x 13 m (43 ft) (*111 m x 15 m x 8.4 m)
Propulsion: 1 shaft NR OK-650KPM, 43,000 hp. 20/35 knots (*19/31 Knots)
Crew: 85
Armament (Yasen):8 VLS, silos for 32 (8×4) Oniks ASCM/40 (8×5) Kalibr ASCM, Kh-101 CM, 10x 533 mm TTs (*12 VLS silos; 4x 650, 2x 533 mm TTs)
Electronics: Rim Hat ESM/ECM Snoop Pair Surface Search Radar

Known Specifications Yasen M 2020

Graney class SSN
Dimensions: Lenght 130 m (430 ft)
Crew: 64
Armament: 8 VLS silos, 10x 533 mm TTs, Igla-M SAM.

Prototypes & auxiliaries

Mike class SSN (1983)

This unique submarine was officially known in USSR as Proyekt 685 Plavnik, and sole produced was K-278, built from 22.04.1978 by Firma Rubin TsKb-18, launched 09.05.1983 and complete 20.10.1983. This was a deep-diving experimental model made with a titanium hull, which design was approved by the TTZ in 1966 already, but it took many more years of study, its technical design being approved on 16 December 1974. So that was a project twenty years in the making, according to the difficulties at hand for such a revolutionary concept. In addition to the absence of stern pods for a towed array suggest a model close to the Victor type, but innovative in many ways, notably the automated powerplant; She was equipped with a thord gen. nuclear reactor, also adding in development delays and costs. Early reports talks about a liquid metal type, in a small pressurized unit as in the Charlie class. Reported max depht was 1000 m operational, 1250 or beyond for crushing depht, and if she was to hit the bottom at 4900 feets, an escape sphere was hich broke loose automatically, but tested at 3280 feets or one kilometer deep. She was given about the same armament as a victor with four reloadable and two decoy tubes.

She was lost in tests on 07/04/1989, and the Soviets made it public, announcing she was by then carrying ten conventional and two nuclear encapsulated SS-N-15 missiles and seven special device (decoys). Other more recent reports talks of two RK-55 systems carrying the SS-N-21 missile, two Shkval torpedoes, two ASW torpedoes SART-60M, six SSN missiles and ten anti-ship homing torpedoes, all conventional. Proyekt 705M and 943 were associated, the former an “Alfa” classs with the same reactor, while the 943 was a planned production version, abandoned after the program was both too costly and complex. Indeed when she was lost, she was submerged at 335 metres (1,099 ft), circa 180 kilometres (100 nmi) southwest of Bear Island, Norway. Fire broke out in an engineering compartment, probably because of a short circuit and it spread through the bulkhead and cables. The reactor shut down and these electrical problems compromised the whole boat’s control. The emergency ballast tank blow wasused, allowing the K-278 to surface 11 minutes after, distress calls were emitted and the crew abandoned ship and some survived to tell the story. At 15:15, hours after the fire started and the boat emerged, she sank in 1,680 metres (5,510 ft) of water, still off Bear Island, however the commanding officer and four others were still onboard, they entered the escape capsule but one only survived after it surfaced and sank again in rough seas. Rescue aircraft arrived, dropped rafts, but many men died from hypothermia already. The B-64/10 Aleksey Khlobystov arrived and picked up only 25 survivors, plus five bodies, so 42 out of 69 crewmen died.


Displacement: 5,880t, 8,500t FL
Dimensions: 120 x 11 x 9m
Propulsion: 1 shaft turbine 1 OK-350B-3 NR, 43,000 hp. 14/36.6 Knots
Crew: 29 officers, 57 sailors
Armament: 6 x 533 mm (bow, SS-N-15/21, see notes).

Losos class (midget SSK) (1985)


Two midget subs completed at Admiralty yard, Leningrad, M520 and 521, known internally as Proyekt 865 “Losos”, assigned to the Baltic bases at Liepaja and Paldiski. Yheir existence was revealed in 1991 in a context of waste, fraud and abuse, denounced by Cdt 3rd Grade AS Shakov. Each of them displaced 219 tonnes, and were capable of 1000 km range or 540 nm with an undurance of ten days and top speed of 6 knots. What was their purpose ?
They were multipurpose models made for semi-experimental duties, able to fire two standard 21-in torpedoes if need be, but carrying divers as well. Capable of diving to around 200 m (660 yds) they were first drafted in 1973 by TsKB-16 Malakhit design bureau. Shahov was by then assistant designer in the project in 1982, completion was made in 1984 but tests did not started before 1986, and they were not succesful, leading to a denunciation by Shahov to the party control group in 1987. Tests were stopped and two commissions were raised to investigate while pressions amounted to transfer the subs to the Navy for active service. Problems were detected and by 5 September 1990 Valery Kuzmin, Vice-admiral and chief of combat training announced the midget subs would be forbidden more sea trials. As 40 million rubles has been spent, it was shown that the subs could not maintain depth while releasing divers, the crew was too weak and overworked, so Kuzmin asked to raise it to five, and the electric and air pressure systems too weak and unreliable. What made secrecy maintained and insistence of the Soviet Navy to have them serviceable, was the fact they were suspected violating repeatedly the Swedish coast home waters to gather intelligence, in which the KGB was involved, and the divers might have been Spetznaz for spec ops in Sweden’s NATO assets. Nevertheless, the Project 865 was never officially operational. NATO long suspected the Soviets to have produced German and Italian midget subs they captured, mass-producing them as harbor point defence and spec ops. Some were reported already in 1957 NATO manoeuvers.
Specifications (updated):
-218 tons surfaced, 390 tons submerged
-Dimensions: 28.2 m (92 ft 6 in) x 4.8 m (15 ft 9 in) x 5.1 m (16 ft 9 in)
-Diving depth: Operational: 240 m (787 ft 5 in), Maximum: 300 m (984 ft 3 in) tested at 200 m (660 ft)
-Powerplant: 2 Diesel-electric 160 kW (210 hp), 60 kW (80 hp) electric
-Speed: 6.65 knots (12.32 km/h) submerged, 6.43 knots surface
-Endurance: 10 days
-Crew: 9
-Electronics: Active/passive radar and sonar, decoys
-Armament: 2 mine-laying devices or 2 torpedoes

Nevertheless, other Midgets subs were listed as projects also:

Other Soviet midget submarines

Project 607 Triton-1/Project 908 Triton-II (1974)
The serie comprised the B-483-490 (Triton I) and 50-543 (Triton II). They were built at Nizhni novgorod in 1974-80
-The Triton I displaced 1.6 tons for dimensions of 5m x 1.2 m (16ft 5in x 3fr 11in), crew 2.
-The Triton II displaced 5.7 tonnes, 9.5 x 1.9m (31ft 2in, 6ft 4in), crew 6.
-Endurance 30 nm, 60 nm for Triton II
-Diving depht 40m for both.
To see a more complete overview and appearance:

Project 1806 Poisk (1975?)
Named AGS-6, 17, 37 and 38. These four midget subs had a diving depht of 4000m (possibly armoured titanium hull), and are used for salvaging sunken submarines of the Soviet Navy. They are carried by the salvage ships ElBrus, Alagheze and Kommuna, and were use dpossibly during the Kursk affair. Read More
Project 1832 Sever (1980?)
The serie comprised the LS-8, 17, 28 and 34, displacing 28/40 tonnes, measuring 51 feets x 8ft 10in x 12 ft 6in or 12.5 x 2.7 m x 3.8 m. They could dive to 2000 m, and speed up to 4 knots, with a crew of 5.
Project 1837/1837K:
Comprised the APS-5, 11, 18-27. These twelve migets displaced 35 tnnes for 39fr 8in or 12 m lenght, crew 2 but accmodation for 11 and diving depht 2000 m, they are salvage subs carried by the India class, Elbrus and Kommuna salvage vessels.
Project 1839/1839.1 El’Brus (NATO designation).
Comprised the ARS-1-4, 7, 9, 10, 12-16, 29-33, 35, 36, so nineteen in all. They are 45 tonnes, 44ft 11in (13.7 m long) salvage subs capable of a diving depht of 2000 m. Apart ARS-14 which serves on the salvage sip G Kozmin, the others are based on Elbrus.
Project 1855 Mir (1987):
Comprises 5 boats, Mir-1-5, 18.7 tonnes for 25fr 3in x 10t 2in (7.8 m x 2.9 x 3.2 m), armoured deep diving bathyscaph capable of 6100 m, built in Finland. They are used for exploration and salvage. Read more, for all.

Outside (but barely) of this category were the “Papa” class thought to have been designed as an operational sub, and the “Mike”, a borderline case as she was experimental, but provided with a real weapons systems and therefore was potentially operational if needs be. But the Soviet Navy also counted a number of auxiliary submarines, normally not at sea but in special occasions and non operational, but in hypothetical case of war.

Bravo class (1970)

bravo class
Also called Project 690 Kefal, this class comprised S-368, 256, 310, 356 based on a Lazurit design for an ASW target, padded for torpedo practice, built at severomorsk. They were completed in 1968-70, and distributed among the fleets. No longer in service/kept in reserve, their status is unknown. Read More
Displacement: 2,400/2,900 long tons surface/submerged
Dimensions: 73 m (239 ft 6 in) x 9.8 m (32 ft 2 in) x 7.3 m (23 ft 11 in)
Propulsion: Diesel-electric, 14 knots (26 km/h)
Complement: 65
Armament: 1 × 533 mm (21 in), 1 × 400 mm (16 in) torpedo tubes

India class (1978)

India class
Called Project 940 (no name), comprising the BS-203 and 486 (Komsomolets and Uzbekistan); both were diesel-electric subs used as rescue submarines carriers or motherships. They were completed in 1979 and 1980, for the northern and pacific fleets. They are one of the rare Soviet subs with diving planes on the fin, and the rescue subs are lodged into dorsal berths located behind the fin.
Displacement: 3,900/4,800–6,840 long tons surface/submerged
Dimensions: 106 m (347 ft 9 in) x 9.7 m (31 ft 10 in) x 10 m (32 ft 10 in)
Propulsion: Diesel-electric, twin props
Speed: 15 knots/10 knots surface/submerged
Payload: 2 × India class DSRV’s
Complement: 94 (17 officers, 21 divers, 8 DSRV)

artist concept

Lima class (1979)

Boat’s profile – src

Project 1840, NATO reporting name Lima: Diesel-electric submarine design, unique boat named БС-555 (the abbreviation meant “bolshaya spetsialnaya” or “large special”). Completed in 1979, assigned to the Black Sea Fleet and decommissioned in 1994, its true use escaped western observers, she was used to try out new technologies and perform research and mission support. Unarmed, she was never meant to be used in case of war but as auxiliary. Her most prominent feature was a sail way back fro the bow, bulky hull and forward extension of the sail with probably an active sonar transducer while the bow housed anoher sonar transducer, and fixed radar mast. More.
Displacement: 2,000/2450 tonnes surface/submerged.
Dimensions: 86 x 9.5 m x 7.4 m
Propulsion: Diesel-electric, 17/14 knots surface/submerged
Complement: 42

Uniform class (1982)

uniform class
Known as Project 1910 Kashalot (NATO Uniform). This was a class of research and special operations submarines, built in the late 1970s: AS-13 and AS-15 built at Sudomekh in 1977, 1983, comm; in 1986 and 1991 (initially 1989). The third, AS-12, was cancelled in 1998 when fitting out. It used a single titanium hull design and had a nuclear reactor a quite unique combination in the Soviet Navy. They were used presumably for specialized research, Spetznaz support, but a report of 1995 revealed they were built for deep diving in order to tap on the NATO underwater cables and sabotage the SOSUS array network in case of war (or preparations for war).
Displacement: 1,390/1,580 tons surface/submerged
Dimensions: 69 m (226 ft) x 7 m (23 ft) x 5.2 m (17 ft)
Propulsion: Pressurized-water nuclear reactor 1.5 MW (2,000 hp), steam turbines: 10,000 shp (7,500 kW)
Speed: 10 knots surfaced, 30 knots submerged
Complement: 36
Sensors and processing systems: radar 1 Snoop Slab search, HF active sonar

X-Ray (1987)

Project 1851, unique boat built AS-11, by Sudomekh. Small deep diving research submarine comparable to the USN NR-1. Possibly derived from the deep rescue boat AS-4. Status: Had become inoperable by 1997 and will not return to service.
Displacement: 550/1,000 tons surface/submerged
Dimensions: 40 m (131 ft 3in) x 5.3 m (17 ft 5in) x 5 m (16 ft 5 in)
Propulsion: Pressurized-water nuclear reactor 10 MW
Speed: Unknown
Complement, sensors: unknown

Project 10831 (1989)

No NATO name, AS-12 built in Severodvinsk as deep diving model, capable of 1,000 m and powered by a nuclear reactor, probably for testings. Status unknown.
Displacement: 600/1,100 tons surface/submerged
Dimensions: 40 m (131ft 3in) x 6 m (19ft 8in) x 5.1 m (16ft 9in)
Propulsion: Pressurized-water nuclear reactor 10,000 hp
Speed: 30 knots
Complement: 20

Paltus (1991)

NATO reporting name. Small nuclear sub, builder Sudomekh, used for sea floor work and salvage (*Conways 1995 data). Called Project 1851.1. Two boats completed, AS-21 and AS-35, both based on the “X-Ray” class AS-23. Part of the 29th special submarine squadron, at Olenya Guba. Operating depth estimated beyond 3800ft (1000m), designed Sergei Bavilin, responsible for the Project 865/Piranya also.
Displacement: 800/1,520 tons surface/submerged*
Displacement (corrected): 300 tons surface
Dimensions: 47 m (154ft 2in) x 4 m (13ft 1in) x 4 m (13ft 1in)*
Dimensions (corrected): 30 m (98ft)
Propulsion: Pressurized-water nuclear reactor ? hp
Speed: Unknown
Complement: Unknown

Beluga (1987)

Project 1710 Makrek (NATO “Beluga”), SSA diesel-electric submarine for the black sea fleet as S-553 Forel. Experimental vessel for testing propulsion systems and hull forms as well as boundary-layer control techniques. Studied by the Malakhit Design Bureau, built at the Admiralty shipyard in St. Petersburg or Sudomekh in Leningrad according to Conways. The hull form is reminiscent of the Alfa class, but half her size. It seemed her initial powerplant was unsufficient compared to the reported speed. It seemed she was used to wear some polymer-bases coating, more for drag reduction than acousting signature reduction, although it’s not exclued. Similar in concept to the USS Albacore. Status: mothballed around 1998, last missioned probably in 1997. Project discontinued, but speculations fro NATO experts states she was a high speed underwater test vessel, mainly for control at such speed, and not likely to have been fitted with an air-independent propulsion system, as it was ionly suited for endurance an dnot high speeds;
Displacement: 1,400-1,485 tons/1,900 surface/submerged
Dimensions: 62.0–65.5 m (203 ft 5 in–214 ft 11 in) x 6.3–8.7 m (20 ft 8 in–28 ft 7 in) x 5.6–6.0 m (18 ft 4 in–19 ft 8 in)
Propulsion: Diesel-electric 10/22–24 knots surface/submerged

Losharik class

“Losharik” (a nickname, noo NATO reporting name but this). Project 210 and Project 10831: Single boat name AS-31, deep-diving nuclear powered submarine studied in the late 1980s. She was laid down in 1988, but not completed until 2003 after multiple revisions. In July 2019, she was damaged by a fire while taking underwater measurements of the sea floor, in Russian territorial waters. This cause 14 fatalities but the submarine was repaired and is now operational.

Sarov class

Sarov class, Project 20120 Sargan: Russian special purpose diesel-electric submarine with an auxiliary nuclear reactor. First revealed in 2007, on the Nizhny Novgorod region’s local government website, in service with the Northern Fleet. Used as a technology demonstrator for testing upgraded weaponry, equipment and intelligence collection. Studies for its went back to 1989, so it is relevant to this chapter on cold war soviet subs. Read more
Displacement: 2300/3950 tons surface/sub.
Dimensions: 98 m x 7m x 7 m
Propulsion: Nuclear reactor, Kristall-27 electrochemical generator
Speed: 10–17 knots (19–31 km/h; 12–20 mph)
Endurance: 45 days
Test depth: 300 metres (980 ft)
Complement: 52
Armament: 2 x 650-mm torpedo tubes and Status-6 Weapon

Soviet Submarines armament

Guns are not (obviously) listed here, but it should be noted that despite their advanced propulsion system the “Whiskey” class submarines: The Whiskey I had a twin 25 mm (1.0 in) guns in conning tower, the Whiskey II a twin 57 mm (2.2 in) deck guns and twin 25 mm guns, and the Whiskey IV 25 mm guns in the CT. The same twin deck gun was provisoned on the Quebec and Zulu but never installed.


Standard non-homing Torpedoes

533 mm (21 inches) ET-46 (1946): Standard non-homing early electric torpedo (ET): Weighting 3,990 lbs. (1,810 kg), 293 in (7.450 m) long with a 992 lbs. (450 kg) wahread. Range 6,600 yards (6,000 m) at 31 knots
533 mm (21 in) 53-51 (1951): Non-homing torpedo, WW2 53-39 mod. with equipped with new active magnetic fuse, propelled with a Kerosene-air wet heater and modified tail. Weight 4,134 lbs. (1,875 kg), 299 in (7.600 m) long, carrying a 661 lbs. (300 kg) wahread at 4,400 yards (4,000 m)/51 knots or 8,750 yards (8,000 m)/39 knots.
533 mm (21 in) ET-56 (1956) Non-homing electric torpedo.
533 mm (21 in) 53-56/V/VA (1956-66): Passive acoustic non-homing anti-ship torpedo, homing for the VA.
Propelled by Kerosene-Oxygen Wet-Heater, weight 4,409 lbs. (2,000 kg), 303 in (7.700 m) long, carrying a 882 lbs. (400 kg) warhead, 8,750 yards (8,000 m)/50 knots or 14,200 yards (13,000 m)/40 knots for the first model.
533 mm (21 in) 53-57 (1957): Powered by a Kerosene-Hydrogen Peroxide Turbine. Weight 4,409 lbs. (2,000 kg), 299 in (7.600 m) long, 672 lbs. (305 kg) warhead, range 19,700 yards (18,000 m)/45 knots. Non-homing model, developed from the 1944 German Stein-Butt torpedo.
533 mm (21 in) 53-58 (1968): The first Soviet nuclear warhead (non-homing) torpedo, 299 in (7.600 m) long.

Homing Torpedoes

533 mm (21 in) SAET-50/50M (1950/55): Standard Passive acoustic homing anti-ship torpedo.Total weight 3,638 lbs. (1,650 kg), 293 in (7.450 m) long, carrying a full explosive Charge of 827 lbs. (375 kg). Range 4,400 yards (4,000 m)/23 knots and for the SAET-50M 6,600 yards (6,000 m)/29 knots.
SET-53/53M (1958/64): ASW passive acoustic homing torpedo, detection range 550 yds. The M model had a silver-zinc model. Weight 3,263 lbs. (1,480 kg), 307 in (7.800 m) long, warhead 220 lbs. (100 kg). Range 8,750 yards (8,000 m)/23 knots, and for the 53M model 15,300 yards (14,000 m)/29 knots.
53-61/53-61M “Alligator” (1961-69). Acoustic wake following model, the model M had an improved homing system. Both had a Kerosene-Hydrogen Peroxide Turbine. Weighting 672 lbs. (305 kg), range 16,400 yds/55 knots or 24,000/35 knots.
SAET-60/60M (1961-69): Passive acoustical homing model propelled by a Silver-zinc battery engine, weights 4,409 lbs. (2,000 kg), 307 in (7.8 m) long and a 661 lbs (300 kg) warhead. Range 14,200 yd/42 kts or 16,400 yds/40 knots.
SET-65 “Yenot-2” (1965): Guided Electrical Torpedo powered by a Silver-zinc battery, with active acoustic guidance, range 880 yards (800 m). Warhead 452 lbs. (205 kg), range 17,500 yards (16,000 m)/40 knots.

Wire-guided Torpedoes

TEST-68 (1969): First Soviet Wire-guided model based upon the SET-53M, with active/passive acoustic homing and a 880 yards (800 m) range. Carried a warhead 220 lbs. (100 kg) over 15,300 yards (14,000 m) and 29 knots and down to 200 feets.
TEST-71/MKE & TEST-3 (1971/77): same model as above but with a 452 lbs. (205 kg) warhead and 16,400 yards (15,000 m)/40 knots, 27,300 yards (25,000 m)/35 knots range at depht down to 1,300 feet (400 m).

Lighweight Torpedoes

MGT-1 400 mm (15.75 inches) model (1961): Light-weight torpedo for self-defense against ASW vessels. Powered by a Silver-zinc battery, weighting 1,124 lbs. (510 kg) for an overall Length of 177 in (4.500 m) and a 176 lbs. (80 kg) warhead, at 6,600 yards (6,000 m)/28 knots.
-SET-40/40U (MGT-2, 1962/68): Light ASW active/passive acoustic homing torpedo, detection range 660 – 880 yards. Weights 1,212 lbs. (550 kg) for 177 in (4.500 m) long, carrying a 176 lbs. (80 kg) warhead over 8,700 yards (8,000 m) at 29 kts.

Heavy Torpedoes

-650 mm (25.6″) 65-73 (1973). and 650 mm (25.6″) 65-76 “Kit” 1976 (“Whale”). The first had a nuclear warhead. The second had a 992 lbs. (450+ kg) conventional warhead. Same weight and lenght: 8,820+ lbs. (4,000 tons), 433 in (11.000 m) long, propelled by the same Kerosene-Hydrogen Peroxide Turbine at 54,700 yards (50,000 m) at 50 knots. This was a “Kit” that carried the Kursk, which probably exploded.

Russian models:
USET-80 Acoustic wake-follower (1980) and UGST (1990s), VA-111 “Shkval” (Squall) rocket-propelled model capable of 12,000 – 16,400 yards (11,000 – 15,000 m) at 200 knots. Carries a 1,543 lbs. (700 kg) warhead. First tests with the Russian Pacific Fleet in the spring of 1998.

Soviet SLBM comparison

Open traps, Rocket silos SSBN K-433 project 667BDR “Kalmar”.

Submarine-launched Missiles

Two categories there: Those used on SSGs (cruise missiles on silos), and those launched by torpedoes.
-SS-N-3 Shaddock (P-5/P-6) nuclear warhead cruise missiles (Whiskey Long Bin, Echo, Juliett)
-SS-N-12 Sandbox (P-500 4K-80 Basalt) nuclear warhead cruise missiles (Mod. Juliett)
-P-70 Ametist (Charlie I)
-P-120 Malakhit (Charlie II)
-Tsakra/SS-N-15 Starfish 15 kt anti-submarine torpedo-launch missiles (Charlie, Oscar, Victor, Sierra)
-Vodopad/Veter SS-N-16 Stallion: 200 kt nuclear warhead (Oscar, Sierra)
-P-700 Granit/SS-N-19 Shipwreck cruise missile, 750 kg (1,650 lb) warhead (Oscar)
-SS-N-7 “starbright” cruise missile (Papa class)
-SS-N-21 Sampson SLCM (Sierra)
-Igla-M SAM (Akula), 9K38 Igla SAM (Typhoon)
-Granat cruise missiles (Akula)
-Kalibr cruise missiles (Akula)
-RPK-2 Viyuga (Typhoon)
Also: Mines and Poseidon drones, MG-74 Korund/Siren decoys

The next generation SSBNs: Borei class (1999)

Ballistic Missiles

-R-11FM missiles (Scud) (Golf)
-R-13 missiles (SS-N-4 Sark) (Golf, Hotel)
-R-21 missiles (SS-N-5 Serb) (Golf, Hotel)
-R-27 (SS-N-6 Serb) (Yankee)
-R-29 (SS-N-8 Sawfly) (Delta I)
-R-29D (SS-N-8 Sawfly) (Delta II, III, IV)
-R-31 (SS-N-17 Snipe) (Yankee)
-RSM-52 (Typhoon)
-RSM-56 Bulava (developed after the collapse of USSR for the Borei class)

Soviet Submarines electronics


-MG-200 “Arktika-M” sonar
-“Svet” underwater sonar/com- hydroacoustic signals detection
-“MG-10” hydrophone station
-“Mars-16KP” hydrophone station
-“Luch” sonar system for detection of underwater obstacles
-“Prizma” detection radar
-“Nakat-M” reconnaissance radar (November)
-MGK-500/540 active/passive suite, flank array
-MT-70 Sonar intercept receiver
-Pelamida towed array sonar
-MG-70 mine detection sonar

Akula class SSNs
Akula class SSNs (1983-90s)


-MG-74 Korund noise simulation decoys (fired from external tubes)
-Nikhrom-M IFF
-Bukhta ESM/ECM
-Chiblis Surface Search radar
-Medvyeditsa-945 Navigation system
-Molniya-M Satellite communications
-MGK-80 Underwater communications
-Tsunami, Kiparis, Anis, Sintez, Kora Communications antennas
-Paravan Towed VLF Antenna
-Vspletsk Combat direction system

Second view of Typhoon class

Read more

Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1947-95
Torpedoes of VMF SSSR” by Yu.L. Korshunov and A.A. Strokov
Navy, Russian forces, archived from the original on 24 September 2011, retrieved 10 September 2011
“The Third Battle: Innovation in the U.S. Navy’s Silent Cold War Struggle with Soviet Submarines”.
McClatchy-Tribune, “Russian Sub Ends 30-Day Voyage Under The Arctic”, Houston Chronicle
“Russian Nuclear Sub Lightly Damaged in Collision”. Defense News. 22 September 2011.
Korabli VMF SSSR, Vol. 1, Part 1, Yu. Apalkov, Sankt Peterburg, 2002
“К-424 Проект 667БДР”.
“”. Archived from the original on 5 September 2011.
10.03.2010. “”. Archived from the original on 17 March 2010.
“К-496, “Борисоглебск” Проект 667БДР”.
Зеленоград/Инфопортал Зеленограда/Новости/Атомную подлодку «Зеленоград» утилизируют
“К-211, “Петропавловск-Камчатский” Проект 667БДР”.
[1] Archived 2018-07-27 at the Wayback Machine.
“К-180 Проект 667БДР”. Archived from the original on 29 September 2011.
К-129, КС-129, Оренбург Проект 667БДР Archived 2011-09-29 at the Wayback Machine.
Project 667BDR submarines are staying? – Blog – Russian strategic nuclear forces ssbn-submarines russian pacificfleet
“Russia says nuclear submarine on fire in dock”, News (report), Yahoo!, December 2011
“World”, News, UK: The BBC, 29 December 2011, archived from the original on 2 December 2017
“US: Russia submarine on fire”, Reuters, 29 December 2011
Mizokami, Kyle. (24 April 2019). “Russia Launches Belgorod, the World’s Longest Submarine.” Popular Mechanics
Trevithick, Joseph and Tyler, Rogoway. (3 July 2019). “New Details On Russian Submarine Fire Emerge Along With An Intriguing Schematic (Updated)”
“Russian SLBM Liner Completed Flight Tests”. Rus Navy. 20 May 2011.
Центр обновления (in Russian). RU: Severnyflot.
Северный флот. Еженедельник “Коммерсантъ”, №7 (761) (in Russian).
“Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists” (PDF).
“Ekaterinburg and Vladimir Monomakh join the fleet”. 19 December 2014.
й-64, ая-64 оПНЕЙР 667адпл (in Russian), RU: Deep Storm
“Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 3 January 2017.
“й-64, ая-64 оПНЕЙР 667адпл”.
“Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 6 March 2017.
“”Звездочка” способна продлить срок службы АПЛ “Брянск” на 5 лет”. ФлотПром (in Russian).
“Karelia submarine returns to service”, Russian strategic nuclear forces (Blog), Russian forces, January 2010
“News”. Продолжаются ремонт и модернизация РПКСН “Новомосковск” (in Russian). Flot. 19 November 2010.
“Repairs and upgrade of SSBN Novomoskovsk is in progress”. Rus Navy. 19 November 2010.
James Follett. Ice. Mandarin. 1989. ISBN 0-7493-0110-4

Chapayev class cruisers

Project 68 Chapayev class cruisers (1941)

5 cruisers (1941): Chapayev, Zheleznyakov, Kuybyshev, Chkalov, Frunze

The Chapayev class cruisers were a continuation of Soviet cruiser design of the 1930s. Although USSR was not a signatory of the Washington treaty in 1921, the naval staff was well aware of the developments of the time, in the West and Japan as well. The Kirov class, an in-between light and heavy cruiser type, was the original solution of a universal cruiser for mass production, that proved flawed. After the treaty of London in 1930, confirmed in 1935, the new direction taken by navies was to create 10,000 tonnes light cruisers, as the 8-in category was now capped. USSR was no exception to this and started planning a new generation of large 6-in cruisers.
This design followed the Maxim Gorky class (1938, comp. 1943), and were largely improved, by their size, with the addition of 5,000 more tons allowing room for armour improvements, secondary artillery and AA. They were in fact the first Soviet cruisers designed completely out from Italian influences started with the two Kirov of 1935. However their construction was caught by the German invasion of 1941. The most advanced were evacuated for a later completion, and the last two were captured and scrapped by the Germans. Due to their post-war completion they became the first of the last wave of conventional cruisers in the USSR, abandoned after the death of Stalin in 1953, succeeded by the Sverdlov.

wow, Top view of the Project 68
wow, Top view of the Project 68

Design Development of Project 68 Чапаев

The tactical and technical assignment (TTZ) for the design of a new cruiser (“Kreiser”, abbreviated KRS) was developed from 1936, by taking into account a change of naval doctrine which defined the main combat missions for cruisers in an oceanic role. A significant influence came from the main artillery revision and auxiliary caliber, which were to be specially created for the new class. With a standard displacement of 8000-8300 tons, composition of the armament was determined soon, three triple gun turret of the MK-5 mount type, housing 152-mm (6-in) caliber guns of the type B-38. This was completed by four twin mounts type B-54 turrets, 100-mm universal (dual purpose) caliber guns. It was completed by six twin 37-mm 66-K AA guns. Protection needed to include a belt thickness of 100 mm, 50 mm armored deck, and a citadel offering protection from 152-mm shells in order to expand the area of ​​evolution within hitting distance, the immune zone against enemy’s armor-piercing shells. Top speed was to be maintained at 35 knots. Compared with the previous project “26-bis” Gorky class (Laid down December 1936), Project 68 had a much enhanced armor protection, with better cruising range and autonomy in accordance with the conditions of the North and Pacific theaters, while composition and layout of the powerplant was to that of project “26-bis”. Later, project 26-Bis2 was started, with the Kalinin class, laid down at Amur Shipbuilding Plant, Komsomolsk-on-Amur in August 1938.

Development of project 68 really started at the Leningrad Central Design Bureau-17 (TsKB-17) in 1938. Technical design was approved by a decree at the Council of People’s Commissars in July 13, 1939, followed by orders placed to various yards. Development of a preliminary design at TsKB-17 (Leningrad) was headed by A. I. Maslov. The project defined a new type of oceanic cruiser, using part of the Project 26-bis base. The main caliber of 152 mm had a smaller mass and dimensions which, which, by combining a larger hull allowed enhance armor protection, as well better fuel capacity and habitability. To increase the efficiency of the steam turbine engines, maximum power was slightly reduced at the expense of the maximum speed. Shipbuilders NN Isanin, AS Savichev, NA Kiselev, GA Gasanov participated in the development, and the estimated displacement shifted from 8300 to 9500 tons to be more realistic. The Navy staff however estimated a nearly 10,000 tonnes cruiser needed a fourth aft main-caliber turret, to be better aligned with foreign constructions, like the British Town class, American Brooklyn class or Japanese Mogami class (which even had five). The approved Resolution of July 13, 1939 accepted a total light displacement of 10 620 tons, up to 13 330 tons normal, with a lenght of 199 meters and a width of 18.7 meters and 5.9 m at normal dislpacement, plus a metacentric height of 0.89 m.


wow’s rendition of the Chapaev, front section view

Power plant

The ensembles of boiler-turbine occupied eight compartments in the middle of the hull, in two autonomous echelons. They included in all 6 main water-tube boilers of the KV-68 type (oil fired) and two main turbo-gear units (GTZA) of the TV-7 type for a total capacity of 110,000 liters and four turbo generators of 300 kW each, plus two diesel generators of 250 kW each for the all-electric systems onboard. Total power as rated was 124 600 shp (91 580 KW). By comparison, the previous class had 6 Yarrow-Normand water-tube boilers and 2 geared steam turbines rated for a total of 113,500 shp (84,600 kW), and a top speed of 36 knots, whereas the Chapayev class had a top speed of 33.5 knots (62.0 km/h; 38.6 mph). This slight decrease was compensated notably by a better reliability, and overall a much better radius of action, worthy of “oceanic” type cruisers: 7,000 nmi (13,000 km; 8,100 mi) at 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph) versus 3,750 nmi (6,940 km; 4,320 mi) at 18 knots for the previous Gorkiy class. The Chapayev carried 3,500 short tons of oil fuel.


In comparison with the previous project 26-bis, the armoured scheme was much improved.
-Armor belt: 100 mm (4-in) instead of 50 mm
-Bulkheads: Forward: 120 mm, aft: 100 mm (5-in) instead of 50 mm
-Main artillery barbettes: 130 mm (5.5 in) instead of 50 mm
-Turrets face: 75 mm (3.0 in) instead of 70 mm
-Conning tower: 150 mm (5.9 in) as before
-Armored deck: 50 mm (2.0 in) as before
In general, the previous design was vulnerable even to destroyer artillery, whereas the new design had an immune zone against 130 mm calibers.
The wheelhouse was protected by bulletproof armor 10 mm thick. Total Armor weight represented 22% of the standard displacement or circa 2910 tons, 1.85 times more than on the USN Cleveland class at the time. Structural underwater protection was absent, to the exception of a double bottom, but transverse bulkheads divided the hull into 23 main watertight compartments. As for the previous class, speed was estimated a good enough active protection.

wow’s rendition of the Chapaev, aft section view


The approved final composition included four main caliber artillery mounts of the type MK-5 (4×3) 6-inches, four auxiliary type B-54 DP mount, six twin type 66-K AA mounts and a complement of four twin 12.7 mm heavy machine gun mounts. The initial torpedo armament comprise two triple 533 mm torpedo tubes (21 in), and provision was made for one catapult and two KOR-2 reconnaissance and spotting seaplanes.

Beriev KOR-2

Main guns
The 152 mm/57 (6″) B-38 Pattern 1938 was originally developed for the Sovietky Soyuz class Battleships planned in 1937, and later was declined for the new Chapayev class but did not enter service until 1949. According to naval experts it was was a good, if not outstanding weapon.
Designed started at the “Bolshevik” factory in 1938 and the first gun production prototype was completed in 1940 and after tests, production started. By 1941 10 were available, used in further testings, and the remainder were used as railroad guns by installing on cradles reworked, originally made for 8 inches/45 (203 mm) guns.
There were four different turrets types designed for this gun and past the initial MK-4 (Sovetsky Soyuz class), the “cruiser type” was the MK-17, a lighter version designed for the Kronshtadt class battlecruisers while the MK-5 was a triple turret designed for the Chapayev and Sverdlov classes. The MK-9 was intended for the modified Sovetsky Soyuz class, also cancelled.
The total weight of the gun was 38,581 lbs. (17,500 kg) for an overall length of 351.8 in (8.935 m) and chamber Volume of 2,002 in3 (32.8 dm3).
Rate Of Fire was 7.5 rounds per minute, and the Chapayev class only carried 170 rounds per gun.
The Type 5 main guns, caliber 152-mm guns could fire either armor-piercing (AP), semi-armor-piercing (SAP), and high-explosive fragmentation (HE) shells, all weighing 55 kg, with an explosive charge A-IX-2 TNT 2% for armor-piercing shells to 11.4% TNT for the high-explosive fragmentation model. Maximum firing range was 30 215 m. These guns could also fire parachuted flares (48.5 kg) for illumination, and even ASW remote grenades 54.23 kg. The Soviets contrary to the Japanese never tried the radical shrapnell AA shot for AA fire.

Schematics of the Chapayev class
Schematics of the Chapayev class in 1950 (Kombrig)

Secondary guns
The 100 mm (3.9 in)/56 model 1940, or 100 mm/56 B-34 Pattern 1940 guns resulted of the failed B-14 gun in 1935 at the “Bolshevik” factory. A revised prototype was made in 1937, modified, and restarted in 1938, and returned for more changes with final trials in 1939, yet failed again. As war started, the need for a heavy AA gun was such that mass production was ordered anyway, and by start of 1941, 42 guns were at hand, all crippled by issues. In 1941, an improved version called B-34-U was delayed until 1946 and 213 were manufactured by 1950. Notably the pneumatic-powered semi-automatic breech was replaced by a more reliable spring-powered semi-automatic breech, which didn’t fix all problems. Falling rounds of the breech and fuze setting problems persisted.
They were fixed on the B-34-USM designed in 1948, of which 114 were built until 1952, their mount modernized in 1953.
They were used notably on the Riga-class frigates and Don-class submarine tenders.
With the 1951 “Sfera-50” control system these guns could hit targets up to 35,000 yards (32,000 m) and jet aircraft.
Denomination “100 mm/56 Model 1934” found in Wikipedia and other sources is mostly incorrect.
On the Chapayev class, there were four twin mounts located abaft the aft funnel on the superstructure. They were capable of 15 rounds per minute, the mount weight 13.53 tons, cold elevate/depress at -8 / +85 degrees, with a 10 degrees per second traverse and 12 degrees per second elevation. Maximum range was 17,500 yards, effective range 10,900 yards (16,000/10,000 m), 24,323 yards (22,241 m) against surface targets with the 34.4 lbs. (15.6 kg) HE Shell. They fired a fixed round about 61.7 lbs. (28 kg) with propellant. There were three types of AA shells, the HE model 1928, a diving shell, star shell and anti-ECM shell. Outside the Chapayev, this gun was used in many other design, notably it was copied in China and equipped the Luhai, Luhu, Jiangwei and Jianghu classes well until the 1990s for some.


Of course back in 1938, this was out of question. No provision was made for a radar and instead, a spotted plane was to be carried, as for the previous class (Project 26). Provision was made for a catapult, which was never mounted. Instead, the deign was revised before completion, as Project 69K, and improved over the years. The ships were given the following systems before decommission in 60-65:
Detection radars
-Main surface detection radar “Guys”
-Detection radar NTs, two “Rif” systems
-AA detection radar “Tamir-5N”
Fire control radars
-2 “Volley” for the main artillery
-2 “Anchor” (as part of SPN-500) for DP armament
C&C, rangefinder:
-2 KDP2-8-III for main battery
-2 SPN-500 for the DP 100 mm AA
Identification radar – “Fakel-MO/MZ”


Baltic yards cruiser hull in construction
Baltic yard’s cruiser hull in construction, shot by the Luftwaffe on 26 june 1941

According to the ten-year plan for the construction validated by the RKVMF, in accordance with the development program of the oceanic fleet, by the end of 1947 it was planned to lay twenty-six more cruisers of the projet 68, including 17 ships integrated into the five-year plan FY 1938-1942. In reality, only seven cruisers were laid down in Leningrad and Nikolaev. Since the start of WW2, only 5 were launched, but completion was stopped and they were mothballed. Also two, Ordzhonikidze and Sverdlov, were not ready in time for launching and has been captured in Nikolaev by the Germans. They were dismantled under the occupation for scrap metal, only 20% complete by then.
In addition, it was planned to lay down five more cruisers in Soviet shipyards by August-December 1941, four of them already named. The same number was planned to be laid down in 1942, but the Great Patriotic War shattered these plans. It was decided to reaffect men and material to more urgent tasks, notably completing ships and maintenance of existing vessels. The 100-mm dual-purpose/anti-aircraft guns on paper matched or exceeded the allied pre-war artillery systems but development was rocky at best and reliability was achieved well into the 1950s. They would have however a long service life, covering most of the cold war, at least on the Chinese side. The 37-mm anti-aircraft gun were close in concept to the Bofors in terms of performance and characteristics, and were used in various occasions during the war. The following list details the ships’s construction status.
Completion was put on hold for the duration of the war, once the ships were safe of capture or destruction. The design was modified to include improvements, notably in radars and fire control systems, and naturally the catapult and spotter planes were removed as a result, as well as the torpedo tubes, now considered an obsolete feature.

Chapayev named after: Vasily Chapayev (Ordzhinikidze Yard, Leningrad), Laid down 8 October 1939, launched 28 April 1941, completed 16 May 1950.
Zheleznyakov Named after: Anatoly Zheleznyakov (1895-1919), Built by: Admiralty Shipyard (Leningrad) Laid down 31 October 1939, Launched 25 June 1941, Completed 19 April 1950
Kuybyshev Named after: Valerian Kuybyshev. Built by: Marti Yard (Nikolayev). Laid down 31 August 1939, launched 31 January 1941, Completed 22 December 1950.
Chkalov (later Komsomolets). Named after Valery Chkalov, Built by Ordzhinikidze Yard (Leningrad), laid down 31 August 1939, launched 25 October 1947, Completed 1 November 1950
Frunze Named after Mikhail Frunze, Marti Yard (Nikolayev), Laid down 29 August 1939, Launched 31 December 1940, Completed 15 December 1950.
Ordzhinikidze and Sverdlov were also ordered in 1938, but scrapped on the slipway after capture by the Germans in Nikolayev. Sverdlov was the name for the successor’s class.


11,130 long tons (11,310 t) standard, 14,100 long tons (14,300 t) full load
Length: 201 m (659 ft), Beam 19.7 m (65 ft), Draught 6.4 m (21 ft)
Propulsion 2 shaft geared steam turbines, 6 boilers, 124,000 shp (92,000 kW)
Speed 33.5 knots (62.0 km/h; 38.6 mph) Range 7,000 nmi (13,000 km; 8,100 mi) at 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph), 3,500 short tons (3,200 t) tons of oil fuel
Complement 840
Armament: 12 × 152 mm (6.0 in)/57 cal B-38 guns in 4 triple Mk5-bis turrets, 8 × 100 mm (3.9 in)/56 cal Model 1934 guns in 4 twin SM-5-1 mounts, 28 × 37 mm (1.5 in) AA gun, 6 × 533 mm (21.0 in) torpedo tubes (later removed)
Armour: Belt: 100 mm (3.9 in) Conning tower: 150 mm (5.9 in) Deck: 50 mm (2.0 in) Turrets: 75 mm (3.0 in). Aircraft carried: 2 seaplanes planned (later removed), 1 catapult (later removed)

The design was based on the Kirov-class cruiser, but with significant changes in armament: 4 triple 152 mm (6.0 in) gun turrets replacing 3 triple 180 mm (7.1 in) gun turrets. The 152 mm B38 guns fired a 55 kg (121 lb) shell to 24,000 m (26,000 yd). The rate of fire was 6 to 7 rounds per minute. The guns were mounted in individual cradles with separate elevation. The secondary armament consisted of 100 mm (3.9 in) CM-5 guns in twin enclosed powered turrets with a rate of fire of 15-18 rounds per minute. The light anti-aircraft guns consisted of 37 mm (1.5 in) weapons.

The hull was enlarged, and protection was improved compared to the Kirov class. The machinery was based on a unit system with alternating boiler rooms and engine rooms. The five ships were completed after the war to a modified design (Project 69K). The aircraft facilities and torpedo tubes were removed and radar and improved anti-aircraft artillery added (37 mm guns in twin powered and water cooled mountings).

Detail of Sverdlov
They sacrificed nominal firepower (150 mm guns instead of 180 mm), to integrate an additional turret, carrying three more guns, to go for a twelve guns battery, as for the American ships of the Cleveland class. However, in category, they rank undoubtedly in the “heavy” class, and even near the top of it.

They were well served by a powerful AAA, according to wartime lessons, were further modified along the way to reach more firepower. Secondary armament consisted of eight traditional twin mounts giving way ultimately to four twin turrets, 130 mm caliber, reaching the Soviet fleet standards of 1960.


Postwar completion and service of the Chapayev class

Although development of Project 68 started in 1938, the Great Patriotic War freezed all ambitious Soviet naval programs, scheduled for completion in 1943-44. According to the TTZ, the Chapayev class were to be part of a squadron, cover the withdrawing of light forces during an attack, supporting ship patrols and making reconnaissance sweeps, as well as protecting the squadron from light enemy forces, and this included AA cover.

During the war, the shortcomings of the Kirov class cruisers became clear, notably unreliable anti-aircraft armament, outdated artillery fire control, insufficient communications and the lack of radar and hydroacoustics for ASW warfare, as well the use of open combat posts. The naval staff concluded that Project 68 needed a drastic modernization, and this request was originally issued in March 1944. But only in April 1945, TsKB-17 received a detailed specification book for adjusting the design to new the request. This development primarily affected anti-aircraft weaponry and associated guiding systems, as well as radars as a whole.

In order to balance the additional load required in the design modernization called Proyekt 68K, it was decided to abandon both the onboard aviation and associated equipments, as well as the 12.7 mm heavy machine guns considered obsolete when facing the first jets. This did not produce significant results as some tactical and technical elements deteriorated simultaneously with the load increase. The crew also increased, leading to degrading living conditions, in particular the traditional bunks were replaced by three-tiered bunks. In the end, to cram the additional personal and correct possible stability issues it was decided to sacrifice some original features, such as the torpedo tubes and torpedo stores, the paravanes, the ASW grenade launchers, and even reduce the number of 37 mm to 28, as well as many other detail changes.

Taking into account also the deterioration of shipbuilding quality, with skilled personal missing from the yard, it was proposed to complete only five of these pre-war cruisers on the modified 68K project, but to built as a second phase seven more ships according to the Sverdlov 68-bis project, starting in 1949: No less than 18 light cruisers keels were laid down according to project 65 validated by the TTZ, for which was issued in September 1945 already a specific order. The Project 65 existed in two versions originally, with 152 (6-in) and 180 mm (7.5 in) artillery. However in 1947, Stalin ordered personally to concentrate only on 6-in caliber, only suitable for light cruisers, and force the completion of the project 68K cruisers in every possible way. The new Project 65 was delayed, and later cancelled, freeing up the personal to complete the the project 68-bis (Sverdlov) and develop the preliminary design of Proyekt 82.

This decisions allowed the program to go forward despite massive difficulties, and last and fifth cruiser of the project 68-K entered service in 1959, so six years after the death of Stalin, which put an end to all the other conventional ships design. These vessels saw service for the duration of the early part of the cold war. They were discarded in the 1960s, contrary to their successors the Sverdlov class, which for some were still in service at the end of the cold war, mostly for training, as was Komsomolets, withdrawn from the fleet in 1979 after being used as a schoolship. Here is following a detailed account of the ship’s career:


Laid down on 31.10.1939 at Shipyard No. 194, mothballed after launch on 10.9.1941 and completed in April 19, 1950 (or July 29, 1950), entering service with the 4th Fleet on 7 September 1950. By 07/30/1951 she was transferred to the Black sea Fleet on 7/8/1968, and transferred to Leningrad district. From 28.5.1973 she was transferred to the Baltic Fleet. From 10/14/1957 to 05/08/1961 she underwent overhaul in Leningrad. From April 18, 1961, she was withdrawn from the Navy and reclassified as a training ship for air suveillance radar operators, and was disarmed and discarded from the Navy on October 21, 1971, stricken on 03/15/1976, and BU in 1976-77 at the Glavvtorchermet base in Liepaja.


Laid down on 31.8.1939 at Shipyard No. 200, launched 31 January 1941, from 14.8.1941 she was towed from Nikolaev to Poti and mothballed for the duration of the war. Completed and commissioned in April 20, 1950 (or July 29, 1950), she became a part of the Northern Fleet on 6.8.1950. By April 18, 1958, she was withdrawn from the Navy and reclassified as as a training ship for air surveillance radar operators, disarmed and discarded on April 24, 1965; From 20.12.1965 she was sold for BU, scrapped at Glavvtorchermet base in Sevastopol.


She was Laid down on 8.10.1939 at Shipyard No. 189 but mothballed after launch on 10.9.1941 and completed on May 16, 1950 (or May 27, 1950), entered the 4th Fleet on 19.9.1950. In 07/30/1951 she transferred to the Black sea fleet and on April 18, 1958, was withdrawn from the Navy’s active fleet, and reclassified as training ship for air surveillance radar operators, disarmed and reclassed as PKZ on 6.2.1960. Discarded and stricken on 12.4.1963 she was sold on October 29, 1963, and from 1964 BU at Glavvtorchermet facility of Murmansk.


Laid down on 31.8.1939 at Shipyard No. 189 and mothballed after launch in September 1941, she was relaunched on 10/25/1947, completed and commissioned in 10/25/1950. She was transferred to the 8th fleet on April 22, 1951. From 12/24/1955 she transferred to the Baltic. She was renamed on 29.10.1958 “KOMSOMOLETS”. In May 1973, she was transferred to Leningrad district and on 01/28/1976 to the Baltic again. She was discarded on September 27, 1979 and in 1980 BU by the Glavvtorchermet facility in Liepaja.


Laid down on 08/29/1939 at Shipyard No. 198, she was launched and on 9.8.1941 towed to Poti to be mothballed until 1942. There, her stern was detached and welded to the hull of the damaged cruiser Molotov (project 26-bis). She was completed and commissioned on 19.12.1950 (or 28.3.1951), Northern fleet fromn 8.4.1951. On April 18, 1958, she was withdrawn and reclassified as a training radar ship, disarmed and stricken on 6.2.1960, sold and BU in 1960-61 at Glavvtorchermet Sevastopol.

Kuybishev in 1954, 25 July Navy Day at Sevastopol. The ships were equipped to carry and lay more than 200 mines. The equipments were removed bu theyr kept their railings until the end of their service.



Chapayev class

Chapayev class cruisers were in service in 1960. However the dates were they were stricken from the fleet list is unknown: Chapayev is believed to have been retired 1961, as Frunze or 1962, and the Kuibyshev. Chkalov and Zhelezniakov were however maintained in service until 1990 as training ships. With the decomposition of the Soviet Union, no doubt they were mothballed and left to rot. None was preserved.

Komsomolec, of the Chapayev class
Komsomolec, of the Chapayev class


Displacement: 11,300t, 15,000t FL
Dimensions: 201 x 19.70 x 6.40m
Propulsion: 2 turbines , 6 boilers, 130 000 hp = 34 Knots
Crew: 840
Armour: 50 – 80 mm (3.8 in), blockhaus 152 mm (6 in).
Weaponry: 18 x 150 (6 in) (4×3), 8 x 2 AA 100 mm (4.6 in), 24 x 37 mm, 6 533 mm TTs (21 in) (2×3).

Sverdlow class
The next Sverdlov class.

Read More/Src

Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1947-1995
Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1922-1946
Cruiser “Frunze, Kuybishev” from Black Sea Fleet (in Russian, with photos)
Jarovoj, V. V.; Greger, René (1994). “The Soviet Cruisers of the Chapayev and Sverdlov classes”. Warship 1994.
MJ Whitley – Cruisers of World War 2, an International Encyclopedia, Arms & Armour Press
All Russian Chapayev Class Cruisers – Complete Ship List

Romeo class submarines (Project 633 – 1957)

Romeo class submarines (Project 633 – 1957)

21 submarines (1958-62)

Perhaps not the best-known cold war conventional submarine of Soviet naval forces, the Romeo class as known in the Western world were the Project 633. They were nevertheless known for two reasons:
-First, they took the succession of the Project 613 (Whiskey class), the 1st generation cold war soviet submarines.
-Second, and that’s an irony, more where produced by China than USSR (and exported), as the Type 033
-Third, together with the Zulu and Quebec classes (Project 611/615), they served as test-beds for the mass-produced cold war success SSK, the Foxtrot class (1963). All three models explored different pathways.

Development of Project 633

The Project 633 initial design requirements were emitted by TTZ in 1952-53. The direction these successors to Project 613 could take were not difficult to guess: Better performances, in range, speed, and diving depth. Since they were much larger, displacing as much as 1400 tonnes standard, versus 1050 tonnes for the Whiskey, the enlarged and redesigned hull could carry more diesel fuel, solving the range problem. Endurance was almost doubled as a result, while the larger bow could accommodate two more tubes, for eight total. This range was obtained however by reducing top speed, up to 15.5 knots versus 18.5 knots on Project 613, although underwater it was the same.

But there was a parallel project, 611 (NATO “Zulu” class) much larger, that was built from 1952, and the ‘Romeo’ took from it as well and were seen as an improved version. While the “Zulu” was just an enlarged “Whiskey” chiefly for range, it was better armed and even was equipped with deck guns. Its technology was much older, going back to a 1946 TTZ requirement. The Type 615 “Quebec” was the completely reverse proposal, a coastal submersible of 400 tonnes, the first built in 1954. So the Romeo was seen as the true successor of Project 611, and being the last of the three was also the most developed, immediate predecessor of the Foxtrot class.

Chinese Type 033 Romeo
Chinese Type 033 Romeo, the main production run, making the latter one of the world’s most prolific cold war sub.

Project 633 began life as a 1954 TTZ final requirement for an advanced coastal submarine developed from Project 613 and exploiting the late WW2, the Kreislauf drive technology. The latter was developed for Project 615 (Quebec class). This version would have been fitted with Kreislauf diesels mated on both shaft but soon that technology appeared too immature for fleet use. Project 633 was then to be equipped with standard 37-D diesels. The Kreislauf drive was a system for a “conjoint control of vehicle sub-units of different type or different function including control of propulsion units including control of combustion engines” as defined in google patents (its now free tech). Basically it was a closed-circuit diesel engine using argon as cycle medium. More on CORDIS.


Hull design

The hull of the 633 boats was 77.8 meter long overall for the outer shell, with a circa 60 meter long pressure hull, for about 5.3 meters in diameter at its widest at the main command bridge. Construction of it was so strong that it could withstand the pressure wave of a medium-sized atomic bomb at 1,600 meters, or possibly a small nuclear depth charge as developed by the Soviets later. The internal hull was divided into seven compartments and was a mixture of internal and external framing:
-Section 1: Torpedo tubes room (six) and associated storage, 13 bunks, plus steering gear for the forward depth rudder.
-section 2: Batteries, and commandant’s cabin, officers’ cabins, washroom, radio station and fresh water tank.
-section 3: Control center with instruments, sonar station, toilet, pump systems, access to the bridge kiosk above.
-section 4: 20 bunks, aft battery pack, washroom 2, various tanks.
-section 5: Main engine room, diesels and APU and controls for environmental systems, snorkel.
-section 6: Electric engine room, two cabins of three bunks.
-section 7: Stern torpedo tubes room, reserve torpedoes, rear hatch, four bunks, toilet 2, main steering gear.
The bridge tower was 5 meters high but not waterproof, entirely flooded when submerged to the exception of the lower front third of the tower, connected between the access door on deck, and the central section, and open weather bridge above. The latter bad weather bridge was at the front of the tower in an advanced overhanging position. It contained a compass, six windows. Behind were located two periscopes and a radar, all retractable into their own structure.

Powerplant & performances

Power and speed:
The machinery layout repeated Project 613 with a two-shaft system, each connected to a single diesel. The main propulsion unit therefore comprised both Soviet-built 37D marine diesel engines, each delivering an output of 2,000 hp (1,471 kW). They burnt fuel oil and oxygen from ambient air, supplied on surface from outside or in shallow water using the snorkel, providing a top speed of 15.2 knots, which was not stellar. All other sub types of the time were capable of 18 knots, but due to the added range it was found adequate, and the Foxtrot class were down to 16.6 knots. After diving, only water resistance acted as a brake to reduced this speed, and deeper as the snorkel was retracted, the two PG-101 electric motors entered in action. Producing 1,350 hp each, they allowed an underwater speed of 13 knots, which was in the norm.
Range: The greatest feature of the 633 design was its range, at 9 knots of cruising speed, of 14,600 nautical miles (16,000 for conway’s), but with the diesel engines alone, with an extra 14 nautical miles on the electric drives at 13 knots.


The main sensor array of Project 633 was the Arktika-M sonar system (NATO “Pike Jaw”), used for target tracking. It was supplemented by the MG-15 passive sonar system. By this combination the Romeo could track targets under and above water. The submarine transmitters and receivers were mounted on the top, and bottom of the bow. There was also a retractable radar (NATO “Snoop Plate”) close to the periscopes and working in the X-band with 80 kW, for surface search.

The new sonar system was a considerable advance compared to Project 613, developed in parallel to the one fitted later on Project 641 (Foxtrot class). It offered a vastly improved target acquisition and localization. This was a long derivative of the WW2 German GHG/Balkon system, installed in a bulge under the bow. Called MG-10 Feniks-M was used for submarine detectionand above it was located the MG-200 Arktika-M. This was the active scanning sonar, with a small underwater telephone fitted on top. Targeting data was sent to the new Leningrad fire control system, a copy of the American wartime TDC system. This was the first soviet underwater dedicated fire control system ever fitted. It became the great standard for all soviet subs for almost twenty years. The sail on its side contained the sonar intercept system MG-23 Svet-M.

Simple profile


Project 633 used conventional torpedo tube, six mounted in the bow and two in the stern, all of the same type and caliber. This configuration furiously reminded the Second World War. These tubes launched the standard Soviet torpedo types of the time, all tested and approved. There was also an archaic WW2 feature maintained only for the first units of the class, a provision was made for a deck gun mounted forward of the bridge. In practice it was never mounted. This feature was also seen on Chinese-built Type 033, but again, the gun was absent.
The Pr. 633 boats carried the following torpedoes:
ET-46/ET-56: Essentially modernized copies of the German G-7e torpedoes developed in the the 1950s.
-53-39MP: An evolved version of the unguided 53-39, wartime standard, further developed and called an “area search torpedo”.
-The 53-57: Also called by NATO 53-56, this was an unguided model of considerable top speed (51 knots at highest setting) which later was modified to carry a tactical nuclear warhead. According to Apalkow, it had built-in sensors making it a homing torpedo.
Project 633 could also carry and launch through the same tubes up to twelve PMR-1 and PMR-2 sea mines.

Missiles conversion projects:

The basic Project 633 tested missiles designs that were never produced:
-Project 633A: Born from 1955 TTZ spec. it was designed to fire the new P-15 Termit anti-ship missile. Four were to be carried in external cylinder launchers faired into the outer hull casing, before and aft of the sail. None was build but plans were transferred to China and the latter built one on a modified version of these plans, called Project 033G Wuhan.
Project 633B: This was a derivative to fire the P-5 Pityorka (NATO Shaddock) strategic cruise missile, with four carried in an enlarged semi-streamlined superstructure around the fin. Project 633B was cancelled along with the whole Project 633 but the concept was tested on the Project 665 Whiskey Longbin.

Diagram by Richard W. Stirn
Diagram by Richard W. Stirn.

Production, modernizations & variants

In total, only 21 was produced in USSR according to hull numbers, but added to the Chinese ones, this is a total of 112 (96 Chinese, 16 North Korean), so more than the Foxtrot or any other sub type worldwide bu the 1950 “Whiskey”. However this was still nothing: The Soviet staff was very ambitious about this program signed by Stalin, which favoured mass-production: 560 submarines were indeed projected. However the programme was terminated in 1955 by Khrushchev. In accordance with Admiral Kuznetsov, the new direction of the Navy was not mass-construction for a conventional naval warfare as planned by Stalin, but trying to reach technological excellence to compensate for numbers.

The soviet premier decided that all non-nuclear submarine construction would be terminated, which was not received well by a part of the Soviet Navy staff, believing SSNs would be too expensive and too long to develop. For the numbers required, only diesel-electrics could do, especially for shallow water and coastal patrols. Project 641 was saved by this navy staff action, but under condition that Project 633 would be merged with it as it was impossible to justify two types. In 1959, construction of any other boats of the 633 project was cancelled while tooling and blueprints were sent to China, quickly turned, with Soviet assistance in a naval yard dedicated to submarines into mass production. This became the Project 033.

Project 633L (1967):

S350 was taken in hands from 1967 to 1969 in Gorki, to test hull shapes at Krasnoe Sormovo, Gorky. The boat retained eight torpedoes onboard, no spares to make room.

Project 633RW (1971):

Project 633RW as preserved in 2012

This first conversion at Sevmorzavod and Sevastopol base “Krasnoe Sormovo” saw two massive 650 mm torpedo tubes mounted on S-11 and S-49 for tests. The special torpedoes were 11m long, so they were placed on the foredeck, in a new enclosed structure. Of course, no spare torpedoes could be transported for a reload. The launching structure was waterproof and built under the same pressure requirements as the main hull. The other advantage of the structure was to provide the capability to launch the RPK-7 (86R URPK-7 «Veter» anti-submarine guided missile), or RPK-11 missile or the heavy torpedo 65-76 or 65-73, nuclear-tipped. While two 533 mm tubes were converted to fire the anti-submarine guided missiles 83R URPK-6 «Vodopad». Displacement of the 633RW rose to 1,350 tons (surface) 1,810 tons (underwater) for 78 m overall. In addition, these were refitted with new PG-101M-1 electric motors, capable of a top speed of 15/12 kts, the crew was 58 officers and sailors, and the Sever-N-633RV navigation complex was installed. This conversion was made in parallel to Project 671RT, so between 1971 and 1972 (Victor II).

Project 633KS (1978):

S-128 was built in 1978 in the Sevmorzavod yard in Sevastopol, to test the 3K10 Granat missile system. It was fitted with two launchers (launching the 3M10 cruise missile). This model also had a floating battery recharging station PZS-50. A modernization of the type was planned (Project I633/Ts633) but never carried out.

Active service

The class entered service from 1958, mostly in the black sea fleet:
-Black Sea Fleet: S-32 (transferred in 1960 to the Northern Fleet), S-34 (same), S-36 (same 1961, 1981 back), S-37 (same 1965, 1982 back), S-38 (same 1969, 1980 Back), S-49 (same 1962, back 1969), S-53 (same 1961, 1980 Black Sea Fleet, 1985 Baltic Fleet), S-57 (same 1962, 1970 back), S-101 (same 1961, 1982 Baltic Fleet), S-128 (same 1961, 1977 back), S-212 (same 1961, 1970 back), S-350 (same 1959, 1966 back), S-351 (same 1960, 1966 Baltic Fleet), S-352 (same 1960, 1966 Baltic Fleet), S-353 (from 16.07.1960 Northern Fleet), 354 (from 18.07.1960 Northern Fleet)
-Northern Fleet: Only four: S-4 (1982 Black Sea Fleet), S-7, S-11 (1962 Black Sea Fleet, back 1963, 1972 Baltic Fleet, 1972 back then 1976 Black Sea Fleet), S-28 (1981 Baltic Fleet).

A Romeo class sub in 1986.
A Romeo class sub in 1986.

Reception of the Romeo by experts

Forecast International report stated that the class diesel engines exhibited poor quality and showed important torsional flexing on crankshafts, and due to loose tolerances in all mechanical components, there was an excessive wear of all moving parts, and massive oil leaks to the point some could be visible on the surface when at snorkel depth. Batteries also had quite serious quality control issues, never fully acquiring, keeping their 100% charge and had a very limited life in terms of cycles. They also are impacted by excessive gas generation, plate distortion under heavy consumption. This traduced into low operational readiness of the class as a whole. The Romeo class is defined as essentially a WW2 design. It is slow and noisy with average to poor sensors, so both easy to detect and unable to detect other subs in the area. The hull integrity is subjected to low quality control in general and the anti-ship capabilities are limited by the use of straight-running torpedoes, also derived from a WW2 design. In short, although there was considerable improvement over the Project 613 “Whiskey”, this was still a 1st generation cold war SSK. The fact the class was built almost without changes by the Chinese into the 1980s was not to their credit.

Egyptian Romeo Type 033 (Chinese version)


Algeria: 2 boats, 010 (1982) and 011 (1983), decommissioned in 1989.
Bulgaria: 4 boats, the Leninksi komsomol 81 (later Pobeda) (1972) decomm. 1990, Dimitrovski komsomol 41(82)/Viktoriya (1972) decomm. 1992, Nadezhda 83 (1985) decomm. 2008, Slava 84 (1983) decomm. 2011 a museum as of 2019 in Beloslavl.
Egypt: 6 boats, 196-67 Type 180: N°831, 834, 837, 840 (plus six ex-Chinese 1982-87).
China: 92: See the Type 033 post. First transferred, other licence-built.
Northern Korea: 25 total: 7 boats, ex-Chinese, called Type 13 (2 1973, 2 1974, 3 1975), 16 built under license 1975-82.
Syria: 3 boats transferred 1985, 86, 87: Mumbata S01, S-53, S-101.

North Korean 033 submarine, built locally with Chinese assistance. These are still in service.

The Chinese Romeo

Under the 1950 Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance, documentation was passed to the PRC to produce Romeo class submarines in 1963. The first thirteen built under assistance as the first Chinese variant was known in NATO circle as the Romeo Type 033. However the type was “improved” and modified after the split of relations with USSR, and a total of 84 Type 033 submarines were delivered, the last in 1984, plus exports.
Type 031 The first twelve boats, faithful copies of Project 633, assembled with Soviet assistance, tooling and components. This Type 6633 saw only two of the disassembled kit boats made, the rest was modified already with domestic batteries, better than the Soviet ones.
Type 033: PLAN designation for the modified Project 633. Electronic equipments were modified, and the sonar updated (Type 105) and the SQ2-262A sonar by Factory No.613. Noise reduction was lowered to 20 dB. Also the air conditioning and refrigeration systems were adapted to Chinese conditions. The first 13 were built at Huangpu Shipyard in Guangzhou.
The type 033 ES5A had many enhancements, with the QZHA―10 (Type 779) and the QDYA-10 (Type 778) periscopes, H/SQG-2 (type 801) and H/SQZ-D sonars, Type 063 communication systems and ECM.
Later, the 033G appeared, modified to launch acoustic homing torpedoes. A single 033G1 prototype was tested to fire six YJ-1 anti-ship missiles (CSS-N-4).
The overall production lasted from 1962 to 1984, with 84 delivered, making the largest conventional SSK production worldwide outside USSR. Of course the type was totally obsolete and retired in the 2010s.

Chinese Type 033 underway


Displacement: 1470-1830 tons Surface/dive (Conways 1300/1700)
Dimensions: 77 x 6,7 x 4,9 m
Propulsion: 2 shafts diesels 4,000 hp, 15.5/13 knots Surf/sub 270-300 m
Crew: 56
Armement: 8 x 533 mm (6 b, 2s, 14 torp/12 mines)
Electronics: Radar Snoop Plate, Sonar M/F Herkules, antenne passive Fenika, ECM Stop Light.

Read more
About the North Korean variant Project 13
Kim Jong-un inspect his subs [archive], MSN news 16 june 2014
Kim Jong-un sur on a « Romeo » [archive], Strategic Bureau, 19 june 2014
(en) James C. Bussert, « Chinese Naval Sonar Evolves From Foreign Influences » AFCEA December 2002

Model Kits:
Modellist kit 1/144

Cold War Soviet Destroyers

Cold War Soviet Destroyers

160 Destroyers (45 in 1990)

Foreworld: A destroyer force dwarved by NATO

The Soviet Navy was the “poor parent” compared to the land and air forces during the cold war. At any moment for 43 years, the Soviet ground forces could unleash more than 20,000 tanks on the German plains and forest, and strike with thousands of attack jets all valuable targets in a couple of hours. However due to its particular maritime access, the Soviet Navy was less in position to harm NATO countries, especially in Europe. It was split between the northern fleet, reserved to SSBN and SSNs, one of the pillar of USSR nuclear deterrence. Her only strategic western access was in the Baltic. In the black sea, the navy was trapped between a NATO allied Turkey, Italy, which both had sizeable navies, plus a permanently based USN task Force. In the Pacific, the Soviet Navy had to face Japan, and after 1939, China as well.

A starboard bow view of a Soviet Sovremenny Class guided missile destroyer observing NATO ships participating during Exercise Northern Wedding ’86.

Soviet destroyers, in particular missile destroyers built from 1960, had to face many challenges in this context: Protecting Soviet merchant traffic, one of the largest of the time, which became a vital asset as its network of decolonized, sympathetic unaligned countries, potential customers became a thing. But moreover assist its cruisers, notably its missile cruisers. Before that, mass-produced destroyers such as a Skoryy class were used for general purpose missions but ASW warfare, especially in the Baltic. This stayed important as the USN submarine fleet was a massive, threat in the Atlantic, added to other NATO member’s own conventional submarine fleets.

ASW warfare was however mostly left to specialized vessels such as Frigates, whereas Destroyers took on more versatile roles, almost be seen as alternative cruisers just like for NATO. The last cruisers in Europe (France, Italy and UK notably) were scrapped in the 1970-80s, therefore the bulk of 1970s fleets rested on missile Destroyers, often specialized, AA or ASW. The Soviet Sovremenny and Udaloy class were good examples of this. On paper, they were versatile ships, able to deal with any threat, surface, air and underwater, but at the same time, gearing to some specialized task. The former were more AA/AS ships, the latter were ASW-specialists. They were large, almost the tonnage of cruisers, and were classed as such by some authors (Like john Gardiner for Conway’s).

However for the most sensitive years of the Soviet navy, the 1960s decade, Kashin class destroyers really formed the bulk of this type. With their very high speed of nearly 40 knots, flush-deck hull, relatively small tonnage at 4,400 tonnes they were quite a match for the existing ships of the USN, the older Farragut and Charles F. Adams class.
But basically the Sovyetsky Voyenno-Morskoy Flot main goals were to disrupt NATO maritime supply lines and show the flag to developed countries around the world, whereas in WW2, it was mostly geared up for defense, in-bewteen a green and blue water navy.

From conventional to missile destroyers

Polish-Skoryy class

The Soviet Navy during WW2 had little occasion to launch a sizeable fleet against German assets in the Baltic. After the surprise of Operation Barbarossa, air attacks quickly damaged the most important ships of the fleet, notably capital ships and cruisers, and destroyers rapidly took a more active role, in the Baltic notably for ASW warfare, laying mines and patrolling. The Ognevoi-class was the last wartime design completed at that time and after the war. They some lessons from the conflict and retained their roles, but improved on the mass-produced Type 7, by introducing a larger hull able to deal with heavy weather and enclosed turrets, with improved 130 mm guns and better AA. On 24 ships ordered, only 11 ere completed, the last in 1948. They formed a basis for a new generation of destroyer which was still conventional, but pushed forward the concept of blue water navy fleet destroyer like never before.

A WW2 Type 7, Smyshlenyy, Storozhevoi class.

These were the Skoryy class, really to place on part with other mass-production programmes of the early cold war Soviet Navy, during the Stalinian era. They were built in mass, 70 ships, from 1949 to 1953, but in appearance were still very conventional, with a forecastle, alternating structures and torpedo tubes banks, twin 130 mm turrets fore and aft, and a powerful AA. Top speed was still about the same, 37 knots, but they had a longer range at 4700 vs. 2900 nm and carried two 85 mm (3.3 in) and seven 37 mm (1.5 in) AA guns. This class formed the backbone of the soviet navy destroyer force, until the 1980 were the last were discarded, equipped with more modern 57 mm AA guns and RBU 2500 ASWRL.

17 were affected to the Baltic, 18 to the Black sea, 18 for the Northern fleet and 17 for the Pacific fleet. They operated as escorts to the Chapayev and Sverdlov class cruisers and also corresponded to the Whiskey class submarine construction program (250 submarines), the largest submarine program worldwide at that time.

RI Siliwangi. Indonesian Skoryy clas DDs were the last in service.

of course the introduction of missiles on a cruiser, the Kynda class, offered new possibilities, and the idea of installing missile on a destroyer gradually made its way, but it was understood the size of destroyers and bulky antiship missiles at that time made them not good platforms, and lighter SAMs were rather planned for destroyers to procure an escort. It was transitional. The Neustrashimyy program was to succeed to the Skoryy with a host of innovations, but mass-production was eventually cancelled for a lighter and cheaper version, which became the Kotlin class.

The latter became the staple of Soviet destroyer force in the 1960s. They were still conventional, as they shared the same main twin turrets fore and aft, and alternating quintuple torpedo tubes banks and structures, with a modernized AA of 45 mm in quad mounts, but quite a powerful array of radars and guiding systems and modern sonar for their ASW launchers and racks. Soviet destroyers looks rather indigents in the matter at that time: No helicopter, no missile-carried ASW charge or torpedo. However soon, the famous RBU system was introduced (see later). In addition, many of the Kotlin class vessels were modernized several times and variants were tested;

-Project 56PLO, Kotlin Mod. had enhanced ASW capabilities with the addition of RBU launchers.
-Bravyi in 1962 was converted as missile DD, with a S-125 Neva, the SA-N-1 ‘Goa’ SAM system.
-1970 retrofit or “Missile Kotlin” known by NATO as Kotlin SAM class (Project 56A) led to a single ship, sold to Poland, later upgraded with the Volna-M (SA-N-1B).

The transition comprised to Kotlin-derived destroyers, often confounded because of theor NATO names: The Kildin and Kanin. They were note the same class. The Kildin were the first missile destroyers fitted with antiship missiles, carrying the SS-N-1. To gain time, the Kotlin class was chosen as a basis, but four ships were heavily modified. They were known as Project 56EM (prototype, Bedovyy), and Project 56M for her sister-ships. They served until 1990, modernized in between. However in parralel, Project 57A was the first true attempt to devise a missile destroyer.

For this, the Kotlin hull was judged too small, and larger ships were designed. NATO gave them the codename Krupny; But they were known by specialists as the Kanin class.
Their main task was antiship warfare and for this, they were armed with SS-N-1 anti-ship missiles. This forced the sacrifice some torpedo tubes and main guns. The missile system was stored aft, and they possessed four quadruple 57 mm (2.2 in) AA guns and two side triple 533 mm (21 in) Torpedo tubes later upgraded to fire ASW torpedoes.

Armament of Soviet destroyers

Naval Guns

Twin 130 mm (5.1 in) guns: Skoryy, Neustrashimy, Kotlin
Twin 130 mm (5.1 in) AK-130 guns: Sovremenny


-SS-N-1 anti shipping missile launcher (Kildin, Kanin, Kashin)
-SS-N-2 anti shipping missile launchers (Kildin)
-SS-N-22 ‘Sunburn’ anti-ship missiles (Sovremenny)
-SS-N-25 ‘Switchblade’ (Kashin)
-SA-N-7 ‘Gadfly’ surface-to-air missiles (Sovremenny)
-SA-N-9 ‘Gauntlet’ surface-to-air missiles (Udaloy)
-SS-N-16 ‘Stallion’ anti-submarine missiles (TT launched, Udaloy)
-SS-N-14 ‘Silex’ anti-submarine/anti-ship missiles (Udaloy)

AA Guns

-Single mount 85 mm (3.3 in) AA guns (Ognevoi)
-Single mount 37 mm (1.5 in) AA guns (Ognevoi)
-Twin 76 mm (3 in) AK-726 guns (Kotlin)
-Twin 57 mm guns () AA guns (Skoriy)
-Twin mount 45 mm ( in) AA guns (Skoryy, Neustrashimy, Kotlin)
-30 mm (1.2 in) AK-230 guns CIWS (Kildin, Sovremenny, Udaloy)
-Kashtan CIWS
-Twin 21KM AA guns (Udaloy)

Torpedo Tubes

533 mm (21 in) triple (Ognevoi), quadruple, quintuple

Smetlivyy in Valletta, shiwing its battery of SSNs and quintuple TTs

ASW weaponry

-ASW depht charges (ww2 model)
-RBU-2500 anti-submarine rocket launchers
-RBU-6000 anti-submarine rocket launchers
-RPK-8 Zapad ASWRL
-RBU-1000 anti-submarine rocket launchers

Onboard aviation

-Ka-27 series helicopter (Kildin, Kashin)

Sensors of Soviet destroyers

-Gyus-1, Ryf-1, Redan-2, Vympel-2 (Skoryy)
Fut-N (air) Ryf (surface) (Neustrashimmy, Kotlin, Kildin)
-Angara/Head Net (air), Zalp-Shch (guidance) Neptun (surface) (Kanin, Kashin)
-Air target acquisition radar Top Steer, 3 Palm Front, 6 Front Dome, 1 Kite Screech, 2 Bass Tilt (Sovremenny)
-MR-760MA Fregat-MA/Top Plate 3-D air search radar, MR-320M Topaz-V/Strut Pair air/surface search radar
-2 MR-360 Podkat/Cross Sword SA-N-9 SAM control, 2 3P37/Hot Flash SA-N-11 SAM control, Garpun-BAL SSM targeting FCS (Udaloy)
-Tamir-5h (Skoryy)
-Pegas (Neustrashimmy, Kotlin, Kildin)
-Pegas2, Titan2 (Kanin, Kashin)
-LF*, 8 CME Bell, 2 decoy launchers (Sovremenny)
*Active and passive under-keel sonar
-Horse Tail LF VDS sonar and Horse Jaw bow mounted LF sonar (Udaloy)
Decoys are of the type 2 PK-2 decoy dispensers (200 rockets) (Udaloy)
Or of the PK-10 types (ten on Udaloy)
Electronic warfare:
Bell Squat jammer, Bell Shroud intercept, Bell Crown intercept (Udaloy)

Conventional soviet destroyers

soviet navy Ognevoi, the last WW2 Soviet destroyers (1940)

Ohnevoi class

“The specification (TTZ in Russian) for these ships was issued by the Naval staff in November 1937. The design work was done by Zhdanov Yard in Leningrad under the leadership of A. Yunovidova and approved by the government in 1939.

Hull strength was significantly increased and the hull was enlarged compared to the Project 7 ships. Longitudinal framing was used and hull plating was thicker than the Project 7 ships. Hull height was increased giving extra free board.

The machinery consisted of two boiler rooms and two engine rooms similar to the Project 7U destroyers but in less cramped spaces. Electricity generation capacity was increased to two 100 kW (130 hp) plants and two 50 kW (67 hp) plants. An alternative design Project 30A using super-heated high pressure machinery based on American designs was projected but not built.

The armament was housed in two enclosed splinter-proof and weatherproof turrets in ‘A’ and ‘Y’ positions. This was a significant advance over the open mountings used in the Project 7 ships. The B-2LM turrets were introduced in the Tashkent class and proven successful in service but had no anti-aircraft capability. Anti-aircraft armament comprised two 85 mm (3.3 in) guns in a twin mounting in ‘X’ position and six 37 mm (1.5 in) guns in single mountings. The ships also carried two sets of quadruple torpedo tubes and 50 mines.

The ships were fitted with air warning, surface search and gunnery control radars and sonar after the war. 24 ships were ordered in 1938–1940 but the programme was disrupted by the German invasion in 1941. The ships being built in Nikolayev were demolished before launch or evacuated incomplete while those built in other yards were suspended for the duration of the conflict. Some of the intact ships were completed after the war to a modified design (K for korrektirovany – corrected). ”

Skory class destroyers (1949)


The Skoryy was somewhat Stalin’s answer to the large American series of standardized Fletcher and Gearing class destroyers. It was essentially a development of the 1940 Ognevoi class, but they incorporated many of the technologies inherited from German ships captured or transferred as war damage.

These ships were longer and wider than their ancestors, but retained a traditional hull with two decks. their general design also remained very classic, with benches of torpedo tubes distributed between the two chimneys and the forecastle, a more modern artillery in double turrets, and a powerful DCA, according to the standards imposed in 1944-45.

Their design began in October 1945, the design being approved in January 1947. The structure of their hull and their construction also marked a turning point. In addition, this reinforced hull was pre-assembled in 101 sections to speed up construction. This is how most of them were assembled in just over a year.

51 destroyers, including the first, the Smeliy, put on hold in May 1948, and the last, the Ozhestochenniy, in March 1953. Their behavior at sea was again criticized in heavy weather, the artillery being blinded by the swell and the speed reduced to 28 knots. In addition, their maneuverability was poor and their stability could be improved (counter-hulls were added quickly).

Skoryy class destroyers
Project 30-bis Skoryy class destroyer Ser’yoznyi in the Mediterranean on 28 August 1968.

Their original DCA consisted of a twin 85 mm gun mounts and seven 37 mm in single carriage, but in 1952 the new standard became for all 8 of 37 mm in four double carriage and between 2 and 6 of 25 mm (in place of those of 85 mm). The 130 mm had 150 shots each, the 85 mm 300. The sonar was also replaced by a new model. They took 85 tonnes, in particular to make the hull even heavier in order to counter the pitching. From 1957, a modernization gave them a new role, mainly ASM: The modernization concerned the removal of their heavy front rangefinder, the central TLT bench, and the addition of 2 RBU-2500 rocket launchers, the DCA being replaced by 5 single cannons of 57 mm.

Orp Wicher, one of the two Polish destroyers transferred from the Baltic fleet

Skoriy types
Skoriy – Variants of the destroyers
From 1956, transfers began: Egypt (6), Indonesia (7). The rest were disarmed between 1973 and 1987.


Displacement: 2316-3066t, 8565t FL
Dimensions: 120.5 x 12 x 3.9m
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 4 turbines 60,000 hp. 36.5 knots.
Crew: 286
Electronics: Radars Gyus 1B, Ryf-1, Redan-2, Vympel-2, Sonar Tamir 5H.
Armament: 4 x 130 mm (2×2), 1×2 x 85 mm, 7 x 37 mm, 10 x 533 mm (2×5) TTs, 2 x ASW, 2 DCT 52 DCs.

Neutrashimyy (1952)

This was a destroyer designed as the prototype for an large production run (Soviet Designation Project 41), which never took place as she was considered too large and expensive. A modified design called the Kotlin class was chosen instead. NATO reporting name was the Tallinn class.
Built at Zhdanov Shipyard in Leningrad she was laid down in 1950 and was Launched 29 January 1951. Her trials campaign started on 28 January 1952 and she was ultimately commissioned on 31 January 1955, in the Baltic Fleet. She was ultimately decommissioned in February 1974.

She had a “fush deck” hull, in contrast to the previous forcastle-built Skoryy, and the final development of the “classic”, or conventional destroyer as defined since 1910. It foreshadowed the Kotlin class but was essentially a larger and improved Skoriy.

The flush deck arrangement allowed the superstructures to be NBC proof. She also had air conditioning, improved heating for missions equatorial waters. They also had limited armour, in the range of 10–20 mm plates (0.39–0.79 in)) around the bridge, gun mountings. The hull on trials showed problems of seaworthiness and the shape of the bow proved problematic, their forward deck was very wet in high seas.

Propulsion: Innavative high pressure steam turbine, boilers and engine rooms in alternating spaces. The boilers on forced draft worked at a pressure of 64 kg/cm2 (910 psi). No pre-heating and 20% fuel economy compared to the Skoryy-class. This powerplant was therefore ised on the Kotlin and subsequent classes.

Armament Two enclosed dual purpose 130-millimetre (5.1 in) stabilized on 3 axes, located in “A” and “Y” positions. The AA comprised four quad 45 millimetres (1.8 in) automatic guns (brand new pattern). ASW: Two RBU-2500 mortars, 2×5 torpedo tubes, 50 mines.
Sensors: Ryf surface search radar, Neptun Navigation system, Fut air search radar, Pegas Sonar. The early combat information/Control system was Plashnet-41.


Displacement: 6500t, 7500t FL
Dimensions: 164.93 x 17.22 x 5.03m
Propulsion: 4 shafts Parsons turbines, 4 Yarrow boilers, 54,000 hp. 30 knots.
Armor: 51 mm bridge and turrets, 76.2 mm belt
Crew: 556 + 60 cadets
Armament: 9 x 152 mm (3×3), 4 x 102 mm, 8 x 40 mm Bofors, 6 x 533 mm TTs (2×3)

Kotlin class destroyers (1958)

kotlin class

The Kotlin (project 56) are the first “real” post-war Soviet destroyers if we consider the Skoriy as a continuation of the Ognevoi and pre-war conventional designs since 1936. The Kotlin’s prototype was Neutrashimyy (or Tallinn, project 41-1951), an improved “flush-deck” variation of the Skoriy. A specification from 1951 mentioned an improved version of the type 41. The first measure was to reduce the excessive displacement of the first, in order to improve speed, from 36 to 39 knots, even if it meant sacrificing autonomy by reducing the fuel tanks size. They had also new, lighter torpedo tubes and improved automatic 45 mm AA guns.

100 units were planned according to the initial program, but in reality it was stopped at the 27th hull in October 1955. The next project was carried out on the same hull, but converted as the first Soviet missile destroyers, the Kildin class (1955, project 56M). Plans of the Kotlin were modified before launching, the hull was reduced, but had the same engine as the Tallinn class, while the bow was raised. To gain weight, the hull otherwise was partially built in aluminum and magnesium, while more modern machines gave them 72,000 hp instead of 66,000. From the start, they were fitted with rudder stabilizers, and four-blade propellers. All these modifications contributed, in the opinion of all Russian sailors, to excellent destroyers, which also explains their longevity in service, 1987-1990 for the most part.


They were stable platfoms and “dry” because of their reedesigned bow, were light, unusually fast for destroyers at that time (up to 42.9 knots in trials). They kept very high speeds until the end of their service.

ASW Coversion: 12 ships were modified in 1958, as ASW conversions: The removal of their rear TT bank, addition of deep-charges charges and DC throwers, plus two rocket launchers of the RBU2500 and two of the RBU 600 types. The remaining torpedo tubes bank were modified to launch ASW guided torpedo models.

In 1959, Bravyy was modified to receive a SA-N-1 missile launcher which it tested until 1963, and which was followed by 8 similar modernizations in 1969-71. In the end, there remained 7 unchanged units, equipped only for three of them with helicopter platforms at the rear.

The Kotlin units and their modified versions ASM and AA, were withdrawn from service just before 1990 (1985-89) for 21 of them, there were still 4 in 1990, withdrawn from service two years later. Currently, these ships and the Kildins no longer exist.


Displacement: 2660-3230t FL
Dimensions: 126.1 x 12.70 x 4.19m
Propulsion: 2 shaft turbines, 72,000 hp. and 38 knots.
Crew: 284
Electronics: Radars Fut-N, Ryf, Sonar Pegas-2b.
Armament: 4 x 130 (2×2), 16 x 45 (8×2), 10 x 533 mm (2×5) TTs, 6 ASW DCT, 2 DC racks, 48 grenades, 50 mines.

Soviet missile destroyers

Kildin class missile destroyers (1955)

Kildin class Neuvolimyy off morocco, January 1970
Kildin class Neuvolimyy off morocco, January 1970

Naval authorities were particularly happy with this Kotlin class, marked in particular by excellent speeds. Blagarodnyy, for example, made 42.9 knots during the tests and overall, these ships could still spin 36 knots after 10 years of maintenance-free service. However, these were conventional destroyers and the committees were pushing for the adoption of missile-launching destructors as quickly as possible. The Bedovyy was modified in this direction, with a KSSHch or SSN-1 (NATO) anti-ship launcher at the rear, completely modified. The Kiparis fire guidance system was also installed. It was class 56M known by NATO as “Kildin”.

Naporystyy in 1966
Blueprint – Naporystyy in 1966

After the success of the first in 1958, the last three hulls of “Kotlin” were put on hold in 1956 and 1957. They were launched on modified plans in 1957-58 and served until the end of the Cold War. A fourth was started, Neukrotimy at the Komsomolsk-sur-l’Amour Shipyard, then canceled, priority being given to the larger Krupny. Three were modernized in the 1970s to receive a new anti-ship system, four SSN-2 individual launchers placed on the sides while two 76mm fast cannons took place at the rear.

kildin class BP


Displacement: 2850-3340t FL
Dimensions: 126.1 x 12.70 x 4.19m
Propulsion: 2 shaft turbines, 72,000 hp. 39 knots.
Range: 3,900 nautical miles (7,200 km) 14 knots (26 km/h)
Crew: 19 + 251
Electronics: Radars Fut-N, Ryf, Kiparis, Sonar Pegas-2b.
Armament: 1 SS-N-1 SSN, 16 × 57 mm (4×4), 4 × 533 mm TT (2×5), 2 × RBU-2500 (128), 2 × RPK-8 Zapad/RBU-6000 (12) ASW

Krupny class missile destroyers (1959)

The Krupny, project 57B, were new destroyers, issued from Kotlin standards but equipped with missile launchers. They were among the first of their kind in the world, defined in 1955, a project then modified until 1958, when the first was built. The hull was that of the enlarged Kotlin, but with special NBC treatment.

Putting their main difference lay in their armament, a double anti-ship missile launcher with 12 vectors in reserve, KSShch (SS-N-1), which was quickly disappointing. They also carried a Kamov Ka-15 “Hen” observation helicopter on their rear runway, but without a hangar to house it. The ASM torpedo tubes were triple and carried over to the sides. As early as 1965, there was talk of modifying them into ASM destroyers (“Kanin” conversions).

Kanin conversion

In this new configuration, they received a new quintuple bank of ASW tubes in the central position (project 57PLO), also with 2 ASM RBU 6000 rocket launchers with 213 vectors in reserve, a Ka-25PLO helicopter equipped with three AT-1 acoustic torpedoes or 12, 24 or 144 ASM PLAB grenades of different types, capable of implementing 72 standard buoys, and 30 of radar relays and markers.

These Kanins were also equipped with a double SA-N-1 missile launcher ramp with 32 vectors in reserve, in place of their SS-N-1 missiles. These modifications also extended to propulsion with new more powerful diesels, the hull modified to improve its acoustics, lengthened to 140 meters, the displacement passing to 3700 standard tons and 4500 tons PC.

A port bow view of the Soviet Kanin class destroyer 639 (DDG-639) following the launch of a missile.

These 8 “Kanin”, ex-Krupny, launched in 1959-61, completed in 1960-61 and modified in 1956-67, were still in service in 1987. This year, the first two were withdrawn from service, followed by two others in 1988, the remaining four being active in 1990. That same year, one of them was struck off the lists, followed by one in 1991 and the last two in 1993.


Displacement: 3500-4192t FL
Dimensions: 139 x 14.84 x 4.20 m
Propulsion: 2 shafts turbines, 4 SHT boilers, 72,000 hp. 34.5 knots
Crew: 310
Electronics: Radars Head Net, fire control Zalph Schch, Neptun navigation system, Sonar Pegas-2b.
Armament: 2 SSN1 (16) SSNs, 16 x 45mm (4×4) AA, 6 x 533 mm ASW TTs (2×5), 2 LR RBU-2500 (128).

Kashin class missile destroyers (1964)

A port bow view of a Soviet Kashin class missile destroyer.

These vessels were the standard Soviet destroyers of the 60s and 70s. Versatile, with a hull always with a continuous deck, and designated in 1956 to replace the Kotlin and frigates of the Riga class. They were a new kind of escort capable of dealing with modern submarines and jets flying close to the waves and offering an umbrella against anti-ship missiles. They were the first large Soviet ships (and in the world) to use gas turbine technology. Their design was finalized and approved by Grand Admiral Gorshkov at the end of 1957, but construction of the first one was started only in 1962 in Zhdanov. The others will be partly built in Nikolayev.

It was a design so innovative that all their equipment and armaments had to be redesigned and adapted, and from the planned 3200 tonnes, we went to 3400. Their gas turbines were a notable success, allowing them to free up, that conventional high pressure turbines failed to achieve, had a longer lifespan, generated more electricity. moreover, the thermal signature had been treated by mixing with the extraction of the chimneys the emanations “cut” by cold ventilated air. However, one of the units concerned, the Komsomolets Ukrainy, first in the class, received the new classic M3 turbines for testing, and managed to test at 35.5 knots. Later, the Prozorlivy managed to reach 39.75 knots.

Aerial starboard quarter view of the Soviet Kashin class guided missile destroyer STROGY underway.

Kashin, October 1985

One of the paradoxes of these new gas turbines was their weight and their reduced size, which forced them to rethink stability, because of the weight in the heights: The superstructures were more compact, also for the sake of a more discreet radar signature. The Kashin were also the first Soviet ships to be equipped to survive a (relatively distant) nuclear explosion; they had compartmentalization with rooms with special anti-radiation walls, including for the gangway.

The Zderzhanny, the last of the 20 Kashin built, was completed in 1973 on a different design, and 5 others (the first Kashins) were modernized according to its new standard: 30 mm Gatling guns, new radars, ECM, 4×16 Wympel decoy launchers, 4 SSN-2c Styx cruise missiles in single ramps, new sonar, variable depth sonar in stern, enlarged superstructures, and a landing strip for helicopters at the rear (but no hangar).

The addition of weight was compensated for by the addition of solid ballast of 100 tonnes and additional tanks that were permanently filled. (4907 tonnes PC). Provornyy tested the new SAN-7 missile launcher in 1974-76. He remained the only one with this configuration.

Kashin Class Destroyer Mediterranean January 1970
Kashin Class Destroyer Mediterranean January 1970

Other Kashins were built later, for India, 5 in all (Rajput class) between 1978 and 1985. They are still in service today. There were two losses in the class: One by accident, the Orel, ex-Otvazhnyy, in 1974, and the Smelyy, transferred in 1987 to Poland. Shortly before 1990, the Kashin’s career ended: Radiation in 1989: Ognevoy. In 1990: Oldarennyy, Provornyy and Stroynyy. 1991: Slavnyy, Komsomolets Ukraini. 1992: Sobrazitelnyy, Sposobny. 1993: Obraztsovyy, Steregushchiy, Smyshlennyy, Stroigiy. In 1995, there were still 5 in service in the early 1990s, the last built: Krasny Kavkaz, Reshitelnyy, Smetlivyy, Krasny Krim, Skoryy, Sderzhannyy. The latter have been placed in reserve, but their general condition has deteriorated.

All are now scrapped. The first, Komsomolets Ukrainy was decomm. in 1991, scrapped in 1995, and most followed the same years, until Project 61M Sderzhanny in 2001, scrapped in 2002 and the Polish ORP Warsawa, scrapped in 2005. The last active is Smetlivy, actove in the black sea fleet, because she had been modernized in the mid 1990s, with RBU-1000 launchers removed, eight SS-N-25 ‘Switchblade’ launchers fitted instead. The 1970s Indian Kashins however are still mostly active.

Author’s illustration of the Kashin class

The Indian Kashins
They were called the Project 61E (Rajput class), an export version for the Indian Navy (5 ships). This order, in the 1970s comprised fix ships:
INS Rajput (ex-Nadezhnyy) started at Mykolayiv Shipyard like all the others, on 11 September 1976, launched 17 September 1977 and completed 31 November 1979, INS Rana (ex-Gubitelnyy), INS Ranjit (ex-Lovkiy), INS Ranvir (ex-Tvyordyy) and INS Ranvijay (ex-Tolkovyy), completed on 15 October 1987. They are all still active in 2020 but INS Ranjit, decomm. in 2019.


Displacement: 6700-7630t, 8565t FL
Dimensions: 173.5 x 18.50 x 5.32m
Propulsion: 2 shaft 4 DGC turbines, 120,000 hp. 32 knots max.
Crew: 380
Electronics: Radars 2 Don Kay, 1 Don 2, 1 Top Sail, Head-net C, 2 Head Light, 2 Pop group, 2 Owl Screech, 2 bass tilt. Sonar Blue Nose, Mare Tail, 8 CME Side Globes, 2/4 Rum Tub.
Armament: 2×4 missiles SSN14, 2×2 missiles SAN3, 2×2 missiles SAN4, 4 x 76 mm (2×2), 4 x AM 30 mm Gatling, 10 x 533 mm (2×5) TTs, 2 ASW RBU 6000 RL, 2 RBU 1000, 1 helicopter ASM Kamov Ka-25 Hormone.

Udaloy class missile destroyers (1979-1998)


The Udaloy class missile destroyers (Project 956, Sarych) were designed as replacements for the Kotlin, and despite the cruiser’s dimensions and construction in the Kresta shipyards, were ED class by the Russians (Missile destroyers ). according to some sources indeed they are classified as cruisers, but this would suggest that the construction of destroyers in the USSR stopped with the last Kashin, in 1973. The problem is the same with the Udaloys. These are ships which by alliances bear the names of destroyers, not famous persons and great admirals or marshals.

Finally, they correspond in spirit to the new standards in this area also developed by the Americans with the Spruance and the Ticonderoga. The Sovremennyy were all built in Zhdanov, as soon as the holds were released in 1976 by the Yumashev (Kresta II). They also had the same hull and identical thrusters. They were then classified as ASM buildings. The design office (TTZ) which plancha on the project in 1970-71 defines a 5000 ton ship armed with a single AA gun, AA SA-N-4 missiles and ASM missiles in ramps, capable if necessary to carry out fire support operations, associated with the Ivan Rogovs thanks to their 130 mm guns suitable for coastal bombardment.

SS-N-14 on an Udaloy class vessel.

But the project was further reworked and following budgetary restrictions, leaned towards a frankly multirole mass-produced ship, of the “AEGIS” type, as in the US Navy. They had to be complementary to the Udaloy ASW.

The fact is that until 1990, there were 12 ships built, plus one that was never completed and another that same year 1990. There will be others: 6 units in 1991-97, but the two last, Vazhnyy and Nevskiy were left uncompleted for years before finding a buyer (China) in 2000. A total of 17 destroyers were active in the four fleets in the 1990s. Extra ships were built and sold abroad (project 956E), to India, notably.

Author’s illustration of the Udaloy class


Displacement: 6200t, 7800t FL
Dimensions: 156 x 17.3 x 6.5 m
Propulsion: 2 shafts 2 DGC turbines, 4 HP heating, 100,000 hp. 35 knots.
Crew: 380
Electronics: Top Steer, 3 Palm Front, 6 Front Dome, 1 Kite Screech, 2 Bass Tilt. Sonar LF, 8 CME Bell, 2 LL.
Armament: 8 SSN-22 (2×4), 8 LM SAN-7 (48), 4 guns of 130 mm (2×2), 4 TLT 533 mm (2×2), 4 of 30 mm Gatling AM, 2 LR ASM RBU 1000 (12), 1 ASM Kamov Ka-27 Helix helicopter.

Sovremennyy class destroyers (1978-2000)

Sovremennyy class
The Sovremennyy class missile destroyers (Project 956, Sarych) were designed as replacements for the Kotlin, and despite the cruiser’s dimensions and construction in the Kresta shipyards, were ED class by the Russians (Missile destroyers ). according to some sources indeed they are classified as cruisers, but this would suggest that the construction of destroyers in the USSR stopped with the last Kashin, in 1973.

The problem is the same with the Udaloy. These are ships which by alliances bear the names of destroyers, not famous persons and great admirals or marshals. Finally, they correspond in spirit to the new standards in this area also developed by the Americans with the Spruance and the Ticonderoga.

The Sovremennyy were all built in Zhdanov, as soon as the holds were released in 1976 by the Yumashev (Kresta II). They also had the same hull and identical thrusters. They were then classified as ASM buildings. The design office (TTZ) which plancha on the project in 1970-71 defines a 5000 ton ship armed with a single AA gun, AA SA-N-4 missiles and ASM missiles in ramps, capable if necessary to carry out fire support operations, associated with the Ivan Rogovs thanks to their 130 mm guns suitable for coastal bombardment.

But the project was further reworked and following budgetary restrictions, leaned towards a frankly multirole mass-produced ship, of the “AEGIS” type, as in the US Navy. They were to be complementary to the Udaloy ASMs.

The fact is that until 1990, there were 12 units built, plus one that was never completed and another that same year 1990. There will be others: 6 units in 1991-97, but the two last, Vazhnyy and Nevskiy were unfinished for years before finding a buyer (China) in 2000. A total of 17 class destroyers are active in the four fleets. It is not impossible that others are sold abroad (project 956E), to India for example, or to North Korea.

Author’s illustration of the Sovremenny class


Displacement: 6200t, 7800t FL
Dimensions: 156 x 17.3 x 6.5 m
Propulsion: 2 shafts 2 DGC turbines, 4 HP heating, 100,000 hp. and 35 knots max.
Crew: 380
Electronics: Top Steer, 3 Palm Front, 6 Front Dome, 1 Kite Screech, 2 Bass Tilt. Sonar LF, 8 CME Bell, 2 LL.
Armament: 8 SSN-22 (2×4), 8 LM SAN-7 (48), 4 guns of 130 mm (2×2), 4 TLT 533 mm (2×2), 4 of 30 mm Gatliing AM, 2 LR ASM RBU 1000 (12), 1 ASM Kamov Ka-27 Helix helicopter.

The return of destroyers: The controversial Lider class (2020+)

montage of a lider at sea
Montage of a lider class destroyer at sea, from the model exposed at «ARMY-2015» military-technical forum.

The design of the Sovremenny and Udaloy classes dated back from the mid-1970s, so after the fall of USSR, with long-lasting completions, the last in 1993, there was only a new batch of four for the Chinese PLAN, the Hangzhou class, completed between 1999 and 2006. But no destroyer project was coming forward due to the exonomic situation of the Russian Federation.

At last in 2013, as the Russian three armed branches were in rebuilt, a destroyer design project was approved and in 2015, were presented various design. Eventually Severnoye Design Bureau won the contract. The concept was to propose two designs, one of a non-nuclear, and one of an heavier nuclear-powered destroyer. The next year, the Krylov State Scientific Center had this design ready (apparently the large nuclear one), and twelve ships were planned, to be shared between the remaining Northern and Pacific fleets, later scaled down to eight vessels. A model of the nuclear-powered version was presented in 2015.

By May 2017, a report stated that the “Lider-class” was dropped from the FY 2018–2027 programme due to budgetary constraints. In June 2017 it bounced again as the Russian United Shipbuilding Corporation announced the Ministry approved a preliminary design for the Lider class destroyer, now officially called Project 23560.

In February 2019, the minustry approved the construction of the large, 19,000 ton nuclear-powered destroyer. The other variant was a non-nuclear 12-13,000 ton ship fitted with a gas turbine, and a completion date was advanced: The first two sister-ships were to be launched in the early 2020s for an estimated RUB100 billion apiece. 2023 was then the most likely date for laying the keel. By April 2020 the newspaper Interfax reported that Severnoye Design Bureau ceased any work on the Lider and Project 22350M frigates.

Wether this formidable-looking vessel, worthy of a cruiser and even the famous Kirov is ever built, the Krylov State Research Center Valeriy Polovinki stated the design was of a very versatile ship, a destroyer with large ASW capabilities but also a guided missile cruiser. The plan was to replace the ageing Sovremenny and Udaloy-class destroyers and Slava-class cruisers in one go.

Outside its large dimensions allowing to carry extra food storage and stores for 90 days of opeartions, the overall lenght was estimated to 230 metres (754 ft 7 in) long, not far from the Kirov, 20 metres (65 ft 7 in) wide, and 32 knots (59 km/h) as a top speed, for 19,000 tonnes, and housing 200 missiles in silos of many types (60 antiship cruise missiles, 128 antiaircraft guided missiles and 16 antisubmarine guided missiles provisionally), flight deck and hangar for two Ka-27/Ka-32 ASW helicopters.
Very ambitious and intimidating with its three-staged stealthy tower, the Lider class is somewhat of a prestige project, but due to Russia’s actual financial position, there is no certaintly about the ship to be ever completed in its shape. The classic-propulsion project appearance has yet to be revealed. The missiles are likely to be the Kalibr (SS-N-27 Sizzler) anti-ship model and the Oniks (SS-N-26 Strobile) and S-500 SAMs.

Is this the 12,000 tonnes conventional destroyer proposal ? (2016 exposition) src

“The pre-draft design of a promising destroyer for the pacific area for the Russian Navy was approved by the High Command in 2013. Subsequently, it was decided to build ships of this project for the Russian fleet only in the version with a nuclear power plant.
The order for the construction of the Leader destroyer will most likely go to the St. Petersburg Severnaya, which, after modernization, will be able to build ships and vessels up to 300-350 meters in length. The head of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, Alexei Rakhmanov, said that the enterprise would be ready to cut metal for a new project in early 2018.
According to open data, the ship will have a displacement of about 17.500 tons, which brings it closer to the nuclear cruisers of Project 1144 “Orlan” (full displacement of 25,000 tons). It is also known that the “Leader” must reach a speed of 30 knots and operate for 30 days.”

For, 2020:
“MOSCOW, July 10 – RIA Novosti. The construction of the newest destroyer Leader may begin in 2023, the technical project is now being developed by the Northern Design Bureau (PKB), Pavel Filippov, head of the Krylov State Scientific Center, said in an interview with RIA Novosti. The Krylov Center developed the concept and preliminary design of this ship and then transferred the work to Severnoye PKB to develop a technical design. “Yes, they (Severnoye PKB – ed.) Started somewhere in 2016-2017. The work is underway. It was just that initially it was planned to build a ship with a gas turbine installation, and there was a displacement of 12-13 thousand tons, then they said that nuclear power was needed, and its displacement immediately increased to 18 thousand tons. What is the final result, we still do not understand, this should be asked from the Northern PKB. And as far as I understand, in 2023 we should start building this “steamer” too, “Filippov said.”
See also and also this source.

Read More/Src

Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1947-1995
V.V. Kostrichenko, A.A Prostokishin (В.В.Костриченко, А.А.Простокишин): “Poyushchiye fryegaty”
Warship International Staff (2015). “Views from the Career of the Soviet Destroyer Bravyy”.[email protected]

Udaloy Class Anti-Submarine Destroyers

Soviet Frigates

Soviet Frigates

120 Frigates

overview of soviet frigates from the Kola to the Neustrashimyy class

A general overview: During the cold war, the Soviet Union developed the most formidable naval force in the world, second after the US Navy. However aside its strategy of “carrier-killers”, the high command was also aware of the threat of US submarines that could jeopardize its very long coastline and communication lines both in the pacific and Mediterranean, plus the Baltic. Like allied powers in WW2, Soviet planners looked at the development of the dedicated ASW vessel that was smaller and cheaper than a destroyer, but it would wait until 1943 to be started and 1945, partly inspired by German WW2 torpedo boat designs, at that time a versatile susbtitute of a destroyer, but soon, ASW specialists were developed.

Over the course of 43 years, nine main Soviet frigate types were developed, with one particular shining above all else: the versatile and arguably overarmed Krivak class. Today’s Admiral Gorshkov-class, which replaced them, has almost double the tonnage of the latter, continues this tradition of versatile, rather than ASW-specialized vessels. The Krivak, under a modernized form, is still in construction today (Admiral Grigorovich class) and exports are more important than domestic construction in today’s Russia.

Evolution of Soviet frigates during the cold war

Genesis: Soviet WW2 Submarine Warfare vessels

Cold War frigates originated in WW2 designs. There was no Frigates in Soviet service during the war, but two lines of ships that Soviet Engineers could draw upon to formulate a smaller and less versatile design than destroyers: Guardships and Fleet Minesweepers. The former of the Yastreb, Albatros and Uragan class displaced around 900 tonnes and were armed with several 100 or 104 mm guns and TT banks, with minelaying capabilities. The latter were 400 to 700 tonnes vessels armed with less guns or lighter DP 45 mm guns, and often doubled as minelayers.

The postwar Kola class, studied already from 1944, draw upon the Tral class coastal mineswpeers, of which 48 were built before the war, from 1935 and up to 1940. Displacing 434 to 490 tonnes FL they were armed with a single 100 mm gun and one 45 mm AA, rails for 30 mines. They were distributed in four fleets and four were lost during the war, others were unfinished. There was a submarine threat in the baltic and on the way to Murmansk and several types of ships covered the perile but no dedicated vessel was built for the task.

Soviet destroyers never carried deep charges or DC throwers, but all were equipped for minelaying. Mines indeed made submarine warfare excessively difficult for U-Boats. Axis sub threat was almost inexistent in the black sea (but a set of ex-italian midget subs in 1944), while Vladivostok remained too far away from the IJN, with limited means.

Project 3 class minesweepers
Project 3 class minesweepers

The only dedicated ships in the Soviet Navy were a serie of submarine chasers: The Mo2, Mo4, Bo2, BMO, TK, and BO201 types. The latter were ex-US SC types delivered via lend-lease in 1943-45, while the others were light boats, ranging from 32 to 74 tonnes. The lighter and more numerous were the “TKA” class, reclassed as wooden-built D-3 MBTs, and the 138 lend-lease SC boats, followed by the larger sub-chasers of the BMO types, armoured (48), BO2 type (17), MO4 type (8), and Mo2 type (6). War experience and observation of allied Frigates, corvettes and escort destroyers provide the Soviet Navy some insight about how ASW warfare should be made.

BMO class sub-chasers of WW2
BMO class sub-chasers of WW2

But development of a more efficient doctrine and an entire sway of the Soviet Navy gradually took shape after 1947, when it became clear that the US submarine threat was real, and that dedicated ships were needed to protect Soviet assets if USSR wanted to project its power globally.
The cold war saw the last Soviet Sub-Chasers built (more on a dedicated post): The MO-269 small submarine chasers or project OD-200bis, built 1946-1948. They were followed by the Project 201 boats (MPK class) built from 1955, also treated elsewhere, and the SK-15 boats in 1958, better known as the “Kronstadt” and “SO-I” (Project 122 bis) classes.

Yastreb class guardships
Project 28 Yastreb class guardships, the ancestor of the Project 37 to 42 development.

Multirole frigates of the 1950s: Kola, Riga

Riga class Frigates
This was less about ASW warfare that to provide the Navy with a cheaper substitute to destroyers in 1943 that drove Project 37 by decision of the naval staff on 21 August 1943. The latter was designated SKR for Storozhevoi Korabl (escort ship). An effort was made on a redesign of the Yastreb class, project 29. Of these guard ships, only four of the 20 planned were ever completed, cut shot by the invasion. Project 37 was setup in 1943, a preliminary TTZ for a new SKR, but in 1945 Stalin argued the Yastreb was the largest acceptable type, with 900 tonnes as a limit. Blueprints for a modified Yastreb were approved on 30 January 1946.

However construction never took place whereas new draft requirements were accepted on 29 July 1946. As defined, their role included convoy escort, patrol, amphibious ops support, and minelaying. Displacement was raised to 1800 tonnes, speed to 26-27 knots and two 130 mm guns for armament, quad 45 mm AA and 25 mm AA mounts plus four DC throwers and two DC racks and hedgehog M10. For the first time, ASW warfare was integrated in the design.

And for the first time also since 1917, two design bureaus, TsKB-32 and TsKB-53 competed. The first proposed the smallest design, with two paired diesel engines of 6700 bhp, 1860 tonnes and 5000 nm of endurance at 15 knots. The second was a 1925 tonnes ship with 13,000 ship on each shaft. However as in many other soviet designs of the time, the draft requirements were unrealistic and it was decided to cut the displacement down to 1300 tonnes and the armament was reduced to four 100 mm, two 37 mm AA, two mousetrap ASWRL, and two DCR. The final design of Project 42 was approved on 21 June 1947 and the design was revised again notably for modular construction and adoption of DC current onboard.

Sokol, the lead ship, was laid down 17 August 1949, and launched in march 1951 but accepted in August. The class would comprise also the Berkut, Kondor, Grif, Crechet, Orlan, Lev and Tigr. They would reach 1900 tonnes in displacement and their initial ASWRL replaced by RBU-900 and then RBU-2500 systems. Designers in 1945 looked the war prizes German late torpedo boats for inspiration, in the superstructures and hull shape.
But the Kola class were rather large and costly ships, and only eight were produced, while the admiralty exploited the “light” TsKb-32 design, which became project 50, the Riga class.

The latter became the staple of Soviet ASW warfare in the first two decades. Reaching 1480 tonnes fully loaded, mass-produced using modular construction, 68 ships were built. They were also exported to Bulgaria and East Germany. They had one less gun, 37 and 25 mm AA guns, MBU-600 systems, 4 DCT, 2 DCR and could even lay mines. They were a bit like the “Kotlin”, simpler follow-on to the big Neustraschimyy. It was apparently Stalin that ordered a smaller SKR, limited to 1200 tonnes standard.

ASW frigates of the 1960s: Petya, Mirka

Petya I class ship underway
Petya I class ship underway (hazegray coll.)

ASW warfare, with the next generation diesel-electric late attack submarines, and more so with the first early SSNs (nuclear attack submarines) required also a new generation of ASW frigates; Two models were experimented, the Petya were certainly the most successful and the true succession of the Riga-class for the 1960s.
The Petya-class ships were the first gas turbine-powered ships in the Soviet navy and they were specialized in anti-submarine warfare in shallow waters. They were generally similar to the Mirka-class frigates, built from 1956 specifications.

Their machinery comprised three shaft with the central one for cruising. The AA capability was limited by their single radar director. Export vessels swapped the ASW 406 mm TTs with antiship 533 mm (21 in) TTs but their ASW suite was comprehensive notably with VDS. The long serie was built between two yards, Kaliningrad Yantar shipyard (22) and Khabarovsk yard (32) and they were exported to six countries, some stayed in service well after 1995 when the last Soviet vessels were decommissioned.

Petya class frigates
Petya class schematic plan

Genesis of the design went back to the end of the 1950s, for a submarine hunter named project number 159, small and specialized, approaching the patrol ships project 50. A characteristic feature was the solution using of a combined diesel-gas turbine arrangement, in which the diesels worked on the axial shaft, and gas turbines outboard. The choice was also made of the AK-726 76-mm double-barrelled gun mount coupled with the Fut-B control radar as the main air defense system. For the first time also in the Russian Navy small-sized anti-submarine torpedoes were used, as well as the new RBU-2500 ASWRL. Surveillance was provided by the Fut-N general-purpose radar and two Titan and Vychegda GAS antennae, located in a stationary fairing under the keel. The fairing made of titanium, a first in Russian shipbuilding.

The lead ship of project 159 (SKR-1) was launched in 1961. In 1965, the first serie of 19 was built and it was decided to start a second improved serie with project 35 armament. It was denominated project 159A and the serie ended in 1972 with 29 ships, armed with the RBU-6000 and second torpedo tube plus upgraded radar system. In NATO nomenclature, there are called Petya I and II with at least two sub-variants each. They formed the bread and butter of the Soviet ASW ‘green water’ force, but still were much smaller and less versatile than the last USN Frigates.

The Mirka class ships was tailored for anti-submarine warfare in shallow waters and close copy of the Petya-class ships, with a modified machinery, two shafts with combined diesels and gas turbines (CODAG) and tunnels propellers early, water jets), but they proved noisy and unreliable, a liability in ASW warfare. For this reason, production was limited to 18 ships, from Yantar shipyard in Kaliningrad. None were exported and the ships were decommissioned 1989-1992.

Mirka class ship
Mirka class ship (from youtube)

Large Multirole frigates of the 1970s: The Krivak class

Project 1135 was nothing short of a revolution. They came out as successor of the Riga, but soon the admiralty wanted to improve their versatility to counter USN Frigates, and design work started probably in 1957 as a Kynda style forecastle hull, high seas, long range frigates. As the design was refined, the admiralty also looked at the USN Brooke class (1968), predecessor of the Perry, and way more larger than the previous ASW frigates. Indeed none was above 950 tonnes, wheras the Brooke/Garcia class displaced 3400 tonnes fully loaded, and had much greater versatility and range.

The Project 1135 design evolved much over time, but the admiralty wanted from the start a battery of three twin 76 mm and two quadruple 57 mm AA guns for AAW warfare and presumably a pressured-fired steam powerplant. Speed was indeed specified to be ideally of 35 knots, in stark contrast with previous ASW Frigates reaching 28-29 knots. There were to be also self-defence heavy torpedo batteries (21-in), but not at that stage yet, missiles of any sorts. The studies also mixed a picket radar ship equipped with the new radar Top Sail. in 1963 as an export gas turbine version of the project was offered to Indonesia, in 1964 the project evolved to include a SA-N-4 launcher, in place of the forward 57 mm quad mount.

However a the same time planners spoke of a special narrow sea rocket combatant for the black sea and Baltic. This became project 50 and it was to integrate with two triple SS-N-9 SSMs. However as ASW was still paramount, the frigate project was redesigned again, this time with a single quadruple SS-N-14 trainable launcher, to free space for ASW and other systems. The electronic suite was also upgraded considerably. In the end the project was redesignated BKPs, and SKR again in 1979. They were eventually designed as short range antiship shooters capable of 38 knots, still with impressive AASW and ASW capabilities. Construction of the lead ship started at Kaliningrad, and Bditelnyy was launched in 1970. To reflect on their scale, with 3750 tonnes in displacement they were named after former destroyers, contrary to previous ASW vessels, just numbered.

ASW corvettes of the 1970s: The Grisha class

Project 1124M Suzdalets
Project 1124M Suzdalets in 2009

Technically, the Grisha class ships were corvettes, and not Frigates. So they should not be included here, and rather being treated in a dedicated post, and portal page on Soviet Corvettes. Anyway, they are interesting to be included there, as they inherited many characteristics of the previous SKR, Petya, Mirka class ASW Frigates. They were built at the same time as the brand new, and much larger Krivak class and reflected in some ways also, the upscaling in the Soviet Navy of the 1970s. Indeed, the designation “corvette” was a conditional adaptation as a small anti-submarine ship or in Russian Малый противолодочный корабль romanized as Malyy protivolodochnyy korabl or ‘Small anti-submarine ship’, MPK.

Soviet designation was Project 1124 Albatros. They were dedicated anti-submarine corvettes, built by the Soviet Union between 1970 and 1990. This was late enough to survive the fall of the USSR and still being completed by the Russian Federation, for both the Russian and Ukrainian Navies. They had a limited range and were used only in coastal waters, fitted with upgtaded ASW systems and now relying on a SA-N-4 ‘Gecko’ SAM for close fence rather than gunnery alone. They innovated also by being fitted with retractable fin stabilizers. They were are used by the Georgian and Lithuanian navies and were succeeded by the Steregushchiy-class corvettes from 2001, and nowadays, the stealthy Gremyashchiy-class corvettes from 2011, almost as large as the former Krivak class.

Grisha I, II and IV (Conways profiles).

Late cold war ASW vessels of the 1980-90s: Parchim to Neutashimyy

Kazanets, a Parchim class

Three classes are to be considered before the fall of USSR: The Parchim II were esentially German-built Corvettes (the denomination was applied as they seemed now too light at 900 tonnes to be classed as “Frigates”). The Parchim were indeed ordered by the USSR to East Germany as to subidise the German shipbuilding industry, which had excellent quality reputation. The former East-German ships were later exported to Indonesia. Due to their limited range and tonnage they were virtually coastal ASW specialists for the Baltic. They carried no missiles, but a twin 57 mm gun AK-725 and twin 30 mm gun AK-230 for self-defence, light SA-N-5 MANPAD, two RBU-6000 aand four 400 mm torpedo tubes plus 12 depth charges, as worthy replacement for the Mirka/Petya ships.

The Koni class were essentially small export Frigates started in the late 1970s. They were much simpler and smaller (1900 tonnes FL) than the Krivak class ships, but yet, they possessed missiles and were versatile and heavily armed for their size, with range priming on speed (27 knots), and carrying a single SA-N-4 launcher with 20 missiles, four SS-N-2C Styx anti-ship missile launchers, four 76.2 mm DP guns and four 30 mm plus two RBU-6000 ASWRL. They would even carry mines and were widely exported. Only the lead ship was kept in service with the Soviet Navy, used to train futures crews of the exported vessels. From then on, USSR (and Russia afterwards) used to create Frigates and corvettes fitting local fleets requirements so as to built only two ships, and relying on exports to cover the R&D expenses.

Tactical doctrine of Soviet Frigates

NATO’s analysis of Soviet surface ASW combatants

It is hard to find a dedicated scenario to answer Soviet Frigates specifically, but rather Soviet combined arms strategies in case of war: One of the most important aspect of this was the The GIUK gap which became the focus of naval planning in the 1950s. This natural passage between three landmasses was the only one open to the Soviet Navy and only available outlet into the Atlantic Ocean. It was of course focused on Soviet submarines operating from their bases on the Kola Peninsula.

NATO made scenarios about possible disruptions of naval convoys reinforcing Europe from the U.S. as Soviet submarines could stay in pre-arranged position along this gap and strike at will. Both USN an RN post-war naval strategy was to find ways of blocking this gap. One was installing a chain of underwater listening posts across like SOSUS. Past the detection, Iceland could have been chosen as an advanced base for NATO ASW Frigates.
The Royal Navy developed the Invincible-class anti-submarine carriers using Sea King helicopters and Type 23 frigates were originally pure ASW weapons systems, but their missions were expanded after the Falklands. The Soviets themselves thought to reverse-use the GIUK gap to spot and attack incoming aircraft carriers, with dedicated cruisers, cruise missile attack submarines and the Tupolev Tu-142.

RBU-6000 in action
RBU-6000 in action (INS Tabar).

In a case of naval confrontation between European NATO navies (in order of engagement, West Germany and Sweden, UK, and in case of a black sea fleet scenario, Turkey at the first line, Greece, and then Italy, and finally France and Spain. For the Pacific fleet, both Japan (JSDNF), the local US fleet and South Korean fleets could be involved and after 1970, the Chinese PLAN itself could become a potential ally in case of a Soviet Pacific fleet attack. It is true that the immense majority of Soviet Frigates were grouped in the north, between the Northern Fleet and Baltic fleet. All major scenarios involved statistically a fight in these areas, especially the Baltic, where naval operations could help supporting ground operations, bringing diversionary landings behind enemy lines along the way. True, this was only a thing in the 1980s, not the 1950s, as it took 30 years of the Soviet Union to developed a consistent amphibious force.

Project 1135M Pytlivyy 2009
Project 1135M Pytlivyy 2009

Soviet Frigates of the Kola and Riga class were relatively versatile ships, poor substitute for destroyers and escorts, but the next Petya and Mirka vessels were dedicated light (cheap) coastal ASW ships, intended to deal with NATO submarine threat along the territorial waters. In the 1970s however the implication of USSR on the global sphere to counter US influence which was the driver force behind the development of a blue water navy, mirrored the growing exports that could help finance the immense part of GDP devoted to the defense sector; in particular in developing, decolonized countries where cheap Soviet hardware found a natural market. In this context, frigates needed to be long range and more versatile, possibly to act for missions discharging destroyers for more important tasks, but still with a strong ASW overall speciality.

That’s why the Krivak class (Burevestnik class) was an important step which inflexed the doctrine behind the use of frigates by the Soviet Union. The Krivak class missile system notably was versatile, the new SS-N-14 (today RPK-3 Metel “snowstorm”) was indeed the first dedicated anti-submarine missile in the Soviet Navy, and constituted a significant upgrade. It mirrored NATO’s ASROC system and was a clear departure from the RBU-6000 and RBU-1000 family, basically an inheritance of WW2 Hedgehog. NATO’s identification popular joke for this important class was “Hot dog pack, Smokestack, Guns in Back”. At last, with a 3500 tonnes vessel, USSR had an equivalent, if not superior vessel to USN Frigates, as it was heavily armed for its size.

Today, the Russian Navy has “capital ships” in the shape of the nuclear-powered Petr Velikiy and aircraft carrier Kuznetsov, three Slava-class missile cruisers (carrier-killers) two Sovremenny-class destroyers, up to eight Udaloy-class large ASW DDs, between the fleet. But more modern are the two Neustrashimyy-class frigates (Baltic) and two Krivak (Black Sea), two Admiral Gorshkov-class and three Admiral Grigorovich class vessels for the baltic and black sea (called by NATO Krivak IV as they derived from this class). A far cry from the wide array of 1970s Frigates and corvettes of the Soviet Navy.

In this context, the ratio of force is clearly in favor of NATO, with 6 German Type 212 submarines, 5 French Rubis class SSNs, 7 British SSNs (Trafalgar and Triumphant), 3 Spanish, 6 Italian, 2 Portuguese, 13 Turkish, 9 Greek, 5 Polish, 6 Norwegian, 5 Swedish, 4 Dutch, and of course potentially 50 USN SSNs(32 Los Angeles, 3 Seawolf, 15 virginia), so potentially 121 submarines, only for the European theatre (src). Facing this, Russia has 26 SSK and SSNs plus two Oscar class SSGNs. The latter are rather more carrier-killers than sub-hunters.

A Frigate story: Storozhevoi’s mutiny


Although this point will be more detailed in a dedicated post about the Krivak class, the inspiration for Tom Clancy’s “the hunt for Red October” and the movie that was made in 1990 with Sean Connery, Sam Neill and Alec Baldwin was in fact inspired by a mutiny in a Soviet Frigate, certainly less dramatic than the latest giant SSBN “Typhoon-II”… Storozhevoi was a Krivak I class ship, launched in 1971. Also the history was somewhat reverted as the mutiny was not led by the captain, but the ship’s political commissar, 3rd rank Capt. Valery Sablin. He wanted to denounce the corruption of the Apparachiks under the Brezhnev administration and return to a “purist” communist party (not defect to the west !).

Basically his plan was to rally the crew and seize the ship, then leave Riga for Leningrad through the Neva River, and moor alongside the museum ship Aurora as a revolution symbol, and from there, broadcast a nationwide address to the people, hoping to trigger and change of regime. He took his plan to execution on 9 November 1975, locking the captain and win a vote among officer for his plan, adopted at 8 vs. 7.

Like in the novel however as soon as the ship was reported missing and then, the mutiny evident, the admiralty feared Sablin would follow the path of Jonas Pleškysa and ask political asylum in Sweden, also delivering to NATO a recent Frigate. Soon, half the Baltic fleet (13 ships) was thrown into hot pursuit as well as 60 warplanes. Planes managed to damage the ship’s rudder and she stopped dead just 20 miles of Swedish waters, to be later boarded by Soviet marine commandos. Sablin was judged guilty of all charges or treason and shot in August 1976.

Kola class Frigates -8 ships (1951-53) – Project 42

“Kola” was the NATO reporting name. These Frigates were the first built for the Soviet Navy in the 1950s. Soviet designation was “Storozhevoi Korabl” or escort ship, Project 42, not “frigat”. “These ships were analogous to World War II era destroyer escorts or German Elbing-class torpedo boats. The programme consisted of only 8 ships as these vessels were considered to be too expensive for series production and the smaller and cheaper Riga-class frigate was built instead. Radars and sonars were fitted.

Sokol, of the Kola class Frigates
Sokol, of the Kola class Frigates

The ships were essentially designed for patrolling Soviet waters, and escorting convoys. The design derived from a 1946 specification, two design bureau competing for the first time, one with diesel and steam turbine machinery. The hull was welded, longitudinally framed and machinery arranged with alternating boiler rooms and turbine rooms. The armament consisted of four single 100 millimetres (3.9 in) DP guns and torpedo tubes, in a general shape reminiscent of late war German torpedo boats. Only eight were built, at Yantar Yard in Kaliningrad and first major ships from this shipyard after the new borders were redrawn by treaty.

Kola class Frigates
Kola class Frigates – src

Indeed Kaliningrad was the former Königsberg, an old Teutonic stronghold in the Baltic.
Armament was lightened much, with two twin 76 mm (3 in) guns and four RBU-6000 anti-submarine rocket launchers, but only 2 in some ships. They were also given specific ASW torpedoes, with a single bank of five 406 mm (16 in) anti-submarine torpedo tubes. Some ships also differed in having two of such banks (so ten tubes) and the export vessels were given a conventional triple 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes bank.
The electronics suite comprised the following:
A surveillance Radar Don-2, Slim Net, Hawk Screech and the Herkules hull mounted & dipping sonar.

Tech Scheme of the kola class ships
Tech Scheme of the kola class ships.

Sokol was transferred to the Caspian Sea and scrapped 1970s, Berkut, same, Kondor, lost in grounding accident near Murmansk in 1962, Grif transferred to the Caspian, Krechet, Orlan also transferred to the Caspian, Lev and Tigr, scrapped in the 1970s. They were versatile ships, substitute for destroyers in lower-intensity theaters and for easier tasks. Status as for today:
-One in the Azerbaijani Navy, still operative
-Four ships in the Egyptian Navy acquired between 1965 and 1971: One sunk in combat (1973) one remaining in service.
-Four ships of the Ethiopian Navy, all sold for scrap in Djibouti following the independence of Eritrea
-11 ships for the RIN, locally designated the Arnala-class corvettes now decommissioned and reclassified as corvettes.
Two in the Syrian Navy: Extant in derelict condition, Tartus port, decommissioned. One happened to have been sunk by the Russian air force, used as a training target on 15 April 2018 off the coast of Syria.
-Five in the Vietnam People’s Navy apparently still in service.


Displacement: 950/1,150 tons standard
Dimensions: 96 x 10.8 x 3.2 mm (315 x 35 x 10 ft)
Propulsion: 2 shaft CODAG: 2 gas turbines, diesel, 30,000 hp + 6,000 hp
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Range: 4,870 nm/10 kts, 450 nm/30 knots
Complement: 90
Armament: 2×2 76 mm, 2-4× RBU 6000 ASWRL 5× 406 mm TTs, 48 DC

Riga class Frigates -68 ships (1953-56)

Riga class

These Frigates were a cheaper, simplified version of the previous Kola class, ordered by Joseph Stalin about cost concerns. Indeed, the project 42 was built in a limited serie as for its large cost. The next SKR ordered by Stalin were to be 1,200 tons, and TTZ project 50 began. They were to match the following scheduling:
a) Concept development design complete in September, submitted in October 1950 to the TTZ
b) Technical project complete in February, submitted in March 1951
c) Construction of the lead ship started in mid-1951 and state tests in the 3rd quarter of 1952.

Design work was entrusted to TsKB-820 bureau. in the summer of 1950, technical issues were agreed upon, matching the given displacement and qualities but it proved impossible to comply with wind resistance requirements. A combined scheme of two powerplants was considered, and KVG-57/28 were designed in SKBK with naturally circulated and vertical boilers with extra radiation surface, one-way flue gas duct, two-front heating working at 370 ° С and 28 kg/sq. Cm. pressure. Highly accelerated, small-sized boilers were developed for all ships in the Soviet Navy thanks to these works. Forced Heating needs to be three-fold and a linear arrangement in the power plant was chosen.

For the first time, TV-9 high pressure steam turbines were introduced in frigates, and new radars were installed. Sensitive areas were protected by 8 mm (0.31 in) of armour and the armament reduced two three 100 mm (3.9 in) guns, but with remote power control, Yakor type FCD. The ships has teething reliability issues with its machinery. Project 50 Riga were a good package for their price, and made a perfect export vessel for developing countries where they were often modified to be multipurpose. The modernized Project 50 A appeared in the late 1950s and included RBU-2500 ASWRL, upgraded radar and permanent ballast.

Armaments wide, the B-34USM bow mounts were replaced by a single twin closed-type 100-mm B-34USM, studied by OKB-172. MBU-200 were replaced by the MBU-600 and 37-mm machine guns with 25 mm guns. Preliminary design was completed (Leningrad TsKB-820) on time and Admiral A.G. Golovko approved the swap of 4 BMB-1 with 4 BMB-2. Standard displacement was 1,059 tons. Later the SKB-700 SME, was ordered to MTU and triple TT bank.
With a large serie of 68 boats, these were the perfect match to repel USN “fleet snorkels” (GUPPY) of that time. The Riga also proved popular on export (East Germany, bulgaria, Finland, Indonesia), and in China gave the Chengdu class (Type 6601/01).


Displacement: 950/1,150 tons standard
Dimensions: 96 x 10.8 x 3.2 mm (315 x 35 x 10 ft)
Propulsion: 2 shaft CODAG: 2 gas turbines, diesel, 30,000 hp + 6,000 hp
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Range: 4,870 nm/10 kts, 450 nm/30 knots
Complement: 90
Armament: 2×2 76 mm, 2-4× RBU 6000 ASWRL 5× 406 mm TTs, 48 DC

Petya class Frigates -54 ships (1961-82)

Petya class by Andreas Sporri
Petya class by Andreas Sporri

Designated project 159 and derivatives, the Petya are the standard Aanti submarine warfare frigates of the 60s and 80s. 37 ships were built between 1960 and 1982 (in four modified versions). The first were the Petya I class (completed in 1961-64), sixteen ships, followed by a small serie of four Petya Ib modified in 1973-82 (Project 159M). This was followed by the Petya II class (project 159A), completed in 1964-69 of twenty-seven ships, and eventually nineteen Petya III, completed in 1968-77, the latter being built for exports to India (10), Ethiopia (2), Syria (2 ), and Viet-Nam (3).

The last two will serve as training ships in the Russian Navy. These were the first ASW frigates, and the first Russian ships to use combined gas and diesel turbines (CODAG). Their weapons and their sensors varied according to the types (Petya I and II modernized or modified). The Petya II possessed, for example, two RBU 6000 rocket launchers and two five-fold TLT ASW TT banks. One of them tested an ASW SUW-N-1 missile launcher and two more variable depth sonars. Five Petya II were subsequently exported (Vietnam, Ethiopia). In 1987-88, 3 were withdrawn from service and placed in reserve, followed by 8 in 1988-90 and 5 in 1990-91.

Petya class
Author’s Petya illustration


Displacement: 950, 1150t FL
Dimensions: 82.5 x 9.2 x 2.9 m
Propulsion: 2 shaft CODAG, 36,000 hp, 32 knots.
Crew: 90.
Electronics: Don-2 Radar, Slim Net, Hawk Screech, Herkules Sonar, Helicopter Sonar, 2 LL ECM Watch Dogs.
Armament: 4 x 76 mm AA (2×2), 2 RBU 2500, 2 ASW racks, 1×5 406 mm ASW TTs.

Mirka class Frigates -18 ships (1964-66)

Mirka class Project 35 1985

Designated Project 35 and 35M, the Mirka class Soviet Frigates are modest ASW vessels, developed around RBU rocket launchers. They had four of them, RBU 6000 model, with 12 tubes each and 240 rockets in reserve. Each had a remote adjustable depth charge. This armament was completed with an ASW stern rack (for some of the Mirka I), and a quintuple bank for 16-in acoustic torpedo tubes, or two triples and only two RBU rocket launchers aft (Mirka II, project 35M). Modernization of the Mirka II saw the installation of variable depth sonar (SPV) instead of its ASW grenades benches at the stern. A total of 18 ships were built, used until 1989-90. Five were withdrawn this year, and another three in 1991. The others followed in 1995-98.

Mirka class
Author’s Mirka Class Frigates illustration


Displacement: 950, 1150t FL
Dimensions: 82.5 x 9.2 x 2.9 m.
Propulsion: 2 shaft CODAG, 30 + 12,000 hp, 32 knots max.
Crew: 30.
Electronics: Radar Don-2, Slim Net, Hawk Screech, Sonar Herkules, SPV (Mirka II), 2 LL ECM Watch Dog.
Armament: 4 x 76 mm AA (2×2), 4 RBU 6000, 1 DCT, 1×5 406 mm ASW TT.

Krivak class Frigates -40 ships Krivak I, II, III, IV (1971-1990)

An aerial starboard bow view of the Soviet Krivak I Class guided missile frigate 959 at anchor
An aerial starboard bow view of the Soviet Krivak I Class guided missile frigate 959 at anchor.

The Soviet Frigates of the Krivak class were the new standard of the seventies: They were the first Russian missile frigate. As early as 1956, a search for a successor to the “Petya” began. It was originally a unit with 76mm and 57mm AA guns, and TLT benches, but the design evolved. In 1963, a medium and short-range missile ship was searched for the Baltic and Black Sea fleets. The first project 935 specified two SA-N-4 triple ramps at the front. The type progressed to an ASW role as well and became Project 1135, with a single SS-N-14 “Flint” ASW/SSN quad launcher for short range antiship warfare.

This is how the Krivak class began, by far the most ambitious yet conceived in USSR. The Krivak I (1971-82; 13 ships) had the standard armament described below in the tables. The Kivak II (11 vessels) were a subclass comprising a variable-depth sonar housed at the stern, and two single 100 mm guns replacing the 76 mm. It appeared in 1978. The Krivak III (1984-90) was a redesigned version to accommodate the new SS-N-15 missiles. These 10 ships were also used by the KGB. Finally the Krivak IV were not an official underclass but a set of modifications and modernizations applied to first five Krivak I units. The Zarkiy and the Komsomolec received in 1988-91 a new hull sonar and their RBU rocket launcher 6000 were replaced by 8 single ramps SS-N-25. Total: 34 units, the last of which was launched in 1990 and operational in 1991. In 1990, there were 33 in service. Nowadays, only two are listed active, superseded by new generations of frigates.

Russian footage of a KRIVAK-class frigate

On November 9, 1975, a mutiny broke out on the Storozhevoi (see notes above) but the ship, with a new crew, served until 1990. Currently, the Krivak class are also in service in Ukraine (2 units completed in 1991), two others withdrawn in 1992, three disarmed in 1994, and another in reserve. There were discussions recently as to built a modernized version for India or in India.

Krivak I, II and III comparison
Krivak I, II and III comparison (Conway’s)

Author’s Krivak illustration


Displacement: 3300t, 3575t FL
Dimensions: 123.5 x 14.1 x 4.6 m
Propulsion: 2 propellers, 2 CODAG turbines, 72,000 hp. and 32 nodes max.
Crew: 200
Electronic: Don-2 Radar, Don Kay, Spin Through Net C, 2 Eye Bowl, Kite Screech, 2 Pop Group, Bull Nose Sonars, Mare Tail SPV, 2 CME Bell Shroud, 2 Bell Squat, 4×16 LL.
Armament: 1×4 LM SSN14, 2×2 LM SN4 (silos, 40), 4 guns 76 (2×2), 2 LR ASW RBU 6000, 8 TLT 533 mm (2×4) ASW TTs, 20 mines.

Parchim II class Corvettes -8 ships (1985-1989)

Parchim KRI Pati Unus
Parchim KRI Pati Unus – Indonesia Navy.

It is rare for ship transfers to be made in the opposite direction towards the Russian big brother. This was the case for the frigates of the GDR, NATO Parchim class, ordered by USSR to support local industry and as quality was generally of an higher level, and for overall political reasons. German-built, they were multi-purpose ships, 24 in all built at Peenewerft, of which 16 has been used by the East German Navy and later transferred to the Indonesian Navy and eight Parchim II went to the Baltic fleet. They are still partly in use in 2020.

Built by Wolgast Peene-Werft yards, these Soviet Frigates were designed for coastal ASW, in case of a war in Europe. The scenario included for these vessels to hunt down small West German U-206 coastal submarines. The first was named Wismar, launched on 9 April 1981 in Rostock. Fifteen were built until 1986 and the Soviet Union agreed to purchase twelve more from Wolgaster Peenewerft, later built between 1986 and 1990 and because of this, seen as subsidising the East German shipbuilding industry.

General scheme of the Parchim II
General scheme of the Parchim II (Conway’s profiles)

In Soviet service, NATO knew them as the Parchim II and they seemed surplus compared by the arguably more powerful Grisha class. The German re-unification thrown these ships between demolition yards to be resold to the Indonesian Navy in 1993, as is. In Indonesian service, the latter launched a refurbishing which actually exceeded the initial purchase. Some are still active in the Russian Baltic Fleet as well.

Author’s illustration of the Parchim

Koni class frigates -13(1) ship (1985-1989)

Delfin - Koni II
Delfin in 1982 – Koni II class, used in the black sea as training ship solely for exports.

The name Koni is the NATO reporting name, used for these anti-submarine warfare Soviet Frigates, contemporary to the Grisha-class and intended strongly for export. Known as Project 1159 their design started in 1970 and the blueprints were approved in 1973. The lead ship was laid down in 1974 and launched in 1975. In all, fourteen emerged from Zelenodolsk shipyard until 1988.
They were designed initially to replace the old Riga-class frigates, but soon exports were needed to various friendly navies, helping already hard-beaten economics in 1975.

The Koni I sub-class was designed for European waters and used by the Soviet Navy, while the Koni II was tailored for warmer waters and ideally export. A single ship was eventually retained by the Black Sea fleet, and only for training foreign crews to use these ships and help the exports. A few of these remain in service in some of the following countries: Algeria, Bulgaria, Cuba, East Germany, Egypt, Libya, Yugoslavia.

Koni class frigates – Conway’s blueprint

-The old Soviet training vessl was sold to Bulgaria in 1990. Renamed Smeli, still active.
-Algeria – Three sold and active today, currently upgraded with new electronics, with new ASW TTs, and Kh-35 Uran/SS-N-25 Switchblade SSNs.
-Cuba: Three, one unnamed, Monkada or Moncada all sunk as a reef or status unknown.
-East Germany: Three, two scrapped in 1990, one scrapped in 1995.
-Libya: Two, later one armed with a quad 406 mm torpedo tubes bank, Al Ghardabia damaged by bombing in 2011, Al Hani captured by NTC in Benghazi.
-Yugoslavia: Two, Split and Koper purchased in the 1980s and still active.

Algerian Mourad Rais in 1986

Neustrashimmy class frigates 2(7) ships (1988)

Yaroslav Mudry (ex-Nepristupnyi) during its voyage through the English Channel in April 2018

The last Soviet-era Frigates were scaled-up versions of the Krivak class. They were known as the Project 11540 Yastreb (hawk). Seven ships were planned, cut short by the fall of the Soviet Union and only two were completed, which are in active service with the Russian Baltic Fleet today.

They were classed as multipurpose ASW frigates, intended to gradually replace the earliest Krivak-class frigates. One of the core systems was the Zvezda-1 integrated sonar system (NATO Ox Tail), and the program started in 1986. Construction was frozen in 1990, and only Neustrashimy was in active service with the Russian Baltic Fleet. The second was delayed until 24 February 2009 renamed Yaroslav Mudry. She emerged the Yantar shipyard (Kaliningrad) and both ships were reassigned later to the Baltic Fleet.

These Soviet Frigates were reasonably fast and economical thanks to the CODOG, and carried two quadrupe SS-N-25 (only for Yaroslav Mudry), four octuple VLS for SS-N-9 SAM, a 12-tube RBU-6000 launcher, one 100mm and two Kashtan CIWS. Its torpedo armament comprised six 21-in superstructure tubes, able to launch the heavy Type 53 ASW/ASuW torpedoes, but also ASW missiles such as the SS-N-15/16. Their ASW search area is also greatly facilitated by a single Ka-27 Helicopter, hosted in a hangar. These made for the most efficient, blue water Frigates in service in the Russian Navy before the 2000s.

As Yaroslav Mudry was still in completion, in 2006, the next generation stealthy Frigates of the Russian Navy, Admiral Gorshkov-class, was just laid down. So far, they are the most recent Russian Frigates (outside the lighter Gepard, built mostly for export), with eight ships planned, intended for a commission in 2025-2026 for the last, the Gorshkov class are much larger, in the 5500 tonnes range. To compare, the old OH Perry displaced 4,100 long tons (4,200 t) fully loaded. But the next generation would be in the 7,400 short tons (6,700 t) range.

Neustrashimyy class as designed, 1990
Neustrashimyy class as designed, 1990.


Displacement: 3800t, 4400t FL
Dimensions: 129 x 15.6 x 5.6 m
Propulsion: 2 shaft CODAG turbines, 80,000 hp. and 30 knots
Crew: 210
Electronic: Radar: 1 Top Plate, 2 Palm Frond, Cross Sword, 1 Kite Screech. Sonar: LF bow mounted sonar and VDS
Armament: 2 × 4 SS-N-25, 4 × 8 VLS for SS-N-9, 1x 12 RBU-6000, 1 × 100mm, 2 Kashtan CIWS, 6 × 533mm TTs, Ka-27 Helicopter

Gepard class frigates -6 ships (1991…)

Gepard class

These Frigates are listed there only because their genesis started during the cold war, but they were laid down just after the fall of USSR. They were meant to be a replacement for the Koni class ships, as a mid-range, versatile and tailored for export. Project 1166.1 were also tailored for ASW warfare (in Soviet service) as replacement for the Grisha and Parchim-class corvettes. The lead ship, Yastreb (Hawk), was laid down at the Zelenodol’sk Zavod shipyard at Tatarstan in 1991, launched in July 1993, and completed by late 1995, but suspended due to lack of funds.

In Russian service, commissioned in 2002 she was eventually Renamed Tatarstan and became the flagship of the Caspian Flotilla. Two sister ships, Albatross and Burevestnik (Storm Petrel) saw the construction suspended and resumed as of 2012. Nowadays only Tararstan and Dagestan (ex-Albatross) are in service, in the Caspian sea. Until the fall of USSR the Caspian sea naval force was reduced due to neghbouring countries being part of the USSR. After the collapse and setup of the new Russian federation, the Caspian sea became a border sea with potentially hostile countries (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran) and therefore the local fleet was reinforced.

We will return on the matter in a dedicated post on modern Russian frigates. The type was also exported: Four ships were in construction for Vietnam since 2007, also at Zelenodolsk Shipyard, active from 2011 (Dinh Tien Hoang class). Two more were planned HQ-017 and 018, but construction has yet to start.

Armaments and sensors of Soviet Frigates (with NATO designations)

Armament of the KGB Krivak-III class frigate Imeni-70 Letiya V CheKa.

Gunnery armament DP and AA in Soviet Frigates:

-100 mm guns (First three classes), 76 mm guns (From the Petya class), 37 mm guns (early classes), 25 mm guns (early classes)

ASW weapons:

-Anti-submarine rocket launchers (ASRL): MBU 600, MBU 900, RBU 2500, RBU-6000

Torpedo Tubes

-533 mm torpedo tubes (21 in), 406 mm ASW torpedo tubes (16 in)


-SS-N-14 ‘Silex’ SSM/ASW missiles (Krivak), Osa-MA SAM systems SA-N-4 ‘Gecko’ SAM (Krivak, Grisha)

Surface radars

Radar Don-2, Slim Net, Hawk Screech, Barret-2, Strut curve, Pop group, Drum Tilt, Positive-E, Spin Trough, MR-755 Fregat-M/Half Plate air/surf search


Bass Tilt Hull Mounted Medium Frequency Sonar, Herkules hull mounted & dipping sonar, Zvezda-2 suite with MGK-345 Bronza/Ox Yoke bow mounted LF, Ox Tail LF VDS (Krivak, Parchim)

Fire control Systems:

Purga ASW combat system, Drakon/Eye Bowl SSM targeting, MPZ-301 Baza/Pop Group

Electronic warfare/Decoy systems

-Start suite, Bell Shroud intercept, Bell Squat jammer, PK-10/16 decoy RL, Various towed decoys

Read More/Src about soviet Frigates

Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1947-1995
The Koni class on

Cold War Soviet Cruisers (1947-90)

Cold War Soviet Cruisers (1947-90)

62 Cruisers 1947-90

Overview: From conventional to missile warfare

In February 1946 the “Red fleet” was renamed the Soviet Navy (Советский Военно-Морской Флот, romanized as Sovyetsky Voyenno-Morskoy Flot), and Stalin, the absolute master of USSR, milited for a conventional fleet able to rival the new likely adversary in the West, the combined might of the USN and Royal Navy. Stalin got its way through the post-war conventional fleet, revolving around the Stalingrad class battlecruisers (started but cancelled after Stalin’s death), the Chapayev and Sverdlov conventional light cruisers, the Skoriy class destroyers or the “Whiskey” class diesel electric fast submarines of the Kola class ASW frigates to name the most prominent programs. However admiral Kuznetsov took command of the Soviet Navy, trusted by Kruchtchev to find a more realistic policy for USSR at that time. Priority was given to give the air force its first jets and long-range bombers, the atomic bomb, and reinforce the army with a brand new generation of tanks.

The Navy was a bit left over, as the politburo concluded only a navy that could guarantee territorial waters, disrupt supply lines of the enemy, and ensure naval presence to the developing world were preferrable to a very large conventional navy. This was partially explained by the presence of comfortable natural resources on the territory of the Soviet Union, covering the Eurasian landmass. No large commercial fleet was seeked and later countering seaborne nuclear missiles became another objective, eating the budget for more conventional ship.

admiral Kuznetsov Admiral Nikolay Gerasimovich Kuznetsov (1904-1974) quite critical of Stalin’s rule, preferred to develop technology to require some balance, notably through missiles, and a more defensive policy through good submarines, MTBs and missile FACs. The policy of pursuing the development of a strong conventional force, with mass-produced cruisers (Sverdlov), the new Stalingrad class battlecruisers, and Skoriy class destroyers was immediately suspended after the death of Stalin, shifting towards missile ships as soon as possible.

The first of these, the “Kynda class” were crude missile platforms designed to attack the USN task force, with nuclear warhead fitted SSNs if needed. Following this, the policy evolved to embrace two new types, the Kresta I and Kresta II dedicated to ASW/AS and SAM warfare, before the ASW Kara class, before a return in the late 1970s to anti-ship vessels such as the Slava class, made to replace the 1960s Kyndas, and ships that were really out of the box. The latter were the Moskva class helicopter cruisers, Kirov class “battlecruisers”, Kiev class cruiser-carriers hybrids.

1 heavy aircraft carrier cruiser
> 1 Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier
5 Helicopter cruisers
> 3 Kiev-class aircraft carrier
> 2 Moskva-class helicopter carrier
3 battlecruisers
> 4 Kirov-class battlecruiser
28 missile cruisers
> 3 Slava-class cruiser
> 7 Kara-class cruiser
> 4 Kresta I-class cruiser
> 10 Kresta II-class cruiser
> 4 Kynda-class cruiser
24 Conventional Cruisers
> 4 Chapaev-class cruisers
> 20 Sverdlov-class cruisers

cold war doctrine of Soviet missile cruisers

First off, we have to start with the Soviet Typology about their own cold war cruiser lineage, but the denomination below was established in 1949.


Legkiy kreiser or «лёгкий крейсер» in cyrillic (КРЛ)
These are light cruisers. Basically the whole lineage of WW1 to late WW2 conventional cruisers. It started with the 1912 Svetlana class, and went through the Admiral Nakhimov class, interwar Kirov class (armed with trple turrets and 180 mm guns), and its sub-class Maxim Gorky, very active in WW2. This also included the Chapayev class (answering the wartime large light cruiser type similar to the USN Cleveland class) and the massive post-cold war Sverdlov class.

The development of conventional cruisers stopped after Stalin’s death in 1953 as the Soviet Navy, under the leadership of Admiral Kuznetsov, took a U-turn towards innovative and somehwat disruptive path to compensate for its numerical inferiority towards the USN. A sensible move, as the USSR of that time did not have the capacity to generate a fleet equivalent to the record-breaking US Navy armada, by a long shot.

It should be added that another type called Vspomogatel’nyi kreiser or «Вспомогательный крейсер» (ВКР) were Auxiliary cruisers, 17 liners requisitioned and armed between 1918 and 1922 for the civil war ‘Red’ navy, and a single ship in 1941, Mikoyan (1935), an ex-ice-breaker.


Stalingrad class
Tyazhelyi kreiser or «тяжёлый крейсер» in Cyrillic (ТКР)
The heavy cruiser type was developed shortly before the war. In addition to the German heavy cruiser Lützow, gifted at the occasion of the Germano-Soviet pact as Petropavlovsk, she was never completed but fought at Leningrad.
A single class was started in 1939: The Kronstadt class (see in 3D). Both were laid down but BU on slip after the war or blewed up to avoid catpure.
After the war ended, Stalin urged the need for a modernized version of the concept. This development led to the Stalingrad class (Project 82).
The first of the three, Moskva and Arkhangelsk were laid down in 1952, but BU on slip after 1953, as Stalin was not there any more and priority has changed. So this TKR type shoes were never filled.


Raketnyi kreiser or «ракетный крейсер» in cyrillic (РКР).
The missile cruiser type. This was the main deal of course once Stalin had passed out, as development of missile took quite a boost in the 1950s.
In this guise, there were three classes that were classed as such, performing a generic and specialized antiship function:
-The Kynda, Kresta I and Slava classes.

Chervona Ukraina
Chervona Ukraina (Black sea fleet Ukrainian flagship) en route for the Pacific via the Suez canal in the 1990s.


Protivolodochnyi kreiser or in Cyrillic «противолодочный крейсер» (ПКР).
The ASW missile cruiser type. Three types could be assimilated: The Kresta II, Kara and Moskva.
However only the latter was classed officially as “Kreiser” (cruisers) in Soviet service.
Indeed, the Kresta II (10 ships) and Kara class (7 ships) were more of a standard/ASW oriented weapons platform called large ASW frigates in Soviet service, whereas NATO registered them as ASW cruisers (also classed that way in Conways book, and Janes). However the two Moskva were rather large, long range, heavily armed “sub-killers”, enough to be assimilated as cruisers despite their ASW role devoted usually to frigates in Soviet service.
The Moskva class were a class of their own in a sense, close in concept to the Japanese helicopter destroyers, the French Jeanne d’Arc or the Italian Veneto.

A port beam view of the Soviet Moskva class helicopter cruiser Leningrad underway.


Tyazhelyi atomnyi raketnyi kreiser or in cyrillic «тяжёлый атомный ракетный крейсер» (ТАРКР).
These were the original Heavy nuclear guided missile cruisers, later reclassed as Heavy Guided Missile Cruisers (TRKR) in 1997 in Russian era.
They were a class of their own, of course we are talking about the fabled, legendary Kirov class, second of the name.
More on these further down. The class comprised the 1977-89 Kirov (later Admiral Ushakov) Frunze (later Admiral Lazarev, Kalinin (later Admiral Nakhimov) and Yuri Andropov Renamed later Petr Velikiy. The post cold war era was not tender to these behemoths.

Kirov in tactical exercizes


Tyazhelyi avianesushchii kreiser or in cyrillic «тяжёлый авианесущий крейсер» (ТАКР)
The Heavy aircraft-carrying cruisers were the most distinctive Soviet large warships of this era. They were unline anything else in any other fleet.
The type was represented by two classes: The famous four Kiev class (Kiev, Minsk and Novorossiysk) and the Kuznetsov class (Tbilissi, Riga). The latter two were much closer to true aicraft carriers, but they retained a substantial hitting power, larger than contemporary supercarriers, hence their denomination of “cruisers”. They were caught by the fall of the USSR and had diverging fates. The 1970s Kiev however were pure hybrids.


Kirov, Kiev and Moskva classes: Soviet immoderation

As shown by this nomenclature, the Soviet cruiser lineage, at the top of the Soviet Navy, devoid of proper aircraft carriers, denotes a clear difference of doctrine compared to the USN. The latter based its naval supremacy on the task force, which doctrine and strategy was elaborated during WW2 and perfected with its new pivot, the super-carrier. This organization rearranged all other vessels, whether they were missile cruisers or destroyers as “fleet escorts”. This even included massive ships like the nuclear-powered USS Long Beach, the closest equivalent to the Soviet Kirov class that was ever built, although much lighter in terms of armament.

Each task fore was a self-supporting ensemble, able to strike and defend itself on many layers, the farthest being cruise missile and long range interceptors (such as the Vigilante). All-around protection by provided by USN cruisers, AA protection by destroyers, and ASW protection by frigates. This was precisely to disrupt the task force that the Soviet Navy invested much brain power, muscle, money and ingenuity, making it still an attractive subject for historians and amateurs alike (as your servant, which is in constant awe with this subject).

We can see that in all three classes listed above, but it went straight to the Kynda class. These cruisers were advertised as “aircraft carrier killers”. The reality did not lived up the expectation, as their missile reload system was pathetically slow, and the missile themselves quite primitive in essence. But they carried quite a heavy payload, or even a tactical nuclear charge which could have cause havoc if not intercepted. The “carrier-killer” was revived in the late 1980s with the Slava class, which were scheduled to replace them and were much more modern. They carried all their missiles without reloads, and like the first, were strategically spread between each of the four fleets of the Soviet Union. The Kresta class in comparison were much more rounded cruisers, good for any purpose and likely to escort the first.

As for the Udaloy and Sovremenny class, they were (wrongly now) classes as cruisers. But for all authors and in Russian nomenclature thay are registered as destroyers. The confusion came from their early NATO classification, but they logically succeeded to earlier class of destroyers and were quite numerous, as no “missile destroyers” were known to be developed in parallel.

Udaloy class
Udaloy class: The 13 Udaloy were as large as the Kara or Kresta types, and versatile ships designed by the Severnoye Design Bureau. However the 21 Project 956 destroyer (Sovremenny) had a specialization as AA ships whereas the 13 Project 1155 (Udaloy) were more large anti-submarine ship. Both were nevertheless a response to the American Spruance class destroyers.

Of the most outlandish trio of this picture was of course, the Moskva class. The first were perhaps innovative of these, ans the earliest. Completed in 1967 they can be compared to the Italian Veneto, the French Jeanne d’Arc and Japanese helicopter destroyer, but Soviet-style: They were far more larger at 14,000 tonnes, 32 meters wide, with a pear-shaped look. The large rear helipad deck, large capacity with fourteen Ka-25 ‘Hormone’ helicopters and powerful armament in a staged superstructure which ended in a mack cut abruptly over the deck 2/3 of their length was quite unique indeed. The range of their helicopters combined with their potentially nuclear depth charges made them superb sub-hunters indeed, that can assume if needed amphibious assault support missions. They were developed at first to “clear the path” of Soviet SSBN from Poliarny, the northern fleet, and had nothing to do with the USN Task forces, but were an auxiliary of Soviet deterrence.

Moskva class helicopter cruiser Leningrad underway
A port beam view of the Soviet Moskva class helicopter cruiser Leningrad underway.

For the Kirov class built later in the 1970s, the objective was simply to upgrade the Moskva design at first, but Project 1143 Krechyet (gyrfalcon) evolved to include an air group. There were proponents in the Navy for an equivalent of the Kitty Hawk super carriers, and the project was started full-deck carrier proposal, Proyekt Orel. The Soviet authorities decided to compromise, and the more cost-effective “heavy aviation cruiser” was developed instead.
The end result was remarkable. The Kiev class carried much more firepower than any super-carrier, and above more escorts in general, as should be a missile cruiser. Each carried indeed 80 to 200 surface-to-air missiles to create an umbrella for its own flying assets to operate, and for the closer bubble, 2 dual-purpose guns, 8 close-in weapons systems and even 10 classic torpedo tubes. Each also carried more helicopters than the Moskva, 16 in all, with the exclusivity of carrying 12 × Yak-38 aircraft. The main problem here, which made them a less attractive proposition, if these planes were at the level of their probable inspiration, the Hawker Harrier. But they weren’t.

Instead, it was hard even for the very secretive Soviet ministry of defence to hide the fact these planes were utter failures. Their complex VTOL capability was barely powerful enough to alow them to fly, moreover to carry any offensive payload, making them pretty useless and a weapon system, not mentioning their abysmal agility and reliability records. In a parralel universe if the Soviet authorities have managed to get their hands on a Harrier and reverse-engineer it, the Kiev potential would have been demultiplied, and the whole proposition cost-effective indeed. Three were built, one for each fleet but the northern one (where the Moskva first operated).

Kirov underway

For the next entry in the batch and certainly the most famous, the Kirov class, the Soviet tested a new concept born from intelligence reports over Western advanced ECM and jamming capabilities. It was assumed that in a decade, they would advance so far as to defeat any Soviet missile system in use. Another path was chosen, perhaps inspired by Lenin’s famous quote that “quantity was a quality in itself”. The idea was indeed to orchestrate a saturation fire. This type of ships was clearly created to defeat an American task force, not by striking its flagship, the carrier, but destroying the escort vessels, unable to counter such as massive attack from dozens of vectors at once, in several waves.

Frunze 1986

When she was first revealed to NATO in 1981, via satellite and some intelligence data, calling her BALCOM I (Baltic Combatant I), the Kirov came as a nasty surprise. Project 1144 Orlan (sea eagle) became overnight the largest and heaviest surface combatant warships ever built and imposed NATO to review its nomenclature, by default giving them the somewhat old school “battlecruiser” type name.

There has been countless “what-if scenarios” of a confrontation between such ship and any of the USN warship in service and the response was always the same, the Kirov came on top each time. For other, more anachronistic scenarios pitting these ships against WW2 battleships, the picture was no longer clearer as the latter could bring a formidable armour to resist missile impacts. But in the 1980s, the Reagan years, as the cold war suddenly became way colder, these four apocalypse riders shifted the balance in case of an head-on conflict. In fact five were planned initially, but only the first three would be ready before the fall of USSR, the last (launched 1989) being completed much later.

They imposed NATO naval staff to react. It was too late to design and built a USN equivalent, as it would have required years of R&D. It was suggested to rearm, modernize and built sister-ship of the already existing Long Beach, but in their present state they were still inadequate. In 1980, Ronald Reagan, Republican candidate and former actor as soon as he was elected, promised to build up the U.S. military as a response increasing military power in the east. Reagan’s 600-ship Navy policy was to included soon a counter to the Kirov class. After many discussions, the most surprising course of action (but logical in a sense), was to reactivate the four Iowa-class ships. Beyond the astonishing announcement the task of modernizing these 50-years old relics fell to the Navy’s best minds.

The Navy several proposals were considered, notably to convert her as an hybrid, getting rid of her aft 16-inch turret (Martin Marietta proposal) for 12 AV-8B Harrier STOVL, while Charles Myers, a Pentagon consultant, proposed a massive missile vertical launch system instead plus an enlarge helicopter flight deck. Naval Institute’s Proceedings review proposed a canted flight deck for F/A-18 Hornet fighters. All these were dropped in 1984 while it was chosen a simpler a quicker approach: Modern electronics, modern CIWS for close defense and a battery of harpoon cruise missiles. This however still represented an $1.7 billion spending and the process, which started in 1981 was completed in 1988. The cost was the equivalent of four Perry class ASW frigates.

USN Response to the Kirov: Task Group Alpha with the addition of USS Midway underway in 1987.

This reactivation came with tactical changes, as these battleships became the centerpieces of their own battle group (“Battleship Battle Group” or “Surface Action Group”). Each comprised a Ticonderoga-class cruiser, one Kidd/Arleigh Burke missile destroyer, a Spruance-class, three O.H. Perry-class frigates, support ship and fleet oiler. This task force was essentially the same as a carrier force, with the capital ship swapped instead. These new task forces were tailored specifically to deal with the Kirov class.

If the latter was to eliminate part of, or the entire escort, the Iowa still could close in and deliver a deadly punch with its 40 km+ one ton HEAP shells, guided by relay radars and satellites for a much better precision. Against a volley of 16-in shells, the Kirov was as good as a bunch of palette wood. The only passive protection it had was 76 mm of armor plating around the reactor compartment, and light splinter protection…

Soon after, the Soviet Union collapsed and the Kirov class cruisers were pretty much defeated by their lack of maintenance. Nowadays, only Pyotr Velikiy (Peter the Great) remained in service. The two older are in spare parts reserve, to be scrapped in 2021 while Admiral Nakhimov is undergoing a very long refit. On the other side of the pond however, the four Iowa were finally decommissioned and turned into museum ships. There were plans to replace their firepower by the new Zumwalt class destroyers, but this never happened. The Russian cruiser remains unmatched.

zumwalt artillery artist view
The DDG(X) Zumwalt class should have been the response to the Peter the Great class (ex-Kirov) after the deactivation of the Iowa class. However, the projected electric artillery never was operational and the whole program cancelled by the Congress. No artillery is available to deal with the Russian cruisers, but Trump affirmed the option to reactivate the four veterans was still a valid proposition. USS Iowa, Missouri and New Jersey are now anchored museum ships, while USS Wisconsin has been deactivated and stricken but preserved in 2006. All four are maintained by the USN so to be ready for a reactivation process, just in case.

The last entry on this trio is the most recoignisable for us, and logical step for the Soviet Navy: A fully fledged aircraft carrier class. Both Project 1143.5 Orel (which ended as the Kuznetsov-class “heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser” and Project 1143.7 (Ulyanovsk-class), much larger, would not be completed before the fall of USSR. By all means, and despite their denomination, both were indeed aicraft carrier in overall appearance, but with a massive island, electronics suite, and armament: 12 P-700 Granit (SS-N-19 Shipwreck) anti-ship missiles, 192 3K95 Kinzhal (SA-N-9 Gauntlet) SAMs and for close-in defense, 8 Kashtan CIWS mounts, 6 AK-630 AA guns, and one UDAV-1 ASW rocket launcher. All these could have found their way on a missile cruiser. To this the Orel project carried a supplement of up to 32 aircraft, and the naval staff did not repeated the Kiev error and navalized proven, very capable combat jets: The Mig-29 and Sukhoi Su-33.
They were a STOBAR configuration logical evolution of the Kiev design, their “hybrid” nature being more subtle as shown above. They are not seen here as they changed class to aicraft carrier in the new Russian Navy, where they belong. See also the Project 1153 OREL.

Missile Cruisers in Russia: Any Future ?

Lider class DD
In 2015 was showcased a model of Project 23560 destroyer, at the ‘ARMY-2015’ military technical forum. Better known now as the “Lider class”, the prestige project went through revisions and near-cancellations. By all means, the vessel had all-around capabilities making her closer to the Soviet-era cruisers than a modern destroyer. Designed by Severnoye Design Bureau, and the Krylov State Research Center, the project has evolved into a destroyer, large ASW ship and guided missile cruiser all meshed into one package, and allegedly better armed than the Kirov class.

It should be said the general appearance of the ship was equally impressive -as her mensurations- 19,000 tons, 230 m x 20 m x 6.6 m, about 200 missiles and powered by a nuclear reactor and capable of 32 knots. It is indeed nowadays the only modern inheritance of the soviet era missile cruisers, and a clear statement of a return to the prestige of the Soviet fleet. No order was made yet, but planned for 2023. Future will tell.

Nomenclature of Soviet cruisers

Chapayev class cruisers (1945)


These large ships succeeded the heavy cruisers of the Maxim Gorky class (1938). They were different from the two late units of this class, released in 1943 and largely improved. The Chapayev are much larger, with the addition of 5000 more tons. They were in fact the first heavy cruisers designed completely out from the old Italian influences started with the two Kirov of 1935.

They sacrificed nominal firepower (150 mm guns instead of 180 mm), to integrate an additional turret, carrying three more guns, to go for a twelve guns battery, as for the American ships of the Cleveland class. However, in category, they rank undoubtedly in the “heavy” class, and even near the top of it.

They were well served by a powerful AAA, according to wartime lessons, were further modified along the way to reach more firepower. Secondary armament consisted of eight traditional twin mounts giving way ultimately to four twin turrets, 130 mm caliber, reaching the Soviet fleet standards of 1960.

There will actually be 8 ships in this program, whose design dated back to 1936. But the first four ships launched during the war, the Chapayev, Zhelezniakov and Frunze in 1940, and the Kuibyshev in 1941 were never completed. With the advance of the Wehrmacht, two were captured and later modified, while the others experienced various fortunes.

The Chapayev was completed in 1949, like Zhelezniakov, and Chkalov, and Frunze and Kuibyshev in 1950. The Ordzhonikidze and the last ship of the class ordered but was never completed. These ships carried two seaplanes originally (replaced by radars after the war) and were tailored and equipped to lay more than 200 mines.

Chapayev class cruisers were in service in 1960. However the dates were they were stricken from the fleet list is unknown: Chapayev is believed to have been retired 1961, as Frunze or 1962, and the Kuibyshev. Chkalov and Zhelezniakov were however maintained in service until 1990 as training ships. With the decomposition of the Soviet Union, no doubt they were mothballed and left to rot. None was preserved.



Displacement: 11,300t, 15,000t FL
Dimensions: 201 x 19.70 x 6.40m
Propulsion: 2 turbines , 6 boilers, 130 000 hp = 34 Knots
Crew: 840
Armour: 50 – 80 mm (3.8 in), CT 152 mm (6 in).
Armament: 18 x 150 (6 in) (4×3), 8 x 2 AA 100 mm (4.6 in), 24 x 37 mm, 6 533 mm TTs (21 in) (2×3).

Sverdlov class cruisers (1951)


The Sverdlov class cruisers were the last soviet conventional cruisers. They succeeded the Chapayev launched at the beginning of the Second World War.

This massive class wanted by Stalin was to answer the armada of American cruisers of the Cleveland and Baltimore classes. A total of 50 ships were planned to give the USSR a definitive supremacy. But this unrealistic figure was quickly reduced to 24, and then 20, which were actually started between 1949 and 1955 at the shipyards of the Baltic, admiralty yards, Nikolayev and Severodvinsk. This was completed by amazing plans for the Stalingrad class battlecruisers.

The death of Stalin
The death of Stalin had these plans completely scrapped. The idea of a classic battle fleet at the insistence of the Kremlin’s master, which had the same appeal perhaps to Hitler in terms of delusional grandeur, was no longer the priority of the day.

Instead, Khrushchev, well advised by the new head of the Soviet admiralty, had less ambitious plans, but more practical and a realistic, pragmatic approach for innovative solutions to deal with the US Navy supremacy, rather than trying to cope in numbers on the same level. This became the first steps for a new policy which endured until the 1980s.

Of this total of twenty, two of these cruisers never even reach the launching stage, being cancelled and broken up along the way, and four more were never completed and remained anchored in the Neva estuary in Leningrad until 1961. Only 14 cruisers were finally completed between 1952 and 1955.

Sverdlov class design
The Sverdlovs were much like the Chapayevs, but had greater autonomy thanks to larger hull dimensions allowing the installation of generous oil tanks. They also had a better overall protection, with a double hull on 75% of her length, and 23 watertight compartments.

These cruisers inaugurated new radars and fire control systems, plus new 100 mm mounts for their secondary batteries, copied from the German dreaded 88mm Flak battery, also used on the Skoriy class destroyers. The 152 mm (6 in) main turrets were improved versions of the Chapayev ones. The final, revised design was adopted in May 1947. In 1960, these ships were already outdated in the face of missile warfare.

Career and fate of the Sverdlov class
Some of these ships were then converted (as the Americans had done) into missile cruisers. Thus, Admiral Nakhimov was rebuilt barely two years after entering active service as an anti-ship missile cruiser, equipped with AS-1 missiles, then SS-N-1 “Scrubber” missile, using a replacement launcher at the same time. She also kept half the turrets. This conversion proved a disappointing one, and the ships was eventually used as a target and then scrapped in 1961.


Dzerzhinski was equipped instead of three turrets and a SA-2 “Guideline” SAM was installed. It was a navalized version of the land launcher. This time the conversion proved a success and she had a long active career, being retired in 1989.

Zhdanov and Senyavin served as command ships, being completely rebuilt in 1970-72 in this role. They received a lattice mast supporting very powerful Vee Cone antennas, satellite relay, the whole rear part being converted into a flight deck for three ASW helicopters, complete with a with hangar, and a retractable missile launcher SA-N-4 “pop-up” plus antimissile superfast 30mm guns.

Revolutsiya, Ushakov and Suvorov received a new enlarged footbridge and more modern electronic equipments in 1977-79, yielding their 3 7mm guns and Egg Cup firing control systems for four 30 mm missile-controlled guns by NATO “Drum Tilt” system.

The Sverdlov class comprised the Sverdlov, Zhdanov, Admiral Ushakov, Admiral Senyavin, Alexandr Suvorov, Dmitri Pozharski, Ordzhonikidze, Alexandr Nevsky, Admiral Lazarev, Dzerzhinsky, Admiral Nakhimov, Mikhail Kutuzov, Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya, and Murmansk. They were equitably divided among the four fleets.

Orzhonikidze was sold to Indonesians in 1962 as KRI Irian. She Sold for scrap to Taiwan in 1972. Nakhimov was written off in 1961, the others in 1987-89. There were still three of these cruisers in service in 1990: Suvorov, Senyavin, and Murmansk. They were retired in 1990-92, with no budget and no use to support them.



Displacement: 13,600t, 16,640 FL
Dimensions: 210 x 22 x 6,9 m
Propulsion: 4 shafts, 4 turbines, 4 HP boilers, 110,000 hp; 32,5 knots.
Crew: 390
Armour: 50 – 80 mm (3.8 in), CT 120 mm (4.7 in).
Electronics: Radars: Sea Gull, Knife Rest A, Slim net, Top Bow, Egg Cup, hull passive sonar.
Weaponry: 12 x 152 mm (4×3) (6 in), 12 x 100 mm (6×2) AA, 32 x 37 mm (16×2) AA, 10 x 533 mm TTs (2×5) (21 in).

Kynda class cruisers (1951)

The four Kynda class units were the first Soviet missile cruisers. They were from the outset (1956) designed to respond to American aircraft carriers by another more modern means than that hitherto maintained by Stalin, a line fleet. In addition, they inaugurated a system of launching a “volley” of 8 long-range cruise missiles (250 nautical miles) SS-N-3 “Shaddock”, with recharging of 8 other vectors stored in containers just behind, in the superstructure. However, these reloading operations were long and delicate, also requiring acceptable sea conditions.

These SS-N-3 vectors, capable of implementing a tactical or conventional nuclear warhead, but were dependent on guidance en route and final by Tupolev Tu-95 “Bear-D”. This armament was supplemented by a SA-N-1 “Goa” missile launcher at short and medium range, with a reduced stock (16 vectors) and a very relative effectiveness. This panoply was completed by two AA guns and four rapid fire anti-missiles. The ASW defense consisted of two triple benches of acoustic torpedo tube launchers, and 2 rocket launchers of the RBU 6000 type with 12 vectors each, and vertical reloading. Each rocket had a HE load of 75 kg. automatically adjustable and exploding by magnetic proximity, the coordinate calculations were entirely managed by an electronic console taking its information from the hull sonar. This ASW defense was complemented by a Kamov Ka-25 “Hormone” helicopter, with a stern decking sport, but no hangar, which was a major problem on mission.

Finally, the propulsion was done by a new system (like the contemporary Kashins) of turbines powered by four overcompression boilers. Due to the reduced hull size, this propellant was able to give them a speed of 34 knots. Despite these reduced dimensions, the four Kyndas, started in Zhdanov in 1960-61 and completed in 1962-65 were classified as missile cruisers (RKR). Class: Grozny, Admiral Fokin, Admiral Golovko, Varyag. The Varyag was used in the Baltic, the Golovko in the Black Sea, and the other two in the Pacific. In 1990, all four were active: They were retired from service in 1990, 1991, and 1993.

Kynda class
Kynda class


Displacement: 4400t, 5600t FL
Dimensions: 141.7 x 16.8 x 5.30m
Propulsion: 2 shaft turbines, 4 HP boilers, 100,000 hp. 34 knots.
Crew: 390
Electronics: 2 Don-2, 2 Head-net A / C, 2 Scoop Pair, Peel group, Owl Screech, 2 Plinth net, sonar Herkules, 3 CME Bell, 4 Top hat.
Armament: 2×4 SSN-3 (16), 1×2 SAN-1 (16), 4 x 76 mm (2×2), 2×3 533 mm TTs, 2 RBU 6000 ASWRL (24).

Kresta I class cruisers (1965)

Kresta I

The missile cruisers of the Kresta I class (Project 1134) were four originally anti-ship buildings (built 1964-69), intended to succeed the Kynda. They were reclassified early as ASM cruisers, while retaining their planned anti-ship missiles. In any case, they were better able to survive than the Kynda thanks to their secondary armament of self-defense more than doubled. The planned missiles, of the SSN-12 type were still at the stage of developments in 1964, also it was the old SSN-3 which replaced them in series. in addition, the Kresta I were the first Soviet ships to have a helicopter hangar – for a single Ka-25 “Hormone”.

A Kresta I class building in the White Sea in March 1970. Class: Admiral Zozulya, Vitze-Admiral Drozd, Vladivostock, Sevastopol. They were serving in the Black Sea, the Drozd being equipped with four Gatling anti-ballistic missile guns behind the SSN-3 ramps, Zozulya being similarly modified in 1990. In 1990, all four were active: but that was their withdrawal. of service, for Drozd and Sevastopol and 1991 for Vladivostock. The oldest, the Drozd, remained in active service until 1996. But his general condition was so bad that he never went to sea again and was stricken from the lists.

Kresta I
Kresta I general appearance


Displacement: 6000t, 7500t FL
Dimensions: 155 x 17 x 5,50m
Propulsion: 2 shafts DGC turbines, 4 heaters, 100,000 hp. and 34 knots max.
Crew: 380
Electronics: 2 Don Kay Radars, Big Net, Don-2, Head-Net C, 2 Plinth Net, 2 Peel Group, 2 Muff Cob, 2 Bass Tilt. Sonar Herkules, 8 CME Side Globes, 4 Bell.
Armament: 2×2 LM SSN3, 2×2 LM. SAN1 (44), 4 57mm (2×2) guns, 10 TLT 533mm (2×5), 2 ASM RBU 6000 LR, 2 RBU 1000, 1 ASM Kamov Ka-25 Hormone helix.

Kresta II class cruisers (1968)

Admiral Isakov - Simferopol

The Kresta II class missile cruisers (Project 1134A, or Berkut A) were like the Kresta I anti-ship cruisers re-evaluated as ASW cruisers when the design was still ongoing. Their armament, to differentiate themselves from the first Kresta I, consisted in 8 new SSN-9 short-range anti-ship missiles. But what was planned was not realized due to lack of technical maturity, and they were replaced by 8 SSN-14 “Flint” ASW systems (with optional tactical nuclear warhead of 10 Kt).

They also had a new bow sonar. Finally, their anti-aircraft missile ramps were the modern SA-N-3 “Goblet”, capable of receiving a tactical nuclear warhead (27 Kt) to disrupt high altitude bomber formations. In addition, four Gatling-type Antimissile rapid-fire guns were adopted from the start. They had a better 3D radar, the new Top Sail (NATO code), more effective than the Kresta I Head Net-C/Big Net suit.

Their hull was narrower, longer, shallower, less heavy from 1000 tonnes. On the other hand, their general configuration was hardly different and the Kresta I and II are often assimilated as a single class. They were made to operate with a “leader” Kresta I unit, possessing long-range SSN-3 “Styx” nuclear warhead vectors.

Class: Kronstadt, Admiral Isakov, Admiral Nakhimov, Admiral Makaorov, Admiral Voroshilov, Admiral Oktyabryskiy, Admiral Isashenko, Admiral Timoshenko, Vasily Chapayev, Admiral Yumashev. They were distributed in Baltic (2), Arctic (5), and Pacific (3). In 1990, all ten were active: They were removed from service in 1991, 1992, and 1993.

Kresta II
Kresta II general appearance


Displacement: 5600t, 6556t FL
Dimensions: 159 x 16.8 x 5.32m
Propulsion: 2 shaft 2 DGC turbines, 4 heaters, 91,000 hp. and 32 nodes max.
Crew: 343
Electronics: Speed ​​Cameras 2 Don Kay, Don-2, Head-Net C, Top Sail, 2 Head Lights, 2 Peel Group, 2 Muff Cob, 2 Bass Tilt. Sonar Bul Nose, 8 CME Side Globes, 7 Bell Series.
Armament: 2×4 LM SSN14, 2×2 LM SAN3 (48), 4 x 57mm (2×2), 10 TLT 533mm (2×5), 2 LR ASM RBU 6000 (144), 2 RBU 1000 (60), 1 ASM Kamov Ka helicopter -25 Hormone.

Kara class cruisers (1969)

Kerch - Kara class

The Kara class missile cruisers were seven rather versatile ships (1969-76), destined to succeed the Kresta I and Kresta II. They had a tactical anti-ship capability with SSN-14 conventional or nuclear missiles, good short range anti-aircraft capability with their two SAN-3 and 4 (72 and 40 vector) missile launchers, their 4 rocket launchers RBU 6000 and 4000 (144 and 60 vectors) and their torpedo tubes. Gas turbines combined with diesel engines were quieter and less vibration-intensive than the Kresta. The last of these ships, Vladivostock (formerly Tallin), built like the others at Nikolayev, was operational in 1980. Class: Nikolayev, Ochakov, Kerch, Azov, Petropavlovsk, Tashkent, Vladivostock. They served in the Black Sea, cruising in the Mediterranean, but two, Petropavlovsk and Tashkent, were sent to the Pacific fleet as early as 1979. The Nikolayev and Tashkent were removed from the lists and kept in reserve in 1992. The others were in service in 1997.

Kara class illustration profile
Illustrator’s rendition of the Kara class


Displacement: 6700-7630t, 8565t FL
Dimensions: 173.5 x 18.50 x 5,32m
Propulsion: 2 propellers, 4 DGC turbines, 120,000 hp. and 32 nodes max.
Crew: 380
Electronics: Radars 2 Don Kay, 1 Don 2, 1 Top Sail, Head-net C, 2 Head Light, 2 Pop Group, 2 Owl Screech, 2 Bass Tilt. Blue Nose Sonar, Mare Tail, 8 CME Side Globes, 2/4 Rum Tub.
Armament: 2×4 miss. SSN14, 2×2 miss. SAN3, 2×2 miss. SAN4, 4 x 76mm (2×2) guns, 4 AM 30mm Gatling guns, 10 TLT 533mm (2×5), 2 ASM RBU 6000 LR, 2 RBU 1000, 1 ASM Kamov Ka-25 Hormone helicopter.

Moskva class helicopter cruisers (1967)

Moskva, Leningrad

The Moskva and Leningrad were the first aircraft carriers produced by the Soviet Union. They were perfect hybrids, combining the firepower of a front cruiser and a rear flight deck, a configuration that was quite common at the time, since the Italians did the same for their Doria, and later their Veneto, or the Japanese with their Haruna.

They were specialized ASM warships specifically dedicated to the destruction of American and British SSBNs. So they had to be able to implement big ASM patrol and fight helicopters, having a better range of action like Mil-Mi14 “Haze”. Their pay ranged from 20 to 12 helicopters, two of which had to be on patrol flight for maximum efficiency.

Admiral Gorshkov initialed the specification in 1959, but the latter insisted on the hull as narrow as possible (for speed), the office replying that it would pose insoluble problems of stability, capital for this type of buildings (Gorshkov proposed for a moment the reconversion of one of the hulls of mass cruisers of the Sverdlov class). The cahier des charges was definitively adopted in 1960, opting for a large, large building, very heavily armed for its own defense, notably ASM.

But the studies continued and it was the 23rd project which was definitively adopted in 1961. This last allowed the ship to operate 14 rotating wings, of which a majority of Kamov Ka-25 and Mi-14, by a sea of ​​force 6- 7. They were housed in a shed located between the two chimneys, and the large lower shed, accessing it by two elevators. There were four spots.

Dod Leningrad

In the meantime, NATO’s SSBN’s Polaris missile range had doubled, forcing Krushchev to review the Soviet ASM defense: The radius of action of the ship and its on-board aircraft was to increase. Twenty-six other modifications were made to the plans before the Moskva was sailed at Nikolayev in December 1962. It was launched in January 1965, completed in December 1967, the tests having officially begun in August 1967.

The Leningrad replaced it in the darse January 15, 1965, was launched in July 1968 and completed in 1969. They inaugurated the gas turbines adopted later, but experienced a number of technical problems more or less serious (until the fire of the Moskva in 1973). They could sustain 24 knots for 3 hours, but were at high risk of attempting spikes at 30 knots (which were only reached at trials).

In addition, their hull was finally quite thin, thanks to the “Y” shape of their sections, which allowed them a good hydrodynamics, but the stability in the heavy weather was to be reviewed. As a result, their torpedo tubes were removed in 1974-75.

They were both based in the Northern Fleet, but they also “cruised” in the other fleets. Relatively imitated because of their fleet, their defects were taken into account for the new Kiev in 1968. They served until 1990. In 1991, the Leningrad was withdrawn from service and removed from the lists, the Moskva remaining active in 1995.

Author’s illustration of the Moskva


Displacement: 11,200t, 17,500t FL
Dimensions: 189 x 23 x 8.5 m
Propulsion: 2 propellers, 2 VHP turbines, 4 HP heaters, 100,000 hp. and 31 nodes max.
Crew: 850
Electronics: Top Sail Radars, 2 Head Light, Head Net-C, 2 Muff Cob, 2 Don-2, 1 Moose Jaw Sonar, 1 SPV Mare Tail, 8 CME Side Globes, 8 Bell, 2×2 Lance Lures.
Weaponry: 2×2 miss. SAN3 (44), 4 (2×2) 57 mm, 1×2 miss. SUW-N1 (12 miss.), 2 LR RBU 6000, 10 TLT 533 mm, 12-14 Helicopters.

Kiev class carrier-cruisers (1972)

Kiev, Minsk, Novorossiysk, Admiral Gorschkov

With the 4 Kiev, the Soviet Navy entered in chief admiral Groshkov’s symbolic pet project, destined specificically to project power from the numerous firndly bases and facilities around the world at that time, the ability to be present on all seas, and willing rival to the overwhelming US Navy superiority by using unconventional responses. The Kiev, Minsk, Novorossiysk and Admiral Gorshkov, launched in 1972, 75, 78 and 1982, were completed in 1975, 78, 82 and 1987. They were defined at first as “guardians” of the Delta-type SSBNs, departing on mission from Northern (Arctic) Fleet bases, guaranteeing the destruction of NATO ASW assets in case of conflict.

They, like the Moskva, had to operate a number of ASW helicopters, and also to use interceptors and their own powerful weaponry to destroy allied long range patrol planes (Breguet Atlantic, Lockheed P3 Orion, Bae Nimrod). Capabilities of ASW warfare were impressive, but AA and antiship armament was not sacrificed either and still were quite impressive, on the level of a powerful missile cruiser. The Kiev were already gearing for saturation fire tactic and leaning towards the Kirov class battlecruiser concept.

Unlike American aircraft carriers, these Soviet ships are not pure cruisers, nor are they authentic aircraft carriers, but hybrids. Aircraft required a particular flight deck, which is differentiated from the Moskva by being lateral, the superstructure spreading along its length. This was a typical configuration for hybrid ships, which were very rare. The Kiev emerged as quite unique piece of hardware, unline anything in the world.

The entire hull forward section, was that of a missile cruiser, with a complete panoply to meet all needs: Long-range antiship missiles, medium and short range SAMs, ASW torpedo tubes, AA/DP guns, and 3 ASW rocket launchers, plus a carrying capacity for 31 aircrafts, including 12 Yak-38 VSTOL jets and 18/19 Kamov “Hormone” ASW helicopters. The latter could deploy light anti-ship missiles and tactical nuclear ASW depht charges. The Yak 38 was the Soviet replica of the Harrier but is considered a mediocre attempt at best and was discarded perhaps even before the fall of the USSR.

These impressive ships were indeed handicapped the use of these poor quality jets. They would have been capable of intercepting approaching patrol planes just in the range of SAMs, wheres they would have been intended as providing a much longer range cover. The Yak-38 “Forger” (NATO code), were in the opinion of all the experts, and the Soviets themselves (the pilots among others), pale copies of the British Harrier, devoid of surface radar, slow, unwieldy, with a very limited carrying capacity, low range, and nozzles systems difficult to control: There were probably scored of accidents never officially revealed, but the “Forger” quickly gained a reputation of a flying coffin, in stark contrast to the Harrier. It was rushed to production and did not enjoyed the development time of the British Harrier, an amazing success story of British Aerospace industry during the cold war.

In 1991, the two Kiev-class ships remaining in service were to be scrapped. By then, two were sold to China to serve as “museums” while a third was scrapped and a fourth sold to India, becoming the INS Vikramaditya. Rreplacements for the Yak-38, the Yak-141 “Freehand”, supersonic and with better characteristics was undergoing tests when the Soviet Union started a wave of massive budgetary cuts. The Yak 141 was never operational and sank into oblivion.

Kiev prow
The 4 Kiev were still in service in 1992, but both of the Pacific Fleet have been stranded since their respective propeller accidents in 1994 due to lack of funds for repairs, and both of the Northern Fleet suffered a small fate. enviable: In order to keep the Gorshkov in service, the Kiev was cannialized, and then docked and disarmed.

The Gorshkov was the only one active for some time, but she was often docksided due to the lack of funds for her maintenance. She was moored in Kiev, and by the late 1990s her general state was closer to that of a wreck. The Russian navy has given priority to the Tbilisi. The Kiev and Minsk were sold to China to serve as “museums” in 1995-96. One was converted into a muxury hotel, while the Minsk was relocated in Nantong awaiting reuse at planned theme park.

Novorossiysk was scrapped at Pohang in 1998 and Admiral Gorshkov was sold to India in 2004, becoming the INS Vikramaditya. This ship was comprehensively rebuilt in Severodvinsk along the lines of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, and entered into service in 2013 as flagship of the Indian Navy.

INS Vikramaditya
INS Vikramaditya during trials in 2013. She completed her impressive transformation from an hybrid missile cruiser to full-blown aircraft carrier.

Kiev class carrier/cruisers

Kiev class Specifications

Displacement: 36 000t, 42 000t FL
Dimensions: 275 x 32,7(47,2 PE) x 8,2m
Propulsion: 4 propellers, 4 turbines VHP, 140 000 cv. et 32 knots max.
Electronics: Radars 2 Palm Front, Top Sail, Top steer, 2 Head Light, 2 Pop group, 2 Owl Screech, 2 bass Tilt, 1 Trap Door.
1 prow passive sonar, 1 SPV, 8 CME Side Globes, 12 Bell, 4 Rum Tub, 2×2 flare launchers.
Armament: 4×2 SSN14 (24), 2×2 SAN3 72), 2×2 SAN4 (40), 4 x 76 mm (2×2), 8 x30 mm Gatling, 10 x 533 mm TTs (2×5), 1×2 LR SUW1, 2 RBU 6000 (2×12)
On board aviation: 12 Yak-38 jets, 19 ASW Kamov Ka-25B/C “Hormone” helicopters.
Crew: 380

Kirov class battlecruisers (1977)

Kirov, Frunze, Kalinin, Yuri Andropov

A starboard bow view of the Soviet Kirov Class nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser FRUNZE underway. (Soviet Military Power, 1986)

Battlecruiser Frunze

The Kirovs are like the Kiev another originality of the Soviet navy during this era, perhaps one of the most recoignisable trademark offered to the world. Unmatched missile cruisers, by ay standard, these four units were the most powerful surface units ever built in the 1980s. They were tailored to obviously oppose an air strike force from an aircraft carrier, and the carrier themselves and their escort by using saturation fire. Unlike the battleships of old, missile cruisers have no active protection, except for subdivision below the waterline. Lucky hits in the electronics could be fatal, although the Soviets always planned manual and optical bakcups for just such as case.

Compared to the Iowa-class moderized and reintroduced in service, their delicate electronic equipment would succumb to even medium-caliber impacts. But the protection of a Kirov is above all active: Long-range cruise missiles and 2-3 successive layers of protection on long and medium range, close range missiles, ECM and powerful short-range jamming systems were all geared towards protecting the ship and its own task force, as a capital ship.

The Kirov had all the current panoply of a missile cruiser, but on a gargantuan scale. NATO, on the fait accompli, had to note the existence of these ships for which the term “cruiser” seemed inappropriate: Immediately, experts agreed that the title of “battlecruiser”, a category that was thought extinct since the Battle of Jutland, was a good match.

Indeed, commonalities were obvious: Endowed with a very large firepower, worthy of a ship of the line but in a missing category, these ships only rely on the range and variety of their arsenal to deal with all threats. Many experts have emphasized its de facto “invulnerable” nature and pointed she was a clear naval superiority vessel.


When the second vessel, Frunze, was accepted into service in 1984, the US navy under the Reagan administration, had given up the prospect of building equivalent ships, although the USN dreamed of it. Rather he found a rather surprising compromise solution: The return into service of the four veterans of the second world war of the Iowa class. These battleships were completely rebuilt and modernized, armed with cruise missiles and state-of-the-art equipment to deal with modern threats.

This choice may seem surprising, but was considered very rational: Updated, the Iowa combined the capabilities of a modern missile cruiser and conventional big-gun armament, were fast, and contrary to all ships of the time, had a level of armor which was though nearly invulnerable to conventional missiles. In any case a nine hard-cased shell volley did not not feared any interferences, lures and antimissile vectors, or even fragmentation shots. In short, the Kirov class, ultimately four units (Kalinin in 1988 and Yuri Andropov by 1990), found their most serious antagonists.

Kalinin 1991

The Kirovs, in addition to their impressive missiles range, most of them in silos forward, used a mixed propulsion, Nuclear and steam combined, with two nuclear reactors, a solution that the US Navy had studied a time and rejected because of its complexity. On a single reactor, the Kirovs already reached 24 knots, and 30 by combining this with high pressure turbines. The idea of ​​nuclear-powered cruisers dated back to 1968 in USSR.

The design of the Kirov was finally approved in 1971, and the first was started in 1974, followed by the other three, in the same basin of the Baltic shipyards in Leningrad. The team led by Admiral Gorshkov settled on a ship design named “Orlan”, dispacing 8,000 tons at the most. But new studies amidst requirements eventually led to a new and more realistic standard of 20,000 tons.

The Kirov were conceived, thanks in particular to their non-standard dimensions, like command ships for the fleet, with ad hoc equipments. One of them was to be assigned to the Baltic, another to the Northern Fleet, and the other two for the Black Sea fleet and the last to the Pacific Fleet.

Piotr Velikiy
Piotr Velikiy

Although not armored, these ships had a protective armored layer of 100 mm above the reactors, and 35 to 75 mm plates elsewhere. They differed between each other regarding their electronic equipment, and superstructure details, due to rapid development of electronics and building span. A fifth unit, Dzerzhinsky, was planned for 1995 and started in 1989, but the order was canceled and she was disassembled in situ. More advanced but mothballed on the 1990s she would have been laikely purchased by China. Currently these four ships are still on the lists of the Russian Navy. They are undeniably the flagship.

With the fall of the USSR, these ships were renamed Admiral Ushakov, Lazarev, Nakhimov, and Petr Velikiy (Peter the Great). But their situation was hardly brilliant: The first two were temporarily removed from service for lack of fuel and maintenance. Nakhimov suffered from a reactor accident in the Mediterranean in 1990, her turbines failed and later repairs dragged for years due to the state of the Russian economy. Eventually all but Peter the Great (admiral ship of the northern fleet) were retired from service: Admiral Ouchakov in 2001, Admiral Lazarev and Admiral Nakhimov in 1999.

Author’s Illustration of the Kirov class

Admiral Ushakov-heavy atomic “Eagle”.
by The_Ping Pro
on Sketchfab

Kirov class Specifications

Displacement: 24 000t, 28 000t
Dimensions: 248 x 28 x 7,5m
Propulsion: 2 propellers, 2 turbines NVC, 150 000 cv. et 32-34 Noeuds max.
Crew: 800
Electronics: Radars 2 Palm Front, Top Sail, Top steer, 2 Head Light, 2 Top Dome, 2 Pop group, 2 Eye bowl, 4 bass Tilt, 1 Punch bowl. 2 Sonars Horse Tail et Horse Jaw (SPV), 8 CME Side Globes, 10 Bell, 4 Rum Tub, 2×2 Lance leurres.
Armament: 20 miss. SSN19, 1×2 SSN14 (16), 12 miss. SAN6 (96), 2×2 miss. SAN4 (40), 4 canons de 100 mm (2×2), 8 canons AM 30 mm Gatling, 8 TLT 533 mm (2×4), 2×6 LR RBU1000, 3 hélicos ASM Kamov Ka-32 Helix.

Slava class cruisers (1979)

Slava, Marshal Ustinov, Chervonia Ukraina
Russian missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov in the 2000s

The Slava-class missile cruisers (Project 1164, for early NATO Black Com-2, then Krasina) were anti-ship units that could replace the four Kynda that reached their age limit. however, from past experience, they were much larger (12,500 tons at full load against 5,600 for the former).
In addition, they all had their cruise missiles not in steerable batteries with refills, but in lateral ramps, fixed and independent. These SS-N-12 bazalt (Sandbox) were supersonic (mach 2.5) and common also to the four Kiev.

They had a nuclear head of 350 Kt or a conventional hollow charge of 1 ton.
They weighted 5, 11.70 meters long and 2.60 meters wide, with a range of 550 km. This system was complemented by two anti-aircraft ramps, medium (SA-N-6) and short-range (SA- N-4).
These were all silos behind the funnnel, 8 silos for SA-N-6 and 2 launchers with 20 missiles each for SA-N-4. The former have, like torpedoes, an alternative tactical nuclear head.

The Slava class were six ships initially planned, but following the political events in the USSR in 1990, only the first four were operational, respectively in 1982, 86, 89 and 93.
The first three were therefore in service in 1990. The other three, Admiral Lobov (started 1984, launched 1990 and planned for completion in 1993) was transferred to Ukraine and renamed Vilna Ukraina, but still lacked equipment to be operational. Ukraine then did not had any means to carry out this work.

As a result, through a joint contract to sell Sovremenny-class destroyers to the Chinese, funds arrived and Ukraina was finally completed in 2001. Rossiya and Admiral Gorshkov were not even started and were soon removed from the lists. All were built in Nikolayev, on modified Kara plans.
The original names of the first three (renamed after 1990) were Slava, Marshal Ustinov and Chervonia Ukraina. Class (renamed): Moskva, Admiral Isakov, Admiral Ustinov, Varyag, Vilna Ukrayina.

They were in service by the 1990s in the Northern Fleet (Ustinov), Black Sea (Ukrayina, Moskva), and Baltic (Lobov). The Moskva (formerly Slava) was sent for modernization to Nikolayev in 1990 and remained there until 2000, as the funds for doing so were insufficient. Of course their status will be refreshed in a future dedicated post.

Author’s illustration of the Slava


Displacement: 10,000t, 12,500t FL
Dimensions: 187 x 20.8 x 7.5 m
Propulsion: 2 propellers, 2 DGC turbines, 125,000 hp. and 34 Nodes max.
Crew: 600
Electronics: Radar 2 Top Pair, Top Steer, 3 Palm Front, 1 Top Dome, 2 Pop Group, 1 Kite Screech, 1 Front Piece, 3 Bass Tilt. LF Sonar, 1 SPV, 8 CME Side Globes, 1 Satcom Punch Bowl.
Armament: 16 SSN12, 8 LM SAN6, 2 SAN4 (40), 2 130mm (1×2) guns, 10 TLT 533mm (2×5), 6 Gatling AM 30mm, 2 LR ASW RBU 6000 (144), 1 ASW helicopter Kamov Ka-25 Hormone-B.

Read More

R.Gardiner Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1922-1947 & 1947-1995
Russia to build 2 Lider-class nuclear-powered destroyers by end of 2020s TASS. 28 February 2019
“Russian Future Destroyer “Grown Up” to 19,000 Tons”. 26 February 2019
“Russian Navy Project 23560 Leader-class Nuclear-Powered Destroyers to Slip Behind Schedule”. navyrecognition 2017
“Russia Creating Cutting-Edge Universal Nuclear Battleship”. Sputnik. 23 July 2016.
Berezhnoi S. S. Trofei i reparatsii VMF SSSR. – Sakhapoligraphizdat, Yakutsk, 1994.
Kuzin V. P., Nikol’skii V. I. Voenno-Morskoi Flot SSSR 1945–1991.
Pavlov A. S. Voyennye korabli SSSR i Rossii 1945–1995.
Pavlov A. S. Voyennye korabli Rossii 2001 god. – Yakutsk, 2001.

Armaments of Soviet cruisers

Moskva class battlecruisers

Overview of soviet cold war armments and associated radars and FCS

Cold War Naval Artillery

305 mm/62 (12″) SM-33 Pattern 1948

Stalingrad class, Project 82 class battlecruisers. A prototype gun was built in 1948, tested 1949-1951. 12 were built before cancellation in 1953.
Used the More-82 control system and Grot radar rangefinder with two Zalp FC radars associated to the rangefinder. The breech was of the piston type.

Stalingrad class

220 mm/65 (8.66″) SM-40:

The largest heavy cruiser guns. Designed for the Project 22 and Project 66 conventional heavy cruisers studied after the war, but Stalin’s death in 1953 provoked the cancellation of both. Work on the turret design was stopped but the team responsible for the gun and its mounting was given the go-ahead for experimental purposes. The prototype was ready in December 1953 and tests at Rzhevsk lasted until November the next year. This gave a report but no production was decided afterwards.

152 mm/57 (6″) B-38 Pattern 1938 Mk5 (1949):

The standard gun for conventional Soviet cruisers, originally designed for the Soviet Battleships started in 1938 and never completed of the Sovietsky Soyuz class. The gun turret was slightly modified and eventually was adopted in 1949 on the cruiser class Chapaev. They originated before the war in 1938 in the “Bolshevik” factory. First gun completed in 1940, ten produced by 1941, used on railroad guns for land service.

Mk17 152 mm Kronstadt class BC

Four different types of turrets were designed. The twin MK-4 was the original DP mount to be used on the Sovetsky Soyuz class. The MK-17 was a lighter twin mount version developed for the Kronshtadt class battlecruisers. The MK-5 was the final triple turret made in 1946-47 for the Chapaev and Sverdlov class cruisers. The MK-9 was a lighter model intended for the modified Sovetsky Soyuz class that was never achieved.

The turret and gun entered service in 1949. It weighted 38,581 lbs. (17,500 kg), a Chamber Volume, 2,002 in3 (32.8 dm3), a rate of fire of 7.5 rounds per minute.
This gun fired an AP shell B-35 weighting 121 lbs. (55 kg), and a semi-AP shell model 1915/28 PB-35 of the same weight, but also a distance grenade and star shell.
The full propellant charge was 52.9 lbs. (24 kg). Muzzle velocity was 950 ms, down to 800 on the Shrapnel/HE mod 1915/28 (OF-35). Overall this was not a bad design, it was still average compared to the same caliber guns on the Cleveland class, but certainly not on the level of the Worcester class’s semi-automated twin 6-in/47 Mk16 DP, in particular on the late Sverdlov types in service until the 1980s. More >

Chapaev class turrets

130 mm/70 (5.1″) AK-130

The most powerful dual purpose automatic twin gun anywhere on the world. Design work started by PO Arsenal by 1967. The A-217 was a single mount, and the barrel was liquid cooled. 60 RPM was the target, never reached in trials, so a twin mounting was preferred to compensate. The design was completed in 1980 and factory designation was ZIF-94. It entered service in 1985. It was controlled by the MP-184 Fire Control Radar System: 2-band radar, low light TV, laser designator, moving targets selector, ESM.

Range was 75 km and the gun tri-axial stabilisation system was fed with exact measurement of all parameters of movement for air, sea and land targets. This included water plums correction and automatic shell tracking. Used on the Sovremenny, Slava and Kirov Classes. More >

100 mm/70 (3.9″) AK-100

Used on the Kirov class and Udaloy, Bditelny and Neusrashimy Classes destroyers.
“Arsenal” factory design, original designation ZIF-91. Trials started in 1973, but design started in 1967. It was introduced in service in 1978, designated AK-100 while the gun itself was A-214. This was a recoil-operated automatic cannon with a water-cooled barrel, of course dual-purpose. Used an optronic analog control system, “Lev-114”. The gun sight was “Kondensor-214A”. More >

100 mm/70 (3.9″) CM-5:

CM-5 on the cruiser mikhail Kutuzov (Dreamstime)

This was the standard dual-purpose secondary armament of the Chapaev class, Project 68 cruisers. Production spanned from 1948 to 1955, 150 made in all, for the five Chapaev class and the twenty Sverdlov class Project 68bis conventional cruisers. A quadruple mounting was even designed in 1949 but never approved.

They were managed by a Zenit-68bis A Fire Control System. The latter also controller lighter 37 mm guns. Aiming was assisted by the Yakor radar and SPN-500 associated system. Final targeting data was transmitted by the TsAS-1/PKU-1 systems which allowed the guns to be aimed even if the central computer was inoperative/disabled.

The mounting was stabilized up to -20/+20 roll degrees by using a Jenny-type coupling using the D-5S remote control system. A loose liner, casing and barrel nut on support ring were used for the barrel and for the mount a sliding breech block springing automatically but no individual sleeve. Rate of fire was 18 rpm and muzzle velocity ranged from 2559 to 3281 fps depending of the ammo type, Frage, AA, star shell and ECM shell. More >

76.2 mm/59 (3″) AK-726


Standard AA gun used on the classes Kiev, Kara, Kynda and Kashin. Development started in 1954 and went to 1959, approved as ZIF-67. After extensive trials in 1958-59 and shipboard trials in 1960-62 it was approved for production in 1963 and 104 mounts were manufactured until 1964. It was managed by a Fut-B control system. It was efficient for an air target up sto 1,780 fps at a maximum altitude of 19,700 feet (6,000 m) and 11 miles (18.3 km) range. Against ship targets it was efficient up to 5 miles (8.2 km).

Monobloc barrel, with spring receiver, common cradle, and recoil-based automatic mechanism. Not water-cooled but sea water pumped between salvoes when the gun was at rest in a 2-3 minutes process. The mount design allowed them to be aimed at high elevations. Fired at 55 rpm and 3,215 fps (980 mps) muzzle velocity either an AA shell ZS-63 (27.34 lbs, 12.4 kg) or FRAG shell OF-62 (27.34 lbs, 12.4 kg) coupled with a propellant charge of 6.72 lb. (3.05 kg). Barrel life was around 3000 rounds in average. More >

57 mm/75 (2.24″) AK-725 (ZIF-72)


Standard light AA, used on the Moskva class helicopter cruisers, Kresta I and Kresta II missile cruisers. It was developed from the unsatifactory 57 mm ZIF-31/ZIF-71 mounts of ww2. In 1956 a request for a new weapon system with such caliber was issues and in 1959 a prototype was ready, trialled from 1960. The barrel was found too fragile, with a very short live, but improvements in that sense gave it a tolerance up to 750 rounds. The mount was accepted in 1964, as AK-725.

This was a twin mount, water-cooled, using belt ammunition, able to fire longer before reloading. It could fire longer bursts with 80% less cooling time. 550 rounds were in each belt. Reload was manual. Managed by the ESP-72 fire control system/MP-103 Bars radar with a simple optical gunsight bakcup in case of the main FCS was disabled. Production stopped 1988. It was pretty standard and just powerful enough to catch most planes strafing.

It was trialled but failed against anti-ship missiles. The barrel was monobloc with vertical blade type breech and standard barrel recoil on a common cradle. No armor protected the servants but 6 mm (0.24 in) thick aluminum plates. 200 rpm, 3280-3346 mps muzzle velocity, fired the Tracer-FRAG (UOP-281/U), and HE shells (UFB-71). More >

ZIF-31 57 mm AA

A surface-ship version of the SM-24 land mount, converted in 1954, trialled and accepted for service in 1955. ZIF-31 and ZIF-31S had a central fire control system and the ZIF-31B/BS local control. These were open mounts, problematic for the Arctic Ocean and no NBC protection possible. They were slow to reload, clip fed, and needed to be cooled after a 50 rounds bursts by urunning sea water for 1.5 minutes. Was replaced by the ZIF-72 (AK-725). Possibly used on the Sverdlov/Chapaev class cruisers.

45 mm/78 (1.77″) SM-7

SM-7 45 mm AA

Standard light AA, usually quad mount. It was designed in 1946 and tested 1946-50. The SM-21 single mount appeared in 1947-48, tested in 1949. Requirements were rewritten and a modified prototype was created in 1950, tested next year. It was refined and accepted for service in 1954. Used both the SM-16 stabilized and SM-17 unstabilized twin mount but production was denied.
Instead the SM-20 quad mount was mated with the SM-7 gun and the whole system reworked and accepted into service in 1957.

The top barrels recoiled when the bottom barrels were firing, causing some dispersion. Single cradle, cooled between firings (sea water from a fire hose nozzle). Central control system or local control. Used with the BL-11 mount on Project 68 light cruisers. The ZIF-69 mount was to be adopted but the project was cancelled and they were recycled on destroyers. Barrel was of monobloc construction, automated recoil-based system, piston type breech, belt/clip loading. The M-20/ZIF-68 fired at 540 – 640 rpm combined (four barrels). Muzzle velocity was 3,540 fps (1080 mps) with a HE (F-75) shell (3.11 lbs -1.41 kg) or FRAG OR-75 shell (3.11 lbs. -1.41 kg). More >

30 mm/63 (1.2″) AK-230

The US Navy Phalanx system is well-known, using the old Patented Gatling system, and the preferred method against missiles at short range. But the Soviet Navy had its own system quite soon.
The AK-230 was Widely used on Soviet ships 1960-1980s and was widely exported, also made in China as Type 69. Design started in 1956 as a super-fast, short range AA gun in 1957, with lots of redesigns and tests in 1958-1960, and trials in 1960-68 with further modifications. It was accepted as AK-230 in 1969 hereas production had already started in 1959. It was an automatic fully stabilized mount with twin 30 mm (1.2″) liquid-cooled revolver cannons. The exhaust powered the recoil and they were belt fed, each with 500 rounds.

Version A mount was had a 220 Vdc power system supply and B 380 Vac 50 Hz power system. A low magnetic version was made also for minesweepers. Capable of 1000 rpm it could only fire a 30 second burst before extinguishing the belt. This was largely enough to “kill” any target down to its range. The AK-230 could fire HE-FRAG OF-83 rounds (0.78 lbs-0.354 kg), HE F-33 rounds (0.794 lbs -0.36 kg) and an AP Br-83 round (0.794 lbs -0.36 kg). Muzzle velocity ranged from 3,440 to 3,478 fps. Range varied from 4,374 yards (4,000 m) to 7,327 yards (6,700 m). More >

30 mm/54 (1.2″) AO-18 Gun (AK-630)

This was the true “Gatling” soviet-built antimissile system. The previous AK-230 was found able to destroy incoming missiles with the HE Frag burst, and a dedicated gun was designed from 1963. The development process lasted until 1964, with trials in 1965-1966 and with further modifications, up to 1976 before it was accepted for service. Production had started in 1969 in Tula already and the modified AK-630M/A-213M was accepted into service in 1979.

This is a 6-barreled Gatling style gun AO-18, all made in single block, with an exhaust-driven jointed automatic system. Of course this is a belt-fed, flat-magazine system (AK-630) or drum magazine (AK-630M). They are part of the A-213-Vympel-A system including a radar and optical and TV control systems. This system could also control a 57 mm gun at the same time. It was efficient up to 4,000 m (4,400 yards) and 5,000 m (5,500 yards) for ships. The TV control system spot any targets up to 75 km and fighters at 7,000 m (7,600 yards). It is fully automatic and independent to get rid of human slow response and reaction time. There is however an optical control backup, notably usable against land targets.

The AK-630/M was able to 4,000 – 5,000 rounds per minute and the AK-630M1-2 10,000 rounds per minute, like the modernized 3M87. This system can fire the HE-FRAG OF-84 (0.86 lbs-0.39 kg) or the
FRAG tracer OP-84 (0.86 lbs-0.39 kg) at a muzzle velocity of 2,953 fps (900 mps). The Palash system fired faster rounds at 3,609 fps (1,100 mps) but it is down to 1000 rpm. More >

The AK-306 was used on light crafts, notably air cushion and ekranoplanes plus small motor boats. It used the exhaust and electricity and lacked radar control (optical only) to be used rather like a surface-to-surface weapon. development started in 1976, and it was accepted into service in 1980. Three years later, the AK-630 evolved into the AK-630M1-2 “Roy”. It had the new AO-18 six barrel blocks one above the other, tested 1984-1989, but never produced as antimissiles missiles were ready by that time.

The 3M87 “Kortik” system used two AO-18 six-barrel blocks plus eight 9M311 missile launchers with ammunitions in drums. Missiles could engage targets at 1,500-8,000 m (1,600 to 8,750 yards) until the guns took over. Trials started in 1983 and production started in 1989 until 1994. As the 3M87 was larger and taller than previous system it could niot replace it and was used on new ships only.

The twin AO-18KD “Palash” six-barrel blocks/eight missiles was developed in the 1990s for export and could be coupled with the Strela-10, Igla, Stinger or Mistral or Sosna R missiles.

Soviet Cruisers Missiles

Soviet Ship to Ship missiles

P-5 Piatiorka (NATO SS-N-3C)

Used on the Kynda & Kresta class class. The P-5 Piatiorka (П-5 “Пятёрка”) NATO SS-N-3C Shaddock, was a cruise missile with a Soviet inertial guidance system designed by the Chelomei design office. The P-5 entered service in 1959 and its basic version carried either on ton of TNT warhead or a nuclear one 200-350 kT. The missile flew at 0.9 Mach over 500 km and could climb to 3000 m. The last variant had an 1000 km range. The SS-N-3C was retired from service in the early 1990s.
It measured 10,20/11,75 X 0,98 m with a wingspan of 5 m, weighted 5 000 kg.

P-35 Termit (NATO SS-N-3 Shaddock)

Initially planned to be used on the Kynda class cruisers but given to Komar FACs instead.
This missile was 9.8 m x 86 cm, wingspan 2.67 m, and Weighted 4200-4500 kg. It carried a 560 kg warhead/405 kg TNT. It could reach up to 7 km alt, 300 km range, mach 1.3.

RPK-3 Metel (SS-N-14 ‘Silex’)

SSN-14 launchers onboard an Udaloy ship
SSN-14 launchers onboard an Udaloy ship

Dual SSN/ASW missile, Kresta II, Kara, Udaloy and Kirov class. Basically since the USN introduction of the ASROC, the Soviet Navy needed a response. This came in 1969 with the RPK-3 Metel weapon system introduced in service. It used the same basic principle: A missile carried a torpedo on the supposed location of the submarine, and the self-guided torpedo would do the rest. To ease development, it was based on the P-120 Malakhit (NATO: SS-N-9 ‘Siren’). The missile was radio command guided, powered by a solid fuel rocket motor.

It carried a UGMT-1 multi-purpose torpedo, or a nuclear depht charge and was aimed at the target via IR sensors. In ASW mode the missile flew at approximately 400 m high before releasing the vector, but was sea-skimming at 15m over the waves in antiship mode. In that case, the SSN-14 carried a 185 kg shaped charge warhead.
The missile measured 7.2 m (24 ft) and weighted 3,930 kg (8,660 lb).
In 1993 an upgraded version designated YP-85 appeared with a range of 250 km (130 nmi), aimed at export.

-Weight: 3,930 kg (8,660 lb), 7.2 m long
-Warhead: ASW torpedoes/nuclear depth charge/185 kg shaped charge warhead.
-Propellant: Solid fuel rocket
-Range 90 km for 85RU/URPK-5 Rastrub/50 km ASW
-20–500 m depht, Speed Mach 0.95
-Guidance: Radio command via helicopter, IR seeker.

Soviet Ship to Air missiles (SAM)

Vitse-admiral Drozd 1986
Vitse-admiral Drozd in 1986

SA-N-1 ‘Goa’

This was a naval version of the M-1 Volna (SA-N-1) which development started in 1956. Tested on a rebuilt Kotlin class destroyer (Project 56K) named Bravyi in 1962. Called V-600 and 4K90 its range was rather short, 4-15 km and up to 10 km ceiling. Fire control and guidance was made by the 4R90 Yatagan radar. Volna could be also used in an emergency mode against closing in naval targets.

It was a two-missile launcher called, ZIF-101, with 16 missiles in magazine, replaced by ZIF-102 (32 missiles) and Volna-M (SA-N-1B) furing the improved V-601 (4K91) missiles capable of 22 km range or 14 km ceiling. The Volna-P had an additional TV target tracking channel and resisted better to jamming. The last upgrade was the V-601M missile which can skim over the waves. Used by the Soviet and Indian navies.

-Weight: 953 kg, 6.09 x 0.375 m, Wingspan 2.2 m
-Warhead: Frag-HE 60 kg Proximity fuse
-Propellant: Solid propellant rocket motor 35 km (22 mi) range
-Flight altitude: 18,000 m (59,000 ft
-Guidance system: RF CLOS

SA-N-3 ‘Goblet’
M-11 Shtorm (aka SA-N-3 Goblet) launcher

Called in Soviet service the M-11 Shtorm (“storm”), this naval surface-to-air missile system (SA) GRAU designation was 4K60 and NATO reporting name SA-N-3 Goblet. Work started at the Scientific Research Institute 10 (NII-10) in 1959, completed in April 1962, but first use was diapointing because of the mounting which needed much modifications until 1964 when it was ready, but it was still not accepted into service. Just in time to be first installed on Moskva, the new anti-submarine cruiser commissioned in 1967. The system was officially accepted into service in 1969. Having no land-based counterpart it has never been fired in anger. It was installed later on the Kara, Kresta II, and Kiev classes.
NATO designated the initial 4K60 M-11 “Shtorm” V611 missiles SA-N-3A and the upgraded 4K65 “Shtorm-M” /V611M missile SA-N-3B.

-4K60/41K65 mounted on a rotating twin rail launcher
-Dimensions 6.1 m (20 ft) long
-Speed: Mach 2-3.
-Weight 845 kg (1863 lb), 80 kg (176 lb) warhead.
-Altitude 100–25000 m (328-82,000 ft)
-Range of 3–30 km (2–19 miles)
-Upgraded 41K65 range: 55 km (34 mi).
-Guidance radio command, terminal semi-active radar homing (SARH).
-Associated radars “Head Light” +”Top Sail” search radar.

SA-N-3 onboard Kiev

SA-N-4 ‘Gecko’

SAN-4 launcher onboard Slava
Derived from the OSA-M SA system (navalized as SA-N-4 – NATO “Gecko”), the ubiquitous, globally successful 9K33 Osa gave a potent short range SAM for the Soviet Navy. The system was deployed onbard the Slava class, inside wells in the middle of the hull. Development started in 1963 but production in 1972. The naval version was introduced in 1974.

-170 kg, 3158 mm long, diameter 209.6 mm.
-Carrying a warhead of the 16 kg Frag-HE type, with a Contact or proximity fuse.
-Propelled by a solid propellant, dual-thrust rocket motor
-Range 15 kilometres (9.3 mi), alt. 12,000 metres (39,000 ft)
-Boost time 2 s, 15 s sustained at 1020 m/s
-Guided by RF CLOS, 5 m accurate

Varyag underway
Missile cruiser Varyag underway during the Pacific fleet celebration day, on May 21, 2001

SA-N-6 ‘Grumble’

Standard long range SAM of the Soviet Navy in the 1980s, derived from the land-based S-300 missile system. It was developed originally to destroy not only planes but also cruise missiles and even later some variants targeted ballistic missiles as well.

The S-300F Fort (F stands for “fleet”), NATO SA-N-6 “Grumble” was introduced in 1984. It was derived from the S-300P developed by Altai, featuring the new 5V55RM missile. The maximum range was 90 km, reached at Mach 4 and an altitude of 25–25,000 m. Its guiding system rests on the TOP SAIL/TOP STEER, TOP PAIR and 3R41 Volna TOP DOME radars. Its own onboard system is a terminal semi-active radar homing (SARH). The Kara class cruisers were the first to carry it, followed by the Slava class, and eventually the first three Kirov class battlecruisers. storage varied, from 8 to 12 on the Kirov, with 8-barillet rotary launchers below decks.

SA-N-20 ‘Grumble’

The S-300FM Fort-M, also designed SA-N-20 was in fact the second naval version, installed only on the Kirov-class cruiser Pyotr Velikiy. The missile itself was called 48N6. It was introduced in 1990. Speed was now Mach 6, up to Mach 8.5 for the final reach. Its warheaded was increased to 150 kg (330 lb) and range up to 150 km and 27 km altitude. It has a more modern guidance method, and was able to intercept short-range ballistic missiles.

It used the TOMB STONE MOD radar. It was modernized to introduce a secondary infrared terminal seeker to avoid saturation ECM and engage targets beyond the horizon, including sea-skimming anti-ship missiles.
China developed its own version from 2002 (Type 051C guided missile destroyers).

Marshal Timoshenko in 1986
Marshal Timoshenko in 1986

Soviet cruise missiles

P-270 Moskit (SS-N-22 Sunburn)

moskit missile

This was the Soviet supersonic ramjet anti-ship cruise missile. Design was ready in 1978, accepted 1981 and deployed from 1983. GRAU designation 3M80, NATO SS-N-22 Sunburn. A product of the Raduga Design Bureau during the 1970s to succeed to the P-120 Malakhit (SS-N-9 Siren) deployed on the Echo and Charlie class missile attack submarines.
The Moskit was later adapted to mobile truck launchers and underwater launchers as well as an air version carried by the naval Sukhoi Su-33. A rarer craft, the Lun-class ekranoplan also carried it. It could deliver both conventional and nuclear payloads. It has been exported and licence-built by China and India since.

-Mass: 4,500 kg (9,900 lb), 9.745 m x 0.8 m x 2.10 m (wingspan)
-Warhead: 150 kg (330 lb) explosive/120 kt thermonuclear
-Propulsion: Four ramjets, speed Mach 3
-Range 250 km, at flight altitude 20 m
-Guidance: inertial + terminal active radar homing

P-500 Bazalt (SS-N-12 Sandbox)

SSN-12 oborad Kiev
This turbojet supersonic cruise missile was designed by OKB-52/NPO Mashinostroyeniya Chelomey from 1962 to 1974 and introduced in 1975.
GRAU designation is 4K80, NATO SS-N-12 “Sandbox”. It was a upgraded naval version of the P-1000 Vulkan. It has been deployed on the large Kiev and Slava class cruisers, as “aircraft carrier killers”. They were first issues on the Echo II and Juliett class attack submarines.

Comparison between the turbojet P-500 Bazalt (top) and P-1000 Vulkan (bottom).

-Mass 4,800 kg, 11.7 m x 0.88 x 2.6 m (ws)
-Warhead: HE 1-ton/950 kg semi-AP or Nuclear 350 kt
-Propulsion: Turbojet, Mach 2.5
-Range: 550 km (300 nmi) at 50–5,000 meters
-Guidance: Semi-active radar homing, terminal active radar homing

P-700 Granit (SS-N-19 Shipwreck)

SSN-19 launchers on the Kirov-class cruiser Frunze.

The P-700 Granit designed in the 1970s by OKB-52/NPO Mashinostroyeniya, Vladimir Chelomey was the next-generation Soviet naval anti-ship cruise missile. GRAU designation 3M45 NATO SS-N-19 “Shipwreck” was also declined into a submarine-launched variant and was able to take out ground targets as well. Introduced and accepyted in 1983, production started in 1985 and was terminated in 1992. It is still highly valued in Russia. It is given a stubby cylindrical solid-fuel rocket fitted for the launch and detached after the missile reached its cruise altitude and speed. NATO long thought it has a turbojet, but it was established later having a ramjet for unimpressive speeds of Mach 2.5. Its cruiser speed is Mach 1.6.
The SS-N-19 was introduced on the Oscar-class submarines and on the Kirov-class battlecruiser and the sole Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier. However since the 2020s they are scheduled for replacement by the smaller Oniks and Kalibr cruise missiles, giving them twice the numbers for saturation fire. It is widely believed that the Soviet-era Legenda satellite targeting system never properly worked.

Mass: 7,000 kg, dimensions 10 m x 0.85 m
Warhead: HE 750 kg, Nuclear 500 kt
Engine: Turbojet/ramjet
Range: 625 km at Mach 1.6 – 2.5+
Guidance: Inertial + active radar homing with home-on-jam


As this subject will be treated more in detail with Soviet missile destroyers, here are the main types used by Soviet conventional and missile cruisers (RKR) of the Soviet Navy:
-Standard x5 533 mm (21 in) on Chapayev, Sverdlov, Kynda, Kresta I, Kresta-II, Moskva, Kiev, Slava class (Undisclosed type)
-533 mm PTA-53-1134B x5 torpedo tubes on Kara class.
-533 mm ASW/ASuW torpedo tubes, Type 53 torpedo/SS-N-15 ASW missile (Kirov class)

ASW rockets

RBU-6000 launchers:
Standard since the Kynda class RKR, Kara, Slava, Kirov, Moskva, and Kiev classes.
The RBU-6000 (Smerch 2, RBU stands for Reaktivno-Bombovaja Ustanovka) became the standard soviet ASWRL (anti-submarine rocket launcher) of the cold war. It was a 1961 designed 213 mm caliber, 12-tubes system designed to launch the RGB-60 depth charges, remotely-guided by the Burya fire control system. It was fired in salvoes, from a single tube up to the twelve tubes at once. Reload was made by a barillet storage below deck magazine, 72 or 96 rounds. Due to the quick reload and multiple uses of the charge, it could be used against ground targets as well.
The RBU-1000 is a shorter range version, only deployed on the Kara class ASW cruisers. The RBU-6000 was modernized with the RPK-8 system of charge guidance down to 1,000 m underwater. The 90R rocket entered service in 1991.

Launcher Specifications:
Mass 3,100 kg, dims. 2 x 2.25 m x 1.75 m
Elevation -15° to +65°, Traverse: 180°

RGB-60 specifications:
Weight: 113.5 kg, diam. 0.212 x 1.83 m long
Warhead: 23 kg DC
Range: 350 – 1700 m and 5500 m in ballistic mode
Operating depth down to 500 m at 11.6m/s

Powerplants and electronics of cold war Soviet cruisers

Admiral Yumashev
Admiral Yumashev


Classic propulsions:

-TheKynda class was propelled by classic Soviet cruiser propulsion: Two steam turbines, 2 boilers, 100,000 shp, top speed of 34 knots (63 km/h; 39 mph) but range limited to 7000 nmi at 14 knots.
-The four Kresta I Group had the same arrangement and about the same power, 68,000–75,000 kW (91,000–100,000 shp) but much greater range (12,100 mi) at the same speed.
-The ten Kresta II had the same powerplant but with four booilers, same power, same top speed, but less range at 10,500 nmi.
-The innovation came from the seven ASW cruisers of the Kara class:
For the first time on Soviet cruisers, they inaugurated a powerplant using two COGAG units (Combined gas or gas), four DN59 combined to two DS71 gas turbines, which produced altogether 120,000 hp (89,000 kW) and procured the same speed at 34 knots (63 km/h; 39 mph), however with less range, at 9,000 miles for the same cruise speed as above.

Kerch, a Kara class, at Sevastopol in 2007
Kerch, a Kara class, at Sevastopol in 2007

-The large Moskva class were given the classic cruiser turbines, on two shaft, fed by 4 pressure fire boilers, procuring the standard 75,000 kW (100,000 hp), but due to their much larger displacement, a top speed down to 31 knots (57 km/h). This was still largely enough to track down submarines of the time. Their range however was largely superior, at 14,000 nautical miles (25,928 km) at 12 knots (22 km/h), fitting their ASW patrol role.

-The Kiev class were given conventional powerplants, but with a twist: These were eight turbopressurized boilers mated to 4 steam turbines which procured twice the power of classic cruisers, at 200,000 shp (150,000 kW)), passed on four shafts. This was enough to reach a top speed, sustained of 32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph). Range is unknown, probably in the order of 15,000 nm.

Kuznetsov class large aircraft carrier cruisers: With their displacement way above, ranging from 43,000 tonnes light, 55,000 tonnes standard and 58,600 tonnes fully loaded, the three Kuznetsov class were given classic steam turbines of 80,000 shp (60,000 kW), producing a total of 200,000 shp (150,000 kW). Top speed fell to 29 kn (54 km/h; 33 mph) and range to 8,500 nmi (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) @ 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph), hardly optimal for a global-spanning naval force.

USS deyo and Admiral Kuznetsov
USS deyo and Admiral Kuznetsov

Nuclear propulsions:

It was applied only on one class due to its cost and complexity:
-The Kirov class “battlecruisers”: Nothing was to be spared to these jewels of Soviet engineering, massive ships displacing 24,300 tons standard and 28,000 tons fully loaded. They were actually nimbler compared to the Kiev class (42,000–45,000 tonnes fully loaded). So why choosing nuclear plants ? One was because this was the choice made by the USN for the USS Long Beach, or just to test this arrangement for future developments (notably the heavy aicraft carrier cruisers). This arrangement gave unlimited range anycase.

This powerplant comprised two CONAS (Combined nuclear and steam propulsion), KN-3 nuclear marine propulsion combined with two GT3A-688 steam turbines. The reactors were active at all times, but they were to be shut, for a quick departure, the classic steam turbines allowed the ship to depart relatively quickly. Total power generated was around 140,000 shp (100,000 kW) for a clasic top speed of 32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph). Range was limited to 1,000 nmi (1,900 km; 1,200 mi) at 30 kn (56 km/h; 35 mph) using only the combined propulsion while the nuclear units gave unlimited range, but at the lower cruise speed of 20 kn (37 km/h; 23 mph) by themselves. The operating cost of the system finally made the admiralty rejecting such system for the Kuznetsov class.

On-board aviation

Some part is identical to missile destroyers and frigates, so they will not be detailed here (ASW helicopters).

-Kamov Ka-25 “Hormone” (1972)

Ka-25 Hormone-C
The proverbial Soviet ASW helicopter, used virtually on all cruisers (from 1965) until replacement by the Ka-27 Helix. Acceptance dated back from 1972, but the Ka-25 was produced and therefore tested since 1965. The demonstrator called Ka-20 first flew in 1961.
Characteristic with their tandem rotor and rear “H” tail. Could performe SAR missions as well as ASW patrol, and missile guidance relay over the horizon.
Armed with 1,900 kg (4,189 lb) of disposable stores, buoys, torpedoes and depht-charges, either conventional or nuclear, tactic. Preoduced to around 560, they were declined into a dozen variants and exported.

-Kamov Ka-27 “Helix” (1980)

Ka-27 Helix
Same general design, but all-out improved. Declined into 21 versions, including the civilian ones, exported to nine countries (military version alone), production is still ongoing. Faster, with longer range, they carried an ASW torpedoes of the AT-1M, VTT-1, UMGT-1 Orlan, or APR-2 Yastreb type, 36 RGB-NM & RGB-NM-1 sonobuoys.
The assault Ka-29TB developed on the same basis, carried a GShG-7.62 machine gun, 30 mm 2A42 cannon and four external hardpoints, plus 6 troops.

-Mil-Mi 14 “Haze” (1980)

The amphibious Mi-14 is the only helicopter by Mil, the Russian land helicopter specialist to take sea going duties. It’s in a sense the the Soviet replica to the British Westland Sea King and French Aerospatiale Super Frelon. Ten variants, some under licence, exported to 15 countries, the Mi-14 first flew in September 1969 and was accepted for service in 1975. 230 were built, but they are likely decommissioned since 1997 but 44. Production revival has been estimated in an upgraded form. It could operate from the Moskva class, Kiev class and Kuznetsov which deck and accomodations are strong and large enough.

It should be added that for amphibious assault, in addition to large landing ships with helipads such as a ivan Rogov class, a large variety of land-based helicopters could be carried in operation, notably the uboquitous Mil-Mi-8 ‘Hip’, the feared Mi-24 ‘Hind’ mil-28 ‘Havoc’ and Ka-50 ‘Hokum’, to the exclusion of the massive Mi-3 and Mi-26. The Kuznetsov also regularly carries the navalized Kamov Ka-52K “Katran” attack helicopter for various sea operations. It was deployed for good use against piracy for example.

-Yakovlev Yak-38 “Forger” (1980)

The Harrier-inspired Soviet VTOL was only used on the three Kiev class aircraft carrier hybrid cruisers. 230 were built in all, they first flew in 1971, production spanned 1971-1981. Engine development problems led to a plane that was subsonic and capable to carry a limited payload. A twin-seat version existed, quite different in apearance. Apart the Kiev ships, these were deployed on the Ro-Ro Nikolai Cherkasov for amphibious operation cover. This was one of the rare ships which deck was heat-treated. More on this plane when detailing the Kiev class in a future post.

-Mig-29K “Fulcrum-D” (2010)

First flight in 1981, but introduced from 2010. This version of the proverbial light Soviet dogfighter was developed to serve on the kuznetsov but also on the two carriers of the Indian Navy.

-Su-33 “Flanker-D” (1998)

SU-33 Kuznetsov
Development of the standard heavy fighter, part of the regular complement of the Kuznetsov. Officially introduced in 1998, and produced from 1987 to 1999. It was capable of carrying multiple missions with all sorts of payload, and in effect is the default multirole attack plane of this aicraft carrier, and only served with her, as only were 35 built.

-Su-25 UTG “Frogfoot-D” (1991)

A variant of the famous assault plane of the Soviet combat aviation, the UTG was developed specifically to operate on a mock version of the Kuznetsov. In practice, only ten were produced, to train pilots in takeoff and landing on a land-based simulated carrier deck, with a sloping ski-jump section and arrester wires. So this is an anecdotical plane, but which was seen in tests on the cruiser-carrier for possible evaluation of a permanent carrier-based assault variant.

Navalized Mig-29 KUB (two-seats variant) in exercises onboard the CATOBAR Admiral Kuznetsov.


This chapter is in development.
A large part of it would be also covered in the upcoming Destroyer section, so only pure cruiser radar systems will be treated here.

Komar class FACs (1960)

Komar class FACs (1960)

Proyekt 183R – 112 boats 1952-60

Komar clas firing its missile
The world’s first Fast Attack Crafts: USSR in the early cold war was resolutely embracing innovation to compensate for its numerical inferiority: The Komar class FACs, using antiship missiles, was one such solutions.

The Soviet Navy in its post-Stalin era resolutely was not strong strong on the conventional side to compete with NATO and their combined forces. One way to do reverse the balance was through missiles, included in green water navy, more defensive an coastal stance, a cheap and efficient way to attack ships at distance of safety at an age of radars (something MTBs could not longer do) was to simply swap torpedoes for Missiles.

The Soviet Navy was the first to do this. And its traduction became the Komar class, the first Fast Attack Craft (FAC). The latter denomination presupposed with missiles, to make a difference with classic MTBs. This was only possible thanks to the development of a missile: The P-15 Termit (SS-N-2 “Styx”), giving a reach of 80 kilometres (50 mi), unheard of for torpedo-carrying MTBs. The latter was soon found obsolete, despite the fact, the Soviet Navy had one of the most impressive fleet of such vessels at its disposal.

An Egyptian Komar boat patrolling off Suez in 1975
An Egyptian Komar boat patrolling off Suez in 1975

The Komar also became an export success, understandably, giving some navies on paper a cheap way to deal with much more massive ships, such as destroyers, frigates and cruisers. The Soviet Navy reinvented asymetric warfare, a century almost after the invention of the torpedo. Built by the hundreds (for USSR, Warsaw pact satellites and China under licence), this FAC was extremely popular and served well until the end of the cold war, notwithstanding the fact the P-15 Termit was totally rendered obsolete by new chaffs, ECMs, jamming, rapid firing guns and limited in its accuracy due to primitive optics and guidance systems.

Overview: From Soviet MTBs to FACs

P6 boat
A Chinese PLAN P6 class MBT, closely derived from the Soviet one.

Since it was defined by Stalin in its first five-year naval plan, the Soviet Navy was in no shape for conventional blue water naval warfare and had to concentrate on coastal defence instead as a priority. Only by the last plan before the war, the Soviet Navy underwent the construction of battleships and other ambitious vessels.

In the meantime, it concentrated on smaller vessels, in particular submarines with the largest fleet worldwide in 1939. The other, way cheaper alternative to submersibles was of course torpedo-boats, in their modernized form called motor torpedo boats (in Russian моторные торпедные катера) such as the Sh-4, G-5 and D3 class.

The wartime G5 class was basically derived from the MAS design, with rear-launched torpedoes. They gave mixed results. Postwar, after the P4, the admiralty desired a much larger, more versatile platform.

In the same manner after the death of Stalin in 1953, the head of the navy was entrusted by premier Nikita Khrushchev to cut down previous passive plans for conventional cruisers, and battlecruisers, to concentrate on innovation instead. One of these fields was of course missiles. This was achieved in 1956 with the introduction of the P-15 Termit antiship missile.

The rest was left to find a proper, cheap way to dispense the missile. The Soviet Navy then regarded the Proyekt 183 MTB, first designed in 1945 and already produced to more than 600 vessels, as a solid, trusted platform. It did not derived from the rather small 1945 P4, Project 123 bis (and variants M123 bis and 123K Komsomolec), already produced until 1951 to 349 units.

This 22 tonnes boat was derived in direct line from the P3 and G3, standard wartime MTBs scaled on the Italian MAS (which the Italians provided in the interwar). The new P6 was to be much larger, modelled after the more versatile British Fairmile and American Elco type MTBs.

P2 (Projekt 200), P4 (123K) and P6-P10 (Projekt 183) diagrams. Credits:

The P6 and derived P8 and P10 were 66.5 tonnes vessels (fully loaded), powered by four diesels for a combined output of 4800 bhp, giving a top speed of 44 knots (two more than the P4) but moreover a 1000 nm range at 14 knots, as compared to only 400 for the P4. This made them better suited for long coastal patrols, and led the admiralty to decline the type to a submarine-chaser, called the MO-VI (Proyekt 199), with minimal modifications and a sonar Tamir-10 they entered service in 1955, 60 built. with a grand total, all combined, of 674 vessels built until.

Design of the Komar class


The “Mosquito” class (Komar) was designed with a range of 800 nautical miles at 25 knots or to be able to run at 30 knots over 400 nautical miles for the final approach or escape. This was far greater than previous models. The “Styx” (NATO denomination) missile added an extra range of 18 miles. Its 1100-pound conventional warhead was sufficient if detonated just above the waterline to break the hull.

ALMAZ was responsible for the final design. The initial base for the project called 183R (“R” for “Raketa”). In compliance with new, higher requirements of the Navy, weaponry, navigability and operational capabilities dictated the used of a steel hull. The results of performed scientific and engineering, plus full-scale tests were related to the 205 project.

General characteristics


The Komar class was narrowly derived from the standard Soviet motor boat M6 – Project 183. It had the same wooden semi-planing hull which allowed scale economy. It was a sound, flexible, light yet solid package, reliable and durable at the same time. The originl Type 183 had two 533 mm (21 in) side cradles torpedo tubes and two reloads and were roomy enough to carry also two 25 mm guns. It was closely derived itself from the P 4 class torpedo boat with an aluminium hull.

The P 6-class also called “Project 183 Bolshevik” served alongside the P 4 and came with or without radar (183T and 183). The P 6 was much larger than the P 4-class with thrice the displacement and much more heavily armed. The passeage from 18-in to 21-in torpedoes plus twin 25 mm gun mounts instead 14.5 mm gun mounts were indeed quite an improvement.

For the 184R the hull was strengthened at the rear, the TT eliminated, the 25 mm mounts changes slightly and two massive cradle/launchers for the P15 Termit installed installed at the rear, behind and abaft the bridge. Both launchers pointed outwards from the axis and two steps were overhanging of the sides over the hull behind the launchers. The rear deck of course was devoid of all superstructure and treated for the blast.


The powerplant was of course much larger than on the P4, and the same between models (apart the P10): Four Zvezda M-50F diesels, 62 liters V12. They developed 4,800 hp (3,600 kW) combined, each driving a shaft. The model is relatively “light” compared to the later famous Zvezda M503 used on the Osa class FACs. The latter indeed were derived from the M501 developed for cancelled strategic bombers; The M503 developed 4,000 hp and the M-504B 5,000 hp.

Extract from a video – starting a Zvezda M-50F3 1200 hp diesel.


The Komar class was armed by two missiles, with no reloads, and two twin 25 mm AA guns.

Missiles: The P-15 Termit

P15 Termit

The P15 termit weighted 2,580 kg (5,690 lb), for 5.8 m (19 ft) x 0.76 m (2 ft 6 in) Wingspan 2.4 m
It carried a warhead with a 454 kg (1,001 lb) conventional hollow charge HE
Its Engine had a liquid-propellant rocket and solid-propellant rocket booster
Operational range: 80 kilometres (50 mi)
Flight altitude: 25-100 metres (82 to 328 ft)
Speed: Mach 0.95
Guidance system: autopilot (inertial guidance), active radar homing, infrared homing
Outside the Komar class, this model (also massively used by China), was used on the Osa, Tarantul, Nanuchka, Koni, Kotor, Kildin, and Kashin classes.

Operatory mode
The SS-N-2 system in Soviet concept of operations, called aircraft or other ships to locate the target and direct attacking patrol boats, until they can pick up the target on their radars. The radar detection range was the same on the Osa and Komar limited in height, to about 20 miles.

The Komar radar was used to locate the target, and provide firing datato the missile. It could also assess the damage after the attack. The effective range was in theory extensible by the coastal radar and provide detection and location. The missile could also be aimed based on the data provided by the optical system, used as a backup.

The rocket booster propelled the missile out of the launcher and allowed the missile to step to its standard cruise altitude and speed. The flight at Mach 0.9 and altitude between 300 and 1,000 feet and lower altitude on the final run, leaving only a minute to defending forces to react.

Of course, attacking the patrol boats themselves before their launching area was the only solution, if detected soon enough ans a missile sent to destroy them. But after launch, the missile’s own speed, low flight altitude and small radar cross-section plus its built-in electronic countermeasures system made it efficient for the time. In addition they could be fired in sea state 4.

Of course on the long run as technology went, it was found obsolete quite quickly. Targets too close, beyond five miles, cannot be engaged due to the missile slow homing and arming mechanism, and activation. Also in case two targets were detected, the homing radar could not give a priority target and was sensible to electronic countermeasures. The radar was known also to suffer extreme weather, below 4°F or above 104°F. Also the missiles were not efficient for targets four miles offshore due to the “clutter” ground reflection on the homing radar.

Komar class at full speed

25 mm

These were 2M3-M 25mm/38 guns in two twin gun mounts (and 1,000 rounds in store), fore and aft of the bridge.
Based on the 84-KM of WW2, it was developed in 1945, until 1947. Trials started from 1949, with acceptation in service in 1953. The version was called 110-PM manufacturerd until 1984.

They were were fed by 65-round belts or 7-round clips for earlier models. It was particular as haviing both mount on on top of the other. Designated as 2M-3, it was modified and upgraded as 2M-3M for the Komar boats. These were converted to gas-operation and their firing rate increased to 470 – 480 rpm. They were cooled by running seawater during 15 seconds during reloads sessions.

Komar boat - src military edge
Komar boat – src military edge

Illustration of the Komar class
Author’s vectorial rendition of the Komar class


Dimensions 25.4 x 6.24 x 1.24m (83.4 x 20.6 x 4 ft)
Displacement 61.5 standard 66.5 tonnes FL
Crew 17
Propulsion 4 shaft M-50F diesels 4,800 hp (3,600 kW)
Speed 44 knots (81 km/h; 51 mph)
Range 600 nmi (1,100 km; 690 mi) at 32 knots
Armament 2 SS-N-2 Styx SSNs, 2×4 25 mm AA 2M-3M
Electronics MR-331 Rangout radar, Nikhrom IFF

Production and variants

The Komar in service

Cuban missile crisis – 1962

Operation “Anadyr” saw the Soviet Navy privide Cuba some eight Komar-class boats, whereas a provision of missiles was carried by ships. They stayed in Cuban water all along the crisis, but could not operate as beyond the exclusion zone. USN presence however was deterred from approaching coastal waters because of their presence. They guaranteed any new attmpt of a landing like the ill-fated bay of pigs operation.

War of attrition – 1967

In October 1967, the Israeli destroyer Eilat was destroyed by ‘Styx’ anti-ship missiles, from Egyptian Komar class ships. The event was an excellent adverstising for USSR which signed dozens of exports of Komar and Osa type boats. They proliferated in the navies of the Warsaw Pact and Soviet client states.

This was a world’s first, for a surface-to-surface antiship missile; This 21 October 1967 Egyptian Komar class ships (and some Osa vessels) spotted the Israeli destroyer Eilat off Port Said. They fired several SS-N-2 missiles which left little chance to the big stationary target that was the ancient British-built, WW2 generation destroyer. Several hits blasted the hull and she sank rapidly.

Eilat was patrolling Egyptian coast to prevent maritime infiltration of the Sinai. She did so, like many other Israeli vessels within the range of Egyptian defense since June. Eilat already went into the area several times. The atack came as a true surprise, and when hit, Eilat was estimated just on the fringe of the 12—mile territorial limit claimed by Egypt.

The Israeli crew knew of the impending attack as they were spotted by land-based Egyptian radars, but failed to detect any FAC. When 3-4 missiles were flying towards her, at last the ships were spotted at about six miles. Gunners tried to shoot down the incoming missiles, but to no avail.

Hit by two missilees, Eilat was totally disabled and after power died out, and floated dead in the water for nearly two hours. The crew tried to save her when a second attack came, and this time the thred and possibly fourth hit made her sinking.

Vietnam War – 1967-73

Chinese Osa boats have been seen in the South China Sea and were deployed from the Hainan Island, down to the Tonkin Gulf area. They never intervened furing the war. No Soviet or Chinese boat was delivered to the North Vietnamese either. The USN fleet was vulnerable to sneak attack. RVN boats could be dispersed between many islands and waterways along the coastline. Difficult to detect (compounded by the fact the Vietnamese were aces of camouflage) they even can masquerade to observer by sailing in the fleet of innoffensive fishing junks. The only incident, on USS Maddox was performed by three P4 class TBs on 2 august 1964.

Yom Kippur War – 1973

P-15 missiles were used by the Egyptian and Syrian navies, but they proved ineffective against the Israeli navy. The latter operated a serie of brand new, modern Sa’ar-class FACs which were faster, smaller, more agile and better armed with excellent countermeasures than their opponents.

Nevertheless, the range of the P-15 was two times higher than the IAI Gabriel, allowing to fire first. But radar jamming/chaff/ECM degraded their accuracy. The Battle of Latakia and Battle of Baltim, saw several dozen P-15s fired, without result. In addition the arab ships had smaller guns compared to their Israeli opponents.


Starting in the 1960s already when new models were about to enter service, and export production, the Soviet Navy provided the Komar, a best-seller due to its unique anti-ship capability for the time, to many navies, from its enlarge network and emergent third world countries. Gradually, the entire serie was sold. Probably the most famous operational use was by the Egyptian Navy, by far (see later). China became the sescond largest user of the type, building a very large serie locally.

Algerian National Navy: 6 boats (1967)
People’s Liberation Army Navy: 8 boats (1961), 40 more under licence and steel hulled derivative Type 024 FAC.
Cuban Revolutionary Navy: 18 boats (1965?)
Egyptian Navy: 7 purchased in 1962–67. BU 1990s. 6 derived boats with western weapons and electronics: October class.
Indonesian Navy: 12 boats (1961–65)
Iraqi Navy: 3 boats (1972)
Myanmar Navy: 6 boats donated 1969-1974, last retired 2002.
Korean People’s Army Naval Force: 10 boats
Syrian Arab Navy: 9 boats
Vietnam People’s Navy: 4 boats


The Komar (“mosquito”, project 183R) will remain as the first missile launchers in the world. Developed from standard hulls type 183, already available on torpedo boats of types P6, P8 and P10, just after the war, themselves developed from the P4K or “Komsomolec” of 1944. These stars of a new genre were to deploy the first Soviet anti-ship missiles, the P15 “Styx” (SSN-2).

Development work started in 1957 and focused on the SSN-1 (P14). The missile launcher version was quickly developed and in December 1959 and the first of 112 Komar class units was built in 1956. In addition to these two formidable missiles they carried two 25 mm twin mounts and a “Square Tie” radar. The first tests were carried out in the Black Sea via a command ship, by remote-controlled fire such was feared the effects of a takeoff of these large missiles on small hull.

Nevertheless, the Komar class were intensively evaluated and became able to fire their missiles in an already very rough sea (force 4), in a calm sea reaching 38 knots, allowing rapid deployment, but suffering from a certain overload.

These ships quickly became very popular for their affordable, yet formidable firepower: Many of the exports, starting early, were dictated by the arrival of a larger moderl, the Osa class.

Read More/Src

Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1947-95
Couhat Jean. Combat Fleets of the world 1982/1983
Project 183 MTB rendition

3D Corner:
EV Models resin Komar class Missile boats (2 sets) with SS-N-2 “Styx” S047 1/700