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 initiated in specification first written 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 and landing surface, capital for this type of ship (Gorshkov proposed for a moment the reconversion of one of the hulls of the Sverdlov class). The TTZ specs were definitively adopted in 1960, opting for a large ship very heavily armed for its own defense, notably ASW. But studies went on and this was the 23rd project that 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.
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 until 1995. A third ship, Kiev, was laid down in December 1967 but Cancelled in 1969.
The Moskva-class helicopter cruiser, also known as Project 1123 Kondor, was a class of Soviet naval vessels that combined the capabilities of a cruiser and an aircraft carrier. These ships were designed to provide anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities while also being able to carry and operate helicopters for various purposes, including reconnaissance, anti-submarine operations, and troop transport. Initially their aim was to counter NATO Polaris submarines and act as a flagship for anti-submarine warfare.
Primary role of the Moskva-class was to serve as anti-submarine warfare platforms. They were equipped with a range of sensors and weapons systems to detect and engage enemy submarines.
Helicopter Operations: The ships could carry up to eight Kamov Ka-25 or Ka-27 helicopters, which could be used for ASW, search and rescue, anti-ship missile targeting, and other tasks.
The Moskva-class cruisers were armed with a combination of surface-to-air and anti-ship missiles, as well as guns for self-defense. They were equipped with the P-500 Bazalt anti-ship missile system and the S-300F Fort-M surface-to-air missile system.
The displacement of these ships was around 14,000 to 16,000 tons, making them relatively large vessels.
Speed and Propulsion: The Moskva-class ships were powered by a combination of gas turbine and diesel engines, allowing them to achieve speeds of around 32 knots.
Crew and Accommodations: The crew complement of these ships was approximately 1,100 to 1,200 personnel. The ships also had accommodations for a small contingent of marines for potential amphibious operations.
Service History: The lead ship of the class, the Moskva, was commissioned in the 1960s and served with the Soviet Navy. A second ship, the Leningrad, was laid down but not completed. The Moskva-class ships underwent upgrades and modifications over their service life to improve their capabilities.
Legacy: The Moskva-class cruiser design marked a unique approach to naval warfare, combining the roles of a cruiser and an aircraft carrier. While the class itself had a limited number of ships, it contributed to the development of future Russian naval vessel designs.
Design of the class
Hull and general design
They displaced 11,920 tons standard and 15,280 tons full load for a lenght of 189 m (620 ft), Beam of 34 m (112 ft) and draught of 7.7 m (25 ft). Seen from above, the “pear shape” of their hull is self-evident, an obligation to preserve a relatively measured beam and still give a large, roomy flight deck woith large spots series side to side for the largest Soviet helicopters in operations. Seen from the profilen they look stunningly modern, almost spaceship-like due to their tall, staggered superstructure combining funnels, sensors and bridges, then weapons systems down to the deck. The structure ends abruptly to the flight deck, giving them an instantaneously recoignisable silhouette for all NATO pilots and bridge officers.
Their two 45,000 hp TV-12 steam turbines were coupled with two fixed pitch propellers, and the system also relied on two 1500 kW TD-1500 turbine-type generators, and two 1500 kW diesel-generators ensuring top capabilities when the main steam engines were cold. She was able to reach 28.5 knots (53 km/h) and had a range of 9,000 nautical miles (16,668 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h) and an endurance of 15 days for her 850 crew, quite large but including all the helicopter crews and maintenance teams.
-Two twin SA-N-3 ‘Goblet’ surface-to-air missile launchers
-Two twin 57 mm (2.2 in)/80 guns
-1 × SUW-N-1 launcher for FRAS-1 anti-submarine missiles
-2× RBU-6000 ASW rockets
-10 × 553 mm (22 in) torpedo tubes (2×5)
-MR-600 ‘Voskhod’/MR-310 ‘Angara-A’ air/surface radar
-‘Don’ navigation radar
-MG-342 ‘Orion’ or MG-325 ‘Vega’ sonar
-MG-26 ‘Khosta’ underwater communication system
-2× ZIF-121 rocket launchers (PK-2 decoy)
-‘Gurzuf’/’Gurzuf-1’ ESM radar system
-MRP-11-16 ‘Zaliv’ ESM radar system
-ARP-50 radio direction finder
-MVU-201 ‘Koren-1123’ combat information control system
18× Kamov Ka-25 ‘Hormone’ or Mi-8 helicopters when used for transport missions. The Ka-14 “haze”, capable of landing at sea, was also operated. The Ka-25 Hormone is the standoff ASW helicopter of the Soviet Navy, replaced by the Ka-27 in the 1990s.
|Displacement||11,200t, 17,500t FL|
|Dimensions||189 x 23 x 8.5 m|
|Propulsion||2 shafts VHP turbines, 4 HP heaters, 100,000 hp.|
|Armament||2×2 SAN-3 (44), 2×2 57 mm, 1×2 ASUW-N1 (12), 2x RBU 6000, 2×5 533 mm TTs, 12-14 Helicopters.|
|Sensors||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 chaff RL.|
Laid down at Nikolayev South (Shipyard No.444), Moskva was launched in 1965, commissioned in 1967. Trials showed their poor handling in rough seas. Their weapons and sensor suite was optimized against US nuclear submarines and between the “Mare Tail” variable depth sonar and heliborne sensors the really were ideal to to hunt down NATO submarines. On 2 February 1975, a fire in the Moskva’s bow caused severe damage and she needed one year of repairs. She stayed service until the late 1990s, being decommissioned in 1996 but scrapped a few years later.
Leningrad was laid down at the Black Sea Shipyard, Nikolayev (Yard 702) on 15 January 1965, launched on 31 July 1966, and completed on 24 January 1967, commissioned 2 June 1969. She operated with the Black Sea Fleet from 9 July. On 1-31 May 1970, and between 1 December 1971 and 30 June 1972, then 15 June to 6 December 1974 she made Mediterranean cruisers and supported Egyptian forces during the Yom Kippur war. From 4 August to 14 October 1974 she became flagship of the Suez Canal mine clearance task force. In August-November 1984 she took part in minesweeping operations in the Red Sea and the heavily contested Bab-el-Mandeb area, up to the Gulf of Aden.
Between 31 May and 7 June 1990 she resumed her ASW exercizes in the Mediterranean.
She also rescued a submarine by February-March 1972. She visited Dakar in 1974, 1976, and Algiers in 1981, Havana in 1984 and had two large refits, in 1977-1978 and 1986-1987 at Sevmorzavod. In 1989 she was awardered the CiC prize in the anti-aircraft category. On 24 June 1991 she was decommissioned, the crew being disbaned and by 24 August 1995, towed to India for scrapping.
Gardiner, Robert, ed. (1995). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1947–1995. London: Conway Maritime.
Gardiner, Robert; Chumbley, Stephen; Budzbon, Przemysław (1995). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1947–1995. NIP