Military shipbuilding of Russia. Current state
Author: Dmitry Boltenkov
In 2011, it was announced the beginning of a large-scale rearmament of the Russian army and navy.
It was supposed within 10 years to carry out an almost complete replacement of weapons and equipment still Soviet production with new models. Of great importance was the renewal of the ship.
In the photo: Amur Shipyard. The descent of the submarine "Komsomolsk-on-Amur"
In the period 1990–2010, Russia, in fact, lost a whole generation of ships. During this time, for example, a country like the Netherlands managed to build a series of frigates, then sell them almost completely and build a series of others instead.
In Russia in 1990–2010, it was only possible to complete a number of ships and submarines of the Soviet side and to begin the construction of lead ships of a number of projects. Moreover, these ships, for example, submarines of the project 677 "St. Petersburg", nuclear submarines of the project 955 "Yuri Dolgoruky" and the project 855 "Severodvinsk" were based on the development of the Soviet era. Of course, it can be considered a miracle that Russia in general has managed to maintain shipbuilding capacities and scientific and engineering personnel in the field of military shipbuilding. Although this was primarily due to import orders.
The creation of modern Russian warships started at the beginning of the XXI century. So there were projects of the small artillery ship (MAC) of the project 21630 “Astrakhan”, the corvette of the project 20380 “Stereguschy” and the frigate of the project 22350 “Admiral Gorshkov”. It should be understood that of all types of military equipment, it is the military ship that should be considered the most difficult, since its creation requires a fusion of efforts from both shipbuilders, developers of naval weapons, engines, and representatives of other specialties. The process of working on these projects showed the complexity of resuming the mass construction of warships in an unstable economy and the collapse of production in the 1990s and the breakdown of cooperative ties between the countries of the former USSR. For example, during the construction of the head MAC “Astrakhan” it turned out that the Uzhgorod Mechanical Plant, previously supplied ship furniture, was abroad, and generally ceased to exist. I had to look for new suppliers of ship furniture for warships. And there were a lot of such trifles.
In general, the Navy expected under the “State Armaments Program - 2020” to receive by 2020 eight strategic missile submarines, eight nuclear submarines, eight non-nuclear submarines, two amphibious assault ships, about 15 frigates and 35 corvettes, and also a large number of auxiliary vessels.
The program of emergency reinforcement of the Black Sea Fleet adopted in 2010 through the construction of the frigate of the project 11356 and submarines of the project 6363 (six units of each project), already adopted by the industry, was part of the GVR-2020 marine component. These were Soviet projects, well-proven in exporting. Otherwise, the sea part of the HPV-2020 provided for the construction of ships under new, post-Soviet projects. In general, it was a question of a full-scale replacement of the entire range of warships, submarines and auxiliary vessels of Soviet construction.
Crimean Spring 2014
The sea part of the HPV-2020 very much depended on imports: in particular, the supply of gas ship turbines from Ukraine, ship ship diesel engines from Germany, the construction in France of two amphibious-helicopter ships-docks of the Vladivostok type, Western countries and more.
Historical parallels are extremely curious: for example, in the process of creating the fleet of the Russian Empire in the 1910s, as well as when building a large fleet of the pre-war USSR, our country was also very much dependent on imports. Another historical parallel can be seen in the fact that after the adoption of large-scale shipbuilding programs large-scale geopolitical events took place, subsequently forcing these programs to correct.
After the events of the Crimean Spring, NATO countries and Ukraine imposed an embargo on military-technical cooperation with Russia . As a result, the Vladivostok-type Vladivostok-type command and control unit for the Russian Navy did not come to Russia, but at least they returned money.
The consequence of the embargo on the supply of engines from Germany and Ukraine was the fact that some ships remained on the stocks, and for others, in particular, small rocket ships and anti-sabotage boats, had to place new orders for diesel engines in China and, accordingly, recycle projects. But most importantly, Russia had to solve the problems of import substitution and begin to engage in the development of various ship propulsion systems. This "motor" problem cost the country a five-year delay in the construction of warships.
In addition, the country's top leadership had to change the priorities of the development of the armed forces. For example, in 2014, there were practically no ground forces as such in the direction of the Russian-Ukrainian border between Moscow and Rostov-on-Don. In 2019, three combined-arms armies operate in this territory.
Another problem that arose before the leadership of Russia was that, following the results of the Crimean Spring, the country acquired not only the territories and population, but also a number of enterprises and industries in Crimea, with all their advantages and quite a lot of flaws.
The Crimea during the Soviet era was known in many respects precisely by the shipbuilding and ship repair enterprises .
So, the Kerch Zaliv plant has a dry building dock 360 meters long and 60 meters wide. There were only two such docks in the USSR. The second such dock remained in Nikolaev. The Theodosia enterprise “More” was engaged in building on the dynamic principles of maintenance, such as hovercraft and hydrofoil ships. Sevastopol "Sevmorzavod" was in the USSR number one for the construction of floating cranes, as well as the main repair company of the Black Sea Fleet. Over the past 23 years, all this heritage has been almost lost. The Zaliv plant in 2014 did not have any orders at all.
GCC "Gulf" (Kerch). The supply vessel is taken out of the dock.
Russia faced the challenge of reviving these enterprises. One of the ways was the transfer of orders for military shipbuilding. For example, “Sea” with the help of “Pella” received an order for small rocket ships of the project 22800. About ten patrol ships, MRCs and auxiliary ships were transferred to the “Gulf” from Zelenodolsk .
The country had to solve the problem of import substitution, and first of all it was necessary to create competencies in the development and manufacture of gas ship turbines and ship diesel installations. By 2019, this task was largely successfully accomplished, and as a result, on April 23, 2019, at Severnaya Verf, two more frigates of Project 22350 were laid down: Admiral Amelko and Admiral Chichagov. And the command of the Black Sea Fleet leaves no hope of accepting the fourth frigate of the project 11356 “Admiral Butakov” in its structure.
When considering military shipbuilding programs, it should be borne in mind that their main task is to replace a wide range of warships and auxiliary ships.
Many commentators and critics of the development of today's Russian Navy do not take into account the fact that there are more than one fleet in the country. The Russian Navy has a significant fleet of rescue and search services. Shipping and navigation in the oceans and coastal seas is entirely dependent on the Hydrographic Service. There are no similar structures in the Navy of foreign states. In Russia there is also a significant fleet of the Main Directorate for Deep-Sea Research of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, whose task is to conduct underwater technical works on the seabed.
At the same time, in no country in the world does the fleet have to provide for service in five unrelated theaters of operations. During the construction of its fleet, Russia must take into account that ships that are good in the Caspian or Black Sea will be unsuitable for service in Kamchatka. The same applies to the Coast Guard fleet of the FSB of Russia.
During the years of the USSR, not all types of ships were built on the territory of the Soviet Union , many were built abroad, primarily in Poland and Finland. As a result of the experience of building many types of ships in the Russian Federation there is simply no. Firstly, these are cable vessels, secondly, landing ships, and thirdly, ocean tugs.
It is worth mentioning this historical aspect of the difference between the Russian Navy and the US or British Navy: in our country, tugs are used to pull ships out of their bases, and floating cranes are used to load weapons. The existing ships of this designation have a service life of almost 40 years, and they just need to be replaced (which was done in recent years thanks primarily to the St. Petersburg plants "Pella" and "Almaz" . The US or British Navy performs similar tasks differently, while in Russia it is the most important component of the Navy’s combat readiness.
Plant "Pella". Descent of the ice class tug SB-737 (project 02980)
As a result, the number of types of combat ships under construction, submarines and auxiliary vessels is simply amazing. No country in the world, including the United States or China, is building such a wide range of ships and vessels. Some types of ships in the West simply do not build, such as minesweepers or cable vessels. The Russian Navy simply needs cable vessels to build communications networks, especially in the Arctic. The construction of two such units was transferred from Zelenodolsk to Kerch. Building a number of other types of ships, such as icebreaker patrols, in Canada, for example, is just beginning.
Another aspect of the development of the Russian Navy is that it is not just a set of ships. The structure of the Navy also includes the most powerful naval aviation and coastal forces. Responsibility for the defense of certain territories of Russia is primarily the responsibility of the Navy. This is the Kaliningrad region, the Crimea and Kamchatka, where almost all the combat structures are tied precisely to the fleet. And the development of these structures is also the responsibility of the Navy.
It may be recalled that after 2014, a powerful group of coastal and land forces of the fleet was created in the Crimea, which simply did not exist before the “Crimean Spring”. And as part of the Northern Fleet, formations appeared to conduct combat operations in arctic conditions, outposts along the Northern Sea Route, such as the Northern Clover on Kotelny Island. There is simply no such thing in western countries.
The Navy also has to deal with the infrastructure of the basing. And in this direction there are visible successes. So, to ensure the basing of the new strategic submarine cruisers of the Project 955 strategic project in Vilyuchinsk, a mooring zone and a weapons storage area have been created, Akademik Kovalev sea transport weapons, floating cranes and tugs have arrived there.
Military ship repair
It is clear that it is impossible to replace the entire huge fleet in 10 years. But at the same time, many combat units still have an adequate supply of “Soviet” strength and have proven themselves well - such as the BOD of the 1155 family, submarines of projects 949A, 971 and 877, etc.
In an attempt to increase the quantitative composition, about 10 programs of modernization of the ships of the Soviet era were adopted. In particular: modernization of the atomic cruiser "Admiral Nakhimov"; repair and modernization of the aircraft-carrying cruiser "Admiral Kuznetsov"; modernization of the nuclear submarine cruisers of the project 949A to the project 949AM (at the same time, the Granit cruise missiles are being replaced with new Caliber and Zircon missiles); repair and modernization of the Marshal Ustinov cruiser, the large anti-submarine ship Admiral Chabanenko and a number of others.
By itself, ship repair with modernization is comparable in complexity to the construction of a new ship. After all, the ships were created quite a long time ago, the technologies by which they were built were already outdated, their internal saturation and equipment were also outdated and no longer produced. Accordingly, it is necessary to develop new equipment.
Nuclear-powered cruiser "Admiral Nakhimov"
The history of the repair and modernization of the BOD "Admiral Chabanenko" is characteristic . The ship itself was completed in the mid-1990s due to the refusal to carry out repairs on the BOD project 1155 "Deleted". There were not enough funds to order a set of repair documentation for the Navy. The result was a good ship that ran for 15 years in the seas and oceans. Too active use and led him in 2013 to the wall of the plant SRZ-35. Currently, ship repair, in fact, is not being carried out - due to the fact that repair documentation is not yet ready, moreover, gas turbines have not been repaired. And the option is not excluded that the Navy would prefer to spend the funds allocated for the repair of the Admiral Chabanenko for the construction of a new ship, the combat capabilities of which will be much higher.
At the same time, the well-known problem of Soviet military shipbuilding should be taken into account - there are practically no similar large ships or submarines in the fleet. Externally, the same ships inside are different. Characteristic examples are the family of nuclear submarines of Project 971 or missile cruisers of the 1144 family. Unfortunately, this problem still exists today: the outwardly very similar BDK Ivan Gren and Petr Morgunov differ greatly in their “filling”. The corvettes of project 20380 built by Severnaya Verf and the NEA are also different. Such differences in the internal equipment and equipment of ships make it difficult for them to develop documentation for repair and modernization. In fact, such documentation has to be done for each ship individually.
The cost / efficiency ratio is also of great importance. Thus, it was originally planned to repair five Project 877 submarines from the Northern Fleet at the Zvezdochka factory . In fact, after the medium repairs of Kaluga and Vladikavkaz, the program was stopped. Repair of other boats of this project was also stopped. Instead, the Navy decided to order large batches of submarines of Project 6363 for the Pacific Fleet and Project 677 for him and for the Northern Fleet.
At the same time, other programs are developing more or less successfully: in the near future small rocket ships of project 12341 will begin to return to the fleet, on which the Uranium complex will be installed instead of the Malachite missile system. The lead was the small rocket ship Smerch. The BOD modernization program for project 1155 is also developing (Admiral Shaposhnikov became the leader).
The transformation of the Admiral Nakhimovnuclear-powered missile cruiser into the “super dreadnought of the 21st century” is proceeding progressively . The ship will be simply “packed” with various rocket weapons. Although, of course, instead of putting this cruiser into operation in 2018, the Navy now expects to receive it only in 2021, and the cost of modernization made it necessary to think about other options for its implementation for his “brother” - the cruiser “Peter the Great” .
A look into the future
A characteristic feature of the current program of development of the Navy looks like this: get the lead ship, conduct its comprehensive tests and then decide on the future fate of the project. The successful completion of the tests of the frigate “Admiral Gorshkov” led to the laying on April 23 of two new frigates and to the announcement of plans to build 12 frigates of the project 22350M. At the same time, the construction and testing of the rescue ship “Igor Belousov” made the naval command think about the specific type of continuation of the series. It should be noted that this approach - “we are making the lead ship and seeing what happened” - clearly delays the timeframe for creating the series.
Frigate "Admiral Gorshkov"
The main types of weapons of modern Russian ships are the Caliber cruise missiles and the Polyment Redut anti-aircraft missiles. The first complex was successfully created and tested in combat conditions, but the development of the second was strongly delayed and was successfully completed only in 2018. The consequence of this delay was that the frigate Admiral "Admiral Gorshkov" was not accepted into the fleet for six years.
Another feature of the current military shipbuilding is that the country is beginning to move on to building the next generation of ships.
The first example was the patrol ship of the project 22160, which looks like a platform with the minimum necessary weapons and crew. But the combat capabilities of such a ship can be multiplied by installing additional equipment or equipment made in container form. Containers with Uranus or Caliber missiles can be loaded onto the ship of project 22160, and then he is able to act as a strike ship; modules with a hydroacoustic station and with underwater robots, as well as a torpedo container can be loaded - and it will work as a water area security ship.
The next such ship will be the corvette of the project 20386 “Mercury”, where a significant section, the so-called transformer food, will be allotted for interchangeable loads. As a result, we get the ship - "Swiss universal knife."
In addition to warships, the principle of modularity is supposed to be extended to submarines. There is no doubt that the 5th generation Husky (Laika) nuclear submarine project will use modules with anti-ship and ballistic missiles.
Auxiliary vessels are not forgotten: a project of a multi-functional platform is being developed, which will be able to act as a tanker, hospital ship, floating workshop, etc.
Such new technologies can be considered not even one step, but perhaps two steps forward compared with the pace of development of foreign fleets.
It should also not be forgotten that a wide range of unmanned aerial vehicles and underwater uninhabited vehicles are currently being developed for the Russian Navy. In particular, in 2018, the creation of the Poseidon megahorpeda with a nuclear warhead and a nuclear propulsion system was announced. This torpedo can be called the “Doomsday weapon”. And it is difficult to compare any other fleet with the Russian Navy in the implementation of UAVs on surface ships.
Results and prospects
Despite all the problems listed above, the program of military shipbuilding in Russia is developing very dynamically. Still, four large ships on the same day, as happened on April 23, 2019, were not laid in the USSR and Russia for a very long time. Russia was able to restore its competence in the construction of such complex and complex objects as rescue ships or reconnaissance ships.
Currently, a significant number of warships and auxiliary ships are under construction. "Northern shipyard" builds five frigates, five corvettes and two auxiliary vessels (which actually is at the level of the Soviet era). Sevmash and Admiralty Shipyardsare building 21 submarines.
Yes, the country has "lost" a whole generation of ships, but today it is building those ships, for which the West is still preparing. First of all, we are talking about a nuclear missile sword - the 4th generation missile submarines. The United States and England are still sketching future ships for the replacement of existing ones, and Russia is already in reality building Project 955A cruisers.
But do not forget about the main thing that is needed for military shipbuilding - this is money. All at once finance is not enough, and you have to postpone some projects for the future. For example, the surrender of patrol icebreakers of the project 22350 "Ivan Papanin" and "Nikolay Zubov" is shifted by four years and will occur in the years 2023-2024.
According to the Supreme Commander of the President of Russia, the equipment of the Navy with modern weapons and armaments reaches 60%. The most modern association is the Caspian Flotilla (90%). The Black Sea Fleet was thoroughly renovated: it turned from a “ship museum” into a completely modern one. The Baltic Fleet has also been substantially updated. The replacement of large ships and nuclear submarines in the Northern Fleet began. For the first time since 1991, the Pacific Fleet received two fairly large warships.
The peculiarity of the development of the Russian Navy is that, as a rule, almost all the top leaders of our country understand the need to improve the fleet to solve geopolitical tasks. The programs of military shipbuilding that exist today are not an exception and are under the scrutiny of Russian President Vladimir Putin.