Modernized "Peter the Great" will sober up any enemy of Russia, by Alexander Timokhin for VZGLYAD. 07.17.2023.
Once again, there are leaks in the media that the most powerful surface ship of the Russian Navy, the heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky, will be decommissioned after work on the modernization of another such ship, the Admiral Nakhimov, is completed. However, there are other leaks - that the cruiser will be left in the fleet. There is no official decision on this matter. So, it’s worth saying what “Peter the Great” is and why the Navy urgently needs it.
Once upon a time, in the century before last, the word "cruiser" (cruiser) was called a ship leading the so-called cruising war. It was understood as the actions of this ship in isolation from the main forces of the fleet, reconnaissance, the war on communications, the war against trade. It was not the type of ship, but the task it performed.
Later, for such tasks, they began to build special ships, distinguished by high speed and long range. Cruisers were not the most powerful ships. Rather, on the contrary, it was a fast scout, capable of acting autonomously, but not capable of fighting heavy ships. An example of a classic cruiser can be considered, for example, the Aurora.
As cruisers became more and more required to participate in squadron combat, they began to grow in size, weapons became more powerful, armor grew, and the original purpose as a ship capable of acting independently was eroded.
In the 1930s, the situation changed radically. The Washington Conference of 1921-1922 (an international conference on the limitation of naval armaments and the problems of the Far East and the Pacific) imposed restrictions on the development of battleships. In those years, battleships were the main striking force of the fleets. Aircraft carriers were also limited, and the participating countries (USA, UK, Japan, France, Italy) hit the construction of cruisers allowed in excess of the limits.
But now they were not some long-range high-speed reconnaissance raiders, but simply the most powerful ships within the existing restrictions. It was then that the word "cruiser" finally lost its meaning, it was from those times that a cruiser is just a large and powerful warship. And after there were no battleships and battlecruisers (here you will need to make a reservation, and it is about the "Peter the Great") - the most powerful of the non-aircraft carriers.
Today, the tasks of a cruiser in the classical sense are performed by multi-purpose nuclear submarines. It is they who act in isolation from the forces of the fleet, autonomously (and in theory covertly, although this does not always work out), conduct reconnaissance, deliver special forces to the shores of the target country, covertly land them from under the water, covertly take them on board.
And among the surface ships there are almost no such that could perform independent operations. What the US Navy calls a cruiser is actually not. Ticonderogi are anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense ships that can also deliver a powerful cruise missile strike on the coast (but were not originally designed for this).
The Russian Project 1164 missile cruisers are ships with a clearly defined dominant function: to strike a surface target with supersonic cruise missiles. Everything else there is subordinated to this main task.
But the heavy nuclear cruisers of Project 1144 (which include both Peter the Great and Admiral Nakhimov) are another matter. The ship is nuclear-powered and does not depend on tankers. It does not need organic fuel, its range is unlimited. At the same time, its maximum speed is 32 knots, more than most warships in the world.
These two factors alone make any operation to search for and destroy it extremely difficult. Aircraft from the ground can sink it with a massive strike, but the ship can be outside its combat radius, and refueling in the air will drastically reduce the possible number of forces, make it difficult to hit, and refueling is far from always possible.
One can recall the German operation "Berlin" (January 22 - March 22, 1941), when two German battleships "Scharnhorst" and "Gneisenau", operating in the Atlantic teeming with British ships (including battleships), freely smashed British convoys, sinking and capturing , according to various estimates, 13-22 merchant ships. No attempt by the British to attack the German raiders was successful. Even the Malaya aircraft carrier, theoretically capable of conducting aerial reconnaissance and attacking surface ships, did not help - the Germans simply could not be found. It was, by the way, a classic cruising operation.
Now, of course, satellites and hydroacoustic tracking systems will not allow the ship to completely get lost even in the ocean. But even one ship with the specified speed and unlimited cruising range will require forces that are simply unthinkable in terms of numbers to neutralize it.
And at that moment, what this cruiser can do will come into play. A massive attack on a surface target, repelling a massive missile and air attack, fighting submarines - the cruiser has both anti-submarine missiles and a powerful sonar system, and carries three helicopters on board.
What it cannot do is that in its current form, the ship is extremely weak as a means of striking the coast. As the VZGLYAD newspaper has already written , the cruiser needs to carry out an average repair, partially, at no extra cost, update the cable routes, carry out a minimal modernization of the anti-aircraft missile system, but at the same time completely replace the strike missile weapon. Instead of 20 anti-ship cruise missiles of the Granit complex, the ship should receive a universal ship-based firing system (UKKS) with 3S14 launchers of the same modification as the Admiral Nakhimov, the second heavy nuclear cruiser of project 1144, which, according to media reports, will have up to 80 cruise, anti-ship cruise or anti-submarine missiles.
And this is where everything changes completely.
Especially if Russia renounces unilateral obligations not to have tactical nuclear weapons on surface ships (and it is not necessary to actually deploy them there). The threat in the form of several dozen cruise missiles, it is not known whether they have a nuclear warhead or not, and even on a ship that is so hard to catch, even the United States cannot ignore. They will have to allocate powerful forces to fight this ship, chase after it, unmasking their intentions and losing the surprise of any attack.
Will Peter the Great, upgraded in this way, be able to win the battle with the US Navy's aircraft carrier multipurpose group? No, in a battle with such forces, the ship will die. As he will die, going one on one with the French or British Navy.
But, firstly, it will divert just such forces from any theater of operations, giving the Navy a break in another place. Secondly, with a nuclear power plant there is always a chance for a successful escape. Thirdly, even under the most negative scenario, defeating him can be very expensive for the enemy. Fourthly, the very fact of the presence of such a ship in the Atlantic or somewhere in the Pacific greatly complicates any pre-war planning for our opponents.
The cruiser Peter the Great, equipped with dozens of cruise missiles, is a huge problem for the US even now. Even in the narrow Atlantic, on the route between Lisbon and, for example, New York, there are several thousand kilometers of distance that lie outside the combat radius of ground-based aviation (except for strategic bombers), but the Caliber from this zone will reach both Lisbon and New York. York. One such ship is a factor of strategic importance, more important than a new military district on the borders with Finland, and much cheaper.
But its main meaning lies elsewhere.
Not against USA
We are not at war with America directly. Nothing can be ruled out, especially now, but the chances that we will fight not with the United States, but with some kind of American "proxy" are much higher than the chances of a direct war with the United States. And now we count.
In the loudest Caliber strike against targets in Syria, the Caspian Flotilla fired 26 Caliber from four ships, each of which carried eight such missiles (32 in total, not all were fired).
Or another example. The total salvo of all surface ships of the Black Sea Fleet now carrying Caliber is 48 missiles (excluding the Admiral Grigorovich frigate). A volley of surface forces of two formations - the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla - 80 missiles.
One modernized "Peter" will be able to provide a strike of the same force as one fleet and one flotilla. One ship will be able to hit as many targets as all the surface forces of the Navy from two seas. At the same time, unlike the small and non-seaworthy "Buyanov-M", "Peter" will be able to quickly go to any point in the oceans. And from this any point to hit the target more than one and a half thousand kilometres away.
It is clear that no one will load all the missile cells with Kalibr in the 3M-14 variant (to strike the coast), some will be occupied by anti-ship missiles, and some by anti-submarine ones. But even those dozens of missiles that can be sent towards the enemy are, in any case, a lot. Such a threat would be extremely sobering. Russia will show that in order to solve problems related to its security and the security of friendly countries, it is capable of violence. Everyone sees it. And to violence, limited to a minimum degree.
The appearance not even off the coast of a potential enemy (not the United States or NATO countries), but simply at the range of cruise missiles of such a ship, which can be there for many months, but is too mobile and autonomous to keep it under surveillance, will become a "cold shower" for any country. Absolutely anyone.
Well, and if diplomacy failed... Dozens of missiles are dozens of missiles. And even after their complete shooting, the ship will remain able to destroy other ships, shoot down planes and sink submarines. At any distance from the base.
Not only "Peter the Great"
The last significant factor in favor of the ship is that, unlike all the “estimations” made above, in a big war it will most likely not act alone. There is his "sistership" - "Admiral Nakhimov". There is an aircraft carrier "Admiral Kuznetsov".
"Kuznetsov", a carrier-based aviation regiment with combat readiness brought to the required level, two cruisers (Nakhimov, completely rebuilt into a new ship with new air defense systems, "Pyotr" with its S-300F and dozens of missiles of various types in 3S-14), a couple Project 22350 frigates already built, and one of any Project 1155 BODs in service is a shipborne aircraft carrier group, which, with the proper level of personnel training and the condition of the ships, will be able to bring an average developed country to its knees. And ships for this have already been built, and some have even been modernized and repaired.
And here the factor of the presence of "Peter the Great" plays with new colors - this is one missile cruiser with 80 missile cells for offensive missile weapons. And two of them have 160.
This is for one missile cruiser with several escort ships, at least one aircraft carrier group must be removed from the direction of the main attack, weakening this very main attack. And for the forces listed above, much more must be removed. Thus, the significance of the missile cruiser begins to play at full power when we begin to assemble naval groupings. Here its presence or absence sharply weakens or, on the contrary, strengthens the forces available without it.
And that's not counting naval diplomacy - such a ship entering a neutral port will make an indelible impression on all local politicians. Especially if they are allowed to count the missiles.
Economic and industrial aspects
There are both people and money in the country to carry out a partial modernization of the Peter the Great, and people from whom you can then recruit a crew for him. In order for the cruiser to be modernized and kept in service for sane money and terms, a little is needed.
1. Refuse too high requirements for future modernization, do not try to completely rebuild the ship, as they did with the Nakhimov - then the cost of repairs will be unbearable, and the terms will be very long.
2. Once having formulated and approved the tactical and technical assignment for repair and modernization, the customer should not revise it. It is these revisions that have been a chronic problem that makes the upgrades and repairs of our ships so long and expensive.
3. On the one hand, to finance the work without delay, on the other hand, to strictly ask the contractor for the deadlines. We have problems with both.
It must be remembered that Western sanctions hit and, if possible, build ships of new projects. And this is not to mention the fact that our country will not be able to build something comparable to Project 1144 heavy nuclear missile cruisers from scratch for decades to come. Under these conditions, cutting a ship into pins and needles, which, on the one hand, provides all the above-described capabilities, on the other hand, is irreplaceable, and, most importantly, can be kept in service for sane money, would be, to put it mildly, a very strange decision .
The military situation around Russia will only worsen. Tensions will only grow, as will the risks of a third world. As for new local wars after Ukraine, they are inevitable, and there will be many of them. In these circumstances, it is better not to skimp on warships.