Upgraded Soviet-built warships to increase Russian Navy capabilities


Trials of the Marshal Shaposhnikov upgraded frigate of project 1155M are nearing completion in Vladivostok. The warship was built 35 years ago and is now armed with the latest weapons. It is celebrating the second birth. The Admiral Vinogradov big antisubmarine ship of project 1155 will undergo an overhaul shortly. The Izvestia daily writes about the remaining resource of Soviet-built warships.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001

Russian Navy Project 1155M Udaloy-class frigate 'Marshal Shaposhnikov' (Picture source: Facebook Next Generation Weapons)


The Russian Navy currently comprises mostly Soviet-built warships. In 1990-2000s, Russia lost a whole generation of warships because of objective difficulties. The military shipbuilding cycle broke down and it is difficult to restore it. As a result, the Navy faces major problems with green and blue-water warships.

New frigates and corvettes are being built in insufficient numbers. The Soviet Union could not produce enough ships for the Navy and civilian operators either. A big number of warships and auxiliary ships was built in East Germany, Poland and Finland. The collapse of the USSR stripped Russia of the possibility to build warships in Ukraine. Little remained of the shipyard in Nikolaev today.

The situation makes it reasonable to extend the life cycle of Soviet-built ships to the maximum. It is possible to do by overhaul and upgrade. The overhaul repairs various systems and replaces devices. The life cycle is extended by three years, but combat capabilities increase. The Northern fleet is overhauling the Admiral Ushakov destroyer of project 956 and the Admiral Levchenko big antisubmarine ship of project 1155. The Moskva cruiser completed a similar overhaul in 2020.

The overhaul with an upgrade also replaces weapons to provide new combat capabilities and extends the life cycle by at least ten years. The Marshal Shaposhnikov received new weapons and electronics and carries Kalibr missiles. Boilers and coolers were replaced and other systems upgraded. The hull was overhauled. The class of the warship changed from big antisubmarine ship to a frigate.

The Marshal Shaposhnikov was upgraded by Dalzavod Shipyard in Vladivostok. The experience will be used in the upgrade of the Admiral Vinogradov. It will have more powerful arms, new antiaircraft and antisubmarine weapons.

An overhaul and upgrade is a difficult and costly business. It is sometimes easier to build a new warship. An upgrade project is necessary on a new technological level. It is also necessary to decide what has to be replaced or repaired. The real state of a warship can be determined after the deck and mechanisms are opened.

New equipment producers have to be found, as the previous ones no longer exist. The Defense Ministry can change requirements to obtain a more perfect warship with better weapons and electronics. All the problems have been resolved with project 1155 warships in the Far East. The upgrade of the Admiral Vinogradov will take less time than the Marshal Shaposhnikov.

Orlan-class heavy nuclear missile cruisers of project 1144 were designed and built in Soviet time. The Admiral Lazarev and the Admiral Nakhimov did not serve for long for various reasons. The latest Petr Veliky cruiser is actively operated by the Navy.

Today, it is unreal to build such powerful and big ships from scratch, as the Baltic Shipyard is busy building new nuclear icebreakers of project 22220.

The strength of the hull makes it possible to restore the warships. The upgrade of the Admiral Nakhimov began in 2013. In 2000s, Sevmash Shipyard obtained major experience in the overhaul of the Gorshkov aircraft-carrying cruiser for the Indian Navy. The experience is used in the upgrade of the Admiral Nakhimov. It is to return to the Navy in 2022. The cruiser will be armed with Kalibr, Onyx and other missiles.

The successful overhaul of the Admiral Nakhimov makes it appropriate to upgrade the Admiral Lazarev cruiser currently berthed in Fokino in Primorye region. The warship was decommissioned and is to be scrapped. However, it has a good hull, and overhaul technologies have been mastered.

It is costly to upgrade such a warship. However, the Admiral Lazarev can head the group of surface forces in Kamchatka, which has the infrastructure for nuclear-powered warships, the Izvestia said.


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