For Nakhimov’s Price

Admiral Nakhimov? (photo:

Admiral Nakhimov? (photo:

The photo above appears to be Kirov-class CGN Admiral Nakhimov (ex-Kalinin) having its superstructure dismantled at Sevmash. didn’t indicate how it came by the picture.

Blogger Aleksandr Shishkin recently offered his rationale (and that of other navy advocates) for repairing and modernizing Admiral Nakhimov.

As a shipbuilder, Shishkin says the “enemies of these monster-ships” think that the extraordinary expenditures required to renovate Nakhimov could be redirected to better use for the Russian military.  But he contends that Russia’s nuclear-powered guided missile cruisers have a disproportionate military-political effect when compared to other ways of spending this part of the MOD budget.

First, he makes a military firepower argument.

He argues that Nakhimov provides more “bang for the ruble” measured against new surface combatant construction.  He offers as an example the proyekt 20380 Steregushchiy-class corvettes of which five, with a total of 100 missiles, can be bought for Nakhimov’s price.  Two and one-half proyekt 22350 Gorshkov-class frigates can be bought for Nakhimov’s price.  Three Gorshkovs have 144 missiles. Or, for the cost of Nakhimov, one future proyekt 23560 (Lider) destroyer with approximately 136 launchers could be bought.

Shishkin projects 304 missiles on the renovated  Nakhimov — 224 SAMs and 80 cruise missiles.

That is, according to him, “twice-three times the quantity of similar and more powerful weaponry for the same money plus the possibility of using [the ship] anywhere in the world.”

Second, Shishkin argues for Nakhimov’s political effect.  Its return will keep Russia in a “firm second place” in the world navy “table of ranks” which carries a psychological impact “no one should underrate.”  Showing the flag promotes Russia as an alternative to the U.S. as the world’s lone superpower, according to him.

Nakhimov or no Nakhimov, many would argue China is the world’s second-ranked navy.

Third, the blogger maintains that reconstructing Nakhimov raises Russia’s “sense of self-worth” by showing that it can build [or rebuild] really large ships, not just patrol boats.

Fourth, he asserts that Nakhimov will be ready (2018-2019) earlier than new corvettes, frigates, and destroyers that won’t be delivered until the early 2020s.

Fifth, Shishkin says Sevmash’s work on a “first-rank” nuclear-powered ship like Nakhimov will prepare it to build aircraft carriers or to compete with Northern Wharf for destroyer contracts.

Shishkin notes that the renovation of Nakhimov costs 50 billion rubles ($1 billion), or 30 billion ($600 million) for the ship and 20 billion ($400 million) for new armaments and systems.  If this is the case, that makes Steregushchiys about $200 million, Gorshkovs about $400 million, and Liders about $1 billion per unit.

So none of this comes cheaply.

It’d be interesting to read an argument for Admiral Nakhimov addressing how the ship will figure in future Russian fleet operations and larger military strategy. How will it operate in defense of Moscow’s naval strategic nuclear forces, or in more likely contingencies short of this?

Admiral Lazarev (photo:

Admiral Lazarev (photo:

Admiral Ushakov and Admiral Lazarev remain in reserve in different states of decay and are very unlikely candidates for modernization.  Petr Velikiy will, at some future point, probably undergo the work currently being done to Nakhimov.

10 responses to “For Nakhimov’s Price

  1. William Boutros

    There seems to be no alternative for the modernization. Russians will not be able to field similar warships any time soon. Naval industry and electronics seem to be the weakest links in the MIC.

  2. They’re still deciding what to do with the Ushakov, if I recall correctly. Supposedly the odds are decent that it’ll be refitted.

  3. Personally I think the decision to revive Nakhimov is backwards unless there’s at least plans to replace its older electronics, such as with modernised air/sea search radars and improved subsystems, not only just a bigger missile capacity.

    True, she makes a good giant missile-ship deterrent, but how would it fair in real conflict? Being big, Kirovs have an enormous radar signature and can be easily detected for miles away, and in the modern ‘Stealth Age’, navies are incorporating such material for hull design, adding sophisticated systems for electronic warfare, and placed a larger emphasis of CWIS systems for ‘layered’ defence. Not just that modern surface ships have a bigger missile capacity than their Cold War predecessors, as seen in modern European and Asian frigate, and destroyer designs.

    I understand that some want to retain Cold-War era icon ships as long as they can, but how long can their service life be extended while the world naval perimeters keep changing? It would be a wiser long-term investment in modern vessels and better to keep up with the World’s ship building development. Most of the Russian Navy’s fleet inventory are in need for new successors, and the Leader and Gorshkov projects are the real future.

    • Of course they’re replacing the electronics. The new missiles alone will necessitate new fire control and targeting radars.

      • Are there any plans for radars? Because current surface combatants are in dire need for more powerful volume search radars and sensors, especially if their service life are planned to be extended. Simply overhauling equipment without properly refitting them is not enough.

    • Yes, the Slava cruisers are being refitted with newer radars. I assume the Kirov’s will see the same.

  4. Pingback: Rusia isi redoteaza vechile si marile sale crucisatoare pentru a deveni distrugatoare de portavioane. | Lupul Dacic

  5. Pingback: Rusia isi redoteaza vechile si marile sale crucisatoare pentru a deveni distrugatoare de portavioane. | Lupul Dacic

  6. State contract issued for dismantling Russian Pacific Fleet’s Admiral Lazarev at 30 SRZ by 2025. Originally Frunze, it was the second Kirov CGN.

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