Three years ago Russia announced that it planned to rebuild all the three Soviet nuclear cruisers “Admiral Nakhimov” and “Admiral Ushakov” of the Northern Fleet and “Admiral Lazarev” of the Pacific Fleet. Today, Russia has only one nuclear powered battle cruiser in active service, “Pyotr Veliky”, based in the Northern Fleet. This vessel was taken into service in 1996 and is today considered to be the fleet’s flagship.
The 252 meters long and 24,300 tons heavy Kirov-class cruisers are the largest and heaviest surface combatant warships in the world.
As “Admiral Ushakov” and “Admiral Lazarev” are considered to be beyond repair, they will be scrapped, a source in the military complex says to Izvestiya. The third one, “Admiral Nakhimov” will be modernized at the Sevmash Shipyard in Severodvinsk. The cost of rebuilding and modernizing the vessel is estimated to some RUB 50 billion (€1.24 billion).
Experts doubt the cost efficiency of modernization: “For the same amount of money we could buy a new vessel like the French helicopter carrier “Mistral”, Andrey Frolov, editor of the Military Export magazine says to Izvestiya. “These huge vessels are vulnerable to modern weapons. They were built in Soviet times and even after modernization they will last maximum 15 years”, he explains.
Also the Northern Fleet’s command is skeptical to the plans. “Admiral Nakhimov” will demand a large crew, and it is not clear where these people are to be found: “Such a large ship needs several hundred top qualified officers and contracted sailors which are more needed on the new vessels that are under construction now. Who are going to serve on the “Admiral Nakhimov” is still very unclear”, a source in the Northern Fleet’s command staff says to Izvestiya.