Nuclear cruiser will proceed to the Northern Fleet

Publish date: November 12, 1996

Written by: Igor Kudrik

Russia's new nuclear-powered cruiser "Peter the Great" will proceed to the Northern fleet in the end of November.

Russia’s new nuclear-powered cruiser "Peter the Great" will in the end of November proceed to the Northern fleet. The cruiser is now performing military exercises in the Baltic Sea near Kaliningrad. The construction of nuclear cruiser "Peter the Great" started on April 25 1986 at Baltiysky Yard in St.-Petersburg. The displacement of this 6 decks boat is 28000 tons, the length – more than 250 meters. The reactor facility is presumed to operate during 50 years. Each of the reactor has power output of 300 MWatt, 2 x 140 h.p. The maximum speed is 32 knots, crew – 610 persons, including 82 officers. Due to the lack of funding the construction of this vessel took 10 years. After performing military exercises in Baltic Sea, "Peter the Great" will proceed to the Northern Fleet and finally to its defined assignment port in the Pacific Fleet in July next year. The nuclear surface vessels are financing problems which are not less in dimension than those struck the nuclear-powered submarines fleet. The main problem with nuclear-powered battle cruisers is the lack of properly equipped naval bases and facilities for servicing the reactors. Due to the lack of onshore supply facilities, the reactor installations of the vessels have been all the time in operation and by now quite worn-out. The vessels had no overhaul repairing, so as a result they are not in use any more, staying in their home port in Severomorsk on the Kola Peninsula. Another serious drawback is the lack of naval base facilities for refuelling the reactors of surface vessels.

"Peter the Great" nuclear cruiser recently put into operation will inherit the whole scope of problems mentioned above. It is expected that "Peter the Great" is the final vessel of this class.

According to "Nezavisimaya Gazeta", fleet does not need "Peter the Great", at least today. The cruisers of this class are regularly used within aircraft carrier attack units, but Russia has just one operational aircraft carrier – "Kuznetsov". However the construction of the cruiser had to be completed, since the dismantling and decommission operations would cost more than the works to finish the construction.

On October 16 1996 at 15:46 Moscow time Swedish air force fighter of "Viggen" class suffered an accident. The pilot was found dead. According to General Staff of the Navy of Russian Federation, after nuclear cruiser "Peter the Great" left Finish Gulf on October 14 this year to the Baltic Sea to perform final tests not related to usage of weaponry, it was followed by aircrafts during most part of the day time. The aircrafts of "Viggen" class belonged to Swedish airforces 15 marine unit based in Sederhamn. The aircrafts were carrying out photographic and electronic surveillance over the nuclear cruiser. Periodically the fighters were circling above the vessel, performing exercises attacks. The next pair of fighter arrived to the area of cruiser’s route after 12 (European time) on October 16. Fine visibility and high enough cloudiness gave good surveillance of the whole area. Performing one of the exercises the pilot in the heading fighter did not manage the controls and crashed 200 meters ahead of the cruiser. The pilot was found dead later by Swedish Naval rescue team.

On October 27 an incident occurred on "Peter the Great" nuclear-powered cruiser which is currently on test operation in the Baltic Sea. As it was reported there was a break of one of the high-pressured pipelines in the bow engine room of the vessel. As a result of it four persons were killed and a few got wounded. According to Head Quarters of the Russian Navy, the incident had nothing to do with the reactor installation. The crew of the vessel and designers were repairing the damage brought by the incident. The cruiser will continue its tests. In the end of November the test operations will be completed and the vessel will join the Northern Fleet.

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