“Peter the Great” stuck in Severomorsk

"Peter the Great" arrived at Severomorsk on November 24 last year. In the beginning of 1997 the second stage of the cruiser’s test program was to be performed. Lack of funding forced the Navy to postpone these plans. Now "Peter the Great" is stuck in the home port of the Northern Fleet, unable to continue testing because of a money squeeze, reports the St. Petersburg Times.

Captain Yaroslav Kalyanov, a spokesman for the Northern Fleet in Severomorsk, said that some 30 million USD are needed to complete the testing of the ship.

The construction of "Peter the Great" was launched in 1986. Due to lacking funds it took 10 years to build the vessel. Total construction costs amounted to 1 billion USD. A number of experts claimed that the Russian Navy does not need Peter the Great. The lack of functioning infrastructure in the Navy for vessels of this class makes them impossible to operate properly. Two nuclear-powered cruisers of the same class have been idling in Severomorsk for the last few years, due to technical difficulties with maintenance and refuelling operations.

In spite of the criticism, it was cheaper to finish the construction of "Peter the Great" than to dismantle it. The Ministry of Defence still owes the Baltiisky shipyard more than 11 million USD for building the ship.

Today the crew onboard "Peter the Great" is unpaid, while penniless civilian testing experts allege that thefts of equipment from the ship is a growing problem.

In case the necessary money is delivered in the foreseeable future, tests on "Peter the Great" will continue for another six moths. This is quite unlikely though, given that total state debts to the Northern Fleet have reached 260 million USD.

Igor Kudrik

igor@bellona.no