Russia to patch up nuclear cruisers

Publish date: October 4, 1999

Written by: Igor Kudrik

Two Russian nuclear powered cruisers, both in a bad state of repair, arrived at Severodvinsk. The future of the Admiral Ushakov remains fuzzy.

Two of the four Russia’s nuclear powered cruisers are now moored at the peer plants of Sevmash and Zvezdochka shipyards in Severodvinsk. The Admiral Nakhimov that arrived at Severodvonsk on 14 August will undergo repairs, while the future of the Admiral Ushakov that came on 19 September still remains unclear.

The Admiral Nakhimov, put into service in 1988, was towed to Severodvinsk from Murmansk being unable to move on its own. The last time cruiser was at sea in July 1997. The cruiser was not on a military mission, however. It was just a celebration in honour of some kind of anniversary. The cruiser is manned with 230 sailors while the normal crew should number 610 members. While in Severodvinsk, the vessel will get its two reactors refuelled. Generally the refuelling of Russia’s four nuclear cruisers is an issue since no infrastructure has been built in the Navy to effect proper refuelling.

The Admiral Ushakov, commissioned in 1980, was deemed for scrapping, but the decision was later reversed after the State Duma, lower chamber of the Russian Parliament, put forward a resolution against decommissioning. On June 8 this year, the State Duma set up a charity fund to collect donations for Ushakov’s come back. Reports suggest that around $160 million be required to repair the vessel. Given the money is available, it will take 1,5-2 years to shape up the ship. The charity fund has managed to collect around $400.000 so far. Interfax reported early September that Zvezdochka shipyard in Severodvinsk, where the cruiser is currently stationed, is unofficially getting ready to start dismantling the ship. The Russian Navy HQ in Moscow vigorously denied the reports.

The third nuclear powered cruiser, the Admiral Lazarev, stationed in Abrek Bay at the Pacific Fleet, was also scheduled for decommissioning as reports suggested in early June. But some months later a Duma member said it would not happen referring to some funding promised by the Russian government to effect the repairs. The Pacific Fleet HQ also denied the decommissioning plans. A Russian Daily Novye Izvestiya reported later that the denial came due to the fact that the fleet had found no buyers to sell the scrap metal from Lazarev. The Admiral Lazarev was put into active service in 1984.

Russian Navy has four Kirov class nuclear powered cruisers; three of them are stationed at the Northern Fleet – Admiral Ushakov, Admiral Nakhimov, Peter the Great – and one has its home base at the Pacific Fleet – Admiral Lazarev.