A New Russian Frigate at Last


[New photo added per reader’s comments and tip. Thanks guys.]

While the U.S. Navy has suffered from warship delays and massive cost overruns, especially with the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the San Antonio (LPD 17) amphibious ships, and the planned Zumwalt (DDG 100) destroyers, the Russian Navy is suffering similar problems. The long-delayed frigate Steregushchiy was placed in commission in late November.

The ship had been laid down six years ago — in December 2001 — at the Severnaya shipyard in St. Petersburg. Not only has the ship taken about two years longer to construct than planned, but the cost per unit has more than doubled.

The Steregushchiy was to have been the lead ship of up to 50 of these 2,100-ton warships, intended for coastal patrol, anti-submarine warfare, and escort duties. The original order given to the Severnaya shipyard in 2001 was for ten ships, but that number was almost immediately reduced to four ships. The three additional ships are believed to be on the building ways in St. Petersburg.

Although often touted as having a low-observable or stealth design, in fact the Steregushchiy has a conventional configuration with a 100-mm gun forward, surface-to-air missiles, a close-in gun system, and ASW weapons. The ship can arm and fuel a helicopter on its flight deck, but does not have a helicopter hangar.

Also being constructed by the Russians are the slightly smaller (2,090-ton) frigates of the Tatarstan class. The lead ship was laid down in 1992, but not completed until mid-2002. The second ship of the class, laid down in 1994, is not yet operational. These ships, also intended for coastal patrol and ASW operations, do have a small helicopter hangar.

The delays with these ships is highly significant as Russia is not currently constructing destroyers or cruisers except for one or two of the Neustrashimyy-class ASW destroyers. These destroyers are taking more than a decade to build.

Thus, these frigates are the future of the Russian surface fleet. While President Vladimir Putin continues to tout the growing military capabilities of the Russia, it is clear that for the foreseeable future the Russian Navy will not be part of the new Russian power base.

Indeed, in September 2005, Putin fired Fleet Admiral Vladimir Kuroedov, who had commanded the Russian Navy since 1997. Kuroedov had complained bitterly about the Navys funding shortfalls, at one point claiming that he was receiving only 12 percent of the funds needed to maintain and modernize the fleet. While he was also blamed for the disastrous Russian Navy response to the sinking of the nuclear-propelled submarine Kursk in 2000, in reality he survived that tragedy and, more likely, was fired because of the poor state of the fleet in general and his constant advocating more emphasis on regaining Russias status as a major naval power.

Norman Polmar

  • AGK

    ^…and don’t forget those damn Americans!;)

  • Dennis

    Roy may be a little Paranoid, But it would be hard to drive a ship through destroyed locks.
    The Japanese tried in WW2, but they put together a plan too late in the game.
    If it is one thing we know the Chinese are using lessons learned from the Japanese. Just look at their currency manipulation and unfair business practices. And political campaign

  • Doz

    The article is inaccurate. Not only does the Stereguschy very obviously have a helicopter hangar, which you can see by simply looking at Google image search, Russia is also building the Project 22350 Admiral Gorshkov class frigates/destroyers (the terminology in this article is different from that usually used – ie. the Neustrashimiy is commonly called a frigate, not a destroyer) which are much larger than the Stereguschy ships (which are commonly called corvettes).
    And I don’t know what that picture is supposed to be, but it’s not a Stereguschy.

  • Doz

    Here’s a rear shot of the Stereguschy (before she was fully painted) – helicopter hangar clearly visible.
    And here’s the Stereguschy from another angle.

  • Doz

    And finally, the Stereguschy at IMDS 07 (IIRC) – ready to be properly presented with a decent paint job :) (again, helo hangar).
    (this picture is large and high quality)

  • Doz

    One more thing – the article’s got the armament wrong it neglects to mention the eight anti-ship missiles – in two cells of four missiles each- are concealed amidships. What I can only assume are vents for the exhaust of the missile’s engine is visible in the pictures below.
    The first five ships (the article is wrong on that too, four additional ships of the class are being built – STOIKY, BOIKYY, SOOBRAZITEL’NYY, and SOVERSHENNYY) are armed with Uran AShMs (Harpoonski) – following units will be armed with eight supersonic Oniks and probably stronger air defence systems than the Kashtan.
    Sorry for the nitpicks, it just irks me.

  • Rotorhead

    The proposed new destroyers of the Admiral Gorshkov class appear to be a modification of the existing Udaloy class hull and machinery in the same way the Sovremenny class are built on the hull and machinery of the previous Berkut ( Nato Kresta ) I and II. Russia is not at this point able to advance the state of the art in naval architecture, and their machinery reliability is always in question. The Berkut, btw, was itself a derivative of the earlier Kynda hull and machinery, who’s basic power plant has powered just about every steam powered ship since then. Double that power plant and you have what pushes a Kuznetsov along.

  • Peter

    The Stereguschy as well as the Soobrazitelnyi is, with less than 2000tons displacement, clearly a corvette and not a frigate (2000-5000 tons). The new Russian frigate will, with 4500 tons, be the Admiral Gorshkov.