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Feb 21, 2021
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“Admiral Lazarev” was sentenced to a slow but expensive death

Photo: nuclear-powered missile cruiser "Admiral Lazarev"

In the photo: nuclear-powered missile cruiser “Admiral Lazarev” (Photo: Vladimir Sayapin / TASS)

The heavy nuclear missile cruiser (TARK) “Admiral Lazarev” of project 1144 “Orlan” was sentenced to scrapping, which was written in black and white on the public procurement portal. This event can be called a black day in the history of the Russian Navy.

The cruiser will come for recycling at the 30th shipyard, located in the village of Danube, Primorsky Territory. It will be installed on the cutting slip at the end of August this year. The contract for the disposal of the ship with the 30th shipyard was signed by the Rosatom corporation. The cost of the work, which should be completed by November 30, 2025, is estimated at 5 billion rubles.

The decision to dispose of the flagship of the Pacific Fleet was made, despite the fact that last spring the issue of its overhaul and subsequent modernization was actively discussed. As it happened with his colleague on the project – the cruiser “Admiral Nakhimov”, which is sent for post-modernization tests.

Now the flagship of the Pacific Fleet will be the Project 1164 Atlant missile cruiser Varyag, which is significantly inferior to Lazarev in the weight category. In fact, the sum of the displacement of all ships of the first rank of the Pacific Fleet is only twice the displacement of the dismantled giant.

TARK project 1144 “Orlan” became the largest non-aircraft-carrying ships built in the world after the Second World War.

Full displacement – 25 800 tons. Length – 250 m, width – 28.5 m, height 59 m, draft – 10.3 m. The power plant includes 2 nuclear reactors of 150 MW each and two auxiliary boilers. 2 turbines 70 thousand hp each Power supply is provided by 4 power plants of 18 MW each. Full speed – 32 knots. The cruising range is not limited. Autonomy for reserves – 60 days. The crew is 744 people.

In the 70s-90s, 4 cruisers were built at the Baltic Shipyard in Leningrad – Admiral Ushakov (1980, Northern Fleet), Admiral Lazarev (1984, Pacific Fleet), Admiral Nakhimov (1988, Northern Fleet), Peter the Great “(1998, SF).

“Admiral Ushakov” is expected to be scrapped since 1999. “Admiral Nakhimov” has been modernized. “Peter the Great” takes its place at Sevmash for repair and modernization.

Right now, before our eyes, the fate of “Admiral Lazarev” has been decided. Meanwhile, he could become an excellent ship that has no restrictions on seaworthiness and cruising range. And possessing enormous strike capabilities that can be used both against enemy ships of any rank, and against the most important coastal targets. That is, after the modernization, it would become the same as the updated Admiral Nakhimov.

So what explains the decision to dispose of the cruiser? This was stated by the source of “Interfax” in the defense industry. First of all, the “antiquity” of the ship, which has not been out to sea since 1995, its considerable deterioration. However, this is slyness. Even in the USA, where ships are being built at the highest speed, veterans are not particularly scattered about. For example, the Ticonderoga-class cruisers, which entered service in the mid-1980s, are still in operation.

In the submarine fleet, the situation is even more “egregious” – a pair of Los Angeles-class multipurpose submarines entered the Navy in the early 1980s. But all this is “small” in comparison with “Admiral Lazarev”. It matches the aircraft carrier “Nimitz” in 1975 “year of birth”.

An Interfax source said: why do we need to patch up old stuff when we began to serially build frigates in the ocean zone?

We are talking about frigates of project 22350 “Admiral Gorshkov”. And here, too, slyness. Since after the supply of frigates to the Northern Fleet, the turn to the Pacific Fleet will not reach soon. The long-awaited ship will arrive at the Pacific Fleet in 2025. But this is according to plan. However, we have long forgotten about the times when something is surrendered and accepted according to the plan. Then a couple more ships will be built for the Pacific Fleet. The third, most likely, will be received at the very end of the decade.

But during this time it will be possible to repair and modernize the “Admiral Lazarev” twice.

It should be borne in mind that in terms of shock capabilities, the modernized Orlan is equivalent to two and a half Project 22350 frigates. The arithmetic is simple. On the Orlan there are 80 vertical launch cells, into which cruise missiles “Onyx”, “Caliber”, “Zircon” can be loaded, on the frigate there are 32 cells with the same missiles.

Then comes even more deadly arithmetic. Of the 12 frigates of Project 22350, which we should have in the end, three go to the Northern Fleet, six to the Black Sea Fleet, and only three are transferred to the Pacific Fleet. That is, if we restore the Admiral Lazarev, we, in fact, will have two Lazarevs in terms of striking power, since three frigates are approximately equal to the modernized Orlan. Or six frigates of Project 22350.

If we do not restore it, then the striking power of modern ships in the Pacific Ocean Fleet will be halved. Because all other Pacific ships of the first rank cannot be considered modern in any way – they are not much younger than Lazarev.

Here is what we have at the Pacific Fleet today: the cruiser Varyag (1989), the destroyers Burny (1988) and Bystry (1989), the large anti-submarine ships Marshal Shaposhnikov (1986), Admiral Tributs ( 1986), “Admiral Vinogradov” (1988), “Admiral Panteleev” (1992).

And a little more arithmetic, more precisely – accounting. The cost of building one frigate is about 35 billion rubles. Three will cost 105 billion. The modernization of the Admiral Nakhimov cost about 60-70 billion. That is, the load on the military budget in the event of updating the cruiser should turn out to be less than when building ships of the same striking power.

But there is one point that is undoubtedly known to the source of Interfax. But about which he is silent, since from the defense industry, and, in particular, from the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC). The fact is that there is nowhere to repair and modernize “Admiral Lazarev”.

USC has brought the industry to such a degree that in the west of the country there is nowhere to modernize the aircraft carrier “Admiral Kuznetsov”, in the east – TARK “Admiral Lazarev”. The corporation does not have such capacities at shipbuilding and ship repair yards, where it would be possible to perform even scheduled maintenance of giant ships, the length of which is close to three hundred meters.

Fortunately, there is a Zvezda plant in the Far East, but it only serves nuclear submarines. And it’s impossible to wedge in for 4-5 years with the TARK.

There was a floating dock PD-41 of a suitable size, but it was decommissioned in the last decade due to complete deterioration.

Meanwhile, next to the Zvezda shipyard for 7 years, from 2009 to 2016, oil and gas companies built the Zvezda shipbuilding complex for their needs, its first stage, where it would be possible to modernize the TARK. Since it has already built and handed over to the customer the Aframax class tanker Vladimir Monomakh with the same dimensions as that of the Admiral Lazarev. But no one will let the cruiser in there.

USC was founded two years before the start of construction of the SC “Zvezda”. And it would be possible to somehow rectify the situation with the lack of capacity for servicing and building large ships, somehow compensating for the loss of the plant in Nikolaev, where aircraft carriers were once built. And then a paradoxical situation has developed: St. Petersburg design bureaus churn out projects of aircraft carriers and UDC, but there is nowhere to build them.

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