"Zubr" class landing craft are the world's largest and fastest hover-type naval landing craft, with a speed of more than sixty knots. They can carry 140 soldiers and 130 tons of cargo, three T-80 tanks or ten BTR-80 armored personnel carriers onto a hostile beach via a back-folding bow ramp. The vessel is armed with two 22-barrel 140 mm "Ogon" rocket launching systems and four "Igla 1M" antiaircraft missile launchers.
The first Greek contract with Russia was for two "Zubr" craft (named "Kefalinia" and "Zakintos") in 2000-2001, for $102 million. Greece bought two more vessels from Ukraine for the same price (named "Itaki" and "Kerkira"). The Greek Navy only took the "Itaki" into service, since deep cracks were found in the "Kerkira's" hull during acceptance trials. The Greek Navy was looking forward to the delivery of a Ukrainian-built floating dock, included in that contract as an offset.
With the new Russian hover landing craft contract, the Greek Defense Ministry requirements were met but Greek sailors were not yet experienced enough to safely pilot these high-speed craft. The "Kefalinia" was damaged last April when it collided with a Greek ship and had to undergo repairs. Whether this is an indicator of the Greek Marines' purchasing the BMP-3M is unknown, but the two additions to the Hellenic fleet are sure to give Turkey some headaches (see the June 14 entry in Amphibious Operations). - Adam Geibel
More "Zubr" information can be found online at
The Greek Defense Ministry and the Russian Rosoboronexport Company signed a $63.9 million contract on 30 September, for a third "Zubr" class (Project 1232.2) hover landing craft for the Greek Navy. These Pomornik-class Amphibious landing craft will be built at St. Petersburg's "Almaz" shipyards and would be delivered by mid-2004. The contract cost includes spare parts, armaments and training for the Greek technical personnel. The crew for the new landing craft will be formed from among the other Greek "Zubr" landing vessel crews.