Surface Forces: March 30, 2005

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Russia is keeping at least one of its nuclear powered battlecruisers in service for a while, perhaps up to another twenty years. The Admiral Nakhimov, a Kirov class, 24,500 ton, warship, has begun a twenty month stay in the Severodvinsk shipyards, where the ship will receive new electronics, new missiles and other upgrades. The Admiral Nakhimov entered service in 1988, right at the end of the Cold War, and its electronics are ancient by current standards, despite a 1994 upgrade. Four Kirovs were built, but only t he Admiral Nakhimov and Pyotr Velikhiy, which entered service in 1998, are still in working order. The Kirovs, in addition to their nuclear power plants, carry twenty Shipwreck anti-ship missiles and three different type of anti-aircraft missile systems (and over 250 missiles). There are also anti-submarine torpedo launchers, and 30mm cannon for anti-missile and close in defense. The crew of 720 has plenty of space, as the ship is 780 feet long and 90 feet wide. The Kirovs are fitted with additional (quite comfortable) staterooms for senior officers, so that the ship can operate as the flagship of a task force. While the upgrade can be seen mainly as a way to keep shipbuilding technicians employed, and maintain a formidable looking Russian warship in commission, a Kirov on the high seas is a warship to be reckoned with. The high speed Shipwreck anti-ship missiles have a range of 550 kilometers, and carry a 1,600 pound warhead. This missile was built to cripple an American aircraft carrier, but it would outright destroy any lesser vessels.

 


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