The Attempt to Quickly Update the Old Soviet Ships Failed

A few years ago, the Navy actively promoted the concept of a “new ship in the old hull” – a radical reconstruction of Soviet-built ships for new weapons and electronics. A whole group of ships was sent for modernization, but now we can state that all these plans completely failed. How did this happen and who should bear this responsibility? In the issue, the browser explores the Internet edition of Vzglyad.

In the beginning of 2010, successes in Russian military construction caused a kind of euphoria. Its characteristic manifestations were the idea of ​​the resumption of the production of missile trains, ekranoplans, hovercraft and almost universal modernization of the main naval structure inherited from the USSR.

In 2012, a technical project was approved, which provides for the tripling of the ammunition of nuclear submarine cruisers (APK), pr. 949A due to the replacement of the Granit complex with Onyx and Caliber. According to some reports, it was planned to modernize all five boats of the Pacific Fleet. In 2013, Zvezda started work on the Irkutsk nuclear submarine, the next year Chelyabinsk was pulled up, the third was Tver. It would seem that the process has begun.

As for the cruise submarine pr. 971, the plans were even larger – it was already a question of the whole series of 10 boats. In 2011 the “Leopard” came to “Zvezdochka”, it was called to become the head ship of Pr. 971M. Planned terms of modernization were about three years, and although by the end of 2013 the backlog in Leopard was already there, it was believed in good, especially since in 2014 the boats Volk, Samara and Bratsk arrived in the Central Shipyard.

With surface ships, the situation was no less rosy. “Zvezdochka” accepted for medium repair the missile cruiser of the project 1164 “Marshal Ustinov”, which was to return to service in 2014, trampling the path for the same type of “Moscow” and “Varyag”. In 2013, a state contract was concluded with Sevmash for medium-sized repairs, with the upgrade of the heavy cruiser (Admiral Nakhimov), the first of the two repairable “Orlans”, with the deadline for completion of works in 2018, under the 11442M heavy cruiser (TARKR) project. In the same year, 2013 the Murmansk The 35th Shipyard adopted in medium repair (until 2016) the BPK Pr. 11551 “Admiral Chabanenko”. It was supposed to repair all seven destroyers of Project 956 and modernize all eight BODs of Project 1155.

The collapse of a tempting concept

By the end of last year, it was finally clear that the concept of a “new ship in the old hull”, the essence of which was the rapid and inexpensive upgrade of the main ship structure due to medium repairs with the modernization of Soviet projects, suffered a complete failure.

The seriality of the 949AM submarines, having hesitated, was set at 4 units. The transfer period for the fleet of Irkutsk (and therefore Chelyabinsk) moved to the right for 4 years – from 2017 to 2021, and the repair time increased to 8 years (even though it was built twice as fast). In this regard, the statement of the deputy defense minister that 2021 is a real time when the fleet can receive all 4 ships (while the works on Tver and Tomsk did not even begin) causes questions.

No less sad is the situation with the PLA pr. 971M, whose seriality from the “whole series” was cut to six, and then to four units. The deadline for the surrender of the Leopard was postponed from 2015 to 2019, but even the four-year delay is considered by the Zvezdochka source to be too optimistic. In the case of unobvious acceleration of work on the other three boats, the fleet will receive the last 971M approximately in 2023-2024 in 1.5-2 times. – at the same time as the last “Ash trees” or even after them, which makes the modernization program “Shchuk-B” if not senseless, then very doubtful.

As for surface ships, the term for the completion of the modernization of Nakhimov moved from 2018 to 2021-2022, and the duration of the repair of the cruiser risks to overcome the mark of 7.5 years (less than six were built). For more than two years, the pride of the Russian Navy, the Moscow missile cruiser, has not come to the sea. If the cruiser is accepted for repair at the Sevastopol Marine Plant this year, a simple “Moscow” on the date of transfer to the fleet (judging by “Ustinov”) will be at least 8 years.

Due to the failure of the timing and the unexpectedly conceived modernization of the “Chabanenko” the ship will leave the plant not earlier than the turn of 2022-2023, and its downtime will come to 10 years. Of the seven destroyers, judging by everything, there will be three, of which only one is working, similar to the average repair. Of the 8 BCP, only the “Tributsa” (with a minimal upgrade) was repaired and occupied with “Shaposhnikov”, which should become the main ship of the project 1155M, but not before 2019.

The picture of the system crisis of the average ship repair would be incomplete without mentioning the Vepry PLAC, the Tambov PLA, the ALROSA SLS and the Neustrashimy. All of them are being repaired without major modernization, but even here the results are very grievous. Nuclear-powered boats must get out of repair on the “Nerpa” 6-7.5 years after its beginning with a shift of 4-6 years to the right with respect to the original terms. If a miracle happens and Alrosa is handed over this year, the boat will leave the 13th SRH 4-4.5 years after arrival. “Undaunted,” God willing, will leave “Amber” in 2019 instead of the promised sometime 2015, having undergone repairs for about six years (less than four were built).


To begin with, it makes sense to exclude from the list of the main causes of the crisis of military ship repair in Russia traditionally referred to in this connection problems with personnel, cooperation and financing. It’s not the end of the 1990s and not the beginning of the 2000s, the bottom of the crisis of the court industry has been passed in the yard, the United Shipbuilding Corporation, established “for the sake of preserving and developing the scientific and industrial potential of the defense industry complex, has been operating for more than 10 years … the concentration of intellectual, production and financial resources … [when] building ships for the Navy. ” If the above-mentioned problems are still not solved, it should be blamed not by the economy and the government of the country, but by the leadership of USC and its daughter shipyards.

Consider three other reasons for the disappointing state of affairs in ship repair.

Planning errors

Even under Soviet rule, with its propensity for voluntarism, decisions in the field of military development were made taking into account the opinions and capabilities of the parties involved. Now, even more so, the state program of armament is thoroughly coordinated with all the participants in the process. Nevertheless, due to the unfairness or negligence of some contractors, the agreed and accepted programs start to get out of the schedule and collapse before our eyes. An example of this is the story with the nuclear submarines of Project 971M.

There is no doubt that the decision to upgrade the PLAC series 971 was made collegially – by the Ministry of Defense, the Navy, the USC, the Malakhit SPBM and the Zvezdochka CU, as a result of which the planned work schedule was agreed on one order “about three years” . The seamen and designers have no complaints – the fleet was “deceived happy,” and in “Malachite” it was unlikely to provide the details of the CES. But the leadership of the shipyard knew them perfectly, and its consent means at best incompetence, at worst – cheating (understating the real terms in two or three times for the sake of obtaining a profitable contract).

The confusion that happened with the 971M program is just a special case. Judging by the fact that shifting the time to the right for 4 years (even for 6 years) has already become a kind of norm, the risk assessment when planning repairs is either done illiterately or not at all, and the terms are appointed according to the principle “to believe the word to the contractor” interested in the conclusion of state contracts. The best way to deliberately underestimate the timing would probably be the technical audit of not only potential lead executors, but also co-executors (contractors) to ascertain whether they are able to perform certain state defense orders.

To date, the fallacy of the concept of the “new ship in the old building” and the beginning of a profound modernization of pr. 949A and 971 is visible to the naked eye.

There is a certainty that if the Ministry of Defense and the Navy’s commander-in-chief knew the real and not fictitious timeframes, the plans would be corrected in the direction of the accelerated restoration of technical readiness (VTG) for the initial project with the minimal improvements (for example, with the installation on the “Pike-B” complex “Caliber-PL”). The boats of both projects can not be called hopelessly obsolete, and they could well provide a decent number and high KOH (EFFICIENCY) of nuclear submarine forces before the arrival of the fourth generation submarine.

Circular security

In one of his recent interviews, the head of USC stated: “Earlier, the percentage of implementation of GOZ at [the corporation] fluctuated in the range from 47 to 67%, then in [2017] we reach a sustainable 85-90%.” Knowing the systematic shifts to the right of the timing of the work on the GOZ, it is hard to believe in what has been said. We must assume that high interest is obtained through a simple trick.

When the deadline for the completion of the state contract is suitable, and the technical readiness of the order is almost as far from 100% as at the time of its placement in repair, the representatives of the customer and contractor conclude an amicable supplementary agreement to the contract, which pushes the deadline by one to two years. After a year or two, the procedure is repeated. As a result, the fact of violation by the contractor of its obligations ceases to exist, penalty sanctions are not applied, and implementation of the State Defense Committee by the end of the year reaches 85-90%.

The military is easy to understand – they have to go on about the contractors. Nevertheless, it is time to end with the vicious practice of such a “mutual guarantee”. Punishing workers, engineers, junior and middle managers, imposing penalties on the enterprise as a whole, would be unfair. The strict personal responsibility should be borne by the general director of the shipyard and the president of USC.

Left orders

If the Russian military shiprepair was to flourish, passing the updated ships to the Navy just in time, but remaining not fully loaded, there would be nothing wrong with the orders taken “on the side”. However, now, in the conditions of an acute industrial crisis, any non-core work, by which shipyards are loaded, only exacerbate the crisis and damage the combat readiness of the Navy.

It is well known that the specialization of the Zvezdochka CA is the repair of nuclear submarines. Nevertheless, despite the long line of multipurpose submarines awaiting repair (8-9 units), and the sluggish repair of four more, Zvezdochka is actively engaged in the construction of “academics” – supply vessels on the basis of 20180 Ave. On the extent of damage to the main the company’s press service says, the press service of the Central Dispatcher Station, according to which about 500 specialists were involved in the completion of only one of the two simultaneously built buildings, in fact, divorced from the modernization of the boats of the 971 project.

An absurd situation developed on the instructions from above and on the SRP “Nerpa” – the second boatyard in the Russian North. After the triumphant end of 2015 (two submarines handed over), the next two years for Nerpa were wasted, although Vepr and Tambov are working there. The reasons, voiced by the Director of the SRH A. Ohanian, discourage. It turns out that with the incomplete VGT of two submarines, the plant worked under an agreement with the Northwestern Center for Radioactive Waste Management and six Rosatom contracts, including the dismantling and unloading of the steam-generating unit of the recycled icebreaker Sibir, although, according to Ohanyan, “there [except “Nerpa”] has someone to repair and engage in service on nuclear icebreakers. ”

But this is not all: another additional load of the snow and SRZ, the only one on the Kola Peninsula, who mastered the repair of boats 971 and 945 in full volume, was the conversion of the first domestic submarine pr. 627 K-3 for further conversion of it into a ship-museum (by the way, “Yantar” is engaged in the same with respect to the decommissioned destroyer, while the drill “Neustrashimy” was stuck there in repair for a long 6 years).

Ships-museums are, of course, an important matter, but maybe we will first restore the technical readiness of ships from the Navy’s combat staff, and then we will take care of the legacy of the past? Otherwise, all of our navy risks becoming a branch of the Central Naval Museum.

A little honey in the ointment

It can not be said that in recent years, in the part of medium repairs and VTG, our shipyards have been working quite idle. However, it should be borne in mind that most of the orders are either state priorities or long-term construction.

The first group includes strategic missile carriers and anti-aircraft grouping APKR pr. 949A. Breach of contractual obligations on priority orders does not promise the Ministry of Defense contractors anything good, and they understand this perfectly. Therefore, three SSBNs (Ekaterinburg, Tula, Ryazan) and three APKRs (Smolensk, Eagle and Tomsk), surrendered by Zvezdochka and Zvezda in 2013-2017, are not indicative from the point of view of the effectiveness of ship repair – the work on them was carried out, in fact, “under the barrel of a pistol attached to the temple” (which did not prevent Ryazan and Tomsk from being repaired for six years).

Undisputed long-term construction (not necessarily through the fault of the SRZ), handed over at the same time period after a long (from 5.5 to 14 years) standing, are the PLAZ “Kuzbass”, PLB “Kaluga”, “Vladikavkaz”, “Komsomolsk-on-Amur” , RCR “Marshal Ustinov”, BDK “Orsk”. Among the past medium repairs (VTG) in a reasonably short time (2-4 years) are the Pskov and Obninsk, the Vyborg and Dmitrov submarines, the Admiral Tributs, the Korolev and Oslabya ​​BDK “- only seven ships in five years.

attempt to quickly update the old Soviet ships failed

Much less claims to dock, inter-path and navigation repairs, thanks to which in 2017 the Navy of the Russian Navy could provide a hyperactive demonstration of the flag in the World Ocean, as previously reported by the VZGLYAD newspaper. In this sense, Dalzavod, 35th, 13th SRZ and some other shipyards deserve every praise.

Unfortunately, all this is clearly not enough to recognize the work of the military ship repair as satisfactory. Let’s hope that the changes for the better will happen in the very near future.


Source: Maritime News of Russia


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