KIROV class gallery

(Kirov / Admiral Ushakov image). The Kirov-class heavy nuclear-powered missile cruisers were the first nuclear-powered Soviet surface ships. In fact, it should be noted that these ships have a CONAS system (Combined Nuclear and Steam) unique in the world. Preliminary studies for the construction of a nuclear cruiser began in 1968, under the premise that it would be a ship of no more than 8,000 tons of displacement, but it soon became evident that this was not going to be possible if they wanted to have a heavily armed ship that could also serve as a flagship. The final design was approved in May 1971 but it took another 6 and a half years until the first ship entered service. These ships had to be built at the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard in Leningrad, the only one at that time capable of manufacturing such a large hull and which had experience in manufacturing the entire fleet of huge nuclear icebreaker ships.
(Frunze / Admiral Lazarev image). Although all the ships belong to the same class, there are differences between all of them, since they were equipped with different weapons and electronic systems as they were enlisted. The Kirov ship (later Admiral Ushakov) was commissioned in December 1980, Frunze (later Admiral Lazarev) was commissioned in October 1984, Kalinin (later Admiral Nakhimov) in December 1988 and Yuriy Andropov (later Pyotr Velikiy) in April 1998. A fifth ship, named Dzerzhinsky, began construction in 1989, but was canceled and scrapped shortly thereafter. The original names of the 4 ships of the class were changed in May 1992.
(Kirov / Admiral Ushakov image). The Kirov class are huge ships of more than 250 meters in length and a fully loaded displacement of about 28,000 tons, making them the largest surface combat ships in the world. These cruisers mounted the world’s first vertical missile launch system and advanced fire control systems, and thanks to their powerful weapons, they can fight alone or as the leader of a task force. According to some sources, these ships carry about 500 missiles of all types, plus guns, torpedoes and anti-submarine rockets of various types, which could make them the most powerful surface ships in naval history. Although they are not armored ships, they have 76mm thick plates that protect the nuclear reactor compartment and some splinter protection.
(Yuri Andropov / Pyotr Velikiy image). The CONAS propulsion system is made up of two nuclear reactors that generate steam, which is subsequently reheated in the oil-fired boilers, or superheaters, before being sent to the 2 shaft geared turbines. This achieves up to 50% more power. This system was developed when naval engineers realized during design that the number of reactors necessary for a 20,000-ton ship would be 4 to 6, which was considered problematic and dangerous. The total power is about 140,000 shp, 90,000 generated by the nuclear reactors and about 50,000 by the oil-fired boilers. The speed developed by the reactors is about 24 knots and the maximum is about 30-32 knots. The range using the two propulsion systems together is about 14,000 miles at 30 knots, while using only the oil-fired plant is 1,000 miles at 17 knots. Of course the range of nuclear propulsion is considered unlimited, but the maximum speed is reduced to 20 knots.
(Kalinin / Admiral Nakhimov image). The electronic equipment was very complete and includes the radars: -Air search radar: 1 x “Top Pair” 3D C/D-band combined with “Top Sail” and “Big Net” radar antennas. -Air/Surface search radar: 1 x “Top Plate” 3D D/E-band or 1 x “Top Steer” combined with “Top Sail” and “Head Net” radar antennas. -Navigation radars: 3 x “Palm Frond” I-band. -Fire control radars: 2 x “Eye Bowl” (for SA-N-14 Silex) only in Kirov / 2 × “Eye Bowl” (for SA-N-4 Gecko OSA-M) / 1 x “Cross Sword” K-band (for SA-N-9 Gauntlet/Kinzhal) / 2 x “Top Dome” (for SA-N-6 Grumble) / 1 x “Tomb Stone” E-band (for SA-N-6 Fort-M) / 2 x “Pop Group” F/H/I -band (for SA-N-4 Gecko) / 1 x “Kite Screech” H/I/K-band (for 100/130mm guns) / 6 x “Hot Flash” I/J-band (for AK-630 CIWS) only in Kirov & Frunze / 2 x “Hot Flash”/”Hot Spot” (for CADS-N1 Kashtan combined 30mm AK-630+SA-N-11 Grisson system) only in Kalinin & Y. Andropov / 4 x “Bass Tilt” ( for ADG6-30 CIWS) only in Kirov & Frunze. -Aircraft radar control: 2 x “Round House B” (for onboard helicopters) / 1 x “Flyscreen B” I-band.
(Yuri Andropov / Pyotr Velikiy image). The electronic suite is completed with: -Combat Data System: Lesorub 44. -Weapons Control: 4 x “Tin Man” optronic trackers / 2 x “Punch Bowl” SATCOM / 4 x “Low Ball” SATNAV / 2 x Bell Crown + 2 x Bell Push datalinks. -IFF: “Salt Pot” A & B. -Sonars: 1 x “Horse Jaw” (bulb mounted bow) / 1 x “Horse Tail” (VDS variable depth sonar). -Countermeasures: 2 x twin PK-2 150mm chaff launchers / 1 x Towed torpedo decoy. -ECM: 8 x “Side Globe” / 4 x “Rum Tub” / 10 x “Bell”. -ESM: 8 x “Foot Bell” / 4 x “Wine Flask” (intercept) / 8 x “Bell Bash” / 4 x “Bell Nip” / 1 x “Half Cup” (laser intercept).
(Kirov / Admiral Ushakov image). The armament carried on board is what makes the Kirov class stand out greatly. Its main offensive power is provided by the 625 km range SS-N-19 “Shipwreck” (P-700 Granit) anti-ship missiles loaded with a 750 kg HE conventional warhead or a 500 Kt nuclear type. These missiles are launched from armored silos located under the deck in a magazine 20 meters long, 15 meters wide and 10 meters deep. The silos are mounted at a 45º angle to facilitate launch, and allow saturation attacks to be carried out against targets of high military value such as US Navy carrier strike groups.
(Yuri Andropov / Pyotr Velikiy image). The defensive weapons are also very powerful, especially regarding air defense. They have SA-N-6 “Grumble” (S-300F Fort) or SA-N-20 “Gargoyle” (S-300FM Fort) vertical launched anti-aircraft missiles with a range of 100/150 km respectively, SA-N-9 “Gauntlet / Kinzhal” vertical launched anti-aircraft missiles with a range of 12 km and SA-N-4 “Gecko” anti-aircraft missiles with 15 km range. They also have several air defense systems type CADS-N1 Kashtan consisting of SA-N-11 “Grisson” missiles (8 km range) and 30mm GSh-30K 6 barreled rotary guns (4 km range). They also have 533mm torpedo tubes for Type 40 or Type 53 torpedoes that can fire SS-N-15 “Starfish” anti-submarine missiles with a range of 45 km. Regarding artillery, these ships have 100mm AK-100 or AK-130 130mm dual purpose guns as well as 30mm six barreled AK-630 CIWS systems for anti-missile defense.
(Kirov / Admiral Ushakov image). In addition to the above, the Kirov class carry 3 helicopters Ka-25 Hormone or Ka-27/31 Helix for ASW, ELINT or missile guidance missions. These ships have a hangar aft, under the deck, with space to house a maximum of 5 helicopters which are taken to the deck by an elevator. The “missile guidance” helicopters provide target data for the SS-N-19 “Shipwreck” missiles and also provide guidance data to these missiles during their flight toward the target. Flight operations are directed from a small station located aft, just above one of the 100/130mm guns.
The Kirov / Admiral Ushakov cruiser (on the image) entered service on December 30, 1980 with the Northern Fleet. She had a really short career, making her first deployment in 1984 in the Mediterranean Sea. Subsequently, she was deployed for the second time to the Mediterranean at the end of December 1989 but then she had an accident at the nuclear reactor that forced her to return to base. After the accident she was sent to the reserve and although some repairs began in 1999, she was finally decommissioned in 2001. In 2003 it was decided to scrap her, but in 2010 plans were announced to reactivate the ship. Unfortunately, its condition was so bad that reactivation was impossible and in April 2019 it was decided to scrap the ship.
The Frunze / Admiral Lazarev cruiser (on the image) was commissioned on 31 October 1984 and has some differences with the Kirov regarding weapons and electronic systems. In August 1985 she made her first deployment with the Pacific Fleet and from 1987 to 1994 she carried out maneuvers in national waters, becoming inactive shortly thereafter. In 1999 the ship was removed from service and sent to scrap, but in 2010 the Russian Navy proposed activating it, which did not happen due to the dire state in which it was found. In 2019 it was decided to scrap it and finally in 2021 the ship began to be completely dismantled.
The Kalinin / Admiral Nakhimov cruiser (on the image) entered service on December 30, 1988 and was assigned to the Northern Fleet although according to some sources it belonged to the Pacific Fleet. She also had some differences in weapons compared to the Kirov sister ship. In January 1991 she began a long deployment to the Mediterranean, perhaps the only deployment in her career to date. In 1997 the ship was destined to be modernized, but since then the ship has remained in dry dock.
(Kalinin / Admiral Nakhimov image). In 2006 it was decided to modernize the Admiral Nakhimov and in 2018 it was announced that S-400 (type 48N6DMK) or S-350 (type 9K96) Poliment Redut anti-aircraft missiles, Zircon hypersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, SS-N-26 “Strobile” anti-ship missiles (P-800 Oniks) and 3M14 Kalibr cruise missiles would be installed. The armament will be completed with Fort-M (SA-N-6 “Grumble”) and Pantsyr-M (SA-22 “Greyhound”) air defense missiles and with Otvet anti-submarine missiles and Paket-NK anti-submarine torpedoes. The Admiral Nakhimov cruiser will have 176 vertical launch systems (VLS), 96 for air defense missiles and 80 for anti-ship/anti-surface missiles. Currently, it appears that the modernization is completed and the ship is ready for sea trials.
The Yuriy Andropov / Pyotr Velikiy cruiser (on the image) entered service on April 18, 1998……18 years after the Kirov ship!. The lack of funds and the political situation in Russia after the fall of Communism are behind this gigantic delay. The ship was assigned to the Northern Fleet, where it serves as its flagship. In August 2000, during large naval maneuvers, this cruiser served as a target for the ill-fated K-141 Kursk submarine. In April 2004 the ship entered dry dock to receive minor repairs and in September of this same year she carried out naval maneuvers in the north-western Atlantic. In December 2008 she carried out naval maneuvers with the Venezuelan Navy in Venezuelan waters after which she left for India to carry out another exercise with ships from this country at the end of January 2009.
In February 2009 Pyotr Velikiy cruiser (on the image) captures 3 boats with 10 Somali pirates off the coast of Somalia. At the end of March 2010, she left for a new 6-month deployment, during which she carried out maneuvers with the Black Sea Fleet in April, and with Chinese ships in the South China Sea. Afterwards, she carried out the “Vostok-2010” maneuvers near Vladivostok and at the end of September it returns to its base after having traveled 28,000 nautical miles (52,000 km).
In 2014, Pyotr Velikiy (on the image) led a Russian squadron that was sent to Syria, where it participated in the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal alongside ships from an international coalition. In October 2016 she led a naval group to the Mediterranean to support the Syrian government in its fight against the rebel forces of Aleppo. Since then, the cruiser has been dedicated to carrying out various naval exercises, some with live fire, in which she has fired several SS-N-19 “Shipwreck” (P-700 Granit) missiles.
In April 2023 it was reported that the Pyotr Velikiy (on the image) was likely to be retired from service upon reactivation of her sister ship, the Admiral Nakhimov. It would then go into reserve to await its destination, although from what has been seen, once the ships go into reserve, there is very little chance of them being activated again, since maintenance is usually neglected and degenerates until making the ship unusable. Another option may be for her to be kept to be cannibalized and provide spare parts for the ship left in service. In any case, a final decision has not yet been made, but the high cost of modernization does not seem to be in Russia’s plans and could mean the end of this impressive ship.

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