Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Costs of Repair, Modernization and Manning Prompt Moscow to Scrap Largest Nuclear-Powered Naval Ships

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 21 – The high and rising costs of repairing, modernizing and then manning Russia’s largest nuclear-powered ships is forcing the Russian government to scrap some of them and announce plans for building a larger number of smaller, conventionally powered ships to replace them. But some experts doubt Moscow can afford a sufficient number of those.

            The Russian government has announced that after the repair and modernizing of the Admiral Nakhimov is completed, the Russian navy will  scrap the Petr Velikiy, the largest nuclear-powered surface vessel in the fleet and the flagship of the Northern Fleet (

            The Petr Velikiy is the only atomic powered surface vessel in the Russian navy and the largest ship other than aircraft carriers in the world, but the extraordinarily high costs of modernizing the Admiral Nakhimov and the projected costs of manning the Petr Velikiy have led Moscow to conclude that it cannot afford to maintain this ship.

            The estimated costs of modernizing rather than scrapping the Northern Fleet flagship are estimated to be approximately 200 billion rubles (2.2 billion US dollars); and given Russia’s other defense needs, that is more than the navy will be able to spend in the foreseeable future, experts say.

            Also out of service at the present time and projected by many to share the same fate as the Petr Velikiy is the ill-fated Russian aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov. It is currently in drydock and its return to service has been constantly put off. At present, it is scheduled to come back online next year; but experience suggests that is unlikely.

            To fill the gaps that the scrapping of these large ships will create, Russian naval planners are calling for the construction of a large number of smaller Orion-class ships, but Russian analysts say that the Soviet Union couldn’t afford the number required and that the Russian Federation is unlikely to be able to do so either.


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