Slava class

The missile cruisers of the Slava class were designed as a less expensive and, perhaps, more reliable alternative to the larger and more advanced nuclear-powered battlecruisers of the Kirov class, whose displacement is more than twice. The design of the Slava class, started in the late 1960s, was a continuation from the previous Kara class, being the hull of rather similar characteristics, apart from the increased size.

Of ten ships originally projected only three were finished: Slava (commissioned in 1982 and later renamed Moskva), Fleet Admiral Lobov (commissioned in 1986 and later renamed Marshal Ustinov) and Chervona Ukrayina (commissioned in 1989 and later renamed Varyag). A fourth ship, incomplete, is owned by Ukraine and should be completed with Russian assistance. As 2016 the three ships remain in active service with the Russian Navy and important upgrades are intended for them.

The following photograph shows the Slava as she was around 1986. With the collapse of the Soviet Union three years later the dreams of a powerful Soviet Fleet collapsed as well, with numerous warships being cancelled or abandoned in the shipyards.

Slava class missile cruiser Slava
The cruisers of the Slava class have an overall length of 186.4 meters, a beam of 20.8 meters and a draught of 8.4 meters. The standard displacement is close to 10000 tonnes, reaching about 12500 tonnes at full load. The complement is around 500 people, about 100 more than in an American cruiser of the Ticonderoga class.

The propulsion, of conventional type, uses gas turbines in a COGOG arrangement. This system uses a set of low-power turbines for cruising speeds and a set of high-power turbines for high speed, to achieve a greater efficiency in fuel consumption. The difference with a COGAG arrangement is that it is not possible to use both sets of turbines simultaneously; this greater mechanical simplicity in the propulsion system saves weight and costs and reduces the possibility of potential failures. The propulsion system actuates on two shafts and develops a total output of 130000 shaft horsepower, allowing a maximum speed of 32 knots, while operational range is about 7560 nautical miles (14000 kilometers) at 18 knots.

The two photographs below correspond to the Moskva (ex Slava). In the lower one it is clearly visible one of the two cylindrical recipients that contain the pop-up launchers for the SA-N-4 missiles and also the housing in the hull of one of the torpedo launchers. The helicopter is a SH-60 Seahawk LAMPS (Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System), the naval antisubmarine helicopter currently standard in the United States Navy, landing in the cruiser during joint maneuvers.

Slava class missile cruiser Moskva
Slava class missile cruiser Moskva
Regarding the armament, the design was based around the large surface-to-surface cruise missile SS-N-12 "Sandbox", which had been previously installed in the aircraft carriers (or antisubmarine cruisers) of the Kiev class. In the Slava class these missiles were installed in sixteen fixed external containers, being this unusual "saw teeth" arrangement an obvious distinctive characteristic of the class, as it can be seen in the photographs below.

The antiaircraft armament comprises eight octuple vertical launchers for the surface-to-air long-range missile SA-N-6 "Grumble", located in the quarterdeck just after the crane, two pop-up twin launchers for the surface-to-air short-range missile SA-N-4 "Gecko", located next to the helicopter deck, and six AK-630 30-millimeter cannons mountings, whose primary purpose is to protect the ship against incoming missiles. It is totally unusual to place such a number of close-in weapon systems in a warship like these (there are only two Vulcan Phalanx mountings in the Ticonderoga class), which might indicate distrust in the effectiveness of the AK-630.

The "large" artillery piece onboard is the AK-130 130-millimeter 70-caliber twin cannon mounting at prow. These cannons can fire 35-kilogram projectiles to distances of up to 28 kilometers with a muzzle speed of about 1000 meters/second. An elevation angle of up to 85 degrees allows for antiaircraft fire but the rate of fire (up to 30 rounds per minute for each barrel) seems rather limited for this task.

Antisubmarine armament comprises two antisubmarine mortars RBU-6000, located just before the bridge, and two quintuple 533-millimeter torpedo launchers hidden behind doors in the hull flanks, as in the American antisubmarine destroyers of the Spruance class. Finally, the hangar and flight deck astern allows to operate with a Ka-25 or Ka-27 antisubmarine helicopter.

Slava class missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov
Slava class missile cruiser Varyag

Kara class

The photograph shows the Kerch, the only surviving exemplar of the Kara class in 2016. The missile cruisers of the Kara class were designed during the second half of the 1960s and classified as "large antisubmarine warfare ships". And so, their successors derived in two branches: general-purpose cruisers (Slava class) and antisubmarine ships (Udaloy class).

Seven units were launched between 1969 and 1976, named Nikolayev, Ochakov, Kerch, Azov, Petropavlovsk, Tashkent and Vladivostok. The Kerch was the last of these ships in active duty, being scheduled for decommission around 2011. However the ship was still in service in 2014, when she suffered a fire. After such event she was put in the reserve with the expectancy that she could be repaired and returned to active service.

Kara class cruiser Kerch
The ships of the Kara class had an overall length of 173.2 meters, a beam of 18.6 meters and a draught of 6.7 meters, with a standard displacement of 8200 tonnes that reached 9700 tonnes at full load. These ships were of the first types operating with gas turbines, which are more efficient than conventional steam turbines.

The four turbines were of two different types installed in a COGAG arrangement, which would allow to select a set of two turbines of lower power but higher efficiency for navigating at cruise speed or a set of two boost turbines for navigating at high speed. It would be also possible to run the four turbines at the same time, which would give up to 120000 shaft horsepower on two shafts, impulsing the ship at a maximum speed of 32 knots. Operational range was around 6800 nautical miles (12600 kilometers) at 18 knots.

Kara class cruiser Kerch
The armament comprised the antisubmarine missile SS-N-14 "Silex" in two quadruple launchers placed besides the bridge superstructure, the surface-to-air missiles SA-N-3 "Goblet" and SA-N-4 "Gecko" in twin launchers, two AK-726 76-millimeter twin cannon mountings, four AK-630 CIWS 30-millimeter cannons, two quintuple 533-millimeter torpedo launchers, two antisubmarine rocket launchers RBU-6000 and another two RBU-1000, and finally a Ka-25 antisubmarine helicopter.

The photographs provided allow to see all of the aforementioned weapon systems, with the exception of the helicopter and the SA-N-4 pop-up launcher, which is hidden inside the cylindrical structure next to the main mast.

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