Last April, the Russian Navy announced that the refit and upgrades to the Project 11442M heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser Admiral Nakhimov were running behind schedule, and that the handover of the warship to the fleet would be delayed. While it was reported that the delays could stretch into 2023, it was announced on Thursday that the work had progressed and the ship is being prepared for handover.
"The Sevmash Shipyard has begun setting up and training the delivery team for the Project 11442M ship. The crew will comprise workers, builders, adjustment and test engineers, designers, technologists and specialists of other professions. Overall, the delivery team will comprise over 1,000 people," the press office of the Sevmash Shipyard said in a statement to TASS.
Even with this news, it could be well into next year before Admiral Nakhimov is back in service with the Russian Navy. The press office stated that after all the work on the missile cruiser is concluded, the warship will deploy to the sea where the delivery team and the crew will check the vessel prior to deployment.
The Sevmash Shipyard has been modernizing and upgrading the Project 11442M cruiser since 2013, while the ship first entered the facilities nearly twenty-five years ago. By the time the cruiser returns to service, she will have spent more time undergoing repairs than the time it took on her initial construction and service with the Russian Navy combined.
In fact, the refit has been nearly a full rebuild of the ship. According to reports, large-scale internal work has been conducted, while specialists have been mounting equipment, systems and assemblies, painting and insulating the vessel. The press office also stated that specialists will load onto the cruiser and install over 5,000 items of equipment and more than a million of various items, and about 200 km of pipelines and 1,800 km of cables will be laid on the Russian Navy's Northern Fleet's future flagship. All of the electric installation work has been carried out by specialists of the Arktika enterprise.
The project designer, the Severnoye Design Bureau, created a 3D model of the warship that is being used in the upgrade and refit.
The Kirov-class heavy cruiser joined the Soviet Navy as the Kalinin in 1988. She was renamed in 1992 in honor of Pavel Nakhimov, the admiral of the Imperial Russian Navy who commanded the naval and land forces during the Siege of Sevastopol during the 1850s Crimean War.
Her actual service with the Russian Navy was short-lived. By the end of the Cold War, Admiral Nakhimov had rarely been deployed. She entered the Sevmash shipyard in 1997, and since 1999 has been permanently docked while waiting for the refit to be completed.
However, despite the time-consuming efforts, Moscow has repeatedly touted the capabilities Admiral Nakhimov will have after the upgrades are complete. The heavy cruiser will reportedly carry ten versatile shipborne launchers for eight Kalibr-NK or Oniks cruise missiles, and eventually will be armed with Tsirkon hypersonic missiles.
Of course, the ship has to actually be completed, and despite Russia's claims, it could be years before this warship heads out to sea again.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.