MOSCOW, April 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will base its French-made Mistral-class amphibious assault ships in the Far East ports of Vladivostok and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky when they enter service, a senior Defense Ministry official said in an interview.
Russia signed a 1.2-billion euro deal with a French shipyard in 2011 for two Mistral-class ships, the first of which is due for delivery in 2014 and the second in 2015.
“There are several options [for their location], but the choice fell on Vladivostok due to its existing transport infrastructure,” Roman Filimonov, head of the Defense Ministry’s construction department, told RIA Novosti.
“In future, we should create conditions for a short-term base equipped for storage replenishing, loading and unloading troops and crew rest in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky,” Filimonov said. Other possible bases for the ships are still being considered, he added. A navy spokesman told RIA Novosti in 2011 one of the ships could be based with Russia's Northern Fleet.
Filimonov said the necessary infrastructure for the two ships is due to be built in the Primorsky Krai by 2015.
He also noted it is more convenient to dock the ships near major cities to provide housing for the crew and their families. The Mistral-class is capable of carrying 16 helicopters, four landing vessels, 70 armored vehicles, and 450 personnel.
Procurement of the Mistral-class ships has been the subject of considerable controversy within the defense community in Russia. In January this year, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin criticized the decision to buy the ships after it was revealed they needed high-grade fuels and lubricants which were not produced in Russia in order to operate in cold temperatures.