MOSCOW, January 24 (RIA Novosti) – The refit of one of Russia’s four heavy nuclear-powered missile cruisers has begun after years of delays, the country’s largest shipbuilder said Friday.
The work on the Admiral Nakhimov will revamp its firepower and set the stage for the revitalization of the Russian Navy’s capital ships, which have not been modernized in the post-Soviet era.
The vessel, formerly named the Kalinin, is one of four Kirov-class missile cruisers, the largest surface combat ships in operation with any navy. Only one of the ships, the Pyotr Veliky, is operational, but Russia plans to return the other three to service starting with the Admiral Nakhimov in 2018.
Russia also has a single aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, currently deployed in the Mediterranean.
Sevmash shipyard said in a statement that the schedule for work on the cruiser this year has already been drawn up.
Heavy equipment is now being removed in order to lighten the ship so it can be moved from its berth into the dockyard with the aid of specially constructed pontoons, Sevmash said.
The shipyard earlier said that the cruiser would be equipped with P-800 Oniks (SS-N-26) supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, air defense missiles based on the S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) and close-in weapons systems, which are designed to shoot down missiles and aircraft approaching the ship.
The refit will build on the shipyard's success of overhauling the Kiev-class aircraft carrier Baku, re-commissioned for India as the Vikramaditya in November.
That job, however, faced fewer difficulties since the Vikramaditya lacked a nuclear reactor and had fewer weapons systems.
The Admiral Nakhimov, the third ship in the Kirov class, was laid down by the Soviet Union in 1982, commissioned in 1989 and has sat mothballed at Sevmash since 1999.