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Take With a Bit of (Sea) Salt…


From Warships: IFR:

Other statements of intent last month regarding increasing naval capability included Admiral Masorin revealing that Russia is to create two new strike forces. They will be centred on three carriers each, with one trio assigned to the Northern Fleet, based in the Kola Peninsula, and the other to the Pacific. Pravda stated in an editorial published on July 11: ‘Russia is building a new Navy and aircraft carriers are deemed as its integral part.’

If achieved, this will enable the Russian Navy to maintain a continuous carrier force presence in the Atlantic, the Pacific and further afield. The Russian Navy’s sole existing operational carrier, RFS Kuznetsov, is said by defence sources to be ready to deploy this autumn from Kola, as a precursor to the dramatic upsurge in Russian carrier-based airpower. The five other carrier groups are expected to gradually stand-up over the next 20 years. It is anticipated the carrier programme will get underway in 2015, but possibly sooner. With the Sevmash shipyard at Sevorodvinsk leading the project, the new vessels will each be of around 50,000 tonnes displacement, nuclear-propelled and capable of carrying a strike group of approximately 30 aircraft.


Coincidentally, I’ve just been reading Stalin’s Ocean-Going Fleet by Jurgen Rowher and Mikhail S. Monakov (review forthcoming). In addition to such interesting tidbits as the belief on the part of the Soviet Navy that its Gangut class battleships were superior to “all but fifteen” of the world’s battleships in the late 1920s, and the fact that negotiations between the Soviet Union and the United States progressed rather far regarding the construction of a Soviet fast battleship in American yards prior to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the book makes clear that the Russians have been declaring that they will soon build a fleet of aircraft carriers since the early 1920s. After 80 years, the result of those declarations has been two helicopter cruisers, four VSTOL carriers, and one genuine aircraft carrier. Given this history, I’m pretty skeptical that we’re on the verge of seeing a massive Russian fleet carrier presence in the Arctic or the Pacific anytime soon.

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