Defense minister Sergey Shoigu has announced that Russia will start construction of four new large warships later this month. This includes two Gorshkov-class frigates and two Ivan Gren class landing ships. Keel laying of all four ships will apparently happen simultaneously on 23 April. That writes flotprom.ru
The two Gorshkov-class frigates will be built at the Severnaya Verf in Saint Petersburg. It is not a huge surprise that Russia has decided to order two more of these ships. Rumors have circulated about it for a while, and the holdup appears to have been caused by insecurity about the funding. With these new ships, the total number of Gorshkov-class frigates will increase to six. The first of class, Admiral Gorshkov, was delivered last summer, and the second ship, Admiral Kasatonov, is expected this year. The third ship, Admiral Golovko, and fourth ship, Admiral Isakov, are expected by 2022. Rumors say that the fifth and sixth ships will be named Admiral Amelko and Admiral Chichagov.
Russia seems quite happy with their Gorshkov-class frigate design. Admiral Gorshkov is currently on its first long journey. It left Sri Lanka a few days ago and is now headed for Qingdao where it will participate in a naval parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Navy. They still improve the design, and the new ships will have 24 cells for Kalibr or Oniks missiles instead of 16. Russia is also working on a design for a larger version of the ship, nicknamed the Super-Gorshkov.
The two new Ivan Gren class landing ships will be built at Yantar in Kaliningrad. This was a bigger surprise for me. Rumors have circulated for a while about a new order of these ships, but I have mostly seen it as an expression of wishful thinking from the shipbuilding industry. Before the delivery of Ivan Gren last year, the message was that the Defense Ministry had decided not to purchase more of these ships than the two already in construction.
Ivan Gren was delivered to the Russian Navy last year after a construction process that was marked by endless trouble and delays. It took 14 years to finish Ivan Gren, which is a really long time for a ship that doesn’t introduce groundbreaking new technology. The second ship in the class is Petr Morgunov, and it is expected later in 2019. I would speculate that the decision to purchase another two Ivan Gren class ships is influenced by a desire to support the shipyard industry. Russia is working to diversify the production line, so that military factories also produce goods for the civilian society. However, the degree of civilian production is still low, and many production facilities can only stay in business if the government buys new military equipment. So if I were to guess about the order of priorities, it would be that the goal is to sustain the Yantar Shipyard while also getting a ship that the Navy might find useful. In the long run, the landing ships that the Russian military really wants are the Mistral-class replacements, but developing such a ship will be much more expensive than prolonging the serial production of the Ivan Gren class.
Finally, Shoigu announced that the name Merkuriy will be given to the first ship of the project 20386 class of new corvettes. This name has a historical significance, as Merkuriy was a legendary brig that performed extraordinarily well in a battle against Turkish ships in 1820. However, the Russian government’s attempts at finding a new ship for this name has turned into something of a renaming carousel. First the name was given to the second ship of the Karakurt-class. This happened shortly after the Defense Ministry had decided to change the naming convention of the Karakurt ships from “unpleasant weather phenomenons” to “small Russian cities”. In a matter of two months, this ship changed name from Taifun to Sovetsk to Merkuriy. Now they need to find a new name for it again. The project 20386 corvette now called Merkuriy used to be called Derzkiy.