Is a Russian Naval Resurgence Coming? Or Is the Russian Navy Dead? – “Without a proper navy, Russia does not have a future as a state,” then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated in 2009 when he announced plans to forge ahead with a wide-ranging plan for its naval force.
Fast forward to today, and the situation is even bleaker for the Russian Navy.
Moreover, the Kremlin has largely allowed its once-feared navy to sink into the abyss.
The Admiral Kuznetsov, the Russian Navy’s sole aircraft carrier has been undergoing a refit that has lasted years and is unlikely to return to service until late next year at the very earliest, and that is only if Russia can train a crew to operate the warship.
Just this spring, it was also announced the nuclear-powered flagship of the Northern fleet, the battlecruiser Peter the Great, will be scrapped because it is too expensive to modernize.
The Kremlin’s Bold Plans
Even as Russia is now engaged in its largest land war since the Soviet-Afghan War – and based on reports has already lost more men and equipment – the Kremlin has touted its naval ambitions. On Tuesday, Russian state media outlet Tass reported that the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) is building and repairing several dozen ships for the Russian Navy, citing a statement from Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu.
“The corporation is engaged in construction and repair of sixty two ships in interests of the Navy,” the minister said.
The work on five submarines and six surface ships is at the closing stage, Shoigu further added.
Admiral Nakhimov Will Sail Again
Though the future of Admiral Kuznetsov remains uncertain, Russian media also reported that the Kirov-class nuclear-powered battlecruiser Admiral Nakhimov will begin sea trials later this year.
The warship, the sister of Peter the Great and thus the largest nuclear-powered surface combatant that is an aircraft carrier, has been out of service since 1999 – but in 2006, a decision was made to modernize the vessel.
Progress has been slow, to say the least, but it was reportedly a massive undertaking.
After arguably the longest refit in naval history, it was in January of this year that the loading of fuel and work on the power supply had finally begun. During the modernization efforts, more than 5,000 pieces of equipment have been installed, while around 200 km (125 miles) of pipelines and 1,800 km (1,120 miles) of cables have been laid throughout the battlecruiser.
“Performance trials of the ship are projected to take place in late 2023. The ship after commissioning will continue accomplishing missions as part of the Northern Fleet. We will outline measures today that will make it possible to complete the cruiser upgrade by the end of 2024,” Shoigu also said on Tuesday.
When – and perhaps if – Admiral Nakhimov returns to the surface, it will become the flagship of the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet. It could mark a resurgence for the Russia Navy.
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Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.