FACTBOX: The Pyotr Veliky nuclear-powered battle cruiser

 FACTBOX. On April 18, 1998, the St. Andrew’s flag, Russia’s naval ensign, was hoisted for the first time on the nuclear-powered missile cru...

 FACTBOX. On April 18, 1998, the St. Andrew’s flag, Russia’s naval ensign, was hoisted for the first time on the nuclear-powered missile cruiser The Pyotr Veliky. This event, 25 years ago, heralded the vessel’s formal commissioning into the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet. The TASS FACTBOX team has gathered the basic facts and figures about the vessel.

General information

The heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser The Pyotr Veliky (Peter the Great) is classified as part of the Project 1144.2 family of vessels (codename: Orlan; NATO reporting name: Kirov), a series of Soviet and Russian multipurpose surface combat ships equipped with nuclear power plants and guided missile weapons for blue-water oceangoing operations. As of 2023, The Pyotr Veliky serves as the flagship of the Russian Navy, in which it is the sole surface nuclear-powered combat vessel. It is also the largest operational attack warship in the world that is not an aircraft carrier.

Project 1144 history

In 1964, the Soviet Union resumed research (interrupted in the 1950s) for determining the shape of what would become the first-ever nuclear-powered surface battleship, an oceangoing vessel of unlimited cruising range and capable of operating independently in remote regions of the world’s oceans. The primary tasks that such a raider ship was expected to perform were search-and-destroy missions against nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (known as "SSBN" or "boomers" in US Navy terminology - TASS). Following an initial research stage, the Leningrad-based Northern Design Bureau (currently the Severnoye Design Bureau in St. Petersburg) received the tactical terms of reference for designing a large anti-submarine ship with a nuclear power plant and a displacement of 8,000 tons. The project was assigned number 1144 and the codename Orlan. The man appointed as the project’s chief designer, Boris Kupenko, had previously designed the Soviet Union’s first combat gas turbine powered ships, large anti-submarine ships (destroyers) built under Project 61. Fleet Admiral Sergey Gorshkov, Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Navy in 1956-1985, was directly involved in the creation of the Orlan-class vessels.

As the design work proceeded, the Orlan’s concept and appearance changed considerably - its displacement was increased and a decision was made to create a fundamentally new reactor instead of the already available steam-generating power plants. The Experimental Design Bureau of Machine-Building (currently, the JSC Afrikantov OKBM engineering company in Nizhny Novgorod) was commissioned to do the job. The introduction of above-water protection for the vessel’s most crucial systems from the impact of missile weapons was a fundamentally new solution. The technical design phase was completed in 1972. Construction commenced on the lead ship of the Orlan-class family as a nuclear-powered anti-submarine cruiser. At the end of the 1970s it was reclassified as a heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser.

The warships were built at the Baltic Shipyard in Leningrad (currently Baltiysky Zavod JSC, part of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, in St. Petersburg). A total of four cruisers of this type, including three serial nuclear-powered cruisers built under the upgraded Project 1144.2, have been delivered to the Navy. The first two - The Kirov and The Admiral Lazarev - were decommissioned in the 1990s. The third ship - The Admiral Nakhimov - was mothballed in 1997, but a contract was signed in summer 2013 for its overhaul and upgrade at the Sevmash shipyard. It is expected to be handed over to the Navy in 2024.

The Pyotr Veliky cruiser’s history

The keel-laying ceremony for the heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser (Serial Number 803) took place on April 25, 1986. Initially called The Kuibyshev, it was later renamed The Yuri Andropov (in honor of the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union). It was launched on April 25, 1989. In 1992, the ship was rechristened as The Pyotr Veliky in honor of Tsar Peter I (Peter the Great), Russia’s first emperor and the founder of the Russian Imperial Navy. As this nuclear-powered ship was originally built for service in the Northern Fleet, its sea trials took place in the Arctic Ocean. On April 9, 1998, the formal certificate of acceptance was signed and the cruiser joined the Northern Fleet. The St. Andrew’s flag was hoisted on the ship on April 18, 1998 in a special ceremony. The Pyotr Veliky now serves as the Northern Fleet’s flagship.

On August 13, 2000, the cruiser’s hydroacoustic equipment spotted the wreck of the nuclear submarine, The Kursk, at the bottom of the Barents Sea. The ship then served as the command center for the rescue operation. Its other tasks were to guard the area, maintain communications among all other vessels and coordinate actions. In August 2001 the cruiser patrolled the area throughout the operation to recover The Kursk.

In 2008, The Pyotr Veliky took part in a joint naval exercise with the Venezuelan navy in the Caribbean Sea.

In 2010, it made a long-distance voyage to Vladivostok, traversing three oceans - the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.

On July 28, 2012, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded The Pyotr Veliky with the Order of Nakhimov "for the courage, selflessness and high level of professionalism demonstrated by the ship's personnel in performing combat task orders issued by naval command."

In 2013, the ship made an Arctic voyage at the head of a detachment of Northern Fleet vessels.

In October 2016 - February 2017, together with the heavy aircraft carrier The Admiral Kuznetsov, The Pyotr Veliky participated in a long-range combat mission in the Mediterranean off of the coast of Syria.

Technical features and weapons

The ship’s main power plant is equipped with two fast-neutron nuclear reactors with an overall capacity of 600 MW and two main turbo units (70,000-horsepower capacity each). The maximum speed is 31 knots (57 km/h). Unlike its predecessors, The Pyotr Veliky has an enhanced voyage duration (its food and other onboard supplies can last 60 days) and an unlimited cruising range.

The P-700 Granit anti-ship missile system is the cruiser’s main attack weapon. The S-300FM Fort-M missile system is its main defense against air attacks. The ship’s standard armaments also include the Kinzhal surface-to-air missile system, the Kortik surface-to-air missile and artillery short-range defense system, the AK-130 turret artillery system with two automatic 130-mm guns, an RBU-1000 Smerch-3 anti-submarine rocket launcher, the RPK-6M Vodopad anti-submarine missile and torpedo system, and the Udav-1M anti-torpedo system. The ship can also carry up to three multipurpose Ka-27 helicopters.

-News Feed




Local Glob: FACTBOX: The Pyotr Veliky nuclear-powered battle cruiser
FACTBOX: The Pyotr Veliky nuclear-powered battle cruiser
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