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Russia’s All Corvette Navy

November 28, 2009

Russian Steregushchy class corvette.

Eric L Palmer points to this link concerning the Russian Navy’s dramatically declining fortunes:

“If the current situation [with shipbuilding] remains unchanged, we will face a grand-scale removal of ocean-going warships from service with the Russian Navy by 2015 and, as a result, a sharp decrease in its combat capabilities,” Adm. Vyacheslav Popov said in the article “The Navy and Russia’s national security” published in the “Russia’s Security-2010” almanac on Thursday.

Popov, who is the chairman of the committee on national maritime policies in the upper house of parliament, said the main cause of the looming crisis was lack of financing allocated for construction of new ocean-faring ships.

“The allocated funds are insufficient to carry out large-scale construction of ocean-going ships and simultaneously maintain the existing fleet in combat-ready condition,” the admiral said. He said the Russian Navy received only one 2,000-ton corvette and no ocean-going warships in the past decade.

Changing the building priorities of major navies may no longer be a choice, if you notice the declining numbers in even well-funded Western Fleets. The rule may soon be “build small or die“. But as capable as such modern small vessels are, what’s wrong with that? Whatever works.

Earlier this month, Dmitry Gorenburg predicted this in the Russian Military Reform blog:

In another 10 years, its major ocean-going ships will be gone, with nothing but a few corvettes and a couple of French LSTs to replace them.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. October 13, 2013 3:10 am

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  2. October 9, 2013 7:57 pm

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  3. September 22, 2013 10:41 pm

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  4. Chuck Hill permalink
    November 29, 2009 5:25 pm


    The real question is would they ever have the opportunity. The LCS is not intended to fight other surface warships, other than swarms of suicide boats in the ASuW mode.

    Even so it might have a shot at taking out a Steregushchy class corvette by exploiting it’s better, more numerous (2 v 1) helicopters both for recon and as offensive weapons. The object would be to hit the corvette before it ever knew the LCS was there. Handled intelligently, it is entirely possible.

  5. adamo permalink
    November 29, 2009 2:22 am

    do you guys think that these corvettes and frigates could pretty much trash one of these new LCS turkeys? i honestly dont know thats why im asking you folks. from all the bad press iv’e read on the LCS it would seem very likely.

  6. Chuck Hill permalink
    November 29, 2009 1:41 am

    Historically, for the Russians/USSR, having an ocean going fleet has been the exception rather than the rule. It is something they do when feeling expansive, but also something easily discarded. It has already happened many times.

    Beside, the size of your Navy is an answer to the question, “Who do you expect to fight?” Who do they think they are going to fight now?

    I would not count this as proof of a world wide trend.

  7. DesScorp permalink
    November 29, 2009 12:46 am

    I certainly think you’ll continue to see a decrease in larger surface vessels, but there’s no way the Russians will ever give up on blue water submarines. Rest assured that they’ll continue to build them, even if they have to build conventional boats.

  8. November 28, 2009 10:23 pm

    you misunderstand what I mean as usual …. everytime the US is involved in a protracted war…where ever that war is…it skews defense procurement to meet the needs of that war instead of taking a more balanced approach. the middle eastern wars are no exception. also I took this post as further proof that your small ships were the future.

  9. D. E. Reddick permalink
    November 28, 2009 7:54 pm


    The Russian Navy has a current -planned- program of building 20 corvettes and -also- 20 frigates. And that’s not counting the three ‘frigates’ built or being built for the Caspian Sea. Then there are the plans to rebuild two of the old Kirov-class nuclear-powered battlecruisers. So, no – it’s not so much a green water corvette fleet we can expect to see as an attempt at creating a balanced fleet for both blue and green water operations. Perhaps the battlecruisers will be the area-defense ships for the the multi-function frigates and the derived LHDs of the Mistral class.

    List of ships of the Russian Navy

    Major surface combatants

    # Frigates (11): two Krivak I class frigates; five Krivak II class frigates; two Neustrashimy class frigate; one Tartarstan/Gepard class frigate; one Novik class training vessel.

    * one built, 20 Gorshkov class frigates are planned for the Navy.
    * two Tartarstan/Gepard class frigates built with third building (total of three for Caspian Sea).

    # Corvettes (81): one Steregushchy class corvette; 28 Tarantul class corvettes; eight Parchim class corvettes; 28 Grisha class corvettes; 16 Nanuchka class corvette.

    * four more Steregushchy class corvettes are under construction.
    * 15 more Steregushchy class corvettes are planned.

  10. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 28, 2009 7:41 pm

    *weapons fit and lethality

    Solomon, other than weapons fit, dont see what any of these matter much in the Black Sea. And I’d agree with you more if it wasn’t the Russians themslves saying this, not the less than perfect Western Intelligence. Also you said:

    “Once this “flu” has passed then it’ll be back to taking care of the usual problems”

    Yep, back to the saber and saddle. Real soldiering. Not these little Brushfire distractions that don’t really matter, right?

    Though I wish the Navy would get the COIN flu good and long. Maybe it would save itself from extinction.

  11. November 28, 2009 6:44 pm

    The demise of the Russian Navy may be wishful thinking. When oil was at its height, it was full speed ahead. This recession is affecting all forces worldwide. The trend, whether its accepted or not is to move toward multi-mission platforms or amphibious ships. The middle is getting bigger not smaller.

    Small ships just can’t get around…
    *weapons fit and lethality

    Not even the addition of rotary winged aircraft can bend that curve. Middle weight, multi-mission ships are it….coastal patrol ships are out. I would even go so far as to say that the Navy has been bit with the COIN bug that’s ravaging the Army and Marine Corps. Once this “flu” has passed then it’ll be back to taking care of the usual problems…which will still include littoral combat, but not an undue focus on them.


  1. LCS Alternative Weekly « New Wars

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