Kirov-class battlecruiser

The Kirov class, Soviet designation Project 1144 Orlan (sea eagle), is a class of nuclear-powered guided missile cruisers of the Soviet Navy and Russian Navy, the largest and heaviest surface combatant warships (i.e. not an aircraft carrier or amphibious assault ship) in operation in the world. Among modern warships, they are second in size only to large aircraft carriers, and of similar size to a World War II era battleship. The Soviet classification of the ship-type is (Russian: тяжёлый атомный ракетный крейсер, "heavy nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser"). The ships are often referred to as battlecruisers by Western defence commentators due to their size and general appearance.[3]

Kirov-class battlecruiser Frunze
Class overview
Builders: Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad
Preceded by: Kara class
Succeeded by: Lider class
Built: 1974–1989
In service: 1980–present
Planned: 5
Completed: 4
Cancelled: 1
Active: 1 (1 undergoing refit)
Laid up: 2
General characteristics
Type: Heavy guided missile cruiser/battlecruiser
  • 24,300 tons standard
  • 28,000 tons full load
Length: 252 m (827 ft)
Beam: 28.5 m (94 ft)
Draft: 9.1 m (30 ft)
Speed: 32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph)
  • 1,000 nmi (1,900 km; 1,200 mi) at 30 kn (56 km/h; 35 mph) (combined propulsion)
  • unlimited at 20 kn (37 km/h; 23 mph) on nuclear power
Complement: 710
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • Radars: (NATO reporting name):
    • Voskhod MR-800 (Top Pair) search 3D radar, foremast
    • Fregat MR-710 (Top Plate) 3D search radar, main mast
    • 2 × Palm Frond navigation radar, foremast
  • Sonar:
    • Horse Jaw LF hull sonar
    • Horse Tail VDS (Variable Depth Sonar)
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
2 × PK-2 Decoy dispensers (400 rockets)
Armour: 76 mm plating around reactor compartment, light splinter protection
Aircraft carried: 3 helicopters
Aviation facilities: Below-deck hangar

The appearance of the Kirov class played a key role in the recommissioning of the Iowa-class battleships by the United States Navy in the 1980s.[4][5][6]

The Kirov class hull design was also used for the Soviet nuclear-powered command and control ship SSV-33 Ural.


Originally built for the Soviet Navy, the class is named after the first of a series of four ships constructed, Admiral Ushakov, named Kirov until 1992. Original plans called for construction of five ships. The fifth vessel was planned to be named Fleet Admiral of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov, also referred as Dzerzhinsky.[7] The name was later changed to Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya (October Revolution),[8] and then just Kuznetsov;[9] but on 4 October 1990, plans for construction of a fifth vessel were abandoned.[7]

The lead ship of the class, Kirov (renamed Admiral Ushakov in 1992), was laid down in June 1973 at Leningrad's Baltiysky Naval Shipyard, launched on 27 December 1977 and commissioned on 30 December 1980. When she appeared for the first time in 1981, NATO observers called her BALCOM I (Baltic Combatant I). She is currently in reserve.

Kirov suffered a reactor accident in 1990 while serving in the Mediterranean Sea. Repairs were never carried out, due to lack of funds and the changing political situation in the Soviet Union.

In 1983, a command and control ship, SSV-33 Ural, was launched, although the ship would not be officially commissioned until 1989. She utilized the basic hull design of the Kirov-class vessels, but with a modified superstructure, different armament, and was intended for a different role within the Soviet Navy. Ural was decommissioned and laid up in 2001, due to high operating costs, and is scheduled to be scrapped in 2017.

Frunze, the second vessel in the class, was commissioned in 1984. She was assigned to the Pacific Fleet. In 1992, she was renamed Admiral Lazarev. The ship became inactive in 1994 and was decommissioned four years later. She is currently in reserve. On 19 September 2009, General Popovkin, Deputy MOD for Armaments, said the MOD is looking into bringing Admiral Lazarev back into service.[10]

Kalinin, now Admiral Nakhimov, was the third ship to enter service, in 1988. She was also assigned to the Northern Fleet. Renamed Admiral Nakhimov in 1992, she was mothballed in 1999 and reactivated in 2005. She is undergoing overhaul and modernization at Severodvinsk Shipyard.

Construction of the fourth ship, Yuriy Andropov, encountered many delays; her construction was started in 1986 but was not commissioned until 1998. She was renamed Pyotr Veliky (after Peter the Great) in 1992.[7] She currently serves as the flagship of the Russia's Northern Fleet.

On 23 March 2004, English language press reported the Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief, Fleet Admiral Vladimir Kuroedov said Pyotr Veliky's reactor was in an extremely bad condition and could explode "at any moment", a statement which may have been the result of internal politics within the Russian Navy.[11] The ship was sent to port for a month, and the crew lost one-third of their pay.

Russia initially planned to reactivate Admiral Ushakov and Admiral Lazarev by 2020,[2][12] but it was later indicated that the condition of the reactor cores of both ships was such that it would prove difficult, expensive and potentially dangerous to remove the spent nuclear fuel and repair the cores. As a consequence, it is likely that both ships will be scrapped.[13][14] The modernization of Admiral Ushakov seems unlikely due to an alleged nuclear incident which may have left one of its reactors damaged[15] with scrapping to start in 2016 or later.[16] Other sources disagree, stating that all four ships will be modernized and returned to service.[17] In 2014 some maintenance work was performed on Admiral Lazarev (the only cruiser located in the Pacific).[18][19] Skepticism was expressed regarding the ability of Sevmash shipyard to simultaneously modernize two Kirov-class battlecruisers.[18]

Currently, only Pyotr Velikiy remains operational. Modernization of Admiral Nakhimov is ongoing (trials to start in 2020),[20] with the modernization of Pyotr Velikiy to immediately follow and last for about three years.[21][22]



The Kirov class's main weapons are 20 P-700 Granit (SS-N-19 Shipwreck) missiles mounted in deck, designed to engage large surface targets. Air defense is provided by twelve octuple S-300F launchers with 96 missiles and a pair of Osa-MA batteries with 20 missiles each. Pyotr Velikiy carries some S-300FM missiles and is the only ship in the Russian Navy capable of ballistic missile defence.[2] The ships had some differences in sensor and weapons suites: Kirov came with SS-N-14 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missiles, while on subsequent ships these were replaced with 3K95 Kinzhal (Russian: Кинжал – dagger) surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems. The Kinzhal installation is in fact mounted further forward of the old SS-N-14 mounting, in the structure directly behind the blast shield for the bow mounted RBU ASW rocket launcher. Kirov and Frunze had eight 30 mm (1.18 in) AK-630 close-in weapon systems, which were supplanted with the Kortik air-defence system on later ships.

Other weapons are the automatic 130 mm (5 in) AK-130 gun system (except in Kirov which had two single 100 mm (4 in) guns instead), 10 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo/missile tubes (capable of firing SS-N-15 ASW missiles on later ships) and Udav-1 with 40 anti-submarine rockets and two sextuple RBU-1000 launchers.

Russia is developing a new anti-ship missile to equip Kirovs called the 3M22 Tsirkon, which is capable of traveling at hypersonic speeds out to at least 620 mi (540 nmi; 1,000 km).[23][24] If the missile passes developmental tests, it could enter service in 2020, being deployed first aboard Admiral Nakhimov and later in Pyotr Veliky when it finishes upgrades in 2022.[25][26] Depending on the choice of types of missiles will amount to 40 - 80.[27]

The aft sections of Kirov (left) and Frunze (right) showing differences in weapons fit - Kirov has a pair of single 100mm guns, and two pairs of AK-630 CIWS mounts either side of the flight deck, whereas Frunze has a twin 130mm turret and eight SA-N-9 VLS in place of the CIWS mounts.
Armament fit of Kirov class
Kirov / Admiral Ushakov Frunze / Admiral Lazarev Kalinin / Admiral Nakhimov Yuri Andropov / Pyotr Velikiy
Anti-ship missiles 20 x SS-N-19 Shipwreck
Anti-submarine missiles 1 x twin SS-N-14 Silex
SS-N-15 Starfish (via 533mm torpedo tube)
Surface-to-air missiles 12 x 8 SA-N-6 Grumble 6 x 8 SA-N-6 Grumble
6 x 8 SA-N-20 Gargoyle
2 x 20 SA-N-4 Gecko
16 x 8 SA-N-9 Gauntlet
Guns 2 x 1 AK-100 100 mm 1 x 2 AK-130 130 mm
CIWS 8 x AK-630 6 x CADS-N-1
Antisubmarine rockets 2 x RBU-1000
2 x RBU-12000
Torpedo tubes 10 x 533mm torpedo tubes for Type 53

Fire control

  • 2 × Top Dome for SA-N-6 fire control radar (the forward Top Dome is replaced with Tomb Stone (Passive electronically scanned array) in Pyotr Veliky)
  • 4 × Bass Tilt for AK-360 CIWS System fire control (not in Admiral Nakhimov or Pyotr Veliky)
  • 2 × Eye Bowl for SA-N-4 fire control (also for SS-N-14 in Admiral Ushakov)
  • 2 × Hot Flash/Hot Spot for SA-N-11 Grisom (CADS-N-1 units only)
  • 1 × Kite Screech for AK-100 or AK-130
  • 2 × Cross Sword for SA-N-9 (Gauntlet-equipped units only)


Name Namesake Builder Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
Admiral Ushakov
Fyodor Fyodorovich Ushakov Baltiysky Zavod, Leningrad 27 March 1974 26 December 1977 30 December 1980 Laid up, to be scrapped in 2021.[28]
Admiral Lazarev
Mikhail Petrovich Lazarev 27 July 1978 26 May 1981 31 October 1984 Laid up, to be scrapped in 2021.[28]
Admiral Nakhimov
Pavel Stepanovich Nakhimov 17 May 1983 25 April 1986 30 December 1988 Undergoing refit[29]
Pyotr Velikiy
(ex-Yuriy Andropov)
Peter the Great 11 March 1986 29 April 1989 9 April 1998 In service with the Northern Fleet
Admiral Flota Sovetskogo
Soyuza Kuznetsov

(ex-Dzerzhinsky, ex-Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya)
Nikolay Gerasimovich Kuznetsov N/A Cancelled 4 October 1990

See also


  1. Archived April 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  2. "Russian Warship Tests Missile Defense Capability". RIA Novosti. 20 September 2012. Archived from the original on 22 September 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  3. Armi da guerra, De Agostini, Novara, 1985.
  4. Middleton, Drew (1981-03-13). "Pentagon likes budget proposal, but questions specifics". The New York Times. p. A14.
  5. Bishop, p. 80.
  6. Miller and Miller, p. 114.
  7. Ударные корабли, Том 11, часть 1, Ю.В. Апалков, Галея Принт, Санкт-Петербург, 2003
  8. John Pike (2012-03-19). "Kirov Class - Project 1144.2". Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
  9. John Pike. "Kirov Class - Project 1144.2". Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
  10. Agentsvo Natsionalnykh Novostey (Russian) 19 September 2009
  11. "Kuroyedov declares 'Peter the Great' could explode 'at any moment'". Bellona. Archived from the original on 2011-09-29. Retrieved 2011-12-28.
  12. "Upgraded Nuclear Cruiser to Rejoin Russian Navy in 2018 | Defense". RIA Novosti. 2013-06-13. Archived from the original on 2013-06-15. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
  13. "Shipyard director fears radiation accident". Barentsobserver. Archived from the original on 13 December 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  14. "Only one nuclear cruiser to be modernized". Barentsobserver. Archived from the original on 26 March 2018. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  15. "Kirov Class Large Guided-Missile Cruiser -". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-03-13.
  16. "Long-time push to dismantle huge Soviet nuclear battle cruiser again put off -". 11 June 2014. Archived from the original on 14 March 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  17. Rogoway, Tyler. "Kirov Class Battle Cruiser: The World's Largest Surface Combatant". Archived from the original on 2016-10-29. Retrieved 2016-03-13.
  18. "Крейсер "Адмирал Лазарев" подготовили к стоянке на ТОФ". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-03-13.
  19. Ramm, Alexey (31 October 2014). "Admiral Nakhimov to become most powerful missile cruiser in Russian fleet". Archived from the original on 5 March 2017. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  20. "The Project 11442M Admiral Nakhimov Battlecruiser Enters Trials in 2020, Heavily Upgraded". 18 January 2019. Archived from the original on 1 May 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  21. "Russia's flagship nuclear battle cruiser – the world's largest – puts in for repairs". 9 September 2015. Archived from the original on 14 March 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  22. "This Deadly Russian Warship Is the Closest Thing to a Battleship Sailing Today". The National Interest. 20 February 2019. Archived from the original on 1 May 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  23. "Ракеты "Циркон" окончательно определили технологическое превосходство России над США — Русская политика". Archived from the original on 2017-06-10. Retrieved 2017-06-18.
  24. "Для гиперзвуковых крылатых ракет в России создано принципиально новое топливо". Archived from the original on 2017-05-29. Retrieved 2017-05-25.
  25. Russia's Monster Battlecruisers Are Getting Hypersonic Anti-Ship Missiles Archived 2016-03-14 at the Wayback Machine -, 19 February 2016
  26. 3M22 Zircon Hypersonic Missile in Development Testing for Russian Navy Kirov-class Cruiser Archived 2016-03-14 at the Wayback Machine -, 19 February 2016
  27. "В России начались летные испытания гиперзвуковой ракеты "Циркон"". 17 March 2016. Archived from the original on 27 March 2017. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  28. "Russia decides to scrap its legendary nuclear-powered battlecruisers to save money". April 22, 2019. Archived from the original on April 22, 2019. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  29. "Russian Shipyard Sevmash Ordered New Equipment for Overhaul of Kirov Class Cruiser Nakhimov". 6 January 2015. Archived from the original on 12 February 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.


  • Bishop, Chris (1988). The Encyclopedia of World Sea Power. New York: Crescent Books. ISBN 978-0-517-65342-5. OCLC 18199237.
  • Miller, David; Chris Miller (1986). Modern Naval Combat. London: Salamander Books. ISBN 978-0-86101-231-2. OCLC 17397400.
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