Monday, September 29, 2014

Overhauled Kilo Subs Remain Kalibr-less

Kilo "Vladikavkaz" - September 19, 2014
(Image courtesy of Zvezdochka Ship Repair Center)
Six new (Project 636.3) Kilo-class diesel submarines are being built for the Russian Navy at Admiralty Shipyards in St. Petersburg. All six, which are destined for the Black Sea Fleet, will be armed with the Kalibr-family of missiles: the SS-N-27 Sizzler anti-ship cruise missile, the SS-N-30 land-attack cruise missile, and the 91R ASW missile. But will happen with the older Kilos?

Two 25-year-old Northern Fleet Kilos have undergone overhauls at Zvezdochka Ship Repair Center in Severodvinsk, but the overhauls apparently do not include backfitting them with the Kalibr system.

"Kaluga" arrived at the shipyard in 2002 for repairs, but without a decision on whether to repair or scrap the submarine, it remained idle for about six years. In 2008, Onega Scientific Research Technological Design Bureau drafted documentation for "medium repairs" (i.e., overhaul, which gives the submarine another 10 years of service) of the submarine, but only in 2010 was "Kaluga" finally moved into a repair hall. The submarine was rolled back out in May 2012. In 2013, the shipyard made it clear that "Kaluga" was not backfitted with the Kalibr system.

"Kaluga" was inactive so long that the crew it had in 2002 had been nearly disbanded, reduced to just a few crew members. As such, the crew of another Kilo, "Yaroslavl" (commanded by Captain 2nd Rank Oleg Mikholap), manned "Kaluga" throughout its post-overhaul sea trials (2012-2013) and transfer back to Polyarnyy (July 2013). In 2013, Mikholap was replaced by his executive officer, Captain 3rd Rank Yuriy Gusarov, as the "Yaroslavl" commanding officer; however, as "Yaroslavl" was non-operational, Gusarov's crew remained on "Kaluga". In October-November 2013, just three months after returning from the shipyard, "Kaluga" (under Gusarov's command) conducted a month-long deployment (area unknown). Gusarov and his crew remained on "Kaluga" as late as June 2014 and could still be on board.

The second Kilo to be overhauled at Zvezdochka Ship Repair Center, "Vladikavkaz", was transferred to Severodvinsk in 2008. Due to a similar "indecision-making" process, a contract for the submarine's "medium repairs" was not signed until 2011. The submarine was rolled into the repair hall in late 2011 for a nearly two-year overhaul period. The submarine rolled out of the repair hall on September 19 of this year and will be returned to the Russian Navy in late 2015.

Although neither Kilo was backfitted with the Kalibr missile system, they did receive the MGK-400V.1 sonar system, which provides improved sonar capabilities. Other upgrades were made to navigation and weapons-related components.

Next up: either "Magnitogorsk" or "Yaroslavl". "Magnitogorsk" has been performing duties in the Baltic Fleet since late 2013 (it did a similar Baltic Fleet deployment in 2012). Its return to the Northern Fleet may have been delayed until one of the Baltic Fleet's own Kilos, "Vyborg", returns to service following lengthy repairs. "Yaroslavl" has been inactive for at least two years. As with "Kaluga" and "Vladikavkaz", none of these old Kilos are expected to receive Kalibr upgrades.