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Admiral Gorshkov (Baku CVHG-103)

Aircraft Carrier / Heavy Cruiser Warship

The Admiral Gorshkov was born as the Baku and was later sold off to the Indian Navy to become its INS Vikramaditya in 2013.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 4/26/2018
National Flag Graphic


Year: 1987
Status: Decommissioned, Out-of-Service
Ships-in-Class: 4
Named Ships: Kiev; Minsk; Novorossiysk; Admiral Gorshkov (Baku CVHG-103)
Roles: Aircraft/Offshore Support;
Complement: 1300
Length: 895 ft (272.80 m)
Width: 101.7 ft (31.00 m)
Height: 26.89 ft (8.20 m)
Displacement (Surface): 45,000 tons
Propulsion: 4 x Geared turbines developing 200,000 horsepower to 4 x Shafts.
Speed (Surface): 32 kts (37 mph)
Range: 13,469 nm (15,500 miles; 24,945 km)
Operators: Russia; Soviet Union; India
The Admiral Gorshkov (formerly the "Baku" CVHG-103) was a late-Cold War-era aircraft carrier serving the Soviet Navy for a time. The type was based on the Kiev-class of aircraft carriers led by the Kiev itself and joined by sister ships Minsk and Novorossiysk. Towards the end of the Cold War and after the Soviet Empire's final collapse in 1991, the Soviet fleet fell on hard times and all four vessels were sold off. The Kiev and Minsk were sold to China while the Novorossiysk became scrap. The Baku - renamed to the "Admiral Gorshkov" late in its career - was sold to the Indian Navy and is set for recommissioning sometime in 2012 as the refitted "Vikramaditya".

The Baku had her keel laid down at Ukrainian Shipyard No.444 in 1978 to which construction proceeded for several years thereafter. In 1982, the vessel was launched and underwent sea trials, ending with her formal commissioning in 1987 as the "Baku", this after the city of Baku in Azerbaijan. The Baku carried the Baku name from 1987 until 1991 (then under the Soviet Navy flag) to which the vessel was renamed the "Admiral Gorshkov" for the remainder of her Russian career (after the fall of the Soviet Union). her career closed in 1995 prior to her refit and subsequent sale to India. The Admiral Gorshkov name was derived from the Soviet Cold War-era navy admiral of the same name - Admiral Sergey Gorshkov.

Design of the Baku/Admiral Gorshkov was a mixed breed of conventional aircraft carrier standards and armed heavy cruiser. The flight deck consisted of a short stern-to-portside runway designed for short take-off and recovery. The bow section was where most of the defensive and offensive weaponry was held - torpedo tubes and deck guns clearly visible. The island superstructure was offset to the starboard side and towered over the featureless flight deck immediately to the left. Beyond that, the type was well-formed with clean lines designed to cut through the roughest of northern hemisphere seas.

The Admiral Gorshkov managed an air wing of 12 x Yakovlev Yak-38 Forger VTOL aircraft (Vertical Take-Off and Landing). The Yak-38 was roughly the equivalent of the British BAe Sea Harrier though limited in its tactical scope and operational range (only 231 were produced before retirement in 1991). The fixed-wing aircraft was supplemented by up to 16 x Kamov navalized helicopters for anti-ship, anti-submarine and general reconnaissance sorties.

All of the Kiev-class carriers were well-defended from air and sea threats. The Admiral Gorshkov was deployed with 6 x 2 P-500 Bazalt surface-to-surface missile launchers numbering 12 total missiles. A 24 x 8-cell 9K330 Tor vertical-launch surface-to-air missile system defended against incoming aerial threats as needed to which some 192 missiles were stowed aboard. There were 2 x 100mm dual-purpose guns for managing ranged surface threats while 8 x 30mm AK-630 series Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS) defending the vessel from short-range incoming threats. 10 x 21" torpedo tubes could be used against enemy naval vessels. In this way, the Kiev-class of fighting ships could be called upon to tackle all manner of threats - moreso than any typical Western aircraft carrier of the time could.

The Admiral Gorshkov was crewed by up to 1,600 personnel with 1,200 being in the minimal range. Power was derived from 8 x turbopressurized boiler systems feeding 4 x steam turbines delivering 200,000 shaft horsepower to 4 x shafts. The vessel displaced at 45,000 metric tons under full load.

The Baku served as carrier for deck trials of the proposed Yakovlev Yak-141 "Freestyle" Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft. A boiler explosion in 1994 put the ship into dock for needed repairs and she was not set out to sea again until 1995. Decommissioned in 1996, Russian authorities looked to unload the steel beast to an interested - though Russian-friendly - party. They found a willing taker in the Indian Navy who proceeded to purchased the vessel outright in 2004 with the final settled price of $2.3 billion (primarily to cover refit). A refitting was undertaken at a Russian shipyard and the flight deck configuration changed to a STOBAR arrangement (STOBAR = "Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery"). This included removal of the bow-mounted weaponry and installation of a ski ramp. The boilers were also given up in favor of conventional diesel-fueled turbines.

November 2013 - The Admiral Gorshkov was commissioned for service into the Indian Navy as INS Vikramaditya on November 16th, 2013.


6 x 2 SS-N-12 "Sandbox" surface-to-surface missile launchers.
24 x 8-cell SA-N-9 surface-to-air missile vertical launchers.
2 x 100mm dual purpose guns
8 x 30mm AK-630 Close-In Weapon System (CIWS)
10 x 533mm torpedo tubes
2 x RBU-6000 anti-submarine rocket launchers

Air Wing

12 x Yakovlev Yak-38 VTOL fighters
20 x Kamov Ka-25 or Ka-27 maritime helicopters
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