Storozhevoy (Project 1135) Frigate / Submarine Hunter Warship
Mutiny on the new Soviet Navy Storozhevoy frigate became the inspiration for the Tom Clancy novel The Hunt for Red October during the Cold War years.
Authored By JR Potts, AUS 173d AB; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
Storozhevoy was a 1135 Burevestnik-class ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) frigate built in 1973 for the Soviet Navy. This series of large frigates was specifically designed to counter the new American missile-capable Polaris-class submarines. By 1975, Premier Leonid Brezhnev had spent vast sums of money upgrading the armed forces and the new Burevestnik ASW frigates were the pride of the Soviet Navy. Brezhnev felt the Soviets needed to keep pace with the American Navy, resulting in an ongoing arms race during the Cold War.
With Communist victories in Southeast Asia and Latin America and a booming national economy in Russia, many felt the Soviet Union appeared to be winning the Cold War. By the early 1970s, the Soviet Union was at the peak of its power. The Communist Party remained the only political party in the Soviet Union and forced economic reforms allowed the Empire to have a strong economy and an increased standard of living for its citizens.
The NATO callsign for the new frigate class was the "Krivak" and the frigate Storozhevoy was attached to the Soviet Baltic Fleet based at Riga at the Gulf of Riga. The design started in 1957 and developed into a large anti-submarine ship in the 1960s. A total of 40-plus ships were built for the Soviet Navy, the KGB Maritime Border Guard, Ukraine and India.
The sleek design was 405 feet long and she weighed 3,300 tons. The vessel could make 32 knots with her gas turbines outputting at 40,000 horsepower. She was on guard against the American submarine threat with upgraded radar - the Don Kay and Don 2. The Storozhevoy featured downward-looking "Eye Bowl" radar along with the "Pop Group" sky-looking radar. Her bow sonar was known as the "Bull Nose" and she towed a sonar array called the "Mare Tail" used in anti-submarine warfare sweeps.
The ship's armament made her a tiger on the high seas with a bow-mounted anti-submarine RBU6000 missile box. She fielded 4 x 533mm torpedo tubes along her deck that would swing out to port and starboard at amidships to counter enemy subs at various angles. Additional submarine missiles aboard included the SA-N-4 "Silex" ASW (Anti-Surface Warfare) missiles and for anti-ship defense and 2 x 76mm Dual Purpose (DP) cannons for close-in aircraft defense. The Storozhevoy was traditionally crewed by 200 personnel made up of both officers and enlisted sailors. The funnel and the angled mast earned it a nickname among US Navy sailors that came from her silhouetted identification - "Hot Dog Pack, Smokestack, Guns in Back - Krivak."
The Storozhevoy was involved in a mutiny that inspired a story used by Tom Clancy in the 1984 novel "The Hunt for Red October". The Clancy story revolved around a top-of-the-line Soviet submarine captain that mutinies and steals the new submarine and heads for US waters. The story follows Soviet submarine Captain Marko Ramius. In 1975 onboard the Storozhevoy, a munity took place led by Captain 3rd rank Valery Sablin. Sablin was a 37-year old "political officer" who was second-in-command of the Storozhevoy His job was to maintain the crew's "revolutionary spirit". Sablin was a committed Communist but had become disillusioned by the corruption of Brezhnez and other leaders of the party as they took oil and diamond mines for themselves while the Soviet people were left behind.
In November of 1975, Sablin locked the ship's captain in a lower store room. With the captain out of the way, Sablin got the ship's officers together and discussed with them the failures of Soviet leadership to terms of adhering to the principles of the Revolution. He outlined his plan to sail with the Fleet out from Riga the next morning and, as they reached the Baltic Sea and the fleet would begin to turn south towards its base in Valgas, the Storozhevoy would instead turn north into international waters and then head east towards Leningrad - a 500-mile long voyage. There they would then broadcast a radio message to the Soviet people to overthrow their masters. Many of the officers were supportive though when Sablin took his plan to a vote, half were for the plan and half were against. As Sablin's plan had gone too far by this point he chose to lock up the officers who did not agree.
On deck, Sablin spoke to the crew and convinced them to join him in the new revolution. With one of the officers escaping from their confines, Sablin knew the Soviet secret police would be close behind so he weighed anchor to leave Regi at night with no lights at full speed and not using any radar that would give away her position. Within three hours, she arrived in the Gulf of Riga and headed for the Baltic Sea. Five hours after she had set sail, news of the mutiny reached the Soviet Navy top brass. The Vice Admiral of the Baltic Fleet then called the Storozhevoy and spoke to Sablin. Orders were then given to stop and all would be forgiven but Sablin was still committed to his plan. A call was made to Brezhnev and the conclusion was made that Sablin was defecting and heading for the West. At her present course, the Storozhevoy could be in Sweden waters within five hours and this act was an unthinkable idea - considering that the warship was a new Soviet Navy treasure that could land in western hands.
The Baltic fleet was mobilized and was ordered to stop or sink the Storozhevoy. Due to heavy fog, the Storozhevoy had to turn its radar suite on. When this happened, the Soviet Fleet became aware of her position and a flight of Tupolev Tu-16 fighter-bombers were dispatched by the Kremlin itself and ordered to attack and sink her. Gunboats were also in pursuit and these were later joined by the Tu-16s. After firing warning shots, the vessel's steering had become damaged and she stopped dead in the water. She was soon boarded by Soviet Marine commandos who promptly arrested the crew. Sablin, and his second-in-command, Alexander Shein, were tried and convicted. At his trial in July of 1976, Sablin was convicted of high treason and shot in August 1976. Shein was sentenced to eight years in prison. The rest of the mutineers were dishonorably discharged from the Soviet Navy and set free.
The Storozhevoy continued in Soviet Navy service up until 1997. She was transferred to the Russian Pacific Fleet and then later sold to India for scrap, Russian authorities not considering her to be worthy of status as a floating museum ship.
The government of India ordered six of these frigates as upgraded Burevestnik-class ships and - for the Indian Navy - named them as the Talwar-class. Three ships were delivered between 2003 and 2004 with three more currently under construction as of this writing and scheduled to be delivered in full sometime in 2012. It is unclear at this time how many of these vessels continue in service in the Russian Navy proper.