Admiral Nakhimov (Kalinin)
Nuclear-Powered Battlecruiser / Guided Missile Cruiser Warship
Born as the Kalinin when commissioned into the Soviet Navy, Admiral Nakhimov is undergoing modernization for extended service in the Russian Navy.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The battlecruiser remained a vital component for the Soviet Navy well into the end-years of the Soviet Empire. The Kirov-class was designed as a nuclear-powered surface combatant with a mainly missile-minded armament suite and four of the five planned vessels were ultimately completed. After the fall of the Soviet Empire, the ships were given all-new names but eventually decommissioned from active service save for one. The lone survivor today (2017) remains "Admiral Nakhimov", known originally as the "Kalinin" when she was originally launched in 1986.
The building program for the Kirov-class was launched in December of 1977 and this initiative became one of the largest post-World War 2 programs involving surface warships aside from aircraft carriers. While categorized as battlecruisers, and intended as dedicated submarine-hunters from the outset, they were essentially evolved to become guided-missile cruisers before the end and were known as "missile cruisers" to the Soviets - able to tackle several important roles at sea including Task Group Command for the carrier fleet.
Kalinin / Admiral Nakhimov saw its keel laid down on May 17th, 1983 at the Baltiysky Naval Shipyard of Leningrad. Launched on April 25th, 1986, the warship was formally commissioned on December 30th, 1988 for active service in the Soviet fleet, carrying pennant number "180" and then - in 1989 - "064". In 1990, her pennant identifier was revised (yet again) to become "085" and then, in 1994, this became "080".
As completed, Kalinin displaced 24,300 tons under standard load and 28,000 tons under full load. Her length measured 827 feet with a beam of 94 feet and a draught of 30 feet. Unlike conventionally-powered surface warships of the West, the Kirov-class were developed to used a hybrid propulsion arrangement involving a twin-nuclear system coupled to steam turbines for propulsion. Kalinin carried a nuclear fit (tied to oil-fired boilers) to generate steam that fed the turbines and these, in turn, developed 140,000 horsepower driving two shafts under stern. The vessel could make headway (rather impressively for its size) at 32 knots and range out to 1,000 nautical miles while cruising at 30 knots. Her true range was essentially indefinite due the reactor fit, primarily limited by onboard oil stores, crew fatigue, and food stores.
Aboard was a crew complement of 727 including an aircrew numbering eighteen. The air wing numbered between three and five Kamov-brand naval helicopters (Ka-25 "Hormone" and Ka-27 "Helix" types typically operated). A full-service hangar and flight deck were provided over stern. The helicopters themselves were outfitted with various Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) systems and ELectronics INTelligence (ELINT) equipment and provided crucial Over-The-Horizon (OTH) work.
Kalinin's profile was more-or-less traditional with most of its superstructure held amidships. The bow featured a noticeable rise while the beam lines ran unobstructed to the stern. The stern was designed as flat to accommodate helicopter operations. The central section of the superstructure reached high above the bridge area and mounted all manner of sensors and processing systems - 3D search radars, navigation radar, fire control systems (noted as dome-shaped), Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) fire directors, and the like all eventually became part of her operational suite. A hull sonar was fitted for spotting and tracking enemy naval threats and a "Horse Tail" Variable Depth Sonar (VDS) was also fitted at the stern for this purpose.
The armament suite of Kalinin (differing some from that as found on the lead ship Kirov) was primarily missile in nature. There was a bank of 10 x 8 3M-54 "Klub" missiles and a bank of 16 x 8 3K95 "Kinzhal" (SA-N-9) missiles. Furthermore, another bank of 12 x 8 S-400PMU "Triumph" missiles was fitted along with 44 x OSA-MA (SA-N-4 "Gecko") missiles. All of these weapon types were Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs) which gave Kalinin a potent air denial capability at any range (short, medium, and long). 2 x RBU-1000 and RBU-12000 Anti-Submarine ROCket (ASROC) launchers were fitted to combat submarine threats as were 10 x 533mm torpedo tubes - these also useful in engaging surface threats. Close-in aerial threats were handled by 6 x Kashtan gun/missile systems and 1 x 130mm AK-130 twin-barreled CIWS.
Kalinin's early service life was disrupted by the fall of the Soviet Empire in 1989-1991 and ensuing budget issues restricted any sort of operations involving the expensive Kirov-class. After a refit in 1994, the warship did not put out to see for several years and, in 1999, she ended her days as a semi-permanent fixture at Sevmash but remained active in the Russian fleet. It was not until 2006 that the Russian government committed to overhauling the warship in an effort to bring her back into active operational service - in concert with a resurgent Russian military. This modernization process is underway (2017) and upgrades include support for the P-800 Anti-Ship Missile (ASM) as well as broader implementation of digitally-powered systems.
The Kirov-class were all originally named after participants of the Bolshevik Revolution of the late 1910s but with the end of the Soviet Union came the end of honoring this period of Soviet-Russian history. As such, the group were all renamed and Kalinin became Admiral Nakhimov. Sister ships were Admiral Ushakov (formerly "Kirov"), Admiral Lazarev (formerly "Frunze"), and Petr Veliky. Kuznetsov was scrapped before she was launched and thus not renamed though her name resurfaced for the aircraft carrier Kuznetsov (detailed elsewhere on this site).