Neustrashimyy (class) / (Project 11540 Yastreb)
Multi-role Frigate Warship
Originally to number seven frigates, the Neustrashimy-class was eventually limited to just two ships in the post-Cold War world.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
An extension of the Krivak-class patrol-minded frigates, the Neustrashimyy-class ships (Project 11540 Yastreb) of the modern Russian Navy were designed during the latter stages of the Cold War period (1947-1991) and were originally to number seven in all. However, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and with it the Soviet Navy, meant an end to such plans. In the end, just lead-ship Neustrashimyy (712) and her sister, Yaroslav Mudry (777), were completed, launched, and commissioned in service. Neustrashimyy saw her keel laid down in 1986 and was launched in May of 1988, commissioned into service on January 24th, 1993. Yaroslav Mudry began construction in May of 1991 but was not launched until 2009. Both currently serve the Baltic Fleet and remain in active status as of this writing (2018).
A third ship, Tuman, was laid down in 1990 but later scrapped while 30% finished due to costs working against her Cold War-era design philosophy.
All of the vessels were built by Yantar Yard of Kaliningrad and, on paper, were used to succeed the Burevestnik-class but have been, themselves, succeeded by the much more modern Admiral Gorshkov-class ships beginning to come online in number.
Neustrashimyy-class vessels are completed in the traditional late-Cold War era Soviet color scheme and are essentially products of the period with their many protrusions, long-running expanses of exposed hand rail sections, and multiple hull superstructures. The deck turret is positioned well-forward in the design with a stepped forward hull superstructure fitted just aft. This section contains the bridge, rocket launcher, and major communication and sensor fits - the latter atop the main mast. There is a noticeable break in the design lines between the forward and aft hull superstructures, the latter which houses the helicopter hangar and supports the second mast with its radar works atop it. The stern area is appropriately flatted to serve in the launching and retrieval of helicopters. The helipad is attached to a hangar enclosure.
As finalized, the ship has a displacement of 3,800 tons under standard loads and a full load rating of 4,400 tons. Dimensions include a length of 423.2 feet, a beam of 51.2 feet, and a draught of 18.3 feet.
The warship is crewed by approximately 210 personnel who manage its various systems, sections, air arm, onboard security and the like. The class relies on the Zvezda-1 ("Ox Tail") sonar fit for submarine-hunting and carries several radar types for surface-search and air-search work. Over the stern is the full-service hangar and helicopter section for operating Kamov Ka-27 navy helicopters - these typically equipped for the anti-submarine / anti-ship role and offer a critical over-the-horizon capability.
The propulsion scheme used by the class incorporates a COmbined Gas-and-Gas (COGAG) arrangement to maximize fuel efficiency through utilization of two gas turbine sets. This involves 2 x M70/D090 gas turbines used for cruising and 2 x M90 gas turbines for dash actions. Alternatively, all four units can be brought into play, providing the vessel with a maximum headway speed of 30 knots. This arrangement drives two shafts under stern with some 110,000 horsepower being generated in the process.
The two vessels were drawn up as Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) frigates but can generally be called upon to undertake various naval sortie types. As such they are outfitted with a relatively broad collection of weaponry ranging from projectile-based guns to missiles, torpedoes, and rockets. The armament suite is led by a single 100mm turreted deck gun over the forecastle and this is backed by a pair of "Kashtan" digitally-controlled Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWSs). 4 x 8-cell Vertical Launch Systems (VLSs) fire the "Gauntlet" Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) and a 12-tube RBU-6000 ASROC (Anti-Submarine Rocket) launcher (ahead of the bridge section, aft of the deck gun turret) counters close-to-surface undersea threats. Furthermore, the warship is equipped with 6 x 533mm torpedo tubes to be used against both surface and undersea threats. Yaroslav Mudry also carries 2 x 4-cell "Switchblade" Anti-Ship-Missiles (ASMs) for additional ranged firepower against enemy surface combatants.
The service tenure of these ships was severely stunted by the fall of the Soviet Empire in 1989-1991. The events of the period led to severe defense cuts to which the class was limited to the two aforementioned warships (and nearly a third). Ultimately, these made it into service but have already become largely outdated designs boasting some modern features and capabilities. At their heart, they are built to Cold War-era design standards and more-or-less compare poorly to newer, more modern and stealthy offerings appearing even within the Russian Navy ranks itself. There is some value to the pair that will keep them operational into the next decade at the very least, however, so not all of the investment has been lost.
The pair have been involved in some relatively recent maritime events: in September of 2008, Neustrashimyy was used to combat piracy off the Somali coast to good effect. Yaroslav Mudry made the news when, in June of 2016, she ranged within 315 yards of the USN destroyer USS Gravely sparking protests by both sides. In April of 2018, the same warship transited through the English Channel, raising eyebrows in Britain and mainland Europe.