The Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov conducts counterpiracy operations in February 2009 in the Gulf of Aden as
part of Combined Task Force 151, a multinational task force formed to detect and deter piracy in and around the Gulf
of Aden, Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean and Red Sea.
ponent fleets, will cease to exist. This is already ab-
George Fedoroff, the senior intelligence officer for
Russia at the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), how-
ever, has a more favorable view on the Russian Navy,
though he acknowledged that it does have problems
and is a shadow of the former Soviet armada.
As of January, the Russian Navy had 90 major combatants — ships able to operate away from home
waters — Fedoroff said in a written response to questions. That included 34 surface ships and 56 nuclear
and diesel-electric submarines, of which 14 are ballistic missile boats. About one-third of those ships are not
operational at any one time, he said.
That is about one-sixth the size of the fleet at its peak
in the early 1980s, when the Soviet Union had a global
reach in its competition with the West, Fedoroff said.
Khramchikhin blamed the “inevitable” demise of
the Russian fleet on the huge waste of Navy funds on
the badly flawed development effort of the submarine-launched Bulava strategic missile — NATO designation SS-NX- 32 — that was intended to arm the new
Borei class of strategic submarines. The seventh of 12
test shots failed Dec. 9 and the future of the Bulava and
Borei programs is in doubt.
In a Nov. 5 entry entitled “Update on the Navy” in
his “Russian Military Reform” blog, Gorenburg did not
attribute all of the Russian Navy’s problems on the
Bulava, but agreed that Khramchikhin was “exactly
right in his analysis of the future trajectory of the
Rather than worrying about the emergence of a
mighty new Russian Navy, he wrote, “we should be
thinking of it as living out the last years of the leftover
glory of its Soviet years.”
“The reality is, it really comes down to the shipbuild-
ing industry. It’s just not up to building ships,” due to a
loss of expertise and aging facilities, Gorenburg told
Seapower. “None of the ships they forecast actually get
built on time.”
But Fedoroff said Russia “is, in fact, currently en-
gaged in rebuilding the fleet,” focusing mainly on new
missile patrol boats and two classes of frigates. Con-
struction of a new destroyer is expected to start midyear,
The stated goal of building aircraft carriers to match
the U.S. Navy faces an even bigger obstacle, Gorenburg
said, because the yard used to build carriers during the
Soviet era was in Nikolayev, Ukraine, now an independent nation that is often on unfriendly terms with Russia.