Russian Navy - no longer Blue Water?

#1
I saw this last night, and wondered where to post it. One of the Kuznetsov threads on various forums, or perhaps the one that has a link to a silly article that puts to Royal Navy 32nd on the list judged on manpower and hull numbers. Or....

I thought this worth posting here as it has relevance to discussions such as cost versus quantity.

Why the Russian Navy Could Be in Serious Trouble

Even before PD-50's sinking, the Russian fleet was slowly replacing big, old ships with much smaller new ones that can't sail as far or carry as much weaponry, but which are cheaper and easier to operate and repair than the old vessels are.

The Kremlin bought four new, small warships in 2018. The Russian fleet numbers some 300 vessels, most of them displacing just a few thousand tons of water. For comparison, the U.S. Navy has roughly the same number of ships, but they are, on average, much larger.

Before, Moscow planned on extending the service lives of its carrier and other warships from the 1980s in order to complement the newer vessels. For long-range deployments across the Atlantic or to war zones such as Syria, Russia tends to send Kuznetsov and equally aged, Soviet-built destroyer and cruisers.

Newer corvettes, which are a fraction of the size of a Cold War cruiser, have tended to remain close to home. In recent years, corvettes from the Caspian Sea fleet have fired long-range Kalibr cruise missiles at targets in Syria -- all without ever leaving Russian waters.

A shortage of accessible dry docks for repairing bigger ships complicates the Kremlin's naval planning.

In that way, PD-50's sinking could accelerate the Russian fleet's existing transformation. "It is probably unlikely to force any radical changes," Pavel Podvig, an independent expert on the Russian military, told The National Interest .

The Russian navy was already becoming a "green-water" force optimized for near-shore missions in support of ground operations along Russia's periphery, as opposed to a "blue-water" force.....


It could be argued Russia, perhaps because of its huge land mass, does not see seapower in the same way as the West and NATO. Sea Control is not that important to Moscow, but Sea Denial traditionally has, such as disrupting the supply routes across the Atlantic.
 
#2
It seems that not much has changed since the Soviet days in their attitude to naval forces. In terms of importance the Navy ranked 5th & last of the major combat organisations of the Soviet armed forces (Strategic Rocket Forces, Land Forces, Air Defence Forces, Air Forces, then Navy) & all surface ships except carriers were more-or-less regarded as auxiliaries (carriers & submarines being the important vessels). As the Russians do more penny-pinching, it's predictable that the Navy, & its surface forces in particular, would be a low spending priority.
 

A2_Matelot

LE
Book Reviewer
#4
They're moving into the same position most Western Navies already occupy, more high tech equipment which is more difficult to design, manufacture, operate and maintain, with concomitant overheads in terms of fiscal resource and people.

They will modernise, it will take time, and they have already closed the technology gap quite markedly. The question really will be can they sustain that and can they modernise enough of their Navy.

In response our question has to be how much of a modernisation do they have to make to increase the threat. I'd suggest not a huge amount.

With a number of fleets, a vast number of SSN/SSGNs, I'd say they are blue water. They might not assemble vast CSGs but thats only our metric, theirs is entirely different. They way they choose to operate dictates an Allied response and that is sufficient, and they can do it at sufficient disparate geographical places to create a strategic effect.
 
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#5
I don’t think the Russian Navy has ever been robustly blue-water from a surface perspective. However, I’d argue that it’s priority since the 1950s has always been submarines.

In that respect, it most certainly remains a blue water navy, and one which is expanding in capability with the deployment of the Yasen (Severodvinsk) SSN and Borei (Dolgorukiy) SSBN.

We should avoid looking at them through a Western carrier centric lens.

Regards,
MM
 
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#6
I don’t think the Russian Navy has ever been a blue-water from a surface perspective. However, I’d argue that it’s priority since the 1950s has always been submarines.

In that respect, it most certainly remains a blue water navy, and one which is expanding in capability with the deployment of the Yasen (Severodvinsk) SSN and Borei (Dolgorukiy) SSBN.

We should avoid looking at them through a Western carrier centric lens.

Regards,
MM
They only got serious about building a blue-water navy in the late '30s, but WW2 chucked a spanner in the works of that project. Their big shipbuilding programme didn't kick off until the mid-'50s, with the intention that submarines were to outnumber surface vessels. Then it was determined that submarines would be excellent platforms for missiles...
 
#7
The Russian plan was IIRC to use nuclear SSBNs for strike and SSNs to do largely what the U Boats did in WW2 i.e. interdict shipping.

The latest Russian subs are also a far cry from the noisy 1950s and 1960s e.g. Deltas and Echos

Note also that the Russian Navy has an extensive number of ships held in active reserve.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#8
The Russian plan was IIRC to use nuclear SSBNs for strike and SSNs to do largely what the U Boats did in WW2 i.e. interdict shipping.

The latest Russian subs are also a far cry from the noisy 1950s and 1960s e.g. Deltas and Echos

Note also that the Russian Navy has an extensive number of ships held in active reserve.
Quieter because an American traitor sold them a lot of secret gen.

Gorshkov built a blue-water fleet but the cost was a contributor to the economic collapse of Communism, so we must thank you for that, Sergey Georgiyevich. Bit of a laugh really. Smokey Joe and not-going-anywhere-now-even-with-my-tame-tug Kuznetsov is a relic of that.

SSNs rather less of a joke.
 
#9
As i noted in the original post, people need to consider history and geography. The Soviets/Russians have huge land mass with all sorts of natural resources. Historically the great battles they fought in World War Two were on land, and they exerted control over their bloc via land power. Most Russian centres of population and industry are far from the sea. Russia does not rely on seaborne imports, nor exports, in the same way as other nations.

In the event of the Cold War turning hot, their adversaries would depend on trans Atlantic reinforcement - so submarines and long range bombers to attack NATO shipping were the way forward. It could be argued that even SSBNs were of less importance to them than they were/are to the West - simply because of their land mass. They do not need to control the sea, merely deny its use to NATO.

NaTO,depends on connecting the United States and Canada to their European allies. Previously, landings in France during World War Two could only be achieved once the threat from U-boats and long range bombers against Atlantic Convoys had been dealt with. All the NATO nations, even the US and Canada, rely on seaborne imports and exports (one USN Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, went so far as to describe the North American continent as an island) and exerts influence across the Atlantic.

As such, NATO has always needed to control the sea for things like reinforcement, which had meant not only frigates, destroyers, and submarines, but also carriers with things like ASW aircraft and fighters for air defence. NATO has had exposed flanks which might need rapid amphibious reinforcement. There was also a mine threat to shipping routes and ports on the Continental Shelf.

I know this is Atlantic/NATO centric, but bear with me.

As the Cold War progressed, the Soviets wanted to spread Communism. Sea power was one way. They wanted to get more influence in Africa, with mineral resources to plunder and into the Indian Ocean, taking advantage of Britain's retreat from East of Suez and the American commitment to Vietnam to establish a presence in the Indian Ocean, and influencing and posing a risk to the Middle East and the energy resources Western nations depend on.

Post Cold War, defence exports have involved things like Kilo SSKs to Iran, MiG/Sukhoi jets to anyone who pays, missiles of any sort, just stump up the cash. Any problems? Niet!

Theorists like Mahan and Corbett made the point that sea power is about doing something (or stopping someone else about doing something). The Carrier Strike Group has already been mentioned - offensive air power at a time and place of your choice (also provided to a degree by cruise missiles fired by submarines or surface warships) in addition to their task group roles. There are also amphibious capabilities - putting marines and supporting arms ashore, and providing air support, CAS, naval gunfire, logistics, etc. Then there is the most basic thing of all, getting forces from x to y in response to a crisis.

I remember reading an article written by a US commentator who said that if Saddam had not halted his forces at the Saudi border in 1990 after invading Kuwait, and/or if he had a handful of SSKs waiting to sink the ships full of American/British/French armour and artillery going into Gulf or Red Sea ports.....
 
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#10
Secretary Lehmans comment in the early 80’s regarding the Soviet Navy is as accurate now as then....

‘In a confrontation with the United States Navy, the Soviets, (read Russians), would have a short, and very exciting war’
 
#11
Secretary Lehmans comment in the early 80’s regarding the Soviet Navy is as accurate now as then....

‘In a confrontation with the United States Navy, the Soviets, (read Russians), would have a short, and very exciting war’
Unfortunately - the Walker/Whitworth spy ring had not only given the Soviets in insight into things like acoustic quietening, they had also betrayed NATO tactics and plans.

Anyway - my main point was that that just because Russia does certain things, it does not follow we should do the same. Russia, like littoral states in the developing world, is primarily interested in sea denial, but Western Navies need to have the means for sea control.
 
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#12
Unfortunately - the Walker/Whitworth spy ring had not only given the Soviets in insight into things like acoustic quietening, they had also betrayed NATO tactics and plans.
And if you're going to do that sort of thing don't piss off your wife/ex-wife/GF or whoever.

John Walker's former wife reported his spying to the FBI,[7] in revenge for his failure to pay alimony. S
 

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