Russia’s Navy has a big maintenance problem, no ships ever leave ports without a tugboat

Tugboats in the Turkish Straits tow Marshal Ustinov, a Slava-class cruiser.

The second sea-going tugboat of the latest 23470 series will be delivered to the Pacific Fleet before the end of the year, Head and Chief Designer of the Baltsudoproyekt Central Design Bureau (the tugboat’s developer) Andrei Obukhov told TASS on Friday.

As was reported earlier, the lead tugboat Sergei Balk entered service with Russia’s Black Sea Fleet on February 21.

Three more tugboats of this series are under construction at the Yaroslavl Shipyard, the chief designer noted, without specifying the timeframe of putting them afloat. The head of the Baltsudoproyekt Central Design Bureau added that the contract for designing the latest tugboats for the Russian Navy had been concluded in 2014.

CEO of the Yaroslavl Shipyard Svetlana Chekalova told TASS that the vessels under construction would be delivered to the Black Sea, Northern and Pacific Fleets.

Soviet-era Ships

In 2009, Russia’s Admiral Kuznetsov — which has been labeled one of the worst aircraft carriers in the world — lost a sailor when a fire broke out due to a short circuit.

And in 2016, the Kuznetsov cruised through the English channel belching black smoke on its way to the Mediterranean.

Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, passes through the English channel en route to the Mediterranean belching black smoke. The carrier has never gone to sea without an oceangoing tug, which experts say is a ‘cautionary tale’ for the rest of the world.

This series of accidents and problems leads to one inevitable conclusion: The Russian Navy has a maintenance problem.

Russian missile cruiser MARSHAL USTINOV ran into trouble while transiting Bosphorus on Jan 5 in southern part of the Strait near Kabatas area, apparently going out of control and moving towards shore and piers. Understood Strait’s traffic safety tugs saved the day, took Russian cruiser under control and led her to Moda anchorage, southeast Istanbul, Marmara sea, just outside the Strait. Cruiser reportedly was anchored.

Cruiser was/is en route from Black sea, Sevastopol Naval Base most probably, to Syria, with an order to “assist in stabilizing situation in the region”. Not much of assistance, judging from Bosphorus transit. More of a menace to all around.

Marshall Ustinov

Russian Navy Slava-class missile cruiser MARSHAL USTINOV, displacement 11280, commissioned 1986, crew 476, armament missiles, guns, torpedoes, helicopter, Russian Black sea Navy Fleet.

Many of its blue-water ships, including its only aircraft carrier, never leave port without an oceangoing tug in company.

Experts say this has less to do with crew efficiency than Russia’s over-reliance on an aging, insufficient surface fleet that is prone to breakdowns.

The Russian Navy’s fleet is in the throes of a big maintenance problem.

Project 23470 Tugboat

Project 23470 sea-going ships are designed to tow vessels in ice-covered and ice-free waters, assist them within port areas and in mooring, provide escort operations at sea, extinguish fires on floating platforms and at coastal facilities and fuel burning on the water surface, and also to refloat ships and vessels.

The new tugs have a lifting capacity of 200 tonnes and an operating range of 300 nautical miles and their sea endurance is 30 days.

Project 23470 tugboat

According to the chief designer, specialists of the Baltsudoproyekt Central Design Bureau and the Yaroslavl Shipyard faced an uneasy task of installing equipment unprecedented for these types of vessels in Russia within the tugboat’s limited dimensions. For this purpose, solutions already available in world practice were applied, among other. However, due to the sanctions imposed by some countries against Russia, they were adapted in a way to use domestic equipment, he clarified.

As a result, a Project 23470 tugboat can operate in any area of the World Ocean at temperatures ranging from mines 45 degrees to plus 50 degrees Celsius, features high maneuverable capabilities and towing characteristics and is comfortable for the crew. The vessels of this type feature the integrated powerplant that will prevent a blackout in case of malfunctions, powerful lifting mechanisms and a helicopter pad to receive rescue and specialized shipborne helicopters.

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