CASH-STRAPPED Vladimir Putin is poised to send the flagship vessel of the Russian Navy – Peter the Great – to the scrapheap because repairs are too expensive.
The guided missile cruiser is Russia’s largest nuclear-powered warship and Putin’s crown jewel that he once boasted had “virtually no equal”.
Peter the Great, named after Russia’s first emperor, launched in 1998 as the flagship of the Russian Fleet after decades of planning and building.
It currently serves in the Northern Fleet and is one of the largest operational attack warships in the world that is not an aircraft carrier.
Russian news outlet TASS cited a navy source admitting: “The issue of taking the heavy nuclear missile cruiser Peter the Great [Pyotr Veliky] out of naval service is currently being looked at.
“It looks like the experience of refitting and modernising the sister ship Admiral Nakhimov has shown that this is very expensive.”
Instead, the Peter the Great name is likely to be inherited by a strategic nuclear-powered submarine next year, TASS reported.
The reports indicate that while a humbled Putin is deploying his navy on spying missions linked to the sabotage of British and other Western undersea power cables, he has acute problems modernising his ageing fleet’s main battleships.
The admission of financial problems over repairs for the iconic guided missile cruiser comes as his economy is tanking due to the war and Western sanctions.
The despot’s illegal invasion of Ukraine is also heavily diverting financial resources from a heavily cash-strapped budget.
At the end of last year, it was announced Putin would up defence spending in 2023 to over £74 billion, more than 40% higher than its initial 2023 budget announced back in 2021.
Peter the Great was commissioned a quarter of a century ago this week, yet is soon headed for the scrapyard if the state news agency TASS source is correct.
The ship’s main power plant is equipped with two fast-neutron nuclear reactors with an overall capacity of 600megawatts and two main turbo units with 70,000-horsepower capacity each.
The maximum speed is 31 knots and boasts a P-700 Granit anti-ship missile system as its main attack weapon, which NATO chillingly calls “Shipwreck”.
Putin was onboard Peter the Great in 2013 boasting it was a warship with “virtually no equal in the world”.
“The cruiser has repeatedly distinguished itself in long sea voyages,” he told the ship’s huge crew.
“It was on active duty, displaying the Russian flag in key strategic areas of the world’s oceans.”
The move to scrap this naval giant follows myriad delays on Putin’s much-vaunted upgrade of his fleet as well as a major humiliation in the Black Sea.
A year ago Ukrainian missiles sank the Moskva – flagship of his Black Sea fleet in a major blow to the dictator.
Another jewel of Putin’s fleet is still out-of-service, the Admiral Nakhimov battlecruiser, which has been undergoing refit and modernisation for an astonishing nine years.
It is due to re-enter service next year – but has been hit by repeated delays, which have also plagued the progress for a major refit to Russia’s only aircraft carrier the Admiral Kuznetsov.
Two fires in 2019 and 2022 delayed its return and doubts remain that the three football pitch sized boat will be back in service soon.
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