In the Soviet Union they were officially classified as "guard ships" (storozhevoi korabl – SKR), then "large ASW ships" (BPK) or "large missile ships" (BRK), but in the rest of world they are commonly regarded as missile destroyers due to their size and armament. They were the first Soviet purpose-built anti-air warfare ships and the first to carry an ASW helicopter.
A Kashin-class destroyer in the Mediterranean in January 1970.
The design specification was approved in 1957; the first ship was laid down in 1959 and commissioned in 1962. Much new equipment was developed for these ships, including surface-to-air missiles, radars and gas turbine engines. The gas turbines were arranged in two separate spaces and could be removed via the funnels for servicing. These were also the first Soviet ships designed to be closed down for nuclear fallout and had an operations room deep inside the ship rather than a large bridge.
Six ships were modernised in the 1970s as the Project 61M or 61MP (Kashin-Mod), by being fitted with four SS-N-2C Styx anti-ship missiles, new towed-array sonar, a raised helipad and four close range AK-630 Gatling guns. The two RBU-1000 ASW rocket launchers were mounted aft, but later removed.
Smetlivy was modernised (mk01090) at Mykolaiv in the early 1990s and fitted with new Kh-35 (SS-N-25 Switchblade, Harpoonski) anti-ship missiles and MNK-300 sonar. She is the only Kashin-class vessel currently active in the Russian Navy.
The Rajput-class modification built for Indian Navy has the after gun turret replaced by a hangar for a helicopter, as well as SS-N-2C anti-ship missiles on the sides of the bridge.
The Kashin-class destroyer Strogiy in October 1985.
The bow of Strogiy after a collision
In all, twenty ships were built for the Soviet Navy, one ship (ORP Warszawa) was later transferred to Poland, while five similar ships were built to a modified design for the Indian Navy as the Rajput class.