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Sverdlov-class cruiser Admiral Ushakov in 1981
|Preceded by:||Chapayev class|
|Succeeded by:||Kynda class|
|Preserved:||1 (Mikhail Kutuzov)|
|Beam:||22 m (72 ft 2 in)|
|Draught:||6.9 m (22 ft 8 in)|
|Installed power:||6 boilers, 118,100 shp (88,100 kW)|
|Propulsion:||2 shaft geared steam turbines|
|Speed:||32.5 knots (60.2 km/h; 37.4 mph)|
|Range:||9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km; 10,000 mi) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)|
The Sverdlov-class cruisers, Soviet designation Project 68bis, were the last conventional cruisers built for the Soviet Navy, in the 1950s. They were based on Russian, German and Italian pre-Second World War concepts and designs, but modified to be more seaworthy and able to run fast in the rough waters of the North Atlantic. The basic hull is more modern and better protected than post WW2 legacy cruisers and they also carried an extensive suite of radar gear and anti-aircraft artillery in keeping with other post-war designs. The real intention reflected the desire of Stalin and the Soviet Navy who were more descendants of the Tsars officer class than the other Soviet Forces to create a traditional big power Navy, but one geared mainly for defense of the Russian coast, naval bases and close Arctic, Baltic, Mediterranean and Black Sea interests and with a secondary commerce raiding and political presence in the third world. They were obsolete as Premier Krushchev saw in strategic and technological term even in their intended 1955-1967 era, when theories of mutually assured destruction limited their use.
The Soviets originally planned to build 40 of the class, which would be supported by the Stalingrad-class battlecruisers and aircraft carriers. This represented a significant risk to the Royal Navy, especially in the North Atlantic. They responded by introducing the Blackburn Buccaneer, a carrier based strike aircraft, designed in the USA and Britain which that had the performance to attack the Sverdlov at medium range at ultra low level, attacking with toss bombing delivery of nuclear bombs outside the 5km range the Russian 100mm/37m close in defense was perceived as lethal. When the building program was cut back and the battlecruisers and carriers were cancelled, the Sverdlovs were left dangerously unprotected outside the cover of land-based aircraft. Operating on their own as commerce raiders they would be extremely vulnerable in good weather to USN aircraft carriers and the few remaining Baltimore, 8 inch gunned cruisers, but the RNs few remaining Colony and Tiger class gun cruisers probably lacked the range  and speed to provide any answer and the Daring and Forrest Sherman inchoate cruiser destroyer, didn't, if as planned the Sverdlovs had been used to intercept trade with major UK food basket in the Plate off Buenos Aires, the Battle of North Cape suggesting the Royal Navy trade route cruisers, lacked the rough water speed and armour to deal with, even solo heavy raiders, unless aided by communications intercept and heavy guns.
Construction was cancelled by Nikita Khrushchev in 1954 after 14 examples had been completed. Two additional hulls were scrapped on the slip and four partially complete Sverdlovs launched in 1954 but were scrapped in 1959. The remaining fleet remained in service through the 1970s when the underwent a limited modernization program before finally leaving service in the late 1980s.
Only Mikhail Kutuzov is preserved, in Novorossiysk.
These ships were improved and slightly enlarged versions of the Chapayev class. They had the same main armament, machinery and side protection as the earlier ships, but had increased fuel capacity for greater range, an all welded hull, improved underwater protection, increased anti aircraft artillery and radar. The project was formally approved on 27 May 1947. The first three members of the class were named after cancelled ships of the previous Chapayev class. Initially, 30 ships were ordered, however upon Joseph Stalin's death in 1953, the order was cut to 21 in 1954. Once the first fifteen hulls were laid down, orders that the second batch of six were to be modified for protection against nuclear fallout were sent, but none of the six were completed. Plans were drawn up to upgrade the ships to missile-carrying cruisers, however those plans were dropped and instead new construction was cancelled in 1959, with the incomplete ships being scrapped by 1961. The reduction in the number of cruisers was not appreciated by the new command in the Soviet Navy which believed cruisers were still valuable as command ships for gunfire support of amphibious landings and political presence abd pressure in contested third world areas like Cuba and Indonesia. Had more Sverdlov's been available at the time of the Cuban crisis in 1962 they would have been deployed and the intention was to base a couple of older Chaplev cruisers at a Cuban port had the operation succeded.
The Sverdlov class displaced 13,600 tons standard and 16,640 tons at full load. They were 210 metres (689 ft 0 in) long overall and 205 metres (672 ft 7 in) long at the waterline. They had a beam of 22 metres (72 ft 2 in) and draught of 6.9 metres (22 ft 8 in) and typically had a complement of 1,250. The hull was completely welded of an new design and the ships had a double bottom for over 75% of their length. The ship also had twenty-three watertight bulkheads. The Sverdlovs were had 6 boilers providing steam to two shaft geared steam turbines generating 118,100 shaft horsepower (88,100 kW). This gave the ships a maximum speed of 32.5 knots (60.2 km/h; 37.4 mph). The cruisers had a range of 9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km; 10,000 mi) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph).
Sverdlov-class cruisers main armament was twelve 152 mm (6 in)/57 cal B-38 guns in four triple Mk5-bis turrets. They also had twelve 100 mm (3.9 in)/56 cal Model 1934 guns in six twin SM-5-1 mounts. For anti-aircraft weaponry, the cruisers had thirty-two 37 mm (1.5 in) anti-aircraft guns in sixteen twin mounts and were also equipped with ten 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes in two mountings of five each.
The cruisers' ultimate radar suite included one 'Big Net' or 'Top Trough' air search radar, one 'High Sieve' or 'Low Sieve' air search radar, one 'Knife Rest' air search radar and one 'Slim Net' air search radar. For navigational radar they had one 'Don-2' or 'Neptune' model. For fire control purposes the ships were equipped with two 'Sun Visor' radars, two 'Top Bow' 152 mm gun radars and eight 'Egg Cup' gun radars. For electronic countermeasures the ships were equipped with two 'Watch Dog' ECM systems.
By the early 1960s, the torpedo tubes aboard the ships were removed. Admiral Nakhimov had an SS-N-1 anti-ship missile launcher installed in place of "A" and "B" turrets as a trial in 1957. This installation was not successful, the ship was rapidly decommissioned and was used as a target ship in 1961.
Dzerzhinsky had a SAM launcher for the SA-2 missile, replacing the aft turrets in 1960-62. This conversion was also not successful and no further ships were converted. As the entire missile installation was above the armored deck and the missile itself, based on the SA-2 "Guideline" was liquid-fueled (acid/kerosene), it would have represented a serious hazard to the ship in action.
Senyavin and Zhdanov were converted into command ships in 1971 by replacing the aft turrets with extra accommodation and electronics. The two command ships were fitted with a helicopter deck and hangar together with a SA-N-4 SAM missile system. Senyavin also had four twin 30 mm guns installed atop the missile system.
|Sverdlov-class cruisers (Project 68bis)|
|Name||Russian name||Builder||Laid down||Launched||Completed||Fate||Notes|
|Sverdlov||Свердлов||Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad||15 October 1949||5 July 1950||15 May 1952||Stricken 1989||Named after Yakov Sverdlov. On 14 February 1978 she was relegated to the reserve and stationed at Liepaya. On 30 May 1989 she was decommissioned, and in 1990 towed to Kronshtadt. In early 1991 she was sold to an Indian company for scrap, and in October 1993 towed to India and scrapped.|
|Zhdanov||Жданов||Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad||11 February 1950||27 December 1950||31 December 1951||Stricken 1991||Named after Andrei Zhdanov. Converted into a command ship with "X" turret removed and replaced by office space and extra electronics added. Scrapped 1991|
|Admiral Ushakov||Адмирал Ушаков||Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad||31 August 1950||29 September 1951||8 September 1953||Stricken 1987||Named after Fyodor Fyodorovich Ushakov. Scrapped 1987|
|Aleksandr Suvorov||Александр Суворов||Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad||26 February 1951||15 May 1952||31 December 1953||Stricken 1990||Named after Alexander Suvorov. Scrapped 1990.|
|Admiral Senyavin||Адмирал Сенявин||Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad||31 October 1951||22 December 1952||30 November 1954||Stricken 1991||Named after Dmitry Senyavin. Converted into a command ship with after turrets removed and replaced by helicopter hangar and office space, Scrapped 1991|
|Dmitry Pozharsky||Дмитрий Пожарский||Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad||31 March 1952||25 June 1953||31 December 1954||Stricken 1987||Named after patriot Dmitry Pozharsky. Scrapped 1987.|
|Kronstadt||Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad||October 1953||11 September 1954||N/A||Broken up, 1961|
|Tallin||Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad||1953||11 September 1954||N/A||Broken up, 1961|
|Varyag||кре́йсер||Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad||December 1952||5 June 1956||N/A||Broken up, 1961|
|Ordzhonikidze||Орджоникидзе||Admiralty Shipyard, Leningrad||19 October 1949||17 September 1950||30 June 1952||Broken up, 1972||Named after Sergo Ordzhonikidze. Sold to Indonesia 1962, recommissioned KRI Irian in 1963. Sold for scrap to Taiwan in 1972. British frogman Lionel Crabb disappeared in 1956 when secretly inspecting this ship for MI6 when it was docked in Portsmouth Harbour.|
|Aleksandr Nevsky||Александр Невский||Admiralty Shipyard, Leningrad||30 May 1950||7 June 1951||31 December 1952||Stricken 1989||Named after Alexander Nevsky. Scrapped 1989|
|Admiral Lazarev||Адмирал Лазарев||Admiralty Shipyard, Leningrad||6 February 1951||29 June 1952||30 December 1952||Stricken 1986||Named after Mikhail Petrovich Lazarev. Scrapped 1986|
|Shcherbakov||Admiralty Shipyard, Leningrad||June 1951||17 March 1954||N/A||Broken up, 1961|
|Dzerzhinsky||Дзержинский||Nikolayev||31 December 1948||31 August 1950||18 August 1952||Stricken 1989||Named after Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky. On 19 February 1980 she was relegated to the reserve and stationed in Sevastopol; Decommissioned 12 October 1988; 1988-1989 scrapped at Inkerman.|
|Admiral Nakhimov||Адмирал Нахимов||Nikolayev||27 June 1950||29 June 1951||27 March 1953||Stricken 1961||Named after Admiral Pavel Nakhimov. Rearmed as a guided missile trials ship in late 1950s, target ship 1961|
|Mikhail Kutuzov||Михаил Кутузов||Nikolayev||23 February 1951||29 November 1952||30 February 1954||Museum ship||Named after Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov. Museum ship at Novorossiysk|
|Admiral Kornilov||Nikolayev||6 November 1951||17 March 1954||N/A||Hulk PKZ 130, 1957|
|Oktyabrskaya Revolyutsia (ex-Molotovsk)||Октябрьская Революция||Severodvinsk||15 July 1952||25 May 1954||30 November 1954||Stricken 1957||Named after the October Revolution. Scrapped 1987|
|Murmansk||Мурманск||Severodvinsk||28 January 1953||24 April 1955||22 September 1955||Stricken 1992||Named after city of Murmansk. Decommissioned late 1980s. She ran aground in December 1994 at Hasvik, Norway on her way to India for scrapping|
|Arkhangelsk||Severodvinsk||1954||N/A||N/A||Broken up, 1961|
|Vladivostok||Severodvinsk||1955||N/A||N/A||Broken up, 1961|
The standard Soviet practice was to pass the cruisers in and out of reserve. Most were relegated to reserve for the last time in the early 1980s.
- Gibson, Chris (2015). Nimrod's Genesis. Hikoki Publications. p. 17, 41–42. ISBN 978-190210947-3.
- D.K Brown.Rebuilding the RN. Warship Design since 1945. Seaforth (2012), p 48 & A. Clarke. 'Sverdlov Cruisers and the RN Response'. British Naval History, 12-5-2015
- Gardiner and Chumbley, p. 378
- Michael Holm, Sverdlov class, accessed May 2014.
- Chris Bishop and Tony Cullen (1988). The Encyclopedia of World Sea Power. Crescent Books. p. 81. ISBN 0517653427.
- Gardiner, Robert; Chumbley, Stephen; Budzbon, Przemysław, eds. (1995). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1947-1995. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-132-7.
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