Thursday, August 27, 2015

High Seas Retreat

Russia inherited the mighty Soviet fleet that would have contested control of the North Atlantic with NATO during a war. Now the high seas fleet is just sad.

Russia's navy is falling apart:

Commissioned in 1991, Kuznetsov was Russia's last new large warship. In the past 23 years, Moscow has managed to complete a few new submarines and small frigates and destroyers at its main Sevmash shipyard, on the North Atlantic coast. But many of Russia's current naval vessels — and all its large vessels — are Soviet leftovers.

They're outdated, prone to mechanical breakdowns, and wickedly uncomfortable for their crews — especially compared to the latest U.S., European, and Chinese ships. ...

Kuznetsov doesn't have many years left in her. Her boilers are "defective," according to the trade publication Defense Industry Daily. Yet when she goes to the breakers to be dismantled, Moscow could find it impossible to replace her. For one, the shipyard that built all the Soviet carriers now belongs to Ukraine. It lies just outside of Crimea, and Russian forces did not manage to seize it.

And Ukraine produces key components.

Russia's blue water fleet situation hasn't gotten better since 2005 when I noted their weakness.

Face it, for a country with such a long land border, Russia's naval needs are far more limited and local, with the priority to coastal defense and defending bastions for their nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) to have a survivable nuclear deterrent.

So if Putin wants big aircraft carriers rather than a fancy red sports car? Oh please God, let Putin try to build them.