Russia Announces Retirement Of World’s Only Nuclear-Powered Battle Cruiser, Pyotr Veliky

According to sources, Pyotr Veliky, the fearsome battlecruiser of the Kirov Class fueled by nuclear power, would not receive the planned refit. The monster warship will instead be decommissioned, leaving the Russian fleet with just one Kirov Class ship in service. The action represents a major reduction in Russia’s surface fleet that travels the oceans; Admiral Nakhimov, the last battleship, is expected to be fully renovated by 2024–2025.

The Kirov Class ships are the biggest surface combatants in the world, with a weight more than three times that of the US Navy’s destroyers of the Arleigh Burke Class. They are renowned for their enormous size, which is comparable to that of Japan’s Izumo Class aircraft carriers. Pyotr Veliky and Adm. Nakhimov were originally intended to be upgraded with state-of-the-art sensors, electronics, and weapons.

Pyotr Veliky
Image Credits: Massimo Frantarelli/Twitter

A Navy insider has revealed that Pyotr Veliky’s fate has changed as Admiral Nakhimov’s renovations move forward. The choice is in line with a longer-standing trend in Russian naval strategy, which since the Soviet era, has prioritized smaller frigates as well as corvettes over larger destroyers or cruiser-sized vessels.

Pyotr Veliky’s retirement serves as a reminder of how Russia’s geopolitical interests have changed since 2022. The move is in line with improvements in missile technology, especially the hypersonic cruise missile Zircon and the surface-to-surface Kalibr missile versions, which allow Russian vessels to successfully engage the targets from the coastal waters.

Russia’s increased emphasis on the Arctic as an essential trade corridor and geopolitical battleground is reflected in the expectation that the last Kirov Class battlecruiser will be assigned to the Northern Fleet. Kirov Class ships are the only surface combatants with nuclear propulsion. They are extremely durable and can operate at sea for extended periods of time, provided they are air-refueled.

Even with Pyotr Veliky’s unannounced retirement, Admiral Nakhimov’s renovation demonstrates Russia’s dedication to naval might. Admiral Nakhimov is referred to as the toughest surface combat ship in the world since she is outfitted with upgraded sensors, electronics, and the navy’s version of the S-400 air defence system.

A budgetary shift in response to Russia’s shifting geopolitical environment, the expensive cost of upgrading, and the operational costs of nuclear-powered ships could all play a role in the decision to retire the Kirov Class cruisers. It’s still unknown what exactly caused it.

Reference: Eurasian Times

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