Tuesday, 14 August 2018

WARSHIPS OF THE PAST: Ivan Rogov class large landing ships of the Russian Navy

Written by Keith Jacobs
Images by D-Mitch

Mitrofan Moskalenko, the third vessel in the Ivan Rogov class
The Ivan Rogov (Project 1174) class amphibious dock landing ships (LPD) were in the early 1970s the largest amphibious warship design then attempted by the former-Soviet Union. They were robust, highly flexible, and expensive in construction and maintenance costs, but offered for the first time, long-distance operational capability to place Soviet naval infantry in such distant locations as the eastern Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, or Southeast Asia, in conducting mosrkaia descantnaia operatsiia (Sea Landing Operation) in support of Soviet policy objectives. Till today, the three vessels of the Project 1174 LPD, are the largest amphibious warfare ships ever commissioned by the Russian Navy.

Mitrofan Moskalenko, the third and most advanced vessel in the Ivan Rogov class

Historical Perspective

“After the June (1967) war, there was a marked increase in the political exploitation of the presence of Soviet naval units in distant waters. However, it appears that the actual areas of naval activity continued to be largely determined by long-term, war-related strategic requirements rather than other foreign policy interests.” [1] “The employment of Soviet naval forces on forward deployment divides into the two main categories of “general-war-related” and “peacetime tasks. [2] The peacetime role divides into three main tasks: (1) security state interests; (2) increasing prestige and influence; and, (3) countering imperialist aggression.” [3] Under Marshal N.V. Ogarkov, as chief of the naval staff (1976-84), Soviet amphibious doctrine was changing rapidly. Amphibious landings were to complement other deep operations, including air desants, as an integral part of Operational Maneuver Groups (OMGs) in a strategic theater of operations. The new role for wartime amphibious operations became known as: morskaia desantnaia operatsiu - Sea Landing Operation. For Soviet naval infantry, this meant battalion, regimental, or brigade-level operations, within, or independent of other OMG operations.

Ivan Rogov class landing ship dock (LPD) of the Russian Navy
These developments fit well within the post-nuclear warfare phase in Soviet doctrines, as the 1970s emerged as the period of over-the-horizon (OTH) amphibious developments – translated into ship designs that would emerge within the decade: the air-cushion classes (Gus, Lebed ACV), LST (Ropucha I/II), plus last of the medium landing ships (Polnocny-C) - and emergence of the large amphibious landing ships (BDK) Ivan Rogov (Project 1174 Nosorog) class. The Project 1174s were equivalent - yet superior in many ways - to American Austin class (LPD-4) which had been commissioned in the mid-60s and further units were still building at the time of the Project 1174 construction.

Ivan Rogov, Ropucha, Polnocny and Aist class landing ships in an impressive formation
Soviet writings in the 1970s also began to expand “peacetime tasks”, whereby the Soviet writers saw a role for amphibious forces in “local wars”, consistent with political support for Third World (and client) states. [4]

The forward (additional) flight deck
The aft flight deck
The new Ivan Rogov class (first NATO identification as BAL-AMP) were thus capable of landing a Naval Infantry battalion (410 personnel, plus 34 PT-76 amphibious light tanks, 120mm heavy mortars and the other light equipment of the battalion, and the Reconnaissance Company’s nine amphibious BRDM-2 and three PT-76 light tanks. Ivan Rogov class also carried four Kamov KA-25PS light helicopters in the early-years; all three ships later (post-1987) carried four Kamov Ka-29TB (transportno boyevoy) naval assault helicopters (NATO: Helix-B), for VERTREP and over-the-beach assault operations. Each Ka-29TB could carry 16 naval infantry troops.There were two flight decks on each vessel.

Helicopters in the hangar
View of an Ivan Rogov LPD
Ka-29. from the hangar to the heli-deck

Ka-29 fully armed

Operating from the front flight deck.
Notice the decoy launchers.
Ka-29 operating from Moskalenko
Another Ka-29 deployment

Design and Construction

Quarter view of an Ivan Rogov LPD
Overhead view of an Ivan Rogov LPD
All three Ivan Rogov class ships were built at the Pribaltiyskiy (Yantar) Shipyard No.820 (Kaliningrad), under guidance of chief designer V.V. Maksimov. The ships Russian designation “BDK” was consistent with earlier large amphibious ships. Under shipyard construction, the three were respectively known as Hull No. 101 (Ivan Rogov), No. 102 (Aleksandr  Nikolaev), and No. 103 (Mitrofan Moskalenko). The Project 1174 ships had a design standard displacement of 8,600-tons; Russian sources generally use a 13,880-tons
full load displacement. The ships measured 157-meters length, 23.8-m. beam, and 5-meter draft. Minimum ship crew in Russian sources is generally stated as 400, but this maybe when the ship is fully loaded, with extra crew required to handle loading, unloading and other functions when operating in an amphibious operation; other sources indicate a minimum crew of 19 officers, within a 250-man crew.

Stern view of Mitrofan Moskalenko LPD
Bow view of Mitrofan Moskalenko
Bow view of Mitrofan Moskalenko
Engineering comprises two M-12 gas turbines each developing 18000-hp for Ivan Rogov, and an improved M-12A model for the second and third unit, respectively, with two fixed pitch 4-bladed, shrouded propellers. The design is therefore fully capable of self-beaching, with bow loading/unloading ramps. Range is usually quoted as 12,500-n. miles at 14-knots cruising, 3,000-n. miles at 18-knots high-speed operation; maximum speed is carried as +20-knots with less than 6,000 miles range (Russian sources). Russian sources indicate the class could operate independently for up to 30-days. Author could not find any Russian sources listing fuel carried, but compared to smaller BDK-classes, this is likely on the order of 2,000-tons NFO, plus about 45-tons petrol for landing craft, and a further 20-25-ton aviation petrol for the helicopters. Ivan Rogov class LPDs had the ability to refuel other ships at-sea, and were often seen on Eastern Mediterranean station refueling either Krivak class frigates or fleet minesweepers, using the over-the-stern method.

Modified photo of  an Ivan Rogov class large landing ship of the Russian Navy. High resolution image here.

Ships armaments are vast in comparison with US Navy counterparts of similar tonnage, which includes air-defense missile (SAM), multiple rocket launcher, and gun systems - as below:
  • One ZIF-122 Osa-MA (SA-N-4 Gecko) pop-up twin launcher for 9M33 SAM on Nikolaev and Moskalenko)  (20 missiles stowed); ZIF-122 Osa-M on Rogov (20 9M33 missiles stowed), located port-side aft facing, above hangar bay. Osa-M/MA SAM has anti-air engagement range out to 14.8-kilometers (km).
  • Four quadruple Strela-2 SAM (SA-N-5/Grail) (16 x 9M32 missiles stowed per launcher). 
  • One twin 76.2mm/59 AK-726 (1200 rounds stowed), 01 deck bow area. The AK-726 76.2mm has an effective engagement range of 11000-meters; 6-7000-m. anti-airand a rate of fire of approximately 40 rds/min.
  • Four six-barrel 30mm AK-630 Gatling CIWS, 06-level upper superstructure;
  • One 40 x 122mm MS-73 Grad-M trainable multiple rocket launcher (MRL) (320 rounds stowed) , 05 level forward of bridge.
  • Two septuble 55mm MRG-1 Ogonyok rocket grenade launcher  for RG-55 grenades. 
  • The decoy launchers where 4x PK-16 and 10x PK-10.
AK-726 gun turret of Ivan Rogov class
MRG-1 Ogonyok rocket grenade launcher

MS-73 Grad-M rocket launcher firing
MS-73 Grad-M launcher

The cover of the OSA-M at the edge of the hangar

Details of the bridge and the rocket launcher. Notice
the ramp that is used in order to move helicopters from
the hangar to the forward flight deck

PK-16 and PK-10 decoy launchers

The electronic equipment was the following:
  • One 4R-33/33A (Pop Group) fire control system for the Osa-M/MA SAM
  • One MR-105 Turel (Owl Screech) for the AK-726 gun system
  • Two MR-123 Vympel-A (Bass Tilt) fire control radars (18-22-km range tracking) for the four AK-630 CIWS
  • One MR-310 Angara (Head Net-C) air surveillance radar on the first two vessels and MR-750 Fregat-M2 (Don Kay) on Moskalenko
  • Two Volga navigation radars on the first two vessels while three MR-212/201 Vaygach-U navigation radars on Moskalenko
  • Two MP-401 Stat (2 x Bell Shroud/2 x Bell Squat) ESM system; one High Pole-B IFF interrogation/transponder system; one or two Pop Art-C communications antennas; MG-26 Khosta underwater communications system; Prim Wheel satellite navigation system; electro-optical surveillance system (one?); two optical periscopic sights, MG-7 Braslet close-in sonar system.
Mitrofan Moskalenko. From this
photo it is obvious that she had three
navigation radars and not two as it is
reported on many sources.
Starboard quarter view of Ivan Rogov. Notice the Strela
launchers and the mounts for grenade launchers.

Ivan Rogov class LPD

Ivan Rogov LPD

Moskalenko alongside a Sorevmenny class DDG

A LCM entering to the well-deck
Lebed LCAC entering to the well-deck
Regarding the cargo capacity, as noted above, the basic design was to be capable of accommodating a reinforced Naval Infantry battalion. With both bow doors and a stern gate for unloading landing craft (including Gus or Lebed class air cushion vehicles), the design offered flexibility in both on-shore and off-shore unloading options. The ships of the class, because they had both bow ramp and well deck they could operate as either a LST or as a LPD. From measuring photographs, the well deck is between 66 and 70-meters in length, with an upper deck vehicle storage deck. One Russian source notes the upper vehicle decks measures 54-m. x 12-m.x 3-meters high, which corresponds well with estimated well deck total length. Helicopter landing pads are located fore and aft on the well deck. 

Lebed LCAC
Lebed LCAC


Aleksandr Nikolayev operating as a LST
Unloading armored vehicles
Russian sources estimate cargo tonnage capacity at 1,730-tons, though this is a highly variable total, based on the numerous load-out options offered by the class. For example, one Russian source states capacity includes 79 vehicles (IFV, BTR/BMP, BRDM, ZIL-130 trucks, etc.) and 440 troops or 46 medium tanks (T-55, T-62) without landing craft (another states 23 medium tanks with landing craft) or 1730 tons of cargo. Landing craft observed include combinations including 2 x Project 1206 Kalmar (108-ton Lebed) ACV and one small landing craft (LCVP), or up to 3 x Project 1205 Skat 22-ton (Gus) ACV, or two or three Project 1175 Ondatra class LCM. Based on observing Soviet-era Zapad and other amphibious operations, the Russians tailored loads with some degree of flexibility.

Impressive view of Aleksandr Nikolayev carrying vehicles
The ramp at the front flight deck
that joins the upper deck with
the lower deck

A better view of the Grad MLR launcher and of the upper deck

Before the stern ramp opens

Unloading vehicles from the stern ramp

Vehicles leaving the giant mothership!

The lower deck full of MBT (T-62)

Ships, Fleet Assignment and Fate

With the upper deck full!
Vessel of the class in full speed
Ivan Rogov, as first commissioned unit, was assigned to the Soviet Pacific Fleet (in company with Minsk CVHG); followed by Aleksandr Nikolaev, from late-1983. Nikolaev is believed to have participated in at least two early-80s naval exercises: Mishka-80 and Zapad-81. After commissioning, Unit #3 (Mitrofan Moskalenko) would be assigned the Northern Fleet, from 1991. Ivan Rogov returned to the Baltic in Fall, 1981 for the Zapad-81 worldwide exercises. The large amphibious ships would be directly in support of Soviet naval infantry (SNI) headquartered at Vladivostok and Slavyanka shore-bases, respectively for Rogov and Nikolaev; Moskalenko supporting the Northern SNI 63rd Naval Infantry Regiment) based at Pechenga. The pennant numbers were changing from time to time (for example Aleksandr Nikolayev during her service had the 110, 050, 084, 067, 074 and finally 057!).

One of the first vessels in the class, in reserve status.
All three ships have since decommissioned. Rogov was decommissioned in August 1995 while Nikolaev and Moskalneko were both decommissioned in December 2006. In 2015, with the decision of the French government to not deliver two ordered Mistral-class amphibious assault ships for the Russian Navy, it was considering to temporarily replace Mistrals with the last two ships of Project 1174, which are still in reserve. This plan, however, never materialized because it would require enormous amount of work and money to bring back in service these old and in bad condition ships.

The giant Moskalenko in reserve status
Would there have been a fourth unit?

While the size, cost and maintenance of the Ivan Rogov class would have been relatively high, what prospects for a 4th unit of the class? This analyst believes it very likely.

Construction of Nikolaev laid down date began before launching Rogov. Construction of Moskalenko began long after launching of Nikolaev. The Kaliningrad Shipyard No. 820 (as it was known then, had three major building ways and five floating dry docks, separately located and capable of ship assembly). The Project 1171 (Alligator) and Project 1135M (Krivak-II) frigates had already completed series construction. Overlapping the launch date of Moskalneko was the new Project 11540 Yastreb (Neustrashimy) class frigates - only two of which were under construction after Moskalneko’s launch and commissioning (Aug.1990). Thus, shipyard obligations were no impediment to building a 4th unit of the LPD class.

Mitrofan Moskalenko, the most advanced Ivan Rogov class LPD
One further reason to justify a 4th unit, is that the Soviet Pacific Fleet morskaya pekhota (naval infantry) was of diviziya (division) size, comprising three Naval Rifle Regiments and a supporting tank regiment, plus artillery, MRL, engineer, communications/signal, and Spetznaz (commando platoon) supporting battalions. Some 6,000-plus personnel were thus part of the Pacific-based forces - more than twice the other Fleet SNI components. Have a second Pacific-based Ivan Rogov class LPD make a lot of sense. The long-delayed construction of Moskalneko clearly indicated, however, changes in shipbuilding - plus the lack of funds - had shifted priorities, and the collapse of the USSR ended any prospect of further construction of this unique amphibious ship class.

The largest amphibious warfare ship ever built for the Russian Navy

  1. Soviet Naval Policy, Objective and Constraints, p. 522-3. 
  2. Ibid., p. 527. 
  3. Ibid., p. 527-528. 
  4. P. Vasil’yev, “Combat Employment of the U.S. Marines,” Voyennaya mysl’, No.6 (June 1974); and later, Col. N. Nikitin, “Some Operational and Tactical Lessons from Local Wars of Imperialism.” Voyennoistoricheskiy zhurnal, No. 12 (December 1978) - both JPRS translations.
  • The Naval Institute Guide to the Soviet Navy, Fifth Edition, Norman Polmar (Annapolis, MD; 1991)
  • Soviet Naval Influence, Domestic and Foreign Dimensions, Ed. Michael MccGwire, John McDonnell (New York, NY; 1977)
  • Soviet Naval Policy, Objective and Constraints, Ed. Michael MccGwire, Ken Booth, John McDonnell (New York, NY; 1975)
  • “Combat Employment of the U.S. Marines,” P. Vasil’yev, Voyennaya mysl’, No.6 (June 1974); and, Col. N. Nikitin, “Some Operational and Tactical Lessons from Local Wars of Imperialism.” Voyennoistoricheskiy zhurnal, No. 12 (December 1978) - both JPRS translations.
  • Photos: 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this great article. Which class would be the closest to this one actually in service?