By TASS Russian news agency
On April 28, the Sredne-Nevskiy Shipbuilding Plant (a subsidiary of the United Shipbuilding Corporation) launched the Project 12700 MCM vessel (NATO reporting name: Alexandrite-class) ‘Pyotr Ilychyov’, which is the sixth naval platform of its class: the type ship, ‘Alexander Obukhov’, is issued to the Baltic Fleet, while the Black Sea Fleet operates ‘Ivan Antonov’ and ‘Vladimir Emelyanov’ MCM systems. Four more Project 12700 MCM vessels, ‘Georgy Kurbatov’, the above-mentioned ‘Pyotr Iliychyov’, ‘Anatoly Shlemov’, and ‘Lev Chernavin’, are at various stages of construction. The Russian Navy is reported to receive approximately 30 Project 12700 MCM vessels through 2050; therefore, these platforms will form the backbone of the military service’s mine-hunting component.
During the official ceremony on April 28, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Adm Nikolai Yevmenov said the VMF would receive additional Project 12700 vessels. “They [the ships] meet modern challenges and naval threats,” said Yevmenov. According to him, the ‘Pyotr Iliychyov’ will see its delivery to the military this year ahead of schedule. The Project 12700 MCM vessels also feature high potential for further upgrades, Yevmenov emphasized.
According to the Russian MoD, the Project 12700 MCM vessel is built upon a reinforced fiberglass (RFG) hull that features high strength and serviceability. The naval platform has a displacement of some 890 t, a length of 62 m, a width of 10 m, a full speed of 16 knots, and a crew of 44 servicemen.
The export-oriented variant of the Alexandrite-class minehunter is designated Project 12701 Alexandrite-E-class MCM vessel. According to the United Shipbuilding Corporation, the platform has a displacement of 890 t and is 61.6 m long and 10.3 m wide. The naval platform is intended for counter-mine protection of naval bases, offshore areas, exclusive economic zones, and maritime mineral deposits; detection and destruction of all types of sea mines; counter-mine protection of blue force ships during sea cruises; counter-mine reconnaissance; and deployment of sea mines.
The MCM vessel features a draught of some 3.1 m. The platform is powered by two diesel engines with a power output of 2,500 h.p. each, producing a speed of 16 knots, a cruise range of 1,500 nautical miles, and an endurance of 10 days. The vessel is manned by a 44-strong crew.
The Alexandrite-E’s sensor suite integrates the Diez-12700E control system, Livadiya-ME mine detection sonar, two Alister 9 counter-mine unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), two K-Ster I UUVs, 10 K-Ster C disposable remotely operated vehicles, an Inspector-Mk.2 unmanned surface vehicle, a GKT-2 or GOKT-1 contact mine sweep system, and a ShAT-U sonar mine sweep system. The Project 12701 MCM vessel also carries some armaments, including an AK-306 30 mm close-in weapon system, eight short-range surface-to-air missiles, and an MTPU naval gun mount with a 14.5 mm heavy machinegun (this weapon system can be replaced by two 6P59 12.7 mm heavy machineguns). It should be mentioned that the Alexandrite-E is capable of using both traditional minesweeping systems and cutting-edge robotized MCM systems. The platform also has high seaworthiness.
The Alexandrite-E-class vessel also feature relatively high potential in the global arms market. In March 2020, Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) Dmitry Shugayev told Russian media that Russia would enter an Indian competition for a new MCM vessel with the Project 12701 Alexandrite-E-class platform.