There are now two Slava-class cruisers in the Mediterranean Sea and one in the Black Sea while tensions with Ukraine are high.
Tayfun Ozberk contributed to this story
Based on AIS data, it appears that Russia has deployed the Marshal Ustinov (055), the flagship of Russia’s Northern Fleet, to the Mediterranean Sea.
As reported by regular Naval News contributor H I Sutton on his famous blog Covert Shores:
This is based on AIS (Automated Information System) transmissions. There is some suspicion that these makers have been faked (see below) and have not been verified with other sources. However, I am currently treating this as credible based on the balance of judgment.
Based on OSINT (open source intelligence), a Russian Navy tanker, Vyazma, crossed the Strait of Gibraltar a few hours ahead of Ustinov, likely to support the cruiser:
While its presence in the Mediterranean is not a first, the move is unusual as Marshal Ustinov (055) is part of the Northern Fleet and typically focuses on the North Atlantic area. The vessel has been active off Europe’s western flank. In the past weeks, it has been monitored off Norway, Britain, and Ireland, where its presence caused some controversy. What is more unusual is that sistership Varyag, from the Pacific Fleet (homeported in Vladivostok) is also in the Mediterranean Sea (following a transit via the Suez Canal in early February).
Whether Marshal Ustinov and Varyag will cross the Bosporus to join their sistership Moskva in the Black Sea is anyone’s guess and it would probably be a first. While they sail in the Mediterranean Sea, the Slava-class cruisers are likely to cross path with three NATO carrier groups: The U.S. Navy Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (CSG), the Italian Navy Cavour aircraft carrier (both of which just completed exercise Neptune Strike 22) and the French carrier strike group which departed Toulon last week. As we previously reported, the three carriers are set to take part in rare “tri carrier operations”.
Story updated to report the presence of Varyag in the area as well. H/T Alex Luck.
About Slava-class Cruiser Marshal Ustinov:
Marshal Ustinov is a huge ship, measuring 186 meters in length, 20.8 meters in beam, and 6.28 meters in draught (8.4 meters at sonar). Its displacement is around 11,500 tons. Marshal Ustinov‘s two sister ships are the Moskva (flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, which was recently modernized) and the Varyag (flagship of the Pacific Fleet). Six Slava-class cruisers were originally planned to be built, but with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the number was cut to three. Incidentally, there is still an unfinished hull, Ukrayina, moored in Mykolaiv, Ukraine.
As a heavily armed Soviet-era cruiser, Marshal Ustinov is fitted with 16 x SS-N-12 SANDBOX ( P-1000 Vulcan) supersonic anti-ship missiles. The ships are also armed with 64 x SA-N-6 GRUMBLE (S-300F Fort) area air-defense missiles. Marshal Ustinov is also armed with twin-mounted AK-130 130 mm (5 in)/L70 dual-purpose guns positioned forward, as well as six AK-630 30 mm (1.2 in) close-in weapons systems, two of which are located ahead atop the superstructure and four on either side of the superstructure. The cruiser is outfitted with two RBU-6000 anti-submarine mortars, each with six barrels and ten 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes, as well as two quintuple launchers hidden behind shutters towards the stern.
Marshal Ustinov is powered by four gas turbines (COGOG) each producing 27,500 shp, delivering a maximum speed of 32.5 knots. She has a range of 8,070 nm at 18 knots or 2,200 nm at 32.5 knots. According to the open-source reports, the complement consists of 66 officers, 64 petty officers, and 355 enlisted men.