The ceremony was held at the Baltiysk Naval Base, the headquarters of the Baltic Fleet. It was attended by Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Fleet Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, which emphasized the importance of the Black Sea Fleet.
There were more symbols, as the ship, which was originally named Rietivy (Vigorous), was renamed on Yevmenov’s orders, in honor of the 19th-century brig Merkury. The Merkury took part in the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829. On May 14, 1829, it was victorious in an unequal battle against two Turkish ships of the line, which had a tenfold advantage in the number of guns. The feat of the crew of the brig Merkury and the determination and fearlessness of its commander became a legend of the Russian fleet.
The Merkury corvette was built by the Northern Shipyard in St. Petersburg, part of the United Shipbuilding Corporation. The keel was laid on February 20, 2015, the corvette was launched on March 12, 2020, and began sea trials in late 2020. On May 11 of this year, the shipyard handed over the vessel to the Russian Ministry of Defence. This is the fifth Project 20380 corvette built by the Northern Shipyard, and the first for the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy.
The Merkury belongs to the modernized version of Project 20380. The main novelty is the integrated mast IBMK (Integrirovannaya Bashennaya Machtovaya Konstruktsiya). It houses the “Zaslon” multifunction radar with eight AESA active antennas with flat panels, operating in X and S bands. In addition, IBMK houses part of the antennas of the TK-25-02 electronic warfare system (the others were moved to the hangar roof).
IBMK and “Zaslon” replaced the “Furke-2” S-band radar with a passive rotating antenna, which was mounted on earlier corvettes. “Zaslon” compared to “Furke-2” gives a significant increase in the ability to control the air situation, thanks to the use of X-band with higher resolution. There is also a significant increase in the number of tracked objects (to more than 100) with the ability to simultaneously guide up to 16 anti-aircraft missiles of the 9K96.2 “Redut” system against various targets. “Zaslon” allows full use of the parameters of the “Redut” system, especially in complex defense scenarios against threats approaching quickly at low altitude from different directions, as well as in the case of sector defense of a team of ships over a long distance. The veil also allowed the abandonment of “Monument-A” and “Puma” radars, as it took over their functions of targeting and directing artillery fire.
The first modernized corvette was the “Geroy Rossiyskoy Federatsii Aldar Tsydenzhapovdut“, which has been serving in the Pacific since December 2020. Project 20380 corvettes are the most numerous combat ships of this size built for the Russian Navy. The IBMK mast and the “Zaslon” radar were developed for the Project 20385 corvettes of the Gremyashchiy-class, which are a developmental version of Project 20380. However, due to their higher price and the use of embargoed Western components, they are being built in small numbers.
It is unclear when the Merkury will be able to join the Black Sea Fleet. Due to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, Turkey has closed the Bosporus Strait to warship traffic. Probably this situation will last until the war in Ukraine is over.