February 5, 2015

Ukrainian Defense Industry in the «Hybrid War» with Russia.
Part 5

Andrey Pospelov, Candidate of Historical Sciences, Associate Professor of Odesa Mechnikov National University, Full Member (Academician) of the International Academy of Life Safety

Ships and Armament of the Naval Forces of Ukraine — 1

Ukrainian Navy [1] — from creation to the crisis

In Soviet times, the shipbuilding industry of the Ukrainian SSR by its capabilities was considered the most powerful in the former Soviet Union. Shipbuilding plants of Kyiv, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Sevastopol, Kerch and Feodosiya could build warships and boats with no restrictions on classes and assignments (except for submarines with NPU, which, however, actually was not related to the technical component of the industry). Some enterprises in their specificity were unique not only in the shipbuilding industry of the USSR, but also were considered as such in the world. Thus, Mykolaiv shipbuilders were the only ones who had been building aircraft carrier class cruisers for the Soviet Navy. Kherson State Plant “Pallada” had been delivering unique in their characteristics floating docks for the needs of civilian and military fleets, and Sevastopol “Sevmorzavod” had been supplying the Navy with floating cranes. However, the most specialized companies was Feodosiya Production Association “More” (“The Sea”). It was unique because the basic material for the construction of ships and boats was aluminum-magnesium alloy.

Many shipyards belonging to both the Navy and the Ministry of Maritime Fleet of the USSR were able to maintain the technical condition of the ships and boats of the Navy of any class. They also repaired passenger, fishing and other merchant ships from different countries.

Theoretically the most powerful warship of the Ukrainian Navy — the unfinished missile cruiser of Project 1164 “Ukraine” (former “Admiral Lobov”). Independent Ukraine in 23 years has not completed the 95 % finished ship, and the Russian Federation has never bought it out.

Up to such capacities in the Ukrainian SSR were a few design centers of shipbuilding (e.g. “Chornomorsudoproekt” in Mykolaiv and CDB “Chernomorets” in Sevastopol). Besides, a significant number of research institutes and companies had been working in the naval sector, providing it with modern radars and other equipment. The companies within the industry were not lagging behind the world's leading developers and manufacturers of special naval products. For example, the Kyiv Institute “Quantum” in the second half of 1980 designed for the newest aircraft carriers of the Soviet Navy an integrated radar system “Mars-Passat”, which by its characteristics reached the level of the famous American “Aegіs” [2].

Meanwhile, almost all Ukrainian shipbuilding and industries supplying shipbuilding with equipment, etc., could work effectively only in a broad cooperation with many of its counterparts throughout the former USSR. Besides, some elements of equipment for both civilian ships and warships, the respective shipyards of Ukraine were traditionally bought abroad. Among them were powerful high-speed diesel engines, various navigation and electronic equipment, certain types of coatings, paints and the like. In this regard, it should be noted that such a situation is absolutely typical of shipbuilding companies, even in most powerful and traditionally independent and highly developed maritime countries — Japan, Great Britain, USA, France, Italy and others.

The unique ASW hydrofoil corvette of Project 1145.1 “Sokol” on the stocks of Feodosiya plant “More”. Two such ships had never been introduced by Ukraine into service in its Navy, and in March 2014, they were finally lost in the Crimea

The collapse of the Soviet Union had a very negative impact on military shipbuilding of Ukraine. The state managed to finish only four ships for its Navy from among the laid on the stocks in the Soviet era — the frigate “Hetman Sahaydachnyi” in 1993 (the Kerch plant “Zaliv”),corvettes “Lutsk” and “Ternopil” in 1993 and 2002 respectively (Kyiv plant “Leninska Kuznya” (“Lenin Forge”), a small landing ship “Donetsk” (Feodosiya plant “More”). Also in Feodosiya for the needs of the Border Troops of Ukraine in 1993 was launched PSKR-115, later named “Halychyna” (“Galicia”).

And all this despite the fact that in the shipyards of Ukraine there were at least two dozen unfinished modern warships, boats and auxiliary vessels. The largest of them — the nuclear aircraft carrier “Ulyanovsk” (Project 1143.7, readiness 20 %), aircraft carrier “Varyag” (Project 1143.6, readiness 87 %), missile cruiser “Admiral Lobov” (Project 1164, readiness 95 %, later renamed “Ukraine”), floating technical base PM-16, project 2020 (90 % readiness) for geostrategic and even financial reasons proved not needed to independent Ukraine. Prolonged useless negotiations with Russia on the fate of individual unfinished ships of the former Soviet Navy, as well as the financial burden of their maintaining, gradually decided the fate of the largest ones of them. That is why these ships were dismantled (“Ulyanovsk” on the order of Prime Minister of Ukraine K. Masyk, on February 4, 1992 was cut on the stocks, and the metal was sold abroad as scrap) [3], or, in extreme cases, were sold abroad at a lower price (“Varyag” to the PRC) [4].

Meanwhile, there still remained a lot of unfinished ships, “hung in the air” at Ukrainian enterprises. The Government of Ukraine for more than two decades had been trying to sell the cruiser “Ukraine” and the ship of project 2020 to Russia. But Moscow, in spite of its high interest and urgent need for them as part of its Navy, kept bringing the case to the fact that Ukraine should give the ships away to its northern neighbor for free, or cut them into “needles” [5].

Ukraine could have completed the construction of several modern combat units for its Navy. However, this was not done. For financial reasons, and due to the low level of readiness, in Kerch was cut into scrap metal a ship of the same type as “Hetman Sahaydachnyi”, the frigate “Hetman Baida Vyshnevetskyi”, and in Kyiv has never been completed the construction of corvettes “L'viv” and “Zaporiz'ka Sich”. On Feodosiya plant “More”, for various reasons, since December 1991 had got “stuck” almost 95-98 % ready unique small antisubmarine hydrofoil ships of project 1145.1 “Sokol” — corvettes “L'viv” (2nd) and “Lugansk”. There were also other ships, boats and auxiliary vessels, which due to lack of funds for their construction had never made their way into the Ukrainian Navy because they had been destroyed on the stocks [6].

Emergency towing of the second built for the PRC small amphibious hovercraft of Project 958 “Bizon” (Ukrainian version of the project 12322 “Zubr”). Feodosiya, March 1, 2014

Only one of the two unfinished small amphibious assault air-cushion ships of Project 12322 “Zubr” — MDK-100 “Donetsk” in June 1993 found its way into the Ukrainian Navy. [7] However, it (along with three sister ships “Horlovka”, “Kramators'k” and “Artemivs'k”) had been part of the Ukrainian Navy just before the beginning of the 21st century. And then because of lack of funding it was utilized. Feodosiya's “More” continued building the series of these ships, but only for export. In 2001, for Greece, within the framework of a contract was completed a second ship of Soviet times, by then already named “Ivan Bohun,” which became part of the Greek Navy as HS “Itaki” (L-181). When China's Navy got interested in this project (and against the background of the political and military-technical confrontation between Russia and Ukraine), specifically for the Chinese side, Ukraine gave its own version, but actually a clone of the Russian “Zubr” — Project 958 “Bizon”. Only two such ships were made in 2013-2014. The last Chinese “Zubr” had to be urgently transported (uncompleted) from Feodosiya to China on March 1 last year [8].

In 1997, as a result of the official division of the former Black Sea Fleet, the Ukrainian Navy naturally became the second (by number of ships), and the first by total power of the Navy (vessels plus the power of aviation and coastal components) in the Black Sea. But it was not so much the already traditional, although quite real shortage of funds, as, above all, the Ukrainian leadership's almost complete not understanding of naval issues, that had led to the fact that in the above-mentioned region our Navy quickly slipped to the fifth place.

Thus, only under the Agreement on the Division of the Black Sea Fleet [9], Ukraine was getting 254 warships, boats and support boats (against 271 going to the Russian Federation), among which 51 were combat units. However, according to the official government information, the country was not able to maintain such a grouping. And therefore, the most strong and large potentially Ukrainian Navy's ships were sent to the scrap or given to the Russian Federation for the financial debts. Thus, of the two submarines that were to be given to the Naval Forces of Ukraine, only one did become part of our Navy. The three patrol boats of project 1135 and 1135M had actually stayed moored at the berths unfit for action for a few years and then were scrapped. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The Ukrainian Navy's ship structure had been declining rapidly, until at the end of 2009 it stood still at the level of 26 combat units and nearly 50 support vessels and boats. At this, there was created a fleet of several naval bases and two operational units — brigades of surface ships. Without taking into account the considerable service life of the Ukrainian Navy ships, their totality was a fully balanced squadron — 1 submarine, 1 frigate, 2 anti-missile and 5 anti-ship corvettes, 1 large and 1 medium landing ships, 2 missile and 3 gunboats, 2 marine, 2 base and 1 raid trawlers, 1 medium and 1 small reconnaissance ships, 2 command and control ships, and the corresponding structure of auxiliary units [10]. At this, most running of Ukrainian Navy ships had been through average repairs, and the frigate U130 “Hetman Sahaydachnyi” and the ASW corvettes U205 “Luts'k” and U209 “Ternopil” — even through upgrading of their sonar systems, developed and manufactured at the company “Kliver” in Krasnyi Luch [11].

The newest and one of the most active Ukrainian Navy ships — corvette of Project 1124M U209 “Ternopil”. It entered the combat strength of the Ukrainian Navy in March 2002, was modernized in 2013 and was lost in the Crimea in March 2014

However, in 2012-2013 again began the process of withdrawal of ships, boats and auxiliary vessels from the Ukrainian Navy. On the basis of the proposals of the Command of the Naval Forces of Ukraine, the Ukrainian government by corresponding orders started the process of another stage of the fleet reduction through decommissioning of units that were part of the Navy only nominally. Unfortunately, during this process the Ukrainian Navy in some cases lost its entire component (were excluded from the lists both coastal minesweepers U330 “Melitopol” and U331 “Mariupol”, the only middle-size reconnaissance ship U511 “Simferopol” and the only transporter of weapons U754 “Dzhankoy”). Ships of the same type also were decommissioned. Thus, of the two missile corvettes of Project 12411T “Molniya”, one was decommissioned — U156 “Kremenchug” (U155 “Dnipro” remained), of the two anti-submarine corvettes of Project 1241-2 “Molniya-2” U207 “Uzhgorod” was decommissioned (U208 “Khmelnitsky” remained). The same thing happened to the only two remaining in the Ukrainian Navy, missile boats of Project 206MP — U154 “Kakhovka” was decommissioned (U153 “Priluki” was left) and to the two tankers of Project 1844 — U759 “Bakhmach” was decommissioned (U760 “Fastow” remained) [12].

And this despite the fact that in 2012 it was planned to modernize 14 units of ships of the Naval Forces of Ukraine [13], and in fact, according to the “White Book 2012” of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, was completed the long-term repair and partial modernization of only one warship — submarine U01 “Zaporizhzhya”[14]. It is therefore not surprising that in the next 2013, none of the Ukrainian Navy ships and boats was modernized [15].

Meanwhile, the level of training of the personnel of the Navy of Ukraine was quite high. Since the beginning of the 21st century, Ukrainian Navy ships had been permanent participants of multinational operational and combat activities. From April 2001, Ukrainian Navy ships had been involved in operations of the Black Sea group of naval cooperation “Blackseafor”. In 2010, our country was represented in it by sea trawler U311 “Cherkasy” and by command and control ship U510 “Slavutych” (in 2011 — only by the latter). In 2013, these same ships participated in two activations of “Blackseafor” (at the end of August only their crews performed a survey of 15 civil courts and conducted more than 80 exercises and trainings).

Since 2007, the Ukrainian Navy ships had been involved in conducting anti-piracy operations of NATO in the Mediterranean — “Active Endeavour”. By March 2014, military campaigns in the Mediterranean had completed corvette U209 “Ternopil”, corvette U205 “Lutsk,” frigate U130 “Hetman Sahaydachnyi.” Thus, corvette U209 “Ternopil” during the mission in 2010 participated in five patrols in different areas, overcame 4814 nautical miles and its crew interviewed more than 100 merchant ships. All in all “Ternopil” had spent at sea 25 days. Almost similar achievements its crew had in 2013 (the number of surveyed ships — 75).

Since March 2005, the Ukrainian Navy had been participating in the organized by Turkey in March 2004, anti-terrorist operation “Black Sea Harmony”. On September 27, 2010, Ukraine was officially recognized contributor to the military naval operation of the European Union to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia “EU NAVFOR — Operation Atalanta”, and its practical component “Ocean Shield”. In April 2011, the Ukrainian Navy Command announced its readiness to send to the coast of Somalia the frigate U130 “Getman Sahaydachnyi”, corvette U209 “Ternopil” and a large landing ship U402 “Konstantin Olshanskyi”. However, “Konstantin Olshanskyi” from March 23 to April 10, 2011 had carried out a military campaign to the coast of Libya to evacuate to Malta and Ukraine nearly 300 foreign citizens. As for the frigate “Hetman Sahaydachnyi”, almost till the crisis events in March 2014, it had been periodically performing tasks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden as part of the “Operation Ocean Shield”.

The first ship built in Ukraine specially for the Ukrainian Navy — U510 “Slavutych” (Project 1288.4). This unique command and control ship was lost by Ukraine in the Crimea in March 2014

All of these exercises and military campaigns really showed not only high proficiency of the core staff of the Navy of Ukraine, but also were improving the professional training of commanders of the Ukrainian Navy, in practice interacting with navies of other countries. However, this was happening on the verge of capabilities of the Ukrainian Navy. Only six combat pennants of the Ukrainian Navy were able to perform combat missions in full outside the Black Sea, and in all its waters. With the ratio of operational voltage (the amount of time spent by the ship on patrolling, until the time of official participation in combat operations) almost 0.4-0.5 (at the level of the UK), the amount of time spent within a year on carrying out tasks of our ships, boats and auxiliary vessels did not exceed 21.3 (level of Albania).

But then the operation of the Russians to capture the Crimea demonstrated not only the extremely unfavorable configuration of basing of ships, boats and vessels of the Ukrainian Navy, (of which the authors of this article in a special analytical report warned as early as 2011), but, most importantly — the extremely low ideological and professional training of command staff of the Ukrainian Navy. How else can be considered a situation where, with the obvious threat to the place of permanent dislocation, commanders of ships, boats and auxiliary vessels of the Ukrainian Navy did not fulfill the requirement of the Article of the Combat Manual of the Ukrainian Navy to urgently go out to sea on alert, remained in bases on the orders of the former Commander of the Ukrainian Navy D. Berezovskyi who was the first to betray the oath of allegiance to the people of Ukraine! As a result, the Ukrainian Navy (unlike border guards, who, ignoring the danger, within 20 minutes were out of their Crimean bases) lost its main fighting units — the newly modernized submarine U01 “Zaporizhzhya” (Project 641), corvettes (small antisubmarine ships) U205 “Lutsk”, U209 “Ternopil” (project 1124M “Albatross”), U155 “Prydniprovya” (Project 12411T “Molniya”) and U208 “Khmelnytskyi” (Project 1241-2 “Molniya-2”), 2 sea trawlers — U310 “Chernihiv”, U311 “Cherkassy” (Project 266M “Aquamarine”), a large landing ship of the project 775 — U402 “Konstantin Olshanskyi” and the command and control ship U510 “Slavutych” (Project 1288.4). The latter, by the way — in chronological order was the first ship passed over to the Ukrainian Navy immediately from the plant August 12, 1992.



  1. http://www.vmsu.info/
  2. Balakin S. Zablocki VA Soviet aircraft carriers. Admiral Gorshkov's aircraft carriers
  3. M.: Eksmo, 2007. — 133 pp.
  4. I. Alexeev A long way in the sea // Technique youth. — 1994. — № 4. — S. 9
  5. Balakin S. Zablocki V. The above mentioned work. — S. 219-226.
  6. It was agreed on Russia's buying out the cruiser of Project 11641 “Ukraine” // http://bmpd.livejournal.com/ 489608.html; Some promising ways of Ukrainian-Russian cooperation in the naval sphere // http://bmpd.livejournal.com/ 496414.html
  7. Y. Apalkov. Warships of the USSR. Antisubmarine ships. — Part 2 — St. Petersburg: Galea-Print, 2005. — P. 21-22, 41.
  8. Aviation and time. — 1995. — № 4. — S. 52.
  9. The second “Zubr” (“Bison”) hastily dispatched to China // http://bmpd.livejournal.com/ 763428.html
  10. Agreement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on parameters of division of the Black Sea Fleet on 28.05.1997, the // http: // zakon 3.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/643_075
  11.  “The white book-2010”. Armed Forces of Ukraine in 2010 — K., 2011. — S. 64.
  12. About repairing of sonar systems of frigates and corvettes of Ukraine's Navy // http://bmpd.livejournal.com/ 632238.html
  13. Ukrainian Navy (Naval Forces of Ukraine) // https: //ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%92% D0% BE% D0% B5% D0% BD% D0% BD% D0% BE- % D0% BC% D0% BE% D1% 80% D1% 81% D0% BA% D0% B8% D0% B5_% D1% 81% D0% B8% D0% BB% D1% 8B_% D0% A3% D0 % BA% D1% 80% D0% B0% D0% B8% D0% BD% D1% 8B
  14. Plans for modernization of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in 2012 // http://bmpd.livejournal.com/ 246140.html
  15. “White book 2012”. Armed Forces of Ukraine in 2013 — K., 2013. — P. 68.
  16. “White book 2013”. Armed Forces of Ukraine in 2013 — K., 2014. — P. 69.