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Russian Navy Resumes Shipbuilding in Crimea

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File image courtesy Russian Navy

By MarEx 2016-05-11 20:32:11

On Tuesday, the More (or Morye) Shipyard in Feodosiya, Crimea laid the keel for the first Russian naval vessel to be built on the disputed peninsula since Russia annexed it from Ukraine in 2014. 

""Today, we are laying the keel of the advanced ship Shtorm . . . this proves that the shipyard has managed to integrate with Russia's defence industry quickly enough. The company is prepared to fulfil the order," said industry and trade minister Denis Manturov.

The new class of 18 vessels, known as Project 22800, is intended as an alternative to the Project 11356 / Admiral Grigorovich class frigates, which halted construction when Ukraine stopped exporting their engines in protest of the Russian annexation of Crimea. 

The Shtorm and her sister ships will be armed with eight ground-hugging, long range Kalibr-NK cruise missiles, the same armament as on larger Russian naval vessels. "To keep the pace of ship construction, we’ll replace [Project] 11356 by building a new series of vessels - small missile ships, corvettes armed with cruise missiles - [Project] 22800. This work is being done today, and we hope that by the end of the year we’ll be able to lay down the first ship," said the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Viktor Chirkov, in comments in July 2015.

Two 22800 corvettes are already under construction at Pella Shipyard in St. Petersburg; the lead vessel, the Uragan, is slated for delivery in late 2017. 

At just 800 tons, the 22800 class is small relative to its armament, and has only 3,000 nm of range and 15 days of endurance. Despite its size, "it is armed well enough, in fact. The Navy is awaiting for it," said Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov in December. 

Ukraine still claims Crimea as its own territory, and the majority of nations have not formally recognized Russia’s claim. The U.S. and the EU maintain trade sanctions against Russia over the annexation, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown no sign of yielding. On Wednesday, contractors completed a power grid connection between Russia and Crimea at the Kerch Strait, bringing 250 MW of electrical carrying capacity to the territory. Russia is also building a multi-billion dollar road and rail bridge across the strait, a measure intended to consolidate its hold. That project is expected to be complete in 2019.