Heavy nuclear missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy

Heavy nuclear missile cruiser (HNMC) Pyotr Velikiy – is the largest and world-unique ship of this type, equipped with nuclear power plant.

Pyotr Velikiy – is the fourth ship of 1144 Orlan project and the only ship in service. It was designed to counter aircraft carrier groups of potential aggressors. The cruiser with such combat capabilities poses a real threat to them.

Heavy nuclear missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy

History of creation

Since the United States started construction of nuclear cruisers, the Soviet Union began implementing a similar program. It was planned to build seven ships with a nuclear power system (NPS) within 1144 Orlan project at the Baltic Shipyard. The lead ship of the series, HNMC Kirov, was laid down on March 26, 1973.

A total of four cruisers were built:

  • Kirov (renamed Admiral Ushakov);
  • Frunze (Admiral Lazarev);
  • Kalinin (Admiral Nakhimov);
  • Yuri Andropov (Pyotr Velikiy).

In 1989, the fifth cruiser, Dzerzhinsk (Admiral Kuznetsov) was laid down, but a year later the construction was stopped.

HNMC Pyotr Velikiy was designed by Severnoe (Nothern) Design Bureau. On April 25, 1986 it was initially named Kyibyshev, but after renamed Yuri Andropov, pennant number 183.

Distinctive feature of this ship (project name 1144.2) was enhanced armament and autonomy.

On April 25, 1989, the cruiser was launched. Three years later, by a decree of the President of Russia of April 22, 1992, the ship was named Pyotr Velikiy (BN 099).

After that, construction of the ship was delayed due to a lack of funding or political will and a long period of improvements and sea trials started. And only on April 9, 1998, HNMC Pyotr Velikiy became a part of the Russian Navy. On April 18, 1998, with the raising of the naval flag, its service in the Northern Fleet has begun.

Performance characteristics of the ship

You can find performance characteristics of the cruiser in the table below. They perfectly serve for its initial purpose:

Displacement, tonsstandard — 23750, full load — 25860
Length, m:full — 251.1, waterline — 230
Width, m28.5
Height, m59
Beam, m10.3
Helicopters2 × Ka-27
Propulsionmixed type: 2-boilers, 2 nuclear reactors, Installed power 140,000 shp, 2 marine screws
Speed, knots32
Sea endurance, days60

As you can see from the table, Pyotr Velikiy is more than 1.5 times better comparing to its American «classmates» in terms of full displacement and propulsion capacity.

The largest nuclear-powered cruiser of the US Navy «Long Beach» had 16,600 tons and 80,000 shp respectively.


The project 1144 includes almost all the best weapons and radio-electronic facilities (REF) designed by the Soviet military industry.

That is why, Pyotr Velikiy is considered, at least it was at the end of the last century, the most powerful and efficient ship in its class.

Anti-ship cruise missile system Granit

To efficiently combat aircraft carriers of potential enemy anti-ship cruise missile system Granit was deployed as a core armament of the HNMC Pyotr Velikiy (NATO’s reporting name – SS-N-19 Shipwreck).

System includes 20 individual launchers SM-233 which initiate launch of anti-ship missiles P-700 (3M45). They are mounted under the deck with superelevation of 60. In order to protect launchers from jet stream impact, they are filled with seawater before start.

The P-700 missile is also the leader in its class in terms of warhead yield. Speaking of its operational range, it is comparable only to the Tomahawk anti-ship variant of cruise missile.

Heavy nuclear missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy

Guidance system – Inertial with radio command guidance, homing head – active radar.

The P-700 missile has 3 processing units.

Considering available data about the enemy, it performs the following operations:

  • determines a priority target from a group of ships;
  • chooses flight mode based on the tactical situation;
  • counters the means of the enemy’s EW;
  • evades surface-to-air missiles;
  • coordinates with other missiles when fired in a swarm.

During boost phase, the missile acceleration is provided by a cylindrical solid-fuel accelerator. Then cruise turbojet KR-93 turns on. Having reached a flight altitude of about 14,000 m (optimal for a speed of 2.5 M), the anti-ship missile remains there until the target is detected at a distance of up to 70 km. After that, it makes a sharp decline to a height of 20-25 m, turns off its homing head and follows the target at a speed of 1.5 m.

When firing in swarm one of the missiles has a leading function. For the best view on targets, it rises to the appropriate height. The other missiles fly at extremely low altitude to keep secrecy.

The leader transmits data about the detected targets to other missiles of the group. Simultaneously, the missiles distribute targets between each other to avoid skipping or double attack. If the leading missile is destroyed, another missile takes over this function.

Over the horizon (OTH) targeting and guidance of the P-700 to the target can be provided by air (Tu-95RTs, Ka-25TS), but more coverage was provided by the systems of marine space reconnaissance and targeting (MSRT). Until 1998, this task was carried out by MSRT Legenda.

Since 2013 OTH of anti-missile P-700 was replaced by Liana. The new system detects any object up to 1 m with an accuracy up to 3 m anywhere in the world.

Air defense systems of HNMC Pyotr Velikiy

According to the Russian Navy classification air defense system of the cruiser has 3 layers.

Each of them is represented by specific anti-aircraft missile system:

  • distant (40-150 km) – S-300F Fort (NATO’s reporting name – SA-N-6 Grambl);
  • medium (10-40 km) – Kinzhal (SA-N-9Gauntlet);
  • near (up to 10 km) – 3M87 Kortik (CADS-N-1).

Performance characteristics of Fort and Fort-M

Initially Project 1144 was supposed to have 12 launchers with 8 launch containers each (a total 96 SAM). However, besides the anti-aircraft missile system Fort (48 SAM 48N6Е) Pyotr Velikiy is equipped with its upgraded version S-300FM Fort-M (46 SAM 48N6E2).

The new system has enhanced combat capabilities but was released in a single copy.

Heavy nuclear missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy: review, qualities, prospects.

The further modernization of the system is being considered. Advanced 9M96 SAM will increase its ammunition 4 times.

Antiaircraft weapons system Kinzhal

Unlike other ships of Project 1144, Pyotr Velikiy was equipped with the Kinzhal system, which is noticeably superior in terms of its performance characteristics comparing to the obsolete Osa-MA system.

Antiaircraft weapons system Kinzhal is designed to negate massive air strikes in any weather conditions.

The main operation mode is automatic.

The elements of Kinzhal for project 1144.2:

  • array radar for air targets;
  • optoelectronic guidance devices;
  • 8 drum-type vertical launch units with 8 container launchers.

Vertical launch of a single-stage SAM is carried out with a catapult.

Heavy nuclear missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy: review, qualities, prospects.

Antiaircraft weapons system 3М87 Kortik

Kortik air defense system is designed to detect and destroy air and high-speed small-sized naval targets.

The cruiser is armed with six Kortik systems. They are located sideways: two in the bow, next to Granit sytem, and four – at the afterbody of the superstructure.

The probability of air target damage is at least 96% and is achieved thanks to the two-echelon interception. At a greater distance (up to 8000 m), SAM are used.

In case some targets survived, artillery modules destroy them. Target detection and damage are fully automated processes.

Kortik includes:

  • 2 six-barreled 30mm guns AO-18;
  • 2 blocks x 4 launch tubes;
  • two-stage missile 9M311;
  • radar and optoelectronic targeting stations.

Heavy nuclear missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy: review, qualities, prospects.

Kortik can destroy an attacking group of 3-4 cruise- or anti-ship missiles.

Artillery armament

The AK-130 artillery system is designed to damage sea, coastal and air targets at distance up to 22 km.

Fire control is carried out by the MR-184 system. Target data is received from a multi-band radar or optoelectronic guidance station. Two targets are simultaneously tracked at a distance up to 40 km.

Fire mode – single (up to 20 shots per minute) or automatic (80 shots /min.). The missiles can be equipped with shock, remote and radar fuzes.

Anti-submarine weapons

Sonar system Polynom is designed to detect submarines and torpedoes of the enemy. It is equipped with a under keel (in a bulb dome) and towed arrays.

Anti-submarine missile system Vodopad serves to eliminate underwater threats. The Smerch-3 jet bomb hits both submarines and torpedoes.

Anti-submarine missile system Vodopad

Another distinctive feature of project 1144.2 comparing to 1144 is anti-submarine missile system Vodopad, which replaced anti-submarine missile system Metel. 83RN missile is the key element of this system. It has a 400-mm universal small-sized torpedo UMGT-1 as a warhead. Another variant is the 84RN – a deep nuclear bomb.

The missile of Vodopad system is fired from a 533-mm torpedo tube under the last port (waterproof opening of the technical cutout in the side of the ship). At the same time, the steerings are opened.

While immersion, a dual-mode solid-fuel rocket engine is launched, and the rocket comes out of water. The rocket follows a ballistic trajectory before reaching the aiming point.

Here an inertial control system operates. Then the warhead separates, gets lowered by parachute and acts as a conventional torpedo (83RN). In the 84RN variant, the head part explodes at a depth 200 m.

Anti-torpedo means

Torpedoes protection is provided by:

  • missile system of anti-torpedo protection (MSATP) Udav-1M;
  • 2 six-tube RBU-1000 Smerch-3 located sideways in the afterpart of the ship;
  • two paired 150-mm launchers of the PC-14 firing jammer system;
  • towed torpedo entrapment with built-in noise generator.


Missile system of anti-torpedo protection Udav-1M (also known as RBU-12000) is designed for anti-torpedo protection. Auxiliary purpose – the fight against submarines and sabotage assets.

It includes:

  • launcher with 10 guides KT-153M;
  • feeding device 111UPM;
  • 300 mm missiles 111CO2 and 111CZG Mesophil;
  • 111PM firing control system.

Due to various types of ammunition, the system creates three-layer defense at 100 to 3000 m. At the first layer, two 111CO2 decoy rockets create two false targets each. Their task is to take the torpedoes away from the ship.

If this fails, the second layer comes into effect. Here 111CZG mine-laying rockets form a minefield.

If torpedo breaks through these layers, it is destroyed by a salvo of 111CZG missiles operating in the depth bomb mode.

The full implementation of ship’s combat potential is provided by its radio-electronic means.

Main power plant

Pyotr Velikiy has propulsion of mixed type. It includes 2 KN-3 nuclear reactors with a capacity 300 MW each and two boiler turbine units with a total capacity of 140,000 shp.


The cruiser’s body has 6 decks, and the superstructure has 8 tiers. The total number of rooms is 1600, including 140 cabins and 30 orlops.

To increase the survivability of the ship, most important parts of its hull have 50 to 100 mm armor.

The life conditions are quite modern. There are three mess decks – for admirals, officers, and midshipmen, three saunas, 15 showers and a gym.

The medical unit, in addition to the operating room and infirmary, includes X-ray and dental offices.


The crew of totally 1035 people includes 105 officers and 130 midshipmen but the staff will be reduced after the planned ship modernization.

Service history

The key events of HNMC Pyotr Velikiy service history are associated with combat training events. The ship has never participated in fighting. Three cases of taking under custody Somali pirates ships are not included.

In August 2000, the ship discovered death site of Atomic-powered submarine Kursk. Then it patrolled this area during the operation to raise the sunken submarine.

In December 2008, within a group of Northern Fleet ships, it participated in joint exercises with ships of the Venezuelan Navy «VenRus-2008».

During March-November 2010, it passed its longest journey: from Severomorsk, through the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian and Pacific Oceans – to Vladivostok.

On January 10, 2013, the President, during his visit to Severomorsk, presented the Order of Nakhimov to the commander of the ship. The crew of the cruiser had already been awarded with it: on July 28, 2012.

In September-October 2013, Pyotr Velikiy, as part of a ships squad, participated in an Arctic campaign.

The next most important stage in his service is repair and deep modernization, scheduled for 2019 – 2022: it is planned to arm the cruiser with hypersonic anti-ship missiles Zircon, supersonic P-800 Onyx, cruise missiles Caliber.

Interesting facts

n October 1996 HNMC Pyotr Velikiy underwent sea trials in the Baltic Sea. He was accompanied by a Be-12 aircraft performing reconnaissance and surveillance tasks. At the same time, a pair of Swedish Grippen fighters arrived in the maneuvering area. The task was to monitor the new ship of the Russian Navy.

During another flight around the cruiser, the Swedish aircraft dangerously approached the Be-12. To avoid a collision, it followed into the water. Luckily, it was not recognized as international incident, but the Swedes expressed gratitude for assistance in carrying out the search operation.

Pride of the Fleet or a relic of the past

The ships of the Orlan project were supposed to form the basis of ship groupings in remote areas, however in the 90s this task lost its relevance.

Recent events have proved the need for an advanced presence of fleet forces. Moreover, frigates armed with Kalibr missiles are clearly not enough, particularly in the case of local hostilities.

The situation will be changed by the deep modernization of two HNMC – Pyotr Velikiy and Admiral Nakhimov. As part of advanced groupings, they will be able to inflict prohibitive damage to any enemy.