The Steregushchiy corvette was developed by the Almaz Central Marine Design Bureau between the late 1990s and the 2000s.
The new Russian corvettes of project 20380 can do something that not every cruiser or destroyer can do. Naval surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, provision of fire support for amphibious troops ashore and reliable local air defense are all within their capabilities.
The destroyers can also carry out coastal protection missions against an enemy’s small naval forces, but the Russian Navy does not have many destroyers. On the other hand, building new destroyers is twice as expensive as building corvettes. During the period before and during World War II, the corvettes made up the majority of the Soviet Navy fleet. After the Soviet Union disintegrated, most shipbuilding programs were frozen. In the 1990s, the Russian Navy stopped accepting new warships.
The situation became more serious when the maintenance and development of strategic nuclear forces at sea was considered a top Naval priority. As a result, at the beginning of 2008, there were only 6 corvettes in the Russian Navy, equal to the number of missile cruisers and 2.5 times less than the number of strategic missile submarines. These corvettes have an average age of 28 years; The decision was made to equip the fleet with a new series of ships.
Today, Project 20380 ships have replaced obsolete warships, Steregushchiy, with the hull number 530 is the lead ship of this class. In total, the Russian Navy have publicly announced that they expect to buy at least 20 of these ships, for all four major fleets.
The Steregushchiy corvette was developed by the Almaz Central Marine Design Bureau between the late 1990s and the 2000s. Prior to that, the Almaz Design Bureau only specialized in developing small-missile ships, amphibious ships and a variety of other types of ships.
The Steregushchiy was laid down on December 21, 2001 at the Severnaya Verf Shipyard in St. Petersburg, on May 16, 2006, she was launched. After successfully completing state-run tests, on February 28, 2008, Steregushchiy officially joined the Russian Navy.
The ship is named after the Steregushchiy torpedo boat, which was sacrificed bravely in an unequal battle with Japanese forces on February 26, 1904.
The corvette of project 20380 is a multi-purpose type, which can be operated either solo or combined in a fleet. The ship can cover the fleet from enemy submarine attacks, engage skirmishers, and, if necessary, protect and blockade the coast. The characteristic feature of the project 20380 corvette is its ability to minimize radar, noise and visual signatures to the fullest extent thanks to stealth construction.
Steregushchiy has a length of 104.5m (342.85 ft), a beam of 11.1m (36.42 ft), a draft of 3.7m (12.14 ft) with a displacement of 2,200 tons.
The ship has a steel hull and a superstructure made of composite material, with a bulbous bow and nine watertight subdivisions. The bulbous bow reduces fuel consumption by about 20% over a non-bulbous bow. She has a bridge and a combined command center, hull architecture and fire-resistant radar-absorbent fiberglass applied in the design.
Another feature of this ship is that she has a low stern, a gentle bridge that leads straight to the helicopter deck and hangar. This is a privilege for ships of the destroyer class and above, but the Russian corvette is able to do this thanks to its optimal design to carry Ka-27PL helicopters.
In order to save space on the ship, the designers abandoned a linear arrangement with a combination of offensive weapons that placed them horizontally-cross. Such a layout has proven successful on similar warships of the US, South Korea, China and Japan.
Steregushchiy’s propulsion system is a diesel-electric arrangement driving 2 shafts. The four 16D49 diesel engines provide a total of 24,000 horsepower, while generating 2,520 kiloWatt of electricity for onboard operations.
The ship can reach a maximum speed of 27 knots, with a range of 4,000 nautical miles at a speed of 14 knots.
The corvette’s crew, consisting of more than 100 men, officers and non-commissioned officers are quartered in cabins, while the sailors and soldiers share the mess-deck.
Steregushchiy’s basic offensive weapons are two large launchers with a combination of Uran missiles, each platform carries four all-weather Kh-35 anti-ship missiles. Each missile is capable of sinking surface ships with a displacement of up to 5,000 tons. The capability of the Uran subsonic missile is at least equal to the famous Kalibr cruise missile in terms of operational range.
The main close range weapon of the Steregushchiy is the 100mm A-190 cannon at the bow of the ship. The cannon can fire at a rate of 80 rounds per minute, effective range is 20km.
The corvette is also equipped with two AK-630M close-in weapon systems, installed near the stern. These guns fired 5,000 rounds per minute to a maximum effective range of 5,000m, they could deal with both surface ships and air targets at close range.
In addition, the ship is also equipped with two quadruple torpedo tubes for the technologically revolutionary Paket-NK anti-torpedo missile. To counter enemy torpedoes, Russia uses controlled jet torpedoes. The Paket-NK system reduces the risk of a corvette being hit by enemy torpedoes by a factor of three.
For attacks on enemy submarines and surface ships there are Malyshka torpedoes, which can accelerate to 50 knots, destroying targets at distances of up to 20 km.
In total, the Russian Ministry of Defense has ordered 10 corvettes of Project 20380, of which six have been put into service, the seventh was officially launched in March 2020.
More advanced Project 20385 and Project 20386 variants are also under construction or in sea trials. They will enter the Russian Navy service in the following years.
It should be noted that, despite the upgraded versions, Russia continues to build Project 20380 warships. The reason is, they do not have alternative engines yet, after being embargoed by Germany and Ukraine. The old-generation engines of Project 20380 will not provide enough power for the high-capacity modern electronics on Project 20385.
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