Balzam-class intelligence ship

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A starboard view of the Soviet Balzam-class general intelligence collector ship underway in international waters as United States Navy ships sail out from Norfolk, Virginia, at the beginning of NATO Exercise Ocean Safari '85.
Class overview
Builders: Yantar Yard Kaliningrad
Operators: Soviet Navy, Russian Navy
Preceded by: Primor'ye class surveillance ship
Succeeded by: Vishnaya class intelligence ship
Built: 1980-1986
In commission: 1980? - present day
Completed: 4
Active: 1
Laid up: 2
Retired: 1
General characteristics
Type: intelligence ship
Displacement: 4,900 tons full load
Length: 105 m (344 ft)
Beam: 15.5 m (51 ft)
Draught: 5 m (16 ft)
Propulsion: 2 shaft diesel 9,000 hp (6,700 kW)
Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h)
Complement: 220
Sensors and
processing systems:
Sonar: hull mounted MF, HF dipping, possible passive arrays
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Intercept arrays
Armament: 1 30 mm AK-630 AA gun , 2 SA-N-5/8 SAM positions

The Balzam class is the NATO reporting name for a class of Intelligence collection ships built for the Soviet Navy in the 1980s. These ships are also known as the Lira class. The Soviet designation was Project 1826.

Design and role

The ships were designed to gather SIGINT and COMINT electronic intelligence via an extensive array of sensors. The data could be transmitted to shore via satellite link antennas housed in two large radomes. They were the first Soviet AGIs to be armed, carrying one AK-630 CIWS gun system and Strela anti air missiles. No radar fire-control systems were fitted (presumably to prevent interference with the electronic equipment already carried), so the weapons instead relied on a remote Kolonka pedestal director. The ships were also equipped for underway replenishment.


Four ships were built by Yantar shipyard, Kaliningrad.

One ship, the SSV 571 Belomore, is in service; of the other three units, the Lira was decommissioned in 1998, the Azia and Pribaltica are in reserve.

See also