Sverdlov-class cruiser

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Sverdlov-class cruiser Admiral Ushakov in 1981
Class overview
Name: Sverdlov class
Preceded by: Chapayev class
Succeeded by: Kynda class
Planned: 30
Completed: 14
Cancelled: 16
Retired: 13
Preserved: 1 (Mikhail Kutuzov)
General characteristics
Type: Cruiser
  • 13,600 tons standard,
  • 16,640 tons full load
  • 210 m (689 ft 0 in) overall
  • 205 m (672 ft 7 in) waterline
Beam: 22 m (72 ft 2 in)
Draught: 6.9 m (22 ft 8 in)
Installed power: 6 boilers, 118,100 shp (88,100 kW)
Propulsion: 2 shaft geared steam turbines
Speed: 32.5 knots (60.2 km/h; 37.4 mph)
Range: 9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km; 10,000 mi) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Complement: 1,250
  • 12 × 152 mm (6 in)/57 cal B-38 guns in four triple Mk5-bis turrets
  • 12 × 100 mm (3.9 in)/56 cal Model 1934 guns in 6 twin SM-5-1 mounts
  • 32 × 37 mm (1.5 in) anti-aircraft guns
  • 10 × 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes

The Sverdlov-class cruisers, Soviet designation Project 68bis, were the last conventional cruisers built for the Soviet Navy, in the 1950s. They were based on Italian pre-Second World War concepts and designs, but modified to be more seaworthy and able to run fast in the rough waters of the North Atlantic. They also carried an extensive suite of radar gear and anti-aircraft artillery in keeping with other post-war designs.

The Soviets originally planned to build 40 of the class, which would be supported by the Stalingrad-class battlecruisers and aircraft carriers. This represented a significant risk to the Royal Navy, especially in the North Atlantic.[1] They responded by introducing the Blackburn Buccaneer, a strike aircraft that had the performance to attack the Sverdlovs with impunity. The Buccaneer was to be armed with the smaller Red Angel or large Green Cheese missiles.[1] When the building program was cut back and the battlecruisers and carriers were cancelled, the Sverdlovs were left dangerously unprotected outside the cover of land-based aircraft. Operating on their own as commerce raiders they would be extremely vulnerable.[citation needed]

Construction was cancelled by Nikita Khrushchev in 1954 after 14 examples had been completed. Two additional hulls were scrapped on the slip and four partially complete Sverdlovs launched in 1954 but were scrapped in 1959. The remaining fleet remained in service through the 1970s when the underwent a limited modernization program, before finally leaving service in the late 1980s.

Only Mikhail Kutuzov is preserved, in Novorossiysk.


These ships were improved and slightly enlarged versions of the Chapayev class. They had the same main armament, machinery and side protection as the earlier ships, but had increased fuel capacity for greater range, an all welded hull, improved underwater protection, increased anti aircraft artillery and radar. The project was formally approved on 27 May 1947. The first three members of the class were named after cancelled ships of the previous Chapayev class. Initially, 30 ships were ordered, however upon Joseph Stalin's death in 1953, the order was cut to 21 in 1954. Once the first fifteen hulls were laid down, orders that the second batch of six were to be modified for protection against nuclear fallout were sent, however none of the six were completed. Plans were drawn up to upgrade the ships to missile-carrying cruisers, however those plans were dropped and instead new construction was cancelled in 1959, with the incomplete ships being scrapped by 1961.[2]

The Sverdlov class displaced 13,600 tons standard and 16,640 tons at full load. They were 210 metres (689 ft 0 in) long overall and 205 metres (672 ft 7 in) long at the waterline. They had a beam of 22 metres (72 ft 2 in) and draught of 6.9 metres (22 ft 8 in) and typically had a complement of 1,250. The hull was completely welded of an new design and the ships had a double bottom for over 75% of their length. The ship also had twenty-three watertight bulkheads. The Sverdlovs were had 6 boilers providing steam to two shaft geared steam turbines generating 118,100 shaft horsepower (88,100 kW). This gave the ships a maximum speed of 32.5 knots (60.2 km/h; 37.4 mph). The cruisers had a range of 9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km; 10,000 mi) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph).[2]

Sverdlov-class cruisers main armament was twelve 152 mm (6 in)/57 cal B-38 guns in four triple Mk5-bis turrets. They also had twelve 100 mm (3.9 in)/56 cal Model 1934 guns in six twin SM-5-1 mounts. For anti-aircraft weaponry, the cruisers had thirty-two 37 mm (1.5 in) anti-aircraft guns in sixteen twin mounts and were also equipped with ten 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes in two mountings of five each.[2]

The Sverdlovs had 100 mm (3.9 in) belt armor and had a 50 mm (2.0 in) armored deck. The turrets were shield by 175 mm (6.9 in) armor and the conning tower, 150 mm (5.9 in) armor.[2]

The cruisers' ultimate radar suite included one 'Big Net' or 'Top Trough' air search radar, one 'High Sieve' or 'Low Sieve' air search radar, one 'Knife Rest' air search radar and one 'Slim Net' air search radar. For navigational radar they had one 'Don-2' or 'Neptune' model. For fire control purposes the ships were equipped with two 'Sun Visor' radars, two 'Top Bow' 152 mm gun radars and eight 'Egg Cup' gun radars. For electronic countermeasures the ships were equipped with tow 'Watch Dog' ECM systems.[2]


By the early 1960s, the torpedo tubes aboard the ships were removed. Admiral Nakhimov had an SS-N-1 anti-ship missile launcher installed in place of "A" and "B" turrets as a trial in 1957. This installation was not successful, the ship was rapidly decommissioned and was used as a target ship in 1961.[2]

Dzerzhinsky had a SAM launcher for the SA-2 missile, replacing the aft turrets in 1960-62. This conversion was also not successful and no further ships were converted. As the entire missile installation was above the armored deck and the missile itself, based on the SA-2 "Guideline" was liquid-fueled (acid/kerosene), it would have represented a serious hazard to the ship in action.[2]

Senyavin and Zhdanov were converted into command ships in 1971 by replacing the aft turrets with extra accommodation and electronics. The two command ships were fitted with a helicopter deck and hangar together with a SA-N-4 SAM missile system. Senyavin also had four twin 30 mm guns installed atop the missile system.[2]

Oktyabrskaya Revolyutsia was refitted with an enlarged bridge in 1977, with Admiral Ushakov and Aleksandr Suvorov receiving the same modification in 1979, and later, Mikhail Kutusov.[2]


Sverdlov-class cruisers (Project 68bis)[2]
Name Russian name Builder Laid down Launched Completed Fate Notes
Sverdlov Свердлов Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad 15 October 1949 5 July 1950 15 May 1952 Stricken 1989 Named after Yakov Sverdlov. On 14 February 1978 she was relegated to the reserve and stationed at Liepaya. On 30 May 1989 she was decommissioned, and in 1990 towed to Kronshtadt. In early 1991 she was sold to an Indian company for scrap, and in October 1993 towed to India and scrapped.[3]
Zhdanov Жданов Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad 11 February 1950 27 December 1950 31 December 1951 Stricken 1991 Named after Andrei Zhdanov. Converted into a command ship with "X" turret removed and replaced by office space and extra electronics added. Scrapped 1991
Admiral Ushakov Адмирал Ушаков Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad 31 August 1950 29 September 1951 8 September 1953 Stricken 1987 Named after Fyodor Fyodorovich Ushakov. Scrapped 1987
Aleksandr Suvorov Александр Суворов Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad 26 February 1951 15 May 1952 31 December 1953 Stricken 1990 Named after Alexander Suvorov. Scrapped 1990.
Admiral Senyavin Адмирал Сенявин Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad 31 October 1951 22 December 1952 30 November 1954 Stricken 1991 Named after Dmitry Senyavin. Converted into a command ship with after turrets removed and replaced by helicopter hangar and office space, Scrapped 1991
Dmitry Pozharsky Дмитрий Пожарский Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad 31 March 1952 25 June 1953 31 December 1954 Stricken 1987 Named after patriot Dmitry Pozharsky. Scrapped 1987.
Kronstadt Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad October 1953 11 September 1954 N/A Broken up, 1961
Tallin Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad 1953 11 September 1954 N/A Broken up, 1961
Varyag кре́йсер Baltic Shipyard, Leningrad December 1952 5 June 1956 N/A Broken up, 1961
Ordzhonikidze Орджоникидзе Admiralty Shipyard, Leningrad 19 October 1949 17 September 1950 30 June 1952 Broken up, 1972 Named after Sergo Ordzhonikidze. Sold to Indonesia 1962, recommissioned KRI Irian in 1963. Sold for scrap to Taiwan in 1972. British frogman Lionel Crabb disappeared in 1956 when secretly inspecting this ship for MI6 when it was docked in Portsmouth Harbour.[citation needed]
Aleksandr Nevsky Александр Невский Admiralty Shipyard, Leningrad 30 May 1950 7 June 1951 31 December 1952 Stricken 1989 Named after Alexander Nevsky. Scrapped 1989
Admiral Lazarev Адмирал Лазарев Admiralty Shipyard, Leningrad 6 February 1951 29 June 1952 30 December 1952 Stricken 1986 Named after Mikhail Petrovich Lazarev. Scrapped 1986
Shcherbakov Admiralty Shipyard, Leningrad June 1951 17 March 1954 N/A Broken up, 1961
Dzerzhinsky Дзержинский Nikolayev 31 December 1948 31 August 1950 18 August 1952 Stricken 1989 Named after Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky. On 19 February 1980 she was relegated to the reserve and stationed in Sevastopol; Decommissioned 12 October 1988; 1988-1989 scrapped at Inkerman.[3]
Admiral Nakhimov Адмирал Нахимов Nikolayev 27 June 1950 29 June 1951 27 March 1953 Stricken 1961 Named after Admiral Pavel Nakhimov. Rearmed as a guided missile trials ship in late 1950s, target ship 1961
Mikhail Kutuzov Михаил Кутузов Nikolayev 23 February 1951 29 November 1952 30 February 1954 Museum ship Named after Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov. Museum ship at Novorossiysk
Admiral Kornilov Nikolayev 6 November 1951 17 March 1954 N/A Hulk PKZ 130, 1957
Oktyabrskaya Revolyutsia (ex-Molotovsk) Октябрьская Революция Severodvinsk 15 July 1952 25 May 1954 30 November 1954 Stricken 1957 Named after the October Revolution. Scrapped 1987
Murmansk Мурманск Severodvinsk 28 January 1953 24 April 1955 22 September 1955 Stricken 1992 Named after city of Murmansk. Decommissioned late 1980s. She ran aground in December 1994 at Hasvik, Norway on her way to India for scrapping
Arkhangelsk Severodvinsk 1954 N/A N/A Broken up, 1961
Vladivostok Severodvinsk 1955 N/A N/A Broken up, 1961

Service history

The standard Soviet practice was to pass the cruisers in and out of reserve. Dzerzhinsky was towed home from the Mediterranean Sea in 1979 after breaking down.[2]

Zhdanov after conversion to a command cruiser
Aleksandr Nevsky


See also



  1. 1.0 1.1 Gibson, Chris (2015). Nimrod's Genesis. Hikoki Publications. p. 17, 41–42. ISBN 978-190210947-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Gardiner and Chumbley, p. 378
  3. 3.0 3.1 Michael Holm, Sverdlov class, accessed May 2014.


  • Gardiner, Robert; Chumbley, Stephen; Budzbon, Przemysław, eds. (1995). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1947-1995. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-132-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links