Russia’s first two helicopter carriers to be laid down in Crimea in spring 2020

Russia’s first two amphibious assault ships will be laid down at the Zaliv shipyard in Crimea in May 2020, two sources in Russia’s shipbuilding industry told TASS on Wednesday.

“Two amphibious assault ships with water displacement of up to 15,000 tonnes will for the first time in the Russian history be laid down at the Zaliv shipyard in Kerch in 2020,” the source said.

He added that the first helicopter carrier will be delivered to the Russian Navy before the current state armament program expires at the end of 2027.

The other source specified that “both ships will be laid down in May 2020.”

According to him, the ships will be able to carry over 10 helicopters of various types and will be equipped with a dock-type chamber for landing craft utilities (LTU).

“The development of technical specifications of the new ships has entered the final stage. Once they are ready, in coming months, an agreement will be signed to build the helicopter carriers,” he said.

TASS has been unable to officially confirm the information, provided by the sources, at the time of the publication.

The Zaliv shipyard in Kerch has facilities to build vessels up to 300 meters in length and up to 50 meters in width and, therefore, can build ships with a displacement exceeding 150,000 tonnes.

Earlier, a source in Russia’s shipbuilding industry told TASS that no later than by the end of the year, the Defense Ministry will complete developing technical specifications for a universal amphibious assault ship. There are plans to build the lead universal amphibious assault ship and deliver it to the customer under the state armament program through 2027 while the work on the first serial-produced vessel will be completed before the early 2030s, the source said.

Universal amphibious assault ships, also called helicopter carriers, are distinguished by their large displacement (20,000 tonnes and more) and can carry a large group of heavy helicopters of various designation (up to 16 helicopters aboard Mistral ships and more than 30 aboard US Wasp-class vessels), and also vertical take-off rotorcraft.

Universal amphibious assault ships can carry from several hundred to over one thousand marine infantry personnel, boats and other craft for landing the assault force and transport the armor. Universal amphibious assault ships normally feature a powerful combat control system and can act as a command and control vessel for a grouping of forces.