By Jonathan Davis
The Russian navy may be having problems repairing its sole traditional aircraft carrier, but Moscow’s sea service is preparing to build a pair of new helicopter-carrying amphibious assault ships.
“In line with the plan, the helicopter carriers are to be laid in early May, [the ceremony is] to coincide with celebrations of the 75th anniversary of victory [over the Nazi Germany],” a military source told Russian newswire service TASS.
The ships’ keels will be laid at the Zaliv shipyard in Crimea, the part of Ukraine Moscow ‘annexed’ in 2014.
According to an earlier report by TASS, the ships are to be named Sevastopol and Vladivostok, after cities in Crimea and Russia’s Far East, respectively.
The news service reported that the ships, with water displacement of some 25,000 tons and maximum length of about 220 meters, will be capable of carrying over 20 heavy helicopters.
In addition, they will also have a dock for landing boats and will carry up to two reinforced marine battalions with a total strength of 900 men.
Russia had contracted with France to build a pair of Mistral-class amphibious assault ships but that deal was canceled following Moscow’s invasion of Crimea.
Those ships were eventually sold to Egypt.