The Russian navy is on the edge of a precipitous decline in ship numbers and combat power, owing to huge industrial shortfalls that have been decades in the making. Today the Russian navy possesses around 270 warships including surface combatants, amphibious ships, submarines and auxiliaries. Of the 270 ships, just 125 or so are in a working state. And of those 125, only around 45 are oceangoing surface warships or submarines that are in good shape and deployable.
Most of the Soviet-vintage ships will decommission in the next few years as they became too old to sail safely and economically.
Gorenburg, Harvard Analyst, says the Russian shipbuilding industry could build somewhere between half and 70 percent of the vessels Moscow wants by 2020. “The earliest that Russia could build a new aircraft carrier is 2027, while new destroyers are still on drawing board, with the first unlikely to be commissioned for 10 years.
The U.S. Navy possesses some 290 warships. Pretty much all of them are well-maintained, deployable, oceangoing vessels.
China has plans to grow its navy to 351 ships by 2020 as the Chinese continue to develop their military’s ability to strike global targets.
When Moscow moved to annex Crimea in March, the U.S. Navy promptly sailed its new flattop USS George H.W. Bush into the eastern Mediterranean to reassure NATO governments. Bush‘s battle group included no fewer than 60 high-tech warplanes and several of Washington’s modern Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, armed with missiles and guns for fighting planes, submarines and other ships.
In response, the Kremlin sent in Kuznetsov. The aging carrier — much smaller than Bush — carried a dozen or so Sukhoi fighters. Her six escorts included just a single heavily-armed vessel, the Soviet-vintage nuclear cruiser Pyotr Velikiy. The other five ships included one small amphibious landing ship plus three support tankers and a tugboat.
The tugboat was along for a good reason. On the few occasions when Kuznetsov leaves port, she often promptly breaks down. In 2009, a short circuit sparked a fire that killed one seaman aboard the rusting vessel.
Kuznetsov shadowed Bush in the Mediterranean for a few weeks, then returned home to northern Russia through the English Channel in early May.
Kuznetsov doesn’t have many years left in her. Her boilers are “defective,” according to the trade publication Defense Industry Daily. Yet when she goes to the breakers to be dismantled, Moscow could find it impossible to replace her. For one, the shipyard that built all the Soviet carriers now belongs to Ukraine. It lies just outside of Crimea, and Russian forces did not manage to seize it.
SOURCES – War is Boring, Reuters, Defense Tech