Written by Maksim Klimov; Originally appeared at VPK, translated by AlexD exclusively for SouthFront
The “Karakurts” came to a halt awaiting the diesels
When in 2014 it became clear that the Ukrainian turbines, and accordingly the new frigates of the Navy’s Projects 11356 and 22350 would not be received in the near future, the fleet urgently launched a new small missile ship-corvette (MSC) “Karakurt”. Project 22800 almost became a major success of domestic shipbuilding. Created in just three years, the leading “Karakurt” could go beyond the test and be accepted by the Navy in 2017. And today, there would be several such MSCs in the ranks.
However, shipbuilders and the fleet received a full-fledged knockout, and not from foreign suppliers, but from their colleagues; the main propulsion plant (MPP) with domestic M507 diesels were not delivered in time for what the “Star” public company was responsible for. Despite the statements of “Star’s” former chairman of the board of directors about the readiness and ability to fulfil the large contract for propulsion plants for the 19 MSCs of the new project, it turned out that the goal was to receive and secure advances backed by hope; the strategic enterprise will not go bankrupt.
“Star” not only disrupted the timing of delivery of the MPPs for the main MSC of Project 2280, but also could not provide the production of plants for more than one ship per year. The already build ships stood at the completion embankments waiting for diesel engines. To remedy the situation, the issue was raised by equipping the “Karakurt” with Chinese diesels; however, the inevitable decrease in the performance characteristics of the ships ruled out this solution. All the more so as the Ministry of Defence already allocated funds to “Star” for the hydraulic power units (HPU). There was talk that the necessary equipment would be able to be produced at the Kingisepp Machine-Building Plant, which previously specialised in the repair of marine diesel engines. However, production from scratch is a fundamentally different level of complexity. And so far none of the new diesel M507 from the Kingisepp plant has yet emerged. Accordingly, the already built MSCs are doomed to long-term lay-up at the completion embankments, and the plants are forced to bear large financial losses due to the credit load on contracts for the “Karakurt”.
Today the only possible solution would be the use of used diesel engines from ships of the active inventory with their maintenance and temporary installation at the Kingisepp plant in Project 22800. There are simply no other options. On the other hand, the diesel series M507 is the development of more than half a century ago, and they still have unique specific indices, albeit with a very complex operation. And probably, it makes sense not to force the Kingisepp plant to come out at any price for mass production, but to give the opportunity and time for normal development in a series of engines in an upgraded form.
There is a question to the military office of the public company “Star” at the time of signing the contract. The fleet, the shipbuilding plant “Pella” and the Central Maritime Design Bureau “Almaz”, until he summer of 2018, did not have reliable and objective information on the scale of the disaster at the “Star” and, lulled by the reports about its leadership, hoped for a timely execution of contracts. But the military commission had to know the situation as it is and report it, in order to prevent the signing of an unfeasible contract.