The Slava-class cruiser is a large, multi-mission surface combatant of the Russian (former USSR) Navy. They were designed in the 1980s as a less expensive, smaller alternative to the unusually large and expensive Kirov-class cruiser. The design was put forward by a competing design bureau, associated with the Nikolaev shipyards; the class was intended as an alternative to the Kirov class which cost nearly triple as much, not a supplement. Originally Nikolaev planned for 10-12 Slava class cruisers, but the Kirovs were built anyway, and the resulting budget constraints brought this number down to 6, with an option for two more. Two were finished before the USSR fell, and all but two of the remaining ones were cancelled. Of these two, only one, RFS Varyag, has been completed. Completion of the last unit, RFS Admiral Lobov, has been held up by design changes, and the important decision of whether it would ultimately be built for Russia or Ukraine.

The Soviet design bureaus came to the Slava design after looking at the capabilities of the Kirov-class, and looking for a way to compress most of its capability into a much smaller, simpler hull. The result is a cruiser of approximately 12000 tons displacement - about half that of the Kirov - built on a hull that strongly resembles a stretched version of the Kara class ASW destroyer. It is powered by 4 gas turbine engines, providing about 100,000 shaft horsepower on two shafts with controllable pitch propellers.

The principal armament of the Slava class are sixteen single-tube angled launchers for improved SS-N-12 Sandbox long-range anti-ship missiles (P-500 Bazalt, not the older P-350 used on the Kiev class aviation cruiser). Since the Sandbox system is much lighter and has less ship impact than the larger SS-N-19 Shipwreck, Russia chose to fit 16 SS-N-12 missiles instead of 8 SS-N-19. For air defense it carries eight eight-round revolver VLS for the SA-N-6 Grumble anti-air missile, the same weapon used on the larger Kirovs and the Kara class trials ship Azov. It also has a pair of twin-arm launchers for SA-N-4 Gecko short-range SAMs and eight AK-630 point defense guns. An AK-130 130mm/70 twin gun provides capability for anti-ship and land attack gunfire and short-range air defense. Two quintuple-mounted 533mm torpedo tubes capable of firing conventional or nuclear homing torpedoes or SS-N-15 Starfish ASW missiles and two RBU-6000 rocket launchers round out the weapons fit. Sensor fit is similar to that of the Kirov class except that only one Top Dome missile director is fitted. It also carries one Ka-27 Helix ASW helo.

Somewhat like the Kirov class, the four units of the class have some significant armament differences among them. The first two units, RFS Moskva (formerly Slava) and RFS Marshal Ustinov, are nearly identical. The third unit, RFS Varyag, has its AK-630 guns replaced with four CADS-N-1 CIWS and may have had its P-500 Bazalt missile systems replaced with the longer-range but externally identical P-1000 Vulkan. The fourth and final unit, RFS Admiral Lobov, which was finally announced to be being built for Russia after much debating with Ukraine, will be configured like Varyag but with SA-N-9 Gauntlet VLS in place of the SA-N-4 Gecko.

Renaming of the RFS Slava

In the mid 1990s, the Slava was laid up for maintenance and repair. The Russian government, having spent their naval budget on the completion of the Kirov-class cruiser Pyotr Velikhy, did not expect the funds for its repair to be forthcoming, and they planned to decommission her. However, much to everyone's surprise, the citizens and local government of Moscow pulled together the required money to repair the ship and return her to service. Consequently, the vessel was re-christened as the RFS Moskva (Moskva being Russian for Moscow) in honor of the city that had made her retention in service possible. This also continued the Russo-Soviet tradition of naming their major capital warships after their large cities, such as the earlier Moskva, Leningrad, Kiev and Minsk.

Current status

All three of the currently-active Slava class cruisers are in important positions in the Russian fleet. Varyag replaced the Kirov class Admiral Lazarev as the flagship of the Pacific fleet. RFS Moskva is the air defense command ship of the Black Sea fleet, though the Kara class destroyer RFS Kerch remains the flagship. In the Northern fleet (formerly the Red Banner Northern fleet), RFS Marshal Ustinov is the anti-surface command ship and the escort group commander for the Kuznetsov battle group. She also served as the anti-submarine group commander until the reactivation of the Admiral Nakhimov.

General characteristics, Slava-class missile cruiser (Project 1164 Atlant)

  • Hull designator: CG - missile cruiser (US/NATO). RKR - rocket cruiser (ракетный крейсер. USSR/Russia)
  • Number: 3 in service, 1 fitting out
  • Displacement: 12,500 tons
  • Length: 187 m (613 ft)
  • Beam: 20.8 m (68.27 ft)
  • Draft: 7.5 m (24.6 ft)
  • Propulsion: 4 gas turbines, COGAG configuration, 100000 shp
  • Speed: 34 knots (possibly higher)
  • Range: 9,000 nm at 15 kn
  • Surface-to-surface missiles: 16x SS-N-12 Sandbox (P-500 Bazalt). Possibly P-1000 Vulkan in Varyag and Lobov.
  • Anti-air missiles: 8x VLS (64 rounds) SA-N-6 Grumble. 2x (44 rounds) SA-N-4 Gecko (except Lobov). 2x VLS (48 rounds) SA-N-9 Gauntlet in Lobov only. 4x (32 ready 128 reserve rounds) SA-N-11 Grisom in Varyag, Lobov as part of CADS-N-1.
  • ASW missiles: SS-N-15 Starfish nuclear or conventional. Can be fired from torpedo tubes, typical number carried unknown.
  • Torpedoes: 10x (2 quin) 533mm trainable torpedo tubes, ASW or ASuW.
  • ASW rocket launchers: 2x RBU-6000. 2x RBU-12000 with UDAV-1 fire control in Lobov only.
  • Guns: 1x twin AK-130 130mm/70 with laser-guided shells and Kite Screech radar director. 8x AK-630 Gatling in Moskva, Ustinov. 8x GSh-6-30 (four twin) in Varyag, Lobov as part of the CADS-N-1 Kashtan point-defense system. Varying numbers of 12.7mm or 14.5mm HMG.
  • Aircraft: 1x Ka-27 Helix ASW or missile targeting helo
  • Crew: 600