The Moskva class antisubmarine cruiser, sometimes referred to as a helicopter carrier, was the result of the Soviet Navy's realization that wide-area blue water antisubmarine warfare would be critical to their ability to retain nuclear deterrent capability in the face of the increasing NATO attack submarine threat. While not the first Soviet warship to embark a helicopter - that was the Kresta-I class cruiser, some four years earlier - the two Moskvas were the first to employ aircraft as their primary weapon.
At first glance, the Moskva looks a lot like the Italian Andrea Doria class, or the French Jeanne d'Arc, it's actually much less of a generalist. The entire mission of a Moskva class ship is to act as the capital ship in a sub-hunting group, whose main mission is to protect one or more SSBN bastions against incursion from NATO subs. This is not an easy task - ASW never is - but the diversity of subs available to NATO countries made it especially difficult. All manner of submarines, from the deep-diving high-speed nuclear boats of the USN and the British Royal Navy, to the small, stealthy diesel-electrics of the Federal German Navy, would need to be countered effectively. To that end, the Moskvas carried about 25 Ka-25 Hormone or Ka-27 Helix helicopters, almost exclusively the anti-sub variety. Their shipboard armament was designed around self-defense and defense of the airwing. Two twin SA-N-3 Goblet long-range SAM launchers provided air defense for the helicopters and other ships in the task force, while a twin-mounted SUW-N-1 anti-submarine rocket launcher provided some standoff capability against subs. A pair of twin-mounted 57mm cannon were mounted en echelon port and starboard, forward of the flight deck, and were backed up by eight AK-630 CIWS guns, providing defense against close-in air and surface threats. She also carried ten 533mm torpedo tubes and two RBU-6000 ASW rocket launchers.
As capable as the Moskvas seemed on paper, though, in practice they had significant issues. Foremost among these was poor handling in rough seas. Also, their poor anti-surface defense, a weakness shared by most other 1970s Soviet anti-sub ships, left them vulnerable to attack by surface warships. They also failed to effectively counter the threat posed by western ASW aircraft. In response to these problems, the Moskva class was cancelled after two ships, Moskva and Leningrad were built, to be replaced by the more versatile Kiev class aviation cruiser.
General characteristics, Moskva class antisubmarine cruiser (Project 1123 Kondor)
- Hull designator: CGS - Antisubmarine cruiser, guided missile or CGH - Guided missile cruiser, helicopter (US/NATO). PKR - Antisubmarine cruiser (противолодочный крейсер. Russia/USSR)
- Number: 2 retired
- Displacement: 17500 tons
- Length: 189 m (620 ft)
- Beam: 23 m (75 ft)
- Draft: 13 m (43 ft)
- Propulsion: 4 pressure-fired boilers, 2 geared steam turbines, 100000 shp.
- Speed: 31 knots
- Range: 14000 nmi at 12 knots
- ASW missiles: 1x twin SUW-N-1 firing the FRAS-1 nuclear ASW rocket, 5kt yield.
- Anti-air missiles: 2x twin SA-N-3 Goblet.
- Torpedoes: 10x (2 quin) 533mm torpedo tubes. Type 53 nuclear or conventional torpedoes, ASW or ASuW.
- ASW rocket launchers: 2x RBU-6000.
- Guns: 2x twin AK-725 57mm automatic, 8x AK-630 30mm gatling.
- Aircraft: 25x Ka-25 Hormone or Ka-27 Helix.
- Crew: 850