What can you say about the current situation of the Northern PKB, what are the promising areas of work, are there any difficulties?
In 2016, the KB turned 70 years, and over the years the Bureau has done a lot: these are ships of the first, second and third generations of post-war construction, and now ships of the fourth generation are being built. These ships were designed and launched in the series and successfully operated in the Navy. Some ships are in service until now, from among the third generation. The design bureau conducts the development of new ships, among which are borderline and small ships that the design bureau never engaged in before. Of course, there are difficulties. Without them, there is no.
And what is the situation with personnel? Do young specialists come to work?
We have a good replenishment in recent years. We have a basic department of St. Petersburg State Maritime Technical University. She is not very active, but nevertheless works with young specialists, so that they join the team more quickly.
That is, to date, the design bureau can design a ship of any complexity?
Of course, of any complexity. But constantly there are new specialties that need to be mastered. When we had steam-turbine and gas-turbine ships, and then the nuclear cruiser went, it was necessary to find the appropriate specialists, then train them so that they would then pass on their experience to the young. Now actively introduced aviation equipment, primarily helicopters. This also has special specifics and for this topic it is necessary to train specialists. After all, life always throws up new tasks.
What is your opinion about the promising ways of development of warships, for example, on other bearing principles?
We are mainly engaged in displacement vessels, because we are talking about ocean navyand you won’t send a hovercraft to the ocean because of their low seaworthiness. These are ships for enclosed water areas. And we design ships that can be used in all areas.
But after all, Americans are trying to implement different concepts in the construction of ships like LCS ...
This program is very strong advertising element. We studied these projects. To say that this was some kind of "secret of success" is still difficult. Although from the point of view of pure science, there are interesting things in them. But we have the Central Research Institute. Academician A.N. Krylov (FSUE "Krylov State Research Center") all of this was actively tested on models, everything is known, and there is nothing new there. It is not always necessary to introduce something new.
How do you assess the tendency of the last years to introduce stealth technologies in shipbuilding?
This is very important, and we are actively engaged in various activities in this direction. First of all, this is architecture. "Stelsovskaya" architecture is significantly different from the usual. For example, the patrol ships of the 61 project are a jumble of corner reflectors. And in the project of the frigate of the project 11356, new architectural forms were introduced: mainly the inclination of the walls and sides, as well as special glued coatings on the “luminous” places. The thermal field of the ship is also very important. Practically on all our ships, measures were taken to reduce it. These are different events: cooling, water injection into exhaust devices, etc. But it must be understood that at the present time the homing heads react to such small radiation that radiation cannot be completely excluded from the side of the board, but it is possible to try from the bow and stern angles. In any case, "to zero" bring nothing impossible.
And if you compare the projects of the frigates 11356 and 22350 precisely in this section, then they have very different signatures?
These ships are architecturally little different from each other in area of dispersion. But on the 22350 project, more measures were taken to reduce visibility (pasting, special coatings). But all these activities are unlikely to give an absolute effect. The radar itself is a powerful reflective surfaces and can not hide them. And in our Navy, the antennas of these radars even began to “pull upwards” in a marching way in order to reduce the visibility.
The 22350 project is generally very beautiful and efficient, and the chief designer Igor Mikhailovich Shramko is a very talented person who has put a lot of soul into it. By the way, my eldest son, the captain of the 1 rank, was the first chief supervisor of the design and construction of the lead frigate of the Admiral Gorshkov project.
And the ships of the 1135 family are generally among the most brilliant of those that designed our bureau. At three factories, 32 ships of the base project for the Soviet Navy were built, seven ships for the Border Guard Service (one more after completion became part of the Ukrainian Navy), six ships for the Indian Navy, then they began to build 11356 ships for themselves, and these are six more ships. And the key to success is that they have very good turbines installed and the scheme of their work, invented by our bureau. We have come up with a step-by-step inclusion of four turbines. And it was always possible to come up with such a regime in order to achieve maximum fuel efficiency. Unfortunately, the turbines were made in Ukraine, and this country has now foolishly stopped us to supply them. As a result, they stopped the plant "Zorya-Mashproekt." And maybe they will succeed in selling them to the Indians, provided that they succeed in concluding a contract for the delivery of a new batch of frigates to India.
However, Russia is now replacing it. The Russian turbine will be more modern, new materials will be used in it, and this will allow raising the combustion temperature of gases and, consequently, efficiency. But sometimes the best is the enemy of the good. We must do just fine. It was the slogan of the Commander-in-Chief of the USSR Navy Sergey Georgievich Gorshkov.
But isn’t it possible to replace rotating radars with radar with an active phased array, as, for example, in the US and Chinese Navy?
We have such systems. But they are mounted on the surface. It was still under the Soviet Union, in Kiev there was the NGO Kvant, which developed the Mars-Passat radar. But this is a very expensive system. Significantly reduce the visibility in the first place special radar coatings.
It is known that the Northern PKB in 1990-2000-ies. developed several destroyer projects for the Chinese fleet. Is there a similar job for export now?
Now, by inertia, we work only with India. And the Chinese are a special people: they have learned to do it themselves, and they no longer need anyone. And we helped them a lot, I flew to China many times. The Chinese are excellent copyists: they will buy something, copy it, and start to do it themselves. They are very developed industrial espionage. I remember the talks in Beijing, when the meeting room was crammed with microphones to hear our conversations among themselves. I unexpectedly entered the next room, and saw how they listen and record us.
In 1990-s. we had three major areas of export work. This is a collaboration with Vietnam, India and China. The largest direction was Indian, since we designed and built a number of projects. These are the destroyers of the 15 and 61МЭ project, the 17 and 17А frigates, the 25 and 25А corvettes.
Moreover, the destroyers of the 61ME project are still in service. This is a clear example of what is proper operation. At the same time with us were built such ships, which are already almost all written off. All because of the excellent operation. This includes fuel preparation, fuel quality and air cleaning. For example, the commander of the warhead-5 of one of the Indian ships of the project 61 descended into the engine room in white gloves. And if after inspection they did not remain as clean, the machine command "was given an explanation."
Why did the Indian Navy choose the ships of the 11356 project?
It was interesting история. Then both the Chinese and the Indians at the same time wanted to buy surface ships from us. The Chinese also offered the 11356 project, but considering their peculiarities, they needed the Mosquito cruise missile with a range of 110 km and a heavy warhead to be guaranteed to hit the American ship. And the Indians needed a universal ship with good shock and anti-submarine capabilities. The frigate also has good Club rockets, but they are not so heavy and have subsonic speeds. And to fight the opponents that India was focused on, that was enough. These are different approaches. Indians have a more “calm”, and, as I see it, a more promising view.
You mentioned the question of exploitation. Perhaps one of the most painful issues of our fleet is the tragic history of the service in its composition of the destroyers of the 956 project. What is the reason?
This is due to the conditions of their operation by our Navy, which was at an insufficient level. After all, there is the basis of the basics of boilers. And for them clean water is very important. The boilers failed very quickly, because there was practically no water treatment. But with the Chinese destroyers of the project 956E and 956EM, which we supplied with a total of four units, this was not the case. There water treatment was conducted at a very high level, according to all the rules.
And why we could not do the same?
We do a lot of things wrong. We used to hurry. The ship is not yet 20 years old, but it is already trying to write off. It is more profitable for the fleet to say that it needs new ships. And the old ones are being written off, so it’s expensive to maintain them.
But why then do the large anti-submarine ships of the 1155 project show themselves better and last longer?
They are equipped with gas turbines. This is a completely different matter. Its 24 hours can be changed in the marine environment. It is small, and through the hoist system it is removed from the engine room through ducts and a new one is put in its place in the same way. But, on the other hand, it has a much smaller lifespan compared to a steam-turbine installation. When we open gearboxes on steam turbines - they are as good as new.
Was it right to sell 956 destroyers at all to the Chinese?
The last two hulls are rotted at the Northern Shipyard. The plant stood at the time. And through the sale of these ships, we supported the plant. It was a stalemate. And then the Chinese got a taste, and the next pair of the 956EM project already had new-built ships, and with a new modification of the Mosquito missiles with an increased range to 220 km. And they were pleased.
And the modernized destroyers for the Soviet and Russian Navy should look the same?
It is hard to say. After all, the commander-in-chief of the USSR Navy, Sergey Gorshkov, was very clever and believed that long-range missiles were not needed for the 956 project ships. He thought that they would simply follow aircraft carriers from behind.
Did you mention work with Vietnam, what were they?
We designed a PS-500 rocket launch for them. But it was difficult for them to master the construction of the series themselves, in the end they bought the Molniya-type rocket boats of the 12418 project. At that time, they did not have a very high qualification of the workers, although we put on these ships German MTU diesel engines, very reliable and good.
It turns out that for the bureau it was the first experience of designing such small ships?
Yes. How did all this happen? A Vietnamese delegation arrived in Russia. They were taken to the Central Research Institute. Krylov. There they began to talk about theory and science, that everything should start from scratch and build experimental basins, as a result, the Vietnamese were simply frightened. And the Almaz Central Securities and Design Bureau with them then asked for a huge price. And they somehow went to our bureau. They told what they needed, and literally clung to us. A group of their engineers numbering people in 15 even worked in our departments. And this was a time when devastation began, the building was cold, the heating was turned off, the plant was not working. We gave them a room, put electric heaters, and they worked.
And why PS-500 did not take our fleet?
Because we already had development boats "Almaz". And the Vietnamese did not care, since they had nothing. I will say more, they plan to return to this again, they want to restore the construction of unfinished buildings. After all, at one time we were talking not only about boats, we had a draft of a guard ship with a displacement of 2100 tons. In Vietnam, a building site, a launching dock, was built for it, for which we completed the drawings. But then the program was abandoned, but they may well return to it.
Is there competition between KBs inside Russia?
Of course there is some competition. But she is not critical. Always manage to negotiate. For example, we made the 1135 project, and the Zelenodols, the 11540 project. These are close ships, they were built by two units. But then the fleet decided to leave one project 1135 and not to produce type.
Are nuclear shipbuilding operations in progress?
Unfortunately, the atomic direction is now quietly dying. Lost frames. But we are ready in principle and would be happy to undertake this work. We even have new studies, and the fleet is now ordering a draft design of a large squadron destroyer on the “Leader” theme. He is engaged in the chief designer Sokolov. We made two options with a gas turbine and nuclear power plant, it turns out a good ship, and the fleet is inclined to equip it with a reactor. A variant of the combined installation, where the atomic reactor will be used only for the mode of economic operation, is not excluded.
In your opinion, how promising is nuclear-powered shipbuilding in general?
The United States has a lot of warships with a nuclear power plant (AES). They are in operation, they have the necessary infrastructure and high-level training is provided. A ship with an AEU is very good. For example, our heavy nuclear missile cruiser (TARKR) project 11442 "Peter the Great" is actively going to sea, it does not need to be refilled. Nuclear ships have and should have the right to exist. And the quality of the fleet is largely determined by the presence or absence of nuclear ships in its composition.
So, the fact that the Russian Navy decided to modernize the Admiral Nakhimov TARKR is the right decision?
Of course! What are ships of the project 1144? First of all, it is an excellent AK-25 steel housing and a nuclear power plant. This is a two-layer steel, and the outer layer is made of stainless steel. And this body is not demolished. It can be used for both 40 and 50 and 60 years. It has unique biological and constructive protection. It is made with such intelligence, with such technical findings. The hull and nuclear reactor is a platform where you can do anything. And what constructive protection is there? This is a special design that does not allow the rocket to hit the cellar at the expense of various obstacles. Yes, it is necessary to change the systems and pipelines, weapons, but most importantly - there is a platform. I believe that all four ships should be restored.
And if you compare the cruisers of the 1144 project with the missile cruisers of the 1164 project?
I call the 1164 cruisers "timber trucks" because of the characteristic cruise missile launchers. How did this project come about? Project Cruiser
1144 was designed as an “aircraft carrier killer,” and the fleet's leadership planned that a cruiser of this type should be assigned to every American aircraft carrier. But they did not pull financially, they built only four. Therefore, we decided to make the ships cheaper, but with the same purpose. But all built only three ships. And the fourth remained in Ukraine, but they will not be able to complete it on their own. And Russia refused it because of the high price and the need to replace all communications and cables and carry out repairs on the hull.
Often we have to deal with the fact that defense companies in the performance of the state defense order (GOZ) work on the verge of profitability. What is the situation in the Northern PKB?
This is some kind of misunderstanding. In principle, they give us enough money. But what's the point of getting money for the current year in mid-December? We do not have time to master them. They should be given in January, maximum - in February, so that we can work normally throughout the year. We had several times situations where we refused money for the state defense order at the end of the year, since it was impossible to account for them.
A separate story with the so-called "dyed money" for the GOZ, which are received on special accounts. This makes work very difficult.