Rogozin takes on Navy shipbuilding (and gives us all a good chuckle)

Dmitry Rogozin, the newly minted Deputy Prime Minister in charge of military procurement, has made a statement on naval shipbuilding, in the context of the current discussion of a 30 year naval vessel development program. According to Rogozin, by 2013 Russian shipyards will be able to build 6 submarines and an aircraft carrier per year. Given that Russian shipyards currently have no docks large enough to build a carrier, there is zero chance that they could start construction of a carrier by 2013 even if the Navy had a design ready, which they don’t. If they started building a dock now, I imagine construction on the first carrier could start by 2020. Furthermore, the United States, the country with the most experience in building aircraft carriers, has never built one in less than 2.5 years. Three to four years from keel-laying to launch has been the norm for most of the Nimitz-class carriers.  So if Russia wanted to build one every year, they would have to build 3-4 docks. All very unrealistic, to be sure.

Rogozin appears to have realized that he made a fool of himself, so he subsequently walked back his statement on aircraft carriers, indicating that he was just talking about the refurbishment of the Vikramaditya. But he stuck to his guns on the submarines. And this claim makes equally little sense. According to Ilya Kramnik, at best Russia will be able to commission 2 new submarines (one diesel and one Borei class SSBN) and refurbish one Delta IV in 2013. He believes that the level of six submarines a year will be reached no earlier than 2018.

Furthermore, Rogozin’s talk about restoring the Typhoons is likely to remain just talk. There’s no reason to spend the money on modernizing these submarines (including refurbishing 2 of the 3 to launch Bulava missiles) when the Borei subs are better and more likely to provide value for the money in terms of longevity.

So we can put this latest statement by Rogozin down as yet another effort at attention-seeking. While Russian ship-building is undoubtedly experiencing a revival of sorts, there’s no point in exaggerating their capabilities. That will only lead to subsequent articles decrying the failure of “officially announced” plans.