Seamen stand aboard the Turbinist Russian Navy minesweeper patrolling the harbor of Sevastopol in March. Russia plans to add four minesweepers to the fleet. (Viktor Drachev / AFP)
WARSAW — The Russian Ministry of Defense is planning to acquire four new naval minesweepers with delivery of the first ship scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2015 and the remaining three from 2016 to 2018, the ministry said in a statement.
The Alexandrit-class vessels will be the first ships of this design. The minesweepers are to be deployed to the Navy’s Northern Fleet, responsible for northwestern Russia, the Arctic and the Atlantic Ocean.
In April, Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled plans to boost Russia’s military presence in the Arctic. Russia aims to establish a network of naval bases in the Arctic to host ships and submarines. Under the plan, the Defense Ministry will set up a strategic military command, the Northern Fleet-Unified Strategic Command, to handle these operations, by the end of 2014.
“We need to strengthen our military infrastructure. In particular, to create in our part of the Arctic a unified network of naval facilities for new-generation ships and submarines,” Putin said at a meeting of Russia’s Security Council, as reported by local news agency RIA Novosti.
The minesweepers were designed by state-owned Almaz Central Marine Design Bureau. The ships weigh 890 tons, are 61 meters long and 10 meters wide. The vessels will carry a crew of 44 and have a maximum speed of 16.5 knots.