Russia has established a centralised control centre with the express purpose of overseeing the modernisation, repair and construction of new ships for the Russian Navy, apparently following concerns raised by Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu.

According to Deputy Minister of Defense Alexey Krivoruchko, the centre will “prevent the growth of cost and increase the terms of fulfillment of state contracts and also increase the personal responsibility of officials.” He added that it will be used to optimise the types of vessels procured, as well as the systems they are equipped with – issues which will help the Russian Navy to meet the aims set down in its Naval Policy 2030, released in 2017.

Krivoruchko explained that “currently, additional training is being conducted on pricing, financial control, auditing and project management." Most likely this element of the centre is aimed at curtailing and addressing corruption within Russia’s shipbuilding industry.

2019 decisions to remove surface vessels from service without replacing them has left the Navy in a weakened state and stretched – as many navies are – to fulfill its role as envisioned in Naval Policy 2030.

Ultimately, the move to establish a centre with oversight for Russian shipbuilding has a number of hurdles to overcome. Recent setbacks, such as the loss of the PD-50 dry dock and the self-inflicted loss of access to Ukraine’s gas turbine engines, have frustrated many Russian naval ambitions in a material fashion. To many observers, the ADMIRAL KUZNETSOV’s troubled deployment to Syria in 2016 was indicative of Russia’s naval capabilities writ large.

However, the modest ambitions laid out in Naval Policy 2030 indicate that Russia’s fleet will not be designed to compete with its Western competitors on a like-for-like basis. Instead, it is expected to act asymmetrically: for this, Russia needs a few select surface vessels, well-armed with anti-ship and air defence systems, as well as some form of command and control system. Against this backdrop, it stands to reason that greater coordination in the procurement of new ships and modernisation of Russia’s navy may produce tangible results in the Kremlin’s long-term naval strategy.

Miles Quartermain in London for MON

A Project 20385 corvette during trials in the North Sea. The multi-role vessel carries a range of cruise missiles for use against naval and land-based targets. (Photo: Russian MoD)

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