David Axe, War is Boring, Jan 18
The Kremlin has announced that Russia will hugely boost its naval operations in 2015.
But that’s an empty promise – or threat, if you will. In fact, the Russian fleet is on the edge of a precipitous decline in ship numbers and combat power, owing to huge industrial shortfalls that have been decades in the making.
“As for missions of Russian naval ships, there will be 50 percent more of them than in 2013,” Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian general staff, told a TV audience in December.
But Gerasimov’s vow belies a bleak future for the Russian navy. Even if the fleet is busier in 2015 than it was in 2013, in coming years it will have fewer and fewer ships to be busy with – and those that remain will be progressively smaller and weaker than rival vessels.
Today the Russian navy possesses around 270 warships including surface combatants, amphibious ships, submarines and auxiliaries.
Of the 270 ships, just 125 or so are in a working state. And of those 125, only around 45 are oceangoing surface warships or submarines that are in good shape and deployable.
All the above figures come from Dr. Dmitry Gorenburg of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University.
By comparison, the U.S. Navy possesses some 290 warships. Pretty much all of them are well-maintained, deployable, oceangoing vessels.
All the same, a force of almost 50 large warships is no insignificant thing, and outguns the fleets of all but the most powerful countries. The problem, according to Gorenburg, is that today’s Russian navy is old ... and won’t last much longer.