MOSCOW, March 4 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s fleet of amphibious assault ships requires extensive modernization because their service life has been largely overextended, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday.
“The Russian navy currently has 19 ships of this type. They have been in service, on average, for more than 25 years,” Shoigu said at a video conference meeting with military commanders.
Shoigu said the navy was expected to receive a new Ivan Gren-class landing ship and two French-built Mistral-class helicopter carriers, the Vladivostok and the Sevastopol, through 2015.
“However, these additions are not enough, and we have to pay attention to the overhaul of existing [amphibious assault] ships,” the minister said, adding that at least two ships should undergo maintenance and repairs annually.
Shoigu’s comments come amid a growing international standoff over Crimea, an autonomous region within Ukraine that refused to recognize new nationalist powers in Kiev that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych in February.
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which is largely based on the Crimean peninsula, reportedly includes seven aging assault landing ships of the Alligator and Ropucha classes.