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The shipment was initially scheduled for early July. “This means that the Baltic Shipyard has fulfilled all of its obligations to the customer - the STX France shipyard by preparing the stern of the second Russian Mistral for shipment within the time period provided for in the contract,” United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) spokesperson Alexei Kravchenko said.
“The construction of the Mistral ships has been a good experience of working with the French shipbuilders, which I am sure we can use in the future,” he quoted Baltic Shipyard Director Alexei Kadilov as saying.
Kravchenko noted that it would take almost three weeks for the stern of the ship named Sevastopol to reach Saint-Nazaire in France where it will be put together with the forebody being built in France. “The ship will be launched in October 2014. After that it will be taken to Russia and, after additional equipping in accordance with the Russian Navy’s demands, will be handed over to the Navy in the autumn of 2015,” the spokesperson said.
However Hollande said the contract to build Mistral-type ships for Russia was being implemented as scheduled and would be fulfilled in October of this year.
The contract signed in 2011 has not been revised and its implementation will be completed in October, Hollande said.
Under the contract, each Mistral ship has to be built by France within 36 months. The first of them, the Vladivostok, is to arrive in St. Petersburg from Saint-Nazaire, France, in December 2014. In St. Petersburg it will be equipped with Russian weapons, military hardware and systems.
After that and the crew training, the Vladivostok will sail off to its base at the Pacific Fleet.
The second ship, the Sevastopol, will arrive in St. Petersburg in November 2015 to make a voyage to the Pacific Fleet and join it in the second half of 2016.The crews for the two ships (each consisting of 177 members) and 60 instructors, who will subsequently help the sailors operate the ships, are being trained by French specialists. The first stage of training began in February of this year and continued until the end of May. The second stage will take place from June until October in Saint-Nazaire both onshore and onboard the Vladivostok. The cost of training is included in the contract, the spokesperson said.
Apart from these two ships, Russia has also purchased French technology for the combat information control and communications systems.
Infrastructure for the Vladivostok and the Sevastopol will be built by the end of September 2015. Their base will be completed in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok by the end of December 2017.
On Russia’s insistence, the design of the ships has been changed to make them capable of sailing in northern altitudes and ice-covered seas, increase their dimensions to carry large Ka-28 and Ka-52K helicopters, and to install additional weapons as such air defence systems, rapid-fire artillery guns and large-calibre automatic systems to repel attacks from sea. This will allow the ships to go on missions with fewer escort vessels in tow.
Two Mistral-type ships are now under construction at Saint-Nazaire, France, and St. Petersburg, Russia. A possible purchase by Russia of two more ships from France will be considered based on the performance results of the first two.
The 1.1 billion euro contract for building two Mistral-type ships was signed by the defence exporting company Rosoboronexport and French DCNS in June 2011. The second ship will be named Sevastopol.
The shipyard is building two such ships for the Russian Navy under a subcontract obtained from the main contract under the project awarded to DCNS. The shipyard is to build 90% of each of the ships and then they will be floated off to be taken to Toulon for completion.
Mistral landing helicopter carriers will perform four tasks at the same time: receive helicopters, land troops, act as a command post and a floating hospital.
Each ship will carry a group of 16 helicopters. Six of them can be deployed on the flight-deck at the same time. The cargo deck can accommodate more than 40 tanks or 70 motor vehicles.
Russia is buying the French helicopter carrier Mistral with French equipment, including combat navigation devices, but will arm it with its own weaponry.
The Mistral ships will carry upgraded Russian Ka-32 Alligator attack helicopters.
France will transfer a number of sensitive technologies to Russia along with Mistral ships to be purchased by Russia, including the SENIT-9 tactical combat information system installed on the helicopter carriers.
In the future, these technologies will be used in the construction of two other Mistral ships in Russia, Rosoboronexport CEO Anatoly Isaikin said.