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The group of 400 sailors is divided into two separate crews of 200 to learn how to operate Russia’s first Mistral, named Vladivostok, which is currently under construction in Saint-Nazaire.
French public service broadcaster France Television 3 earlier reported that the Russian naval personnel was initially scheduled to arrive for the training on June 1, but the Smolny suffered damage at Russia’s Kronshtadt military naval base and had to undergo repairs.
The 1.12 billion euro contract for building two Mistral-type ships was signed by the Russian defense exporting company Rosoboronexport and French DCNS in June of 2011. Under the contract, Russia is to receive the first of the two warships, the Vladivostok, in October-November this year.
The second Mistral-class helicopter carrier, the Sevastopol, is expected to be handed over to Russia by the end of the next year.
The delivery of the Mistral-class warships to Russia was jeopardized earlier in the year after the European Union along with the United States imposed a number of sanctions in regard to Russia. The sanctions were imposed after the republic of Crimea seceded from conflict-hit Ukraine and later merged with neighbouring Russia.
Mistral landing helicopter carriers are capable of performing four tasks at the same time: receive helicopters, land troops, and act as a command post and a floating hospital.
The Mistral-type helicopter carriers have a displacement of 21 tonnes, maximum body length - 210 meters, speed - 18 knots, range - up to 20,000 miles. The crew is 170 members, and in addition it can take on board 450 people. Each ship is capable of carrying a fleet of 16 helicopters. Six of them can be simultaneously deployed on the flight-deck. The cargo deck can accommodate more than 40 tanks or 70 motorized vehicles.