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Russian crews of Mistral warships disbanded, sent to other ships — source

The issue of possible purchase of the Russian equipment from the Mistral warships by Egypt so far remains open

MOSCOW, December 15. /TASS/. The Russian crews prepared for the Mistral helicopter carriers have been disbanded and assigned to other vessels, a military-diplomatic source told TASS on Tuesday.

"The crews of both Mistral warships have been disbanded and assigned to Russian naval surface ships," he said.

A source in the General Staff of the Russian Navy earlier told TASS that the crews of the helicopter carriers had begun training at different fleets, mainly in the Pacific fleet, an the beginning of the summer - before the official termination of the contract for the supply of these vessels.

The source also noted that the issue of possible purchase of the Russian equipment from the Mistral warships by Egypt so far remains open.

"The issue of the use of this equipment by Egypt still remains open," the source said.

"If the Egyptians do not buy this equipment, it will be used on Russian combat ships," he added.

According to the source, all Russian equipment form the Mistral class helicopter carriers has been delivered to Vyborg, and the acceptance act will be signed in the coming days.

"All the equipment has been dismantled and shipped to Russia, in arrived in Vyborg by sea on December 13," the source said.

"Representatives of the Saint-Nazaire shipyard will arrive in Vyborg within the next two days to check the cargo’s integrity, the customs clearance procedure will begin then, after which the acceptance act will be signed," he said, adding that the French side has assumed all the delivery costs.

According to the source, a total of eleven 20-tonne containers and two out-of-gage loads - platforms with large antennas - have been delivered. "The cargo includes the combat management system that had earlier been coupled with the French SENIT-9 system," the source added.

Russia ordered the Mistral-class helicopter carriers from France in 2011. However, in 2014 Paris froze the delivery of warships to Russia because of the situation in Ukraine. Earlier this year, Russia and France reached an agreement on terminating the contract, after that the Mistral warships were purchased by Egypt. Earlier reports said that the vessels would be delivered to the new customer next year, together with the French-made landing boats.

Kremlin Chief of Staff Sergey Ivanov said that Cairo could purchase Russian helicopters and equipment for the Mistral warships to the tune of more than $1 billion.