FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Voyage of the SS Peter the Great

On Monday, a squadron from the Russian Navy’s North Sea Fleet sailed for Venezuela in an effort to bolster military links with Latin America.  In November, the convoy will take part in joint maneuvers with the Venezuelan Navy.  The Russian fleet includes the nuclear-powered cruiser Peter the Great.  First laid down in St. Petersburg in April, 1986 the Russian cruiser was launched three years later and named the Yuri Andropov. When the Soviet Union broke up, the ship was renamed Peter the Great and was commissioned in 1995. The cruiser forms part of the Russian Navy’s so-called “Kirov Class” designed to engage large surface ships and defend the fleet against air and submarine attack.

An imposing ship, Peter the Great is a full six decks tall, measures almost 900 feet in length and weighs 28,000 tons. The ship accommodates 610 sailors including 82 officers. Peter the Great is armed with a massive amount of missiles, guns, torpedoes, antisubmarine mortars and electronic countermeasures. The ship’s artillery system is based on a computer-based control system with a multi-band radar, television and optical target sighting. The ship has three helicopters.

Peter the Great’s propulsion system is based on a combination of nuclear power and steam turbine with four nuclear reactors and two auxiliary boilers. In Kursk Down! , Clyde Burleson writes, “The first nuclear Russian surface warship, Peter the Great utilizes an odd auxiliary oil-fueled system to superheat steam from the reactors to produce added propulsion. In an emergency reactor shutdown, the vessel could continue to maneuver, using this secondary, nonatomic power resource.”

Despite its daunting profile, Peter the Great has been plagued with technical problems from the outset. The Bellona Foundation, an environmental organization based in Oslo, Norway monitors the Russian Navy and has long been concerned with the nuclear-powered cruiser. According to the group, Peter the Great experienced a horrible accident in October 1996. While cruising in the Baltic Sea an explosion in a turbine pipe outside the ship’s reactor killed five sailors. It was hardly an auspicious beginning for Peter the Great.

According to Bellona, the ship’s 1960s reactor technology was outdated and “a number of defects” had been detected. In March 2004, The Guardian of London reported that Admiral Vladimir Kuyoyedov, the head of the Russian navy, announced that Peter the Great would be withdrawn from service because of fears that the ship “could explode at any moment.” Kuroyedov told Russian news agencies: “The ship is in such poor condition that it could explode at any moment. The situation is especially dangerous because the ship is powered by a nuclear power plant.” It was unclear whether the admiral was suggesting that there could be a nuclear explosion.

Kuroyedov’s open admission of military incompetence aroused acute embarrassment within government circles. “To acknowledge that the flagship of the fleet is incapable of carrying out combat duties is a scandal,” said the official Rossiskaya Gazeta newspaper. Some analysts dismissed the admiral’s comments as “overly dramatic,” interpreting them as a possible bid for more government funding. Whatever the case, a great cloud of doubt hangs over Peter the Great and the Russian navy to this day.  Despite its long history of problems however, the cruiser has an enormous amount of firepower at its disposal.

Peter the Great will be patrolling Caribbean waters at the same time that the United States has decided to revive its Fourth Fleet (for more on the history of the Fourth Fleet, see my earlier article “World War II To The Present: U.S. Fourth Fleet in Venezuelan Waters,” May 24/25, 2008).  Venezuelan Defense Minister Gustavo Rangel has said the military cooperation with Russia would prepare Venezuela to confront possible US “threats,” such as the reactivation of the U.S. Fourth Fleet.  A resurgent Russia, stung by U.S. political and diplomatic support for the Republic of Georgia, is happy to oblige Chávez.  Peter the Great’s deployment follows the arrival of two Russian Tu-160 nuclear bombers in Venezuela earlier this month.

If John McCain actually agrees, the first presidential debate will take place on Friday.  If he is shrewd, Obama might seek to portray his Republican opponent as reckless.  The American public has no stomach for another Cold War in the Caribbean, and yet McCain has contributed mightily to bringing such a scenario about.  For years, the Arizona Senator has advocated a hawkish foreign policy which has sought to isolate both Venezuela and Russia.  Predictably, this has resulted in bringing the two oil-producing nations together.

NIKOLAS KOZLOFF is the author of Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2008)

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

More articles by:

NIKOLAS KOZLOFF is the author of the upcoming No Rain In the Amazon: How South America’s Climate Change Affects The Entire Planet (Palgrave Macmillan, April 2010). Visit his website, senorchichero.

Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
Alison Barros
Dear White American
Celia Bottger
If Ireland Can Reject Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Ian Scott Horst
Less Voting, More Revolution
Peter Certo
Trump Snubbed McCain, Then the Media Snubbed the Rest of Us
Dan Ritzman
Drilling ANWR: One of Our Last Links to the Wild World is in Danger
Brandon Do
The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World
Chris Wright
An Updated and Improved Marxism
Daryan Rezazad
Iran and the Doomsday Machine
Patrick Bond
Africa’s Pioneering Marxist Political Economist, Samir Amin (1931-2018)
Louis Proyect
Memoir From the Underground
Binoy Kampmark
Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne Loses to Vienna
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
Elizabeth Lennard
Alan Chadwick in the Budding Grove: Story Summary for a Documentary Film
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail