Russian and US Coast Guard meet–a Russian WMSL


110421-G-6458F-007-Bertholf and Vorovsky

KODIAK, Alaska – The crews of the ships Bertholf and Vorovsky sail west to the Bering Sea on a joint exchange April 21, 2011. The Vorovsky is a Krivak-class frigate commissioned in 1990 for the Russian Federal Security Service and the Bertholf is the first of the Coast Guard’s National Security Cutters, Legend-class, commissioned in 2008. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis

This photo was taken during an exchange visit by the Russian Federal Security Service ship Vorovsky to Kodiak. This is the latest in a regular series of bi-annual port visits between the Coast Guard and the Russian Security Service, alternating visits between Alaskan and Siberian ports. The Seventeenth District Commander and the Chief of the Northeast Border Directorate of the Federal Security Service of Russia and some of their staff members used the opportunity to meet.

As the Russian equivalent of our National Security Cutter or Maritime Security, Large (WMSL), I find it interesting to compare the Russian vessel with the Bertholf. The Vorovsky, almost 20 years older, is the newest of seven “Krivak III” (NATO designation) class frigate, derived from the Soviet Navy’s “Krivak” class, but with modifications for “coast guard” tasks, primarily the addition a helicopter deck and hanger.

The Russian ship is sightly smaller (3,670 tons fl; 408 ft loa vice 4,500 tons and 418 feet), four knots faster (32 knots), with less than a third the range (3900 nmi @14 knots) (largely due to the choice of thirsty gas turbines as cruise engines), and half or less the endurance (30 days), a much bigger crew (198 including aviation detachment), and its boat handling and helicopter facilities are not as extensive.

The main difference in the “philosophy” of design (other than the much greater endurance of the USCG ship) is that the Russian vessel is much more heavily armed. Its one 100 mm gun and twin 30 mm Close In Weapon System (CIWS) are comparable to the Bertholf’s 57 mm and 20 mm Phalanx CIWS, but in addition the Vorovsky also carries both a hull mounted and variable depth sonar, an anti-aircraft missile system (SA-N-4), eight 533 mm (21″) torpedo tubes for heavy weight torpedoes usable against either submarines or surface vessels, and an RBU-6000 multiple ASW rocket launcher (now considered largely obsolete for ASW but still usable as a torpedo countermeasure).

The Krivak III design has evolved and continues as the Indian Navy’s Talwar class and the Russian Navy’s Admiral Grigorovich class and Admiral Sergei Gorshkov class frigates.


6 thoughts on “Russian and US Coast Guard meet–a Russian WMSL

  1. I was in the Black Sea in 1965. The, then, Soviet Navy shadowed us with the usual trawlers and small destroyer-like ships. I noticed the Soviets liked long and low vessels with a goodly amount of armaments.

    I would think that an obsolete ASW projector is better than no ASW at all. Lucky shots do happen.

    • They have the torpedoes for good ASW targets in deep water. The multiple ASW rocket launcher could still be effective against diesel electric boats in shallow water. It is a good alternative when there is some doubt if you have a real target. Just as the Brits used a lot of depth charges during the Falklands in an effort to classify by ordnance. And when there is a torpedo incoming, they can be fired down the bearing line and possibly upset, blind, or even destroy the incoming torpedo.

      • This is why our NSC should have some ASW capability for in case we have to deal with enemy SSKs in the future. At least we should be pushing to build a National fleet of Patrol frigates or frigates that have AAW, ASW and ASUW capability. At least with the Russian Federal Security Service frigate shows that they have the ability to deal with SSKs and surface craft.

  2. Pingback: Russian FRC–Compare and Contrast | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

  3. News Release
    U.S. Coast Guard 17th District Alaska
    Contact: 17th District Public Affairs
    Office: (907) 463-2065
    After Hours: (907) 209-8731
    17th District online newsroom

    U.S. Coast Guard, Russian Border Guard patrolled maritime boundary line

    Bearing Sea patrol
    JUNEAU, Alaska – Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star crew and a Russian aircraft crew patrolled the Bering Sea maritime boundary line between Russia and the United States in mid-January.

    Following routine coordinated communications between the Russian Border Guard Directorate for the Eastern Arctic District and the Coast Guard Seventeenth District in Juneau, Alaska, cutter Polar Star crew and a Russian Border Guard AN-26 aircraft crew patrolled a portion of the 1,700-mile maritime boundary line to support mutual agreements. The agreements consist of combined operations including search and rescue missions, contingency operations, routine communications exercises, and operations to counter illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

    The purpose of combined operations and communications exercises are to enforce rules and regulations, and protect the sovereign rights and economies of both countries. The routine coordination maintains a strong working relationship and improves joint response capabilities for pollution, law enforcement, and search and rescue cases along our shared maritime border.

    A working relationship at the operational level between the Coast Guard and Russian Border Guard remains critical to ensuring stability in the region. The partnership protects shared interests in fish stocks, safety of life at sea, coordinates environmental responses, and counters illicit activity on the high seas.

    In July 2020, Coast Guard Cutter Munro conducted a similar communications exercise with the Russian Border Guard Vessel Kamchatka in the Bering Strait.

    The Russian Border Guard’s effective enforcement of the maritime boundary line, and direct communication with their fishing industry, significantly reduces foreign fishing vessel incursions of the U.S. exclusive economic zone.

    Since 2018, the Coast Guard has detected only one Russian fishing vessel incursion along the maritime boundary line. The Russian Border Guard immediately conducted an investigation of the incident, and issued fines for that incursion.

    “The United States Coast Guard works diligently to maintain a unique cooperative relationship with the Russian Border Guard in an effort to enhance the protection of shared interests in and around the Arctic region. The coordinated communications exercises on the high seas these past weeks with Polar Star demonstrate a recognition of the importance of that relationship,” said Capt. Jason Brennell, chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard’s Seventeenth District.

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