Azerbaijan Coast Guard to Get 6 OPVs and 6 WPBs

Sa’ar 62 OPV

Janes is reporting the Azerbaijan Coast Guard is procuring twelve new Israeli designed vessels to be built in Azerbaijan. These include six 62 meter OPVs (203 foot, the Greek ships of this class are about 450 tons full load) based on the Sa’ar 4.5 missile corvette and six 31.2 meter (102 foot, 95 ton) Shaldag patrol vessels.

SHALDAG Fast Patrol Craft (earlier, slightly smaller version)

Azerbaijan is one of five countries bordering the land locked (and reportedly oil rich) Caspian Sea. The others are Russia to the North, Iran to the South, and Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan on the other side of the Caspian. Russia has several missile corvettes and Iran has both corvettes and small submarines in the Caspian.

Azerbaijan’s total EEZ and total internal area is only 86,600 sq. km. The comparable figure for the US is over 250 times larger.

I’m afraid this may be another area where, in the not too distant future, Americans will get a geography lesson via troubling news reports.

Germany Builds Two Azipod Equipped Icebreaking Rescue Vessels for Russia

MarineLog is reporting that a German yard is building two icebreaking rescue and salvage vessels for the Russian Ministry of Transport, to be used by “the Russian State Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (SMRCC) for patrols and rescues on the northern Polar Sea route.” The ships will be 88 m x 18.5 m and will be powered by two 3.5 MW Azipods. The ships are larger but the power is very close to that of the Macknaw (WLBB-30) (73 m x 17.8 m) which uses two 3.4MW Azipods.

We have talked about Azipods before,  but if you haven’t seen them before, they are quite impressive in the maneuverability they provide (see the video above). gCaptain reports the contract for the entire propulsion and electric generation system for the two almost 10,000 horsepower ships was $25M.  To put this in perspective, the Wind Class icebreakers had 12,000 HP.

Nicaragua Ungrades Law Enforcement with Help from–the Russians?

Russia will supply Nicaragua with six missile and patrol boats

A couple of interesting notes regarding waters where the Coast Guard frequently operates, both concerning Nicaragua. First they seem to be getting drug enforcement intelligence from the Russians, and the US does not mind. Second they are getting six vessels from the Russians, that may be usable for law enforcement or for possible sovereignty patrols over their newly expanded EEZ.

Two of these ships are 550 ton ASUW and AAW missile equipped Molniya Class Corvettes like the one pictured above, a development of the older Turantul Class Corvette. The other four are closer to 110 foot WPBs, if a bit more heavily armed.

Costa Rica is apparently concerned. I’ve got a soft spot for Costa Rica. Their only armed service is their Coast Guard, and they have had some run-ins with Nicaragua in the past.

Russians Build Ships and Infrastructure in the Arctic

NavyRecognition is reporting Russia’s Coast Guard will deploy four new ships (apparently icebreakers) to exercise sovereignty in Arctic waters.


Eleven border protection facilities are to be built in the Arctic, while automated surveillance systems are to be deployed in the area as part of the Russian Federation State Border Protection program for 2012-2020, an FSB representative said.

25 New Russian 650 ton Patrol Vessels

Photo: Alex (Florstein) Fedorov

The Russian Federal Security (FSB) Coast Guard (successor organization to the Maritime Boarder Troops of the KGB), has begun a program of 25 ships that they rate as “second rank patrol ships” (WMEC?). They are reportedly designed “for protection of Russian sea border in the Black Sea and would maintain security of Winter Olympics 2014 in Sochi.”  They will replace ships built in the Soviet era.

Ships of the class are pictured here (broken link–Chuck) in the second, third, and forth photo. Below that are photos of an ice strengthened patrol vessel that appears to be based on an oil industry supply vessel.

Lead ship of the project, Rubin (501), laid down Sept 3, 2007, launched June 26, 2009, which was handed over to Black Sea/Azov Frontier Service Dept in Sept 2010 “has completely satisfied all expectations.”

“…in Oct 2011 unmanned helicopter system Horizon Air S-100 (this may be the Schiebel (Austria) S-100) that is also deployed on the French OPV L’Adroit–Chuck) designed for search, detection, and identification of small-size fast-speed sea targets at the distance of 150 km from the platform was effectively tested on board Rubin. Besides, ships of this project are equipped with automated control system, advanced navigation and comm equipment. Crew living conditions are unusually comfortable; there are sauna and swimming pool on board.

Full displacement of the Project 22460 patrol ship is about 650 tons, length is 62.5 meters (205′), beam is 11 meters (36′), draft is 3.8 meters (12.5′), full speed in quiet water is up to 30 knots, operating range is 3,500 miles, endurance is up to 30 days. Armament includes one 30-mm six-barreled gun mount AK-630 and two 12.7-mm machine guns. The crew is 20 men. The ship is equipped with stern inclined slip for rigid inflatable boat, a heliport for light helicopter like Ka-226(a helo a bit smaller than the H-65–Chuck) or UAV, and a quick-mounted folding hangar.

The second ship, Brilliant, and was laid down May 12, 2010, and the third, Zhemchug, is currently under construction. Construction on the remaining ships is expected to continue through 2020.

While these ships are reported to be only 650 tons full load, the dimensions are close to or exceed those of a 210 (210.5’x34’x10.5′) so I find it hard top believe they are not close to 1,000 tons full load.

The AK-630 gun is a real beast, a six barrel 30 mm similar to the GAU-8 Avenger, the gun on the A-10 tank killer aircraft, which is also used as part of the Dutch developed “Goalkeeper” CIWS. Close in, it could be very effective in an anti-surface role as well.

Russia Opens Its Maritime Arctic-USNI

The Naval Institute has a good review of recent developments in the Russian Arctic, written by Captain Lawson Brigham, USCG (ret.).

Looks like the Russians are opening up this formerly closed area for commerce and exploitation. Moreover they have settled their boundary dispute with Norway and their handling of hydro-carbon deposit that straddles the new Russia-Norway EEZ boundary will provide precedence for handling other similar situations. The infrastructure appears to be growing rapidly and year round operations are planned.

(Note the US and Canada still have an outstanding dispute over a boundary line in the Arctic.)