The Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet announced this week that the Cold War-era frigate Marshal Shaposhnikov (BPK 543) was deployed to the Sea of Japan to take part in the second stage of shipbuilder’s sea trails after being rearmed with Kalibr-NK and Uran cruise missiles during its recent upgrade and refit.

“In the morning, the Pacific Fleet’s tugs brought the ship out of the water area of Dalzavod [Shipyard] and escorted it to an outer roadstead where the frigate sailed full ahead,” the press office of the Pacific Fleet told Tass on Monday.

“At sea, the crew together with the delivery team will check the operation of the powerplant, the steering gear and auxiliary mechanisms as well as communications, detection and navigation systems. The ship’s speed and maneuverability tests will also be held,” the press office spokesperson added.

Testing the Waters

The Marshal Shaposhnikov first entered service with the Russian Navy as a large anti-submarine warfare ship. Its upgrade included installing standardized shipborne launchers for Kalibr-NK and Oniks missiles, which boosted its combat capabilities and allowed it to be now qualified as a frigate. The Kalibr-NK cruise missiles, which are fired from an eight-tube UKSK vertical launching system (VLS), are land-attack cruise missiles that have a range of 1,500 to 2,500 kilometers.

Future upgrades also call for the frigate to receive Tsirkon hypersonic missiles.

The vessel underwent its refit and upgrade at the Dalzavod Ship Repair Center in Vladivostok in the Russian Far East. During the upgrade, the shipbuilders dismantled and reconstructed more than 20 percent of the frigate’s superstructure, and the vessel’s main cables were partially replaced. In addition, the shipbuilders repaired the frigate’s sea valves and hull structures and installed new equipment.

Marshal Shaposhnikov began its first post-refit sea trials in July. The next stage of trials will involve take-offs and landings of the shipborne Ka-27 helicopters on the frigate’s deck. It is set to rejoin the Pacific Fleet by the end of this year.

Following the upgrade of the Marshal Shaposhnikov, all seven of the additional Project 1155 warships will be slated for a similar modernization.

Mighty Warship

The Marshal Shaposhnikov has already proven to be a capable warship.  

In May 2010, Russian Naval Infantry—nicknamed the “Black Berets”—deployed aboard the destroyer rescued the crew of the Russian motor tanker MV Moscow University after it was hijacked by eleven Somali pirates east of Socotra Island in the Gulf of Aden. The entire operation lasted just twenty-two minutes, and none of the tanker’s crew were hurt, while one pirate was killed and ten more captured.

The frigate is named for Boris Mikhaylovich Shaposhnikov—one of the few Red Army commanders to take part in the Russian Revolution to have formal military training.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on

Image: Reuters.

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