THE LOST FLEET

The authorities of Ukraine almost destroyed the powerful shipbuilding in-dustry. This conclusion was made recently by the Navy Commander Vice Admiral Igor Voronchenko. He said that if the government does not scrape 1.3 billion UAH (51 million dollars) for the completion of the corvette “Vladimir the Great”, the military shipbuilding of the state will pass a “point of no return”.
The first Ukrainian corvette project 58250 with a displacement of 2,650 tons was laid in 2011 and was expected to be launched next year. “Vladimir the Great” was destined for the fate of the savior of the shipbuilding industry, an ungainly one, for decades, sat on a starvation ration without major orders. The corvette was to become the head in a series of four ships, but the plans of the Ukrainian leadership quickly collided with a cruel reality – the budget lacked money. And if the workers of the Black Sea Shipbuilding Plant could still conduct assembly work at the expense of the company’s modest internal reserves, foreign suppliers refused to pay their bills without advance payment. Without their participation, it is not possible to complete the ship, as almost 40 percent of the components of Vladimir the Great, including all weapons, were intended to be purchased in Europe and the United States.
In July 2014, the project was frozen to save budget funds, in November the work was formally resumed. And in fact, the shipbuilders only maintained the ready-made elements of the corvette in good condition. The timing of its readiness has been repeatedly shifted. Nevertheless, the first persons of the state expressed optimism and with an enviable regularity fed the electorate with promises.
In November 2016, Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman promised to revive Ukraine as a maritime power. A few months earlier, President Petro Poroshenko said that the Navy included two new artillery boats – Berdyansk and Akerman. “They symbolize our national unity,” the head of state proudly announced. These two boats with a total displacement of 76 tons became the first warships built by Ukrainian shipbuilders after the collapse of the USSR. A modest result for profes-sionals, who 30-40 years ago, launched the aircraft carriers.
To talk about the resumption of financing for the construction of the corvette of the project 58250, the authorities returned in November 2017, with great pomp and declared that the money would definitely be in 2018. The deadline for the transfer of “Vladimir the Great” to the fleet was appointed by the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers in 2022. The remaining three corvettes were promised to be built before 2028. But, judging by the recent revelations of Vice Admiral Voronchenko, these plans are banal projections: the Black Sea Shipbuilding Plant has not received any money promised for the completion of even the first corvette.
According to the media, “Vladimir the Great” is ready for 50-60 percent. Whether it will eventually be completed is unclear. And it’s not just about money, but also about the loss of technology needed to operate warships. In May 2017, immediately after the planned repair, the flagship of the Navy, the frigate Hetman Sagaidachny, broke down. According to the information of the military prosecu-tor’s office of Ukraine, the contractor company, who undertook to repair the diesel engine of the ship, failed to fulfill its task. According to many experts, including the ex-commander of the Navy Vice Admiral Sergei Gaiduk, the flagship is left to serve for years, if not months. The life cycle of the ship seriously shortened the permanent breakdowns and lack of funds to eliminate them.
Lack of funding has repeatedly put a cross on more promising ships. In this regard, the fate of the “Ukraine” – the fourth missile cruiser of the project 1164 Atlant (the first three – “Moscow”, “Varyag” and “Marshal Ustinov” – is serving in the Russian Navy) is especially indicative of the fate of Ukraine. On October 1, 1993 the cruiser, ready for 75 percent, became the property of Ukraine. For the ship by that time the crew was formed, but a year later the financing of the completion was stopped.
The second attempt to bring “Ukraine” to mind was taken in 1998 on the initiative of President Leonid Kuchma. Smelling of fresh paint the ship was almost completed – it remained only to install on it a regular armament. However, this last spurt of money was not enough. Once a missile cruiser ready to go to sea rusted at the pier. In 2010, Russia considered the possibility of buying a ship and finishing it on its own, but the Verkhovna Rada behaved like a dog in the manger and refused such an option. The result is natural: in 2017, Petro Poroshenko decided to dismantle the equipment and sell “Ukraine” for scrap.
The most affected Ukrainian shipbuilders, for decades, supported the cruiser afloat at their own expense – the state did not allocate them a penny. According to workers of the plant named after 61 communards, the authorities for these years owed them 60 million UAH.
The chairman of the company’s trade union committee, Nikolai Golovcheko, said: “We could manufacture any military equipment, including land equipment, at our factory, but anyone do not need us, the state to which we belong, turned away from us. The current government, guided by the EU and NATO, does not want to develop, or rather, to rebuild its own industry, as it receives old military equipment from Europe. And that’s why they did not need “Ukraine”.

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