Russian corvette Tucha mysteriously appears in the Black Sea

The Russian Federation has apparently replaced the Askold missile corvette damaged during the Ukrainian attack with a new one from the Karakurt class. Open sources, citing new satellite images from early December, claim that it is the Tucha missile corvette.

The Tucha missile corvette was laid down in 2019 and launched in Zelenodolsk in July 2023. Its characteristics do not differ from previous ships of project 22800 Karakurt. Corvette Tucha has a full displacement of 870 tons. The size of Tucha is 67 meters long and 11 meters wide. The corvette’s sailing autonomy, according to the official characteristics distributed by Russia, is up to 15 days. The crew consists of 39 sailors.

The Tucha’s armament is also slightly different from that of the rest of the Karakurt-class corvettes. The Tucha has a 76 mm gun, eight launchers for Kalibr missiles, Onyx, and the maritime version of the Pantsir anti-aircraft missile system. Ukrainian sources say that Orlan-10 reconnaissance drones can take off from Tucha’s deck.

Russian corvette Tucha mysteriously appears in the Black Sea
Photo credit: Defence Express

Where does Tucha come from?

The mysterious appearance of the missile corvette Tucha is rooted in where this warship was manufactured. Unlike the other Karakut-class corvettes, which were built at the Zaliv shipyard located in Kerch, Tucha was built at the shipyard of the Russian city of Zelenodolsk [Tatarstan], on the banks of the Volga River.

I.e. it is quite logical to assume that the new Kalibr carrier, replacing the attacked and damaged Askold corvette, was taken by the Russians to Novorossiysk on the Volgo-Don Canal. These are inland waterways of the Russian Federation.

Tucha first appeared on satellite images on December 5. Until then, only the Zyklon corvettes could be seen in the composition of the Black Sea fleet near Sevastopol. Earlier, Askold was also anchored there, but as we recall, the Ukrainians inflicted damage on this missile corvette. The Russians were forced to withdraw Askold for repairs in the direction of Novorossiysk. In this case, the Russians again used inland waterways along the Volga-Don Canal.

In addition to Cyclone, satellite images from December 5 show another missile corvette. This is Amur. Amur has completed all his trials and tests and awaits his acceptance into the composition of the Black Sea Fleet.

About Karakurt-class corvettes

The Project 22800 Karakurt, otherwise known as the Karakurt class, represents a novel class of Russian corvettes, or small missile ships based on Russian classification. This new fleet began joining the ranks of the Russian Navy in 2018. 

Primarily, these ships are seen as a more seaworthy addition to the Buyan-M-class corvettes, tailored for littoral zones, and have been serving in Russia’s Caspian Flotilla, Baltic Fleet, and Black Sea Fleet since 2015. The Karakurt class enhances the navy’s ability to operate in blue waters, making them a significant part of the Russian naval force. 

The Karakurt class corvettes are equipped with either Kalibr or Oniks anti-ship cruise missiles, boasting an operational endurance of 15 days. They also serve as a cost-effective replacement for the larger Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates — production of these was delayed due to the break in military cooperation with Ukraine and Russia’s plans to further modernize its navy until all necessary tasks for the domestic construction of larger vessels are accomplished. 

Russian corvette Tucha mysteriously appears in the Black Sea - Karakurt class
Photo credit: Evgeniy Babanov

Despite their strategic importance, the progress of multiple units in the Karakurt class has been affected by delays in the delivery of domestically produced engines. The possibility of international sanctions has also allegedly impeded the construction of this class of vessel at the More shipyard, situated in Feodosia, Crimea, Ukraine.

Karakurt-class design

The remarkable Project 22800 has its roots in Project 12300 Skorpion, an envisioned Almaz design of the 1990s for a missile boat displacing 500 tons. It also takes significant inspiration from Project 21631, the Buyan-M corvettes. Designed with a stealthy superstructure, these ships feature an integrated mast that holds four phased array radar panels. 

The striking main weaponry of the ships includes Kalibr cruise missiles or P-800 Oniks supersonic anti-ship missiles. These are safely tucked away in eight UKSK VLS cells located in the rear part of the superstructure, just behind the bridge. The Russian Navy’s corvettes will boast a 76.2 mm AK-176MA automatic dual-purpose gun, an upgraded version of the AK-176. 

Interestingly, the first ship of this class had the 100 mm A-190 installed. If designed for export, it’s proposed the vessel may instead be armed with the Italian OTO Melara 76 mm gun. As protection against missile attacks, the pioneering two ships will only carry two AK-630M gun-based CIWS. 

As the fleet expands, starting with the third ship, the vessels will be armed with the Pantsir-M. This state-of-the-art weapon is a naval adaptation of the Pantsir surface-to-air missile system. The third ship of this class, Odintsovo, was equipped with the Pantsir-M system when it joined the Baltic Fleet in November 2020. But, it’s worth noting that Project 22800 wasn’t designed with anti-submarine warfare in mind.

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