The Worst Nightmare of the US Navy, Huge Russian Navy Kirov-Class Battlecruisers

The United States Navy is the biggest and most powerful in the world. It has 430 ships in active service or in reserve. So you would think there is nothing it could fear, right? Wrong! The biggest and heaviest warship in the world is Russian – the Kirov – class Battlecruiser.

The official name for this class is Project 1144 or Sea Eagle, but it is also called Kirov after the name of the first battlecruiser to be built. It was first built in the time of the Soviet Union. In 1992 it was renamed Admiral Ushakov.

Technically they are not really battlecruisers, but heavy nuclear–powered missile cruisers. However, they are called battlecruisers because they look very much like World War I battlecruisers. There were supposed to be five ships built, but one was cancelled. The Pyotr Velkiy is the only Kirov Class ship in active service, but the Russian Navy plans to use the Admiral Nakhimov again in 2018. It wanted to use the remaining two, the Ushakov and Lazarev as well, but their nuclear reactors are in poor condition, according to recent reports.

The American Navy was worried when the Soviets first built the Kirov Class in the 1980s. After all, it was the Cold War, and there was a real possibility that the United States and Russia might have gone to war with each other. So the Americans brought back their own huge battlecruisers, the Iowa Class. These had been used during World War II to defend aircraft carriers against the Japanese Navy. Fortunately, the Iowa and Kirov classes have never fought each other, but imagine if they had! Which one would have won? We can be grateful that Russia and the United States did not go to war, and we will never find out!

Joris Nieuwint

Joris Nieuwint is a battlefield guide for the Operation Market Garden area. His primary focus is on the Allied operations from September 17th, 1944 onwards. Having lived in the Market Garden area for 25 years, he has been studying the events for nearly as long. He has a deep understanding of the history and a passion for sharing the stories of the men who are no longer with us.