Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, stated on March 23 that the Peter the Great nuclear cruiser – the flagship of the Northern Fleet – was in a critical condition.
Kuroyedov said: “I gave the crew two weeks to eliminate all drawbacks. The deck where admirals walk is good but places, which they do not see, including the nuclear reactor, are in such condition that the cruiser may blow up at any moment.”
This statement let some media state that some the technical condition of the Peter the Great cruiser posed a threat to President Vladimir Putin, who was on board the warship during a strategic exercise on February 17. A bit later Kuroyedov specified his statement: he said that “the nuclear security service of the Peter the Great cruiser meets all requirements”. However, “the state of living quarters and other rooms is unsatisfactory”. V. Kuroyedov noted that “reports that the Peter the Great cruiser poses a threat to nuclear security circulated by some media have nothing to do with the reality”. The commander-in-chief promised that he will soon examine the warship personally after which the warship will return to the fleet.
Meanwhile, Colonel-General Yury Baluyevsky, First Deputy Chief of the General Staff, stated in an interview with WPS after the end of the Security-2004 strategic exercise that he appreciates the Peter the Great’s performance during the maneuvers. This cruiser became the best warship of the Russian Navy in 2003. What has happened to the cruiser over the past months?
Kommersant, which refers to sources in the Northern Fleet, states that Admiral Kuroyedov’s decision regarding the nuclear cruiser might be caused by his conflict with Admiral Vladimir Kasatonov, who criticized the commander-in-chief of the Navy at a hearing of a criminal case concerning the shipwreck of the K-159 submarine. As is known the Peter the Great cruiser is commanded by Rear Admiral Vladimir Kasatonov, Igor Kasatonov’s nephew.
Officers of the Northern Fleet do not like Kuroyedov. Many officers think that the commander-in-chief’s activities are aimed against Admiral Gennady Suchkov, Commander of the Northern Fleet, who was suspended in September 2003 until the end of the investigation of the K-159 shipwreck. Gennady Suchkov is an experienced officer, and could claim the post of the commander-in-chief of the Navy. Suchkov was suspended on Kuroyedov’s initiative. Meanwhile, he is guilty of the shipwreck indirectly. Kuroyedov stated that the crew of the K-159 submarine perished owing to Suchkov’s fault.
There are rumors that Kuroyedov repeatedly asked Suchkov to acknowledge his guilt. He promised to rehabilitate him after the court hearing and promote to the Central Staff of the Navy. However, Suchkov does not surrender, and many officers support his position.
Observers note that Kuroyedov persecuted his rivals many times. This happened in 2002 when Kuroyedov suspended Vladimir Komoyedov, Commander of the Black Sea Fleet. Komoyedov tried to challenge his decision in court but Vladimir Putin did not want to put up with “the riot” and dismissed Komoyedov.
There are many questions regarding the failure to launch the RSM-54 missiles during the strategic exercise. As is known, Kuroyedov rehabilitated himself on March 17. The Novomoskovsk nuclear submarine managed to launch two intercontinental ballistic missiles, which hit targets on the Kura firing range in Kamchatka.
However, the questions remain topical. Firstly, it’s not clear if launches on March 17 convinced President Putin. As is known, the president has not yet announced his opinion regarding this exercise.
Secondly, it’s not clear why precisely the commander-in-chief of the Navy was a member of the commission, which investigated the cause of the failure to launch missiles. The point is that he is one of persons whose performance the commission had to check. Precisely Kuroyedov commanded the operation organized by the nuclear submarines Novomoskovsk and Karelia on February 17-18. a simple analysis shows that the Russian Navy is one of the leaders regarding the quantity of emergencies. Meanwhile, Commander-in-Chief Kuroyedov is not guilty. As usual.