The Severnoye Design Bureau Joint Stock Company was established by Decision of the USSR Council of Ministers dated 17 April 1946 and Order of the Ministry of Shipbuilding Industry dated 22 April 1946, No. 088.
Upon completion of World War II, the USSR shipbuilders faced the task of expansion and development of production and naval ships renewal. Large-scale renewal of ruined shipyards and construction of new ones started with simultaneous enlargement of the existing design agencies and establishment of new ones.
On the basis of Central Design Bureau-17 and the design bureau of Zhdanov Shipyard, on 1 March 1946, a division was organized, initially as a branch of the Zhdanov Shipyard design bureau. Simultaneously, employees of Marti Shipyard (the Admiralty Shipyard) and Central Design Bureau-32 were transferred to this division.
On 22 April 1946, by order of the Ministry of Shipbuilding Industry, the said division of 216 men was changed into an independent enterprise, Central Design Bureau No. 53 (CDB-53), designing destroyers and corvettes. It was from that very date when the history of the Severnoye Design Bureau started.
In the course of time, the Bureau’s activities expanded, and SDB actually became a leading company designing surface combatants and ships of other classes, including large antisubmarine ships, missile cruisers, patrol ships, heavy nuclear-powered missile cruisers. The Bureau’s specialists have practically created the blue water navy of the USSR, and many of the projects have truly become the landmarks and by certain parameters were considered as samples for the world shipbuilding. Western experts more than once noted that Russian ships were superb examples of industrial design combining great strike power, excellent protection, efficiency of engineering solutions and dynamically aggressive architecture.
In January 1966, CDB-53 were renamed the Severnoye Design Bureau (SDB). In 2001, the Bureau was assigned the status of a federal enterprise, and was named FSUE (Federal State Unitary Enterprise) Severnoye Design Bureau, from 2008 – Severnoye DB JSC.
Over the years of the Bureau’s existence, about 500 ships and vessels have been built by its projects.
Warships of the first postwar decade (1946 – 1956)
The Project 30 bis destroyer has become the first postwar ship. The technical design documents and detailed drawings of this destroyer have been developed under the leadership of designer A.L. Fisher. The lead ship was laid down on 16 May 1948 and was named the Smely. It was taken on strength of the Soviet Navy on 21 December 1949. Further, the largest series of similar class ships, including 70 units, were built by this design.
Actually, Project 41 is considered as the first genuine project of destroyers in the Bureau. The RFP for the project development was approved on 14 July 1947. V.A. Nikitin, an outstanding Soviet shipbuilder who made a great contribution into construction of indigenous navy, was appointed chief designer of the project.
On 29 January 1952, the FATs of the Project 41 destroyer named the Neustrashimy were started. Technically, this was a conceptually new ship. She principally differed from the previous projects, for she was equipped with a two-shaft MPP arranged in two separate compartments forming the trains consisting of turbine-geared propulsion unit and two propulsion boilers with all the auxiliary machinery.
The next Bureau’s project was the Project 56 destroyer which was a smaller version of Project 41 (displacement has become lower for approximately 400 tons). A.L. Fisher headed the destroyer designing. On 27 August 1954, the sea trials of the destroyer started, and in a year she was submitted to the State Acceptance Commission.
The following performance data were confirmed for the destroyer: overall displacement 3,230 tons, full speed 28.5 knots. On 27 August 1954, the sea trials of the destroyer started, and in a year she was submitted to the State Acceptance Commission.
Warships of the first generation (1956 – 1966)
Due to accumulated experience of postwar designing and construction of ships, and also to technical progress in the area of new military equipment development, the Bureau’s specialists had a chance to start designing brand new ships having great combat power and high performance.
It was within this period when for the first time in USSR ships carrying missile weapon were designed which had not been previously installed on surface ships. The Project 58 and Project 57 bis ships were originally called destroyers with rocket weapon, and the Project 61 ships – antisubmarine and air defense patrol ships. Further, the Projects 58 and 61, and also their modification, the Project 1134, formed new classes of ships – the class of missile cruisers and the class of large antisubmarine ships.
For the first time in indigenous shipbuilding history, in accordance with the initial project, a strike weapon system was arranged comprising two launchers with SSMs on Project 57 bis (chief designer O.F. Jacob).
In 1962, the Project 58 Grozny ship was delivered to the Navy (chief designer V.A. Nikitin), on which for the first time in world practice antiship and antiaircraft guided missile weapons were installed, and also flight deck for helicopter provided with all the necessary fuel stock for refuelling.
On the Project 61 large antisubmarine ships, for the first time in the world, a powerful fully-variable gas turbine unit was installed. The ship was designed under the leadership of chief designer B.I. Kupensky. The Komsomolets Ukrainy lead ship was laid down on 15 September 1959 and submitted to state trials on 15 October 1962.
On the ships of the first generation, special attention was paid to improvement of seakeeping capabilities of ships in stormy weather conditions and provision of ship’s weapon use under these conditions. Actually, in relation to ships of the first generation, the conceptual directions of further development of indigenous military shipbuilding were defined.
Warships of the second generation (1966 – 1974)
As during the second postwar decade the Bureau developed certain technological capabilities, in the second half of 1960, they started to design surface ships of the new, second generation, with more state-of-the-art weapon systems.
The indigenous naval forces were headed toward fighting against enemy’s nuclear-powered submarines. Due to this fact, large antisubmarine ships of the new subclass were further developed. The main purpose of those ships was to fight against nuclear-powered submarines in remote blue water areas, and also to provide air and antisubmarine defense for ship groups and convoys. The subclass included the Project 1134А and 1134B ships.
Ships of Projects 1134А (chief designer V.А. Anikiev) and 1134B (chief designer А.К. Perkov) were antisubmarine modifications of Project 1134 as applied to the capabilities of Zhdanov Shipyard in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) and Shipyard named after 61 Communards at Nikolayev.
Due to limited capabilities of the industry in construction of large antisubmarine ships and their comparatively high cost, the project of antisubmarine patrol ship was developed. She was designed as addition to large antisubmarine ship, had lower displacement and cost. Unlike the former artillery patrol ships, this particular ship could independently fight against submarines in the near zone, and also participate in antisubmarine warfare in remote areas. Works on the project with the code Burevestnik and number 1135 were conducted under the leadership of chief designer N.P. Sobolev. A lot of innovations were applied for this project: unique gas turbine unit with cruise reduction gearbox attachment for operation of two propeller shafts from one cruise engine, bow bulb dome for arrangement of a new sonar, hoisting and lowering gear for sonar towed array, and other.
As a result the frigates of Project 1135 of an almost half as large displacement had the same antisubmarine weapon as large antisubmarine ships of Project 1134A and Project 1134B, but telling the truth with lesser ammunition.
As a result, the Project 1135 patrol ship with twice lower displacement retained the same antisubmarine weapon as large antisubmarine ships of Projects 1134А and 1134B, but with less ammunition.
Warships of the third generation (1974 – 1991)
By mid 1970’s, the Bureau accumulated great experience in designing large surface ships of practically all subclasses. This coincided with the demand of the Soviet Navy to have ships operating in blue waters which would not be inferior to foreign ones, but superior to them. By that time, the Bureau’s specialists had finished development of ships technical designs which for a long time made the core of the Russian Navy.
On 26 March 1973, the Project 1144 Orlan heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser was laid down (chief designer B.I. Kupensky). She was named the Kirov in honour of the famous «veteran» cruiser which was outcommissioned from the Navy and built before World War II by Project 26. The flag of the first Kirov ship was lifted on the new heavy nuclear-powered ship. The ship was launched on 27 December 1977, the Acceptance Certificate was signed on 30 December 1980. For the first time in the history of indigenous surface ship construction, a nuclear-powered power plant was used on the Project 1144 cruiser.
All in all, 4 heavy nuclear-powered missile cruisers have been built by Project 1144 and upgraded Project 1144.2. The last ship in the series of four ships, the heavy nuclear-powered cruiser Pyotr Veliky (Project 11442), is now a flagship of the Russian Northern Fleet.
In 1971, under the leadership of chief designer V.F. Anikiev (in 1974 replaced by I.I. Rubis), designing of the new Project 956 Sarych destroyer was started.
The task was set for the Bureau to design a new generation destroyer with powerful artillery weapon alongside with missiles and capable both independently and as part of task forces to destruct enemy’s surface ships and air weapon, and also to provide firing support to seaward flank of land forces.
As a result, a ship was designed with antiship missile system, antiaircraft guided systems, 130mm gun mounts and helicopter. The Sovremenny lead ship was laid down on 3 March 1976 and delivered to the Navy on 25 December 1980. By this project, a series of 17 ships were built.
In 1972, a decision was made to develop an RFP for a new ship, the Project 1164 Atlant missile cruiser, a modification of Project 1134B (chief designer А.К. Perkov, later – V.I. Mutikhin).
The main tasks of the ship were to provide combat stability for naval forces in remote sea areas and blue waters and destruction of adversary aircraft carrier strike forces.
The cruiser was laid down on 4 October 1976, acceptance certificate was signed on 28 December 1982. A new antiship system Bazalt was installed on ship, and also air defense system S-300F with missile vertical launch from revolving launchers.
The Project 956 indigenous destroyer had substantial advantages of US destroyer Spruance in part of using strike weapon, solving air defense tasks, though she had disadvantages in part of antisubmarine warfare. Due to this fact, commander-in-chief of the Soviet Navy, S.G. Gorshkov, made a decision on construction of a naval system of 2 ships – the Project 956 destroyers and the Project 1555 large antisubmarine ship developed as modification of the Project 1135 corvette. These two ships were to act jointly as part of task force.
The Project 1155 Udaloy lead ship was delivered to the navy in 1980. Totally, 12 ships were built by the project, 8 in Kaliningrad and 4 in Leningrad (St. Petersburg). The ships of this project were equipped with Polinom active sonar which provided detection of submarines in the far zone of acoustic coverage and transmitted target designation to Metel antisubmarine system. A new combat management system was installed on the ships providing more complete awareness of the situation and control operability, Kinzhal air defense system with vertical missile launch, and hangars for two antisubmarine helicopters were arranged.
In 1983, the technical design of a reinforced version of Project 1155 was developed, which was modified in 1987 and assigned number 11551. The ship combined powerful strike and antisubmarine weapons. However, due to replacement of Polinom sonar with the more advanced Zvezda-2 system, the deadlines for documentation development and ship construction were shifted. As a result, in 1990’s, it was feasible to build only one ship of the two. She was the Admiral Chabanenko large antisubmarine ship in service from 1999.
Military and Technical Cooperation
The Bureau has ties with foreign customers in the area of Military and Technical Cooperation.
Since 1957, ships designed by SDB have been delivered to Bulgaria, Poland, GDR, United Arabic Republic, Indonesia, Finland and China. These include destroyers of Project 30 bis (30BA, 30BK), 31 and 56A, and also corvette of Project 50. Some corvettes were built in China with technical assistance of CDB-53.
The Severnoye Design Bureau cooperates with the Republic of India. SDB’s specialists made a substantial contribution to construction of the Indian Navy.
In 1974-1976, on the basis of indigenous Project 61М, the Severnoye DB developed the Project 61МE frigate (chief designer А.D. Shishkin). The Rajput lead frigate of the series was delivered to the customer in 1980, and the last one ? in 1987. For the first time in the history of indigenous shipbuilding, ships with displacement of about 5,000 tons were built for export. Construction of five ships of this project was carried out at Shipyard named after 61 Communards (Nikolayev, Ukraine). The Project 61МE ships have been in service with the Indian Navy for three decades. Hundreds of officers gained practical experience while sailing on them. The ships were upgraded, including installation of the Indian-Russian BrahMos antiship missile system, and also of up-to-date air defense systems.
By request of the Indian government, the Severnoye DB together with representatives of the Navy defined the composition of weapons and military equipment made in the USSR for installation on ships to be designed in India. At the customer’s shipyards, with technical assistance of the Russian Side, ships of Projects 15, 15A, 16, 16A, 25 and 25A were built and delivered to the Indian Navy.
Since 1999, the Severnoye DB has rendered technical assistance in designing the Project 17 ship by Indian specialists. The Shivalik lead ship was delivered to the Indian Navy on 21 April 2010. In the first half of XXI century, the frigates of this type became the main ships of the Indian Navy.
In the end of 1990’s, technical documentation for a new frigate was developed for the Indian Navy (Project 11356, chief designer V.A. Perevalov). In 2003-2004 and in 2012-2013, two series of three ships each were delivered to the Indian Navy.
In 1999, PS-500 patrol ship was delivered to the Vietnamese Navy (chief designer V.I. Mutikhin). In 1990’s, during a severe crisis in Russia, these orders were very important not for the Bureau only, but for the Russian shipbuilding industry as a whole, allowing to retain skilled engineers and workers. At that time, the projects were headed by Dr. Vladimir Evgenyevich Yukhnin, Director and Chief Designer of the Severnoye DB.
Specialists of the Severnoye DB also created the core of the navy of the People’s Liberation Army of China. In the end of 1980’s, development of the naval doctrine of China started. China needed modern technologies, including the ones for military equipment production, which were not available in the country then.
In 1999-2000, two Project 956 destroyers were delivered to the Chinese Navy modified as the Project 956E destroyers (chief designer I.I. Rubis and then V.P. Mishin). The first ship made an unprecedented transit across 13 seas and 3 oceans with faultless equipment.
By results of successful cooperation, in January 2002, a new contract for delivery of two more 956 EM destroyers was concluded (chief designer V.P. Mishin). The ships were built and delivered to the Chinese Navy in 2005 and 2006.
In the end of February 2001, a contract for technical assistance on installation of weapon systems and equipment on the Project 052B destroyers was signed. The Subject was assigned code 968. A lot of systems previously installed on the Project 956 ships were applied for those ships, and due to this fact, the new ship was called the Chinese Sovremenny in the West. Cooperation on Subject 968 was completed in 2005. Project 052B became a platform for designing the Project 052C destroyer.
In April 2002, the Intergovernmental Agreement and contract for technical assistance on installation of Russian equipment on Chinese destroyers of Project 051C (Subject 988) were signed.
Subject 968 and Subject 988 were developed in the Bureau under the leadership of V.I. Golyak.
In 2004–2005, by order of Kazakhstan, the Bureau developed a project of supply boat (Project 22180, chief designer A.Yu. Naumov) designed for delivery of cargoes and personnel to Caspian drilling rigs.
For today, the Severnoye DB is objectively a leading company in the world market of naval equipment. The demand for SDB’s projects is based on the Bureau’s specialists’ vast experience accumulated over the years of SDB’s existence which is successfully applied for a number of both indigenous and export projects.
Alongside with designing ships for navies, the Severnoye DB continues to develop vessel designs for the civil fleet.
These works were started in 1950’s. The first civil design developed by the Severnoye DB was the Project 393 whaling vessel. The Mirny vessel was delivered to the customer in 1956.
Also for the fishing fleet of the USSR, the Project 569А Sibir type transport refrigerator ships were designed and constructed. The Sibir lead ship was delivered to the customer in 1962.
The sortie of the Soviet naval ships into blue waters required to substantially expand research works at seas and in oceans, including hydroacoustic research. Due to this fact, the Bureau developed designs for two dry cargo motor vessels refitting into scientific and research vessels namely the Sergey Vavilov and the Pyotr Lebedev.
In 1967–1974, nine Passat type weather forecast vessels for the Hydrometeorological Service of the USSR were refitted by the Severnoye DB’s designs. They were constructed in Poland. Also, seven Akademik Kurchatov type vessels for the Academy of Sciences of the USSR were built in GDR.
Due to large scope of work for the Navy of the USSR, the Bureau did not participate in designing commercial vessels up to the end of 1980’s, but later, as the political and economic situation in the country changed, the Bureau’s specialists started again to design vessels for civil fleet.
The following vessels were built by the SDB’s designs:
- In 1994, three Project 15760 multipurpose bulkers with the deadweight of 6,900 tons were built at the Severnaya Verf shipyard in St. Petersburg;
- In 1995, two Project 17380 multipurpose dry cargo vessels with the deadweight of 12,000 tons were built at Yantar Shipyard (Kaliningrad);
- In 1996, two Project 90101 chemical tankers with the deadweight of 5,800 tons were built at the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard in St. Petersburg;
- In 2005, by SDB’s design, the Project 22180 fast rescue supply boat was built at Zenit Shipbuilding Yard (the Republic of Kazakhstan).
The most challenging and high-tech job in this direction is development of designs of LNG carriers. By order of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, within the framework of the Federal Target Program «Development of Civil Marine Equipment for the Period of up to 2016», technical design and conceptual designs of LNG carriers of various capacities using various systems of cargo storage were developed (chief designer D.B. Kiselev).
For construction of a state-of-the-art combatant, labor and intellect of many groups of people and thousands of specialists in various areas of the shipbuilding industry are required. But it is the design agency that plays the main part in ship’s designing, and it is the designer who creates an engineering product. So, the Severnoye DB has been successfully solving the tasks set for seventy years already.
The Bureau’s designs have always been ahead of time, and, practically, each of them came true as a hallmark, epoch-making ship, a milestone in the history not only of the indigenous, but also of the world shipbuilding, and each design could be distinguished as a recognizable trademark of the Severnoye DB.
Nowadays, extending the glorious traditions of the past, the Bureau use the most up-to-date hardware with CAD for each new ship to be fitted with state-of-the-art technical aids and weapons.
For great achievements in designing and production of new equipment, contribution to the national defense capabilities, the Bureau was marked with state awards.
The ships designed by the Bureau continue their service with all the fleets of the world ocean carrying the Russian flag and providing for the national defense. Being a company within the structure of the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), implementing the Russian shipbuilding development strategy, the Severnoye DB supports and shares the USC’s plans to further develop the industry, intensify the technical progress in the area of marine weapons for Russia to be a great sea power.
The Bureau does not only have a glorious past. SDB is looking forward into the future with great optimism. Application of achievements of technical progress, use of the most up-to-date design approaches – these are the real steps for the Company to further evolve. SDB will do its best to assert Russian naval power.