The Zubr Class air cushion landing craft is built by Almaz Shipbuilding in St Petersburg. Three Zubr Class vessels have been in service with the Russian Navy since 1988, built by Almaz. Two vessels are in the Ukrainian Navy, built by Morye Shipbuilding.
The vessels are also in service with the Greek Navy. Three vessels were commissioned in 2001. Kefallonia (L180) was purchased used from the Russian Navy but has been upgraded; Ithaki (L181) was completed by Morye Shipyard in Ukraine; and Zakynthos (L183) was built new by Almaz. A fourth vessel, Kerkira, was launched in June 2004 at Almaz’s St Petersburg yard and was commissioned in January 2005. China plans to equip its Navy with four Zubr Class vessels by 2012.
Zubr Class design
The square-shaped pontoon structure of the hull provides a rugged, stable and seaworthy design. The pontoon’s superstructure is divided by two longitudinal bulkheads into three functional sections. The middle section accommodates the compartment for armoured vehicles to be landed with taxi tracks and loading and unloading ramps. The two outer sections house the main and auxiliary power plants, the troop compartments, crew living quarters, and life support and NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) protection.
Ventilation, air-conditioning and heating systems are installed in the amphibious troops compartments and in the crew living quarters. These areas are also fitted with thermal and sound insulation coatings and vibration isolation structures.
The ship is fitted with light armour plating to provide a degree of protection for the crew and the troops against ammunition and blast fragments.
Zubr can carry up to 130t of cargo: three medium battle tanks such as the T-80B tank, or eight BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles, or ten BTR-70 armoured personnel carriers, or 360 fully equipped amphibious landing troops. The ship has a bow and a stern ramp for fast landing of troops and combat material.
The ship is equipped with two stabilised multiple rocket launchers, four Igla-1M portable air defence missile systems, and two AK-630 30mm automatic gun mounts. The AK-630 shipborne artillery system is supplied by the Ametist Design Bureau in Moscow, the Izumrud Joint Stock Company in Vladivostok, the Sporting and Hunting Guns Research and Design Bureau in Tula and the Tula Engineering Plant Joint Stock Company also based in Tula.
The AK-630 artillery system provides defence against manned and unmanned air attack, including incoming sea-skimming anti-ship missiles, small sea targets, lightly armoured coastal targets and floating mines. The six-barrel automatic gun, model AO-18 has a firing rate of 5,000 rounds a minute.
The Zubr is equipped with a navigation suite comprising two navigation radars, gyrocompass, magnetic compass, drift log, satellite navigation receiver, Decca receiver, radio direction finder, master gyroscope and day and night vision drift sight.
Three upright ring shrouds, housing the air propellers and standing upright at the back of the ship, give Zubr its distinctive appearance. The four bladed propellers which are provide the ship with a top speed of 60kt.
High-temperature gas turbine engines provide the power to drive the air-cushion blowers and the air propellers. The craft has four blowers model NO-10, fitted with axial operating wheels of 2.5m diameter, to generate the air cushion. The air thrust for movement is powered by three four-bladed, reversible, variable-pitch air propellers, 5.5m in diameter. The air propellers are mounted inside ring shrouds.
Zubr is equipped with two electric power plants. Each power plant has two gas turbine generators, each rated at 100kW. Control of the ship and systems is carried out from a main control station, a central control room and through various remote control panels.