ASZ: commitment to development

ASZ: commitment to development

The triple-decorated Amur Shipbuilding Plant (ASZ) is today involved in the implementation of priority national projects aimed to enhance Russia’s Pacific Fleet capabilities. The highly mechanized shipyard celebrates its 85th anniversary this year

1945 Order of the Red Banner of Labor. For the successful execution of the tasks assigned by of the State Defense Committee and the technical initiative shown in the construction of new ships 
1963 Order of Lenin. For mastering the production of new equipment
1971  Order of the October Revolution.

Legendary ships

In 1980, the plant handed over the first third-generation Project 877 Varshavyanka-class diesel-electric submarine to the Soviet Navy. Built in record time, the submarine marked the beginning of the construction of a series of 15 boats at ASZ which were most difficult to build and most advanced at the time. The submarines of this project were called «Black Holes» in NATO for their low noise, high speed and ability to appear in the most unexpected places of the world’s oceans, without attracting the attention of enemy sonar operators.

Preparations for the construction of the lead submarine began in early 1979. Special building slips were prepared in the covered berth «B» of the assembly-ways shop. In addition to hull and outfitting works, the shop also carried out installation work, actually setting up independent specialized production for building diesel submarines. Together with the shop, teams of builders, designers in ERA electrical installation company’s section underwent a certain reorientation from surface to underwater shipbuilding

«Here is how Yuri Zaitsev, who worked as the plant’s chief engineer from 1980 to 2000, recalls the construction: “We used then the most advanced modular construction method on this order in for the first time in our practice. Flow charts and slipway layout diagrams were urgently changed and the scheme of supplying the slipway with engineering products was revised. The novel method not only expanded the scope of work on the ship, but also significantly shortened the ship construction time. Three zonal blocks were manufactured separately from the module and machineries, instruments and other equipment were mounted on them. Pipelines and electrical cables were also installed there. In total, about 80% of all equipment before its loading into the submarine’s interior spaces was installed in the zonal blocks.”

The upgraded Project 877 boats are still in service. Thus, on January 27, 2017, upon completion of the full scope of scheduled repairs and upgrades, the Amur Shipyard solemnly handed over the Project 877 large diesel-electric submarine Komsomolsk-on-Amur, which had previously slid down the ways, to the Pacific Fleet. Today, it is part of a naval force unit that patrols the north-eastern borders of Russia.

Through the thorns

In 1984, the plant built and delivered the third-generation lead nuclear-powered submarine Bars of Project 971. These boats incorporated the recent advances in Russian science and technology at the time. Their emergence marked a qualitatively new stage in the development of the domestic attack nuclear submarines featuring a high fighting capacity and a great diving depth. Highly maneuverable and high-speed Project 971 submarines were able to attack both surface task forces and ballistic missile submarines, as well as the enemy’s rear, including its command posts, bases and supply points.

The boats were built using the modular construction method, a brand-new new technology. The modularity index on the nuclear submarine was 30-35%. The introduction of the method helped shorten the slipway period for the construction of submarines, increase labor productivity through performing work on specialized benches with the widespread use of technical means, handling equipment, higher power availability, and improved working conditions.

But not everything went smoothly. The novelty of the project and the related challenges led to a lot of abnormal situations. The situation with the supply of components was particularly difficult at first. The former deputy director of the plant for supply Eduard Eremenko recalls: “Krasnoye Sormovo Plant delayed the delivery of a power unit in the installation of a torpedo system. And when the unit was finally completed, it turned out that the delivery of this multi-ton oversized cargo by rail would take at least three weeks. Precious weeks! I will not tell you how, but through my friendly and business ties, I managed to get at my disposal an Il-76 cargo plane that had just entered service and was extremely short in supply at the time. It was this aircraft that delivered the forty-ton thing to its destination. Five days were spent to handle all organizational issues and approvals. The cause was saved!”

In mid-October 1984, the lead submarine of Project 971 was sent to the delivery base to undergo builder’s trials. The trials were successful, but their last day almost ended tragically. «According to the trial program, we were to check the reverse at the maximum submerged speed,» Yuri Zaitsev recalls about those events. “However, the fleet introduction team did not read the instructions too carefully in a hurry, and after the command «Full speed astern!» the reactor safety system actuated due to a high overload of the power plant, and the reactor simply shut down. Having lost control, the boat got a strong trim on the bow and went down with the speed of an express train. The horizontal plane control system failed to execute the command to surface...» All who were in the central control compartment just froze. There were only a few tens of meters under the keel to the ground, when the command «Blow the bow tanks!” of the brigade commander Captain First Rank Yuri Kuznetsov sounded. Gennady Lysov, a mechanic of the test department, who was at the controls of the submarine systems and devices, performed it instantly and coolly. Had he been at a loss for seconds or had he made a mistake, a disaster would have been inevitable. But the boat leveled off and surfaced safely. It’s easy to imagine the condition of the people who were inside it. About 200 people including the personnel, the shipyard’s fleet introduction team and director who was here, were all on the verge of death.

The signing of the acceptance certificate for the Project 971 lead submarine took place on time. The state commission recognized the condition of the new warship as excellent! In the future, the Amur shipbuilders built seven more boats of this project.

New challenges

By 2016, ASZ’s order book already included the latest surface warships for the Russian Ministry of Defense, as well as ultra-modern industrial ships for performing work on the country’s oil and gas shelves.

Currently, ASZ has achieved parity in the implementation of the military and civilian projects. Thus, the construction of two Project CHF 11CPD 00300 multipurpose passenger/car/rail ferries is underway. In the near future, it is also planned to deliver the 7 MW Project MPSV06 ice-class multipurpose salvage vessel Kerchensky Proliv to the customer.

Four Project 22800 Karakurt-class small missile ships and the fourth Project 20380 corvette in the series, which has incorporated all the best designs of domestic design bureaus, are currently on the stocks for the Russian Ministry of Defense. In the future, ASZ is to build another series of corvettes for the Russian Navy contracted on December 16, 2020. The upcoming works will enable ASZ not only to maintain and improve the existing
 unique technologies, but also to master new ones.

In 2021, all activities under the federal target program for the modernization and re-equipment of production facilities of shipbuilding enterprises should be completed at ASZ. A great deal of work has been done. In addition to the completely renovated welding and welding/assembly equipment, the machine-tool fleet at the shipyard has also undergone a significant upgrade. The hull plating shop will also undergo renovation, which will include the installation of several new metal cutting and processing lines. The investment program also includes the modernization of a caisson unit of the shipyard’s outfitting facilities, the expansion of which will enable ASZ to shift wider vessels to the outfitting pier than it is possible now.

A separate program exists for re-equipping and upgrading production facilities at the shipyard’s delivery base in Vladivostok. Design work is underway to expand the capabilities of this ASZ subsidiary. There are plans to establish it as a self-supporting production unit capable of engaging in commercial activities in the period between works on shipyard’s orders. ASZ’s delivery base can potentially repair and maintain vessels of any class and purpose, from servicing and warranty maintenance of vessels built at the shipyard to repair of fishing vessels. Already today, the Project 20380 corvettes built at ASZ earlier are undergoing maintenance there, and the Pacific Fleet Command is interested to continue using the ASZ subsidiary in Vladivostok as an enterprise to maintain the condition and operational readiness of its ships. Approaching its anniversary, one of the largest shipbuilding enterprises in the Far East is intended to develop steadily, build and deliver ships and vessels of excellent quality and on time, which the Amur shipbuilders have always been renowned for.            

The plant has built more than 300 various ships and vessels over 85years
Historical dates:
Amur Shipbuilding Plant (No. 199)

July 1, 1936 The plant started operations. The order to start its operational activities on the basis of the first industrial facilities was signed by then People’s Commissar of Heavy Industry Sergo Ordzhonikidze.
August 20, 1956 Shipbuilding plant No. 199 was named after Lenin’s Komsomol by the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, in connection with the wishes of the workers of the city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur.
Late 1992 The enterprise was transformed into the joint-stock company «Amur Shipbuilding Plant» by an order of the Russian Government, thus regaining its historical name.