Coeval of the Victory

Coeval of the Victory

Sergey MIKHAILOV
Secretary of JSC Yantar Shipyard

The Kaliningrad-based Yantar Baltic Shipbuilding Plant (Yantar Shipyard) dates back to July 8, 1945, when the State Defense Committee of the USSR approved the formation of Soviet shipbuilding enterprise No. 820 in Koenigsberg on the premises of a former factory of the F. Shikhau Company, the workshops of which suffered little during the war. Specialists transferred from different shipyards of the country became the core of the young team.

Since the autumn of 1945, the enterprise began to carry out minor repairs of large and small submarine chasers, captured minesweepers, etc. The Project 29K guard ship Zorky, commissioned in 1950, became the firstborn of its shipbuilding program. The Kaliningrad shipyard became to specialize in building warships.

In 1966, the enterprise was renamed the Yantar Baltic Shipbuilding Plant and awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor. The plant employed more than 9,000 people in 1970-1980s. One of the most important stages of the plant’s development is associated with the commissioning of a covered slipway in 1972, which enabled the construction of vessels with a launching weight of up to 12,000 tons.

More than 100 large and about 400 small civil vessels have slid down the plant’s ways. Among them are Project 781 dry cargo vessels, Sakhalin-class icebreaking ferries, Project 843 ice-class rescue tugs, Project 04983 harbor tugs, Project 898 self-propelled river cargo vessels.

Over 430 civil vessels (mainly fishing ones) and Russian Navy’s ships have been repaired.

Time for change

In the early 1990s, the enterprise began adjusting to market conditions. After the privatization, the plant became a joint-stock company with the majority stake owned by the State. The emphasis was on finding commercial orders from paying Western European customers. At the same time, despite the chronic lack of funding, the defense order was also fulfilled. The number of employees in those years fell to 1,500.

In 1993, in difficult financial conditions, with no experience in the external market, the company succeeded in concluding a contract for the construction of a series of five 12,500 ton multi-purpose vessels for the Estonian Shipping Company. In addition, a number of contracts were signed to build vessels for a German customer.

The most viable divisions were split off from the overall business structure of the company and received a certain freedom of action in the market. The shipyard managed to find an optimal scheme for financing export orders and promoting its products in the markets. It established relations with European partner shipyards, permanent orders from which accounted for the main share of work performed. In addition, Yantar was able to complete the two multi-purpose vessels and the Project 11551 anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Chabanenko. As a result, production has been increasing gradually since 1999.

State funding of defense order began to grow significantly since 2004. In 2008, the plant became part of the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC).

New realities

2009 was a special year for Yantar Shipyard. The company completed two big orders: the Project 6457S Sprut-class patrol vessel was transferred to the Border Service of Russia’s Federal Security Service and the Project 11540 frigate Yaroslav Mudry was commissioned into the Baltic Fleet.

Yantar has been the leading Russian builder of second- and third-rate warships since 2011. In addition, between 2011 and 2013, the shipyard was the main contractor for the repair and maintenance of the Baltic Fleet ships and vessels. In 2012, the Black Sea Fleet received the Project 11982 trials ship Seliger. In 2013, the construction of three Project 11356 frigates for the Indian Navy was completed. Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade recognized the company as the year’s best exporter in the shipbuilding industry.

In 2014, Yantar completed the multifunctional salvage vessel Baltika built to an innovative Finnish design in cooperation with Finnish shipbuilders. This is the world’s only oblique icebreaker commissioned by Rosmorrechflot to operate in the Gulf of Finland.

In May 2015, a Project 22010 oceanographic research vessel (developed by the Almaz Central Marine Design Bureau) was handed over to the Ministry of Defense. The keel of the vessel, which is unique in its capabilities, was laid on July 8, 2010, the day of the 65th anniversary of the plant, and was named Yantar. The construction of the oceanographic research vessel marked the beginning of the revival of the Russian research fleet.

In 2016-2017, the Russian Navy received three Project 11356 frigates: Admiral Grigorovich, Admiral Essen and Admiral Makarov.

In June 2018, the St. Andrew’s flag was hoisted on board the Project 11711 lead large landing ship Ivan Gren, and in December 2020 the first follow-on ship of the project, Peter Morgunov, joined the Navy.

Great prospects

Today, the Yantar Baltic Shipbuilding Plant is a diversified, fast-growing shipbuilding and ship repair yard. Yantar’s current order book will ensure its workload until at least 2025. The plant is operating at over 80 percent of its capacity.

The following ships are currently under construction: two Project 11711 large landing ships, three Project 11356 frigates, Projects 22010 and 02670 oceanographic research vessels, a Project 23700 salvage vessel, a Project 5670WSD large freezing trawler.

Technical re-equipment of the shipyard under the Federal Defense Industry Development Program has been underway since 2010. Large-scale modernization of its shipbuilding facilities lies ahead and will result in establishing a modern and high-performance compact shipyard.   


From the memories of veterans


A survey of the plant

Alexey Semenovich GANZHA
He arrived at the plant in May 1945 as a representative of the People’s Commissariat of Shipbuilding Industry of the USSR. He was the first secretary of the plant’s party committee, worked as shop manager, ship builder, and chairman of the trade union committee, awarded the Order of the October Revolution, medals.

Before the assault on the city by our troops, Gulsen, the chief engineer at Schichau, was instructed to blow up the plant, but he did not do it. During the war, the plant was hardly damaged. Building No. 58 housed a shop that manufactured shells. An inscription reading «To Leningrad» remained on some boxes. The machining shop, where machine tools were operated even during air and artillery strikes, was of particular importance for the Germans. It operated three shifts. During air raids, the workers had to continue working, and those who tried to escape were killed by the SS-men on the spot. Many domestic DIP-200 lathes and Komsomolets milling machines were found in the shop.

The Germans built and well-equipped three wooden piers about 180 meters each in the direction of the Pregoli River fairway. Wooden rafts about 1.5 meters wide were installed on both sides of the pier. The dock basin housed a dock with a capacity of about 5,000 tons.

There were two powerful gantry cranes on the quay and an unfinished steamer near the quay wall opposite building 232. Both holds of the vessel were loaded with copper, brass and nickel-silver pipes, mostly small bore ones. Two guns without breechblocks were right on top of the pipes. Apparently, the vessel was loaded in a hurry and the Germans simply did not have time to take it away or sink along with the cargo.

First projects

Viktor Petrovich KOVALEV
Former mechanical engineer of the capital assets operation department

When I came to the plant in 1948, everything here was still left of the Germans: cranes, shops, inclined and horizontal slipways, various equipment, even unfinished German submarines and big submarine chasers (warfare craft). Three our ships, Orel, Zorky, and Korshoun, were alongside the quay. They were brought from Leningrad for outfitting.

Technical re-equipment of the plant began soon and provided for the construction of two slipways. They were built by our prisoners, who were accommodated in a restricted area where the Yantar facilities are now located. Among them there was even an Air Force general who failed to fulfill Stalin’s personal assignment.

After the reconstruction, work began on the first Project 50 (the keel of the frigate Rosomakha was laid at the plant in 1952). A horizontal slipway was specially built for it, which is now called the Bourevestnik. We took a small German slipway as a prototype and made the same one, but larger.

Dormidontov technology, named after the author, was considered best practice at the time. The whole ship was divided into several blocks (sections) and they were manufactured in different plant shops. The blocks were manufactured and outfitted, up to the furniture, and then only assembled on the stocks.

Mastering of Sakhalin

Leonid Stepanovich GOLUBINSKY
Chief engineer at the plant from 1964 to 1988 and simultaneously the executive officer in charge of delivery of lead ships.Awarded many government decorations. Laureate of the Prize of the Council of Ministers of the USSR.

The construction of the Project 1809 Sakhalin-class icebreaking ferries was a challenge for the plant, as its weight characteristics were twice as high compared to the previously implemented Project 1135. Labor content increased, and there were also design features that required training of new employees. There wasn’t enough time, because the planning process that was in place at the time was violated. The plant always had a preliminary five-year plan, which included all the projects with the main dates: the beginning of construction, keel-laying, launching and delivery. This is especially important for the lead ships. Plant designers and process engineers started working with the designer already in the stage of the preliminary design, agreeing on the main design data.

Project 1809 wasn’t in Yantar’s Five-Year Plan 1971-1975. Only at the end of 1970 did we receive an adjusted plan with the delivery of the lead vessel scheduled for 1972. As a result, we lost a year needed for pre-production activities related to the operation of workshops and technical services, chief designer, chief process engineer and chief welder departments. In a short time, it was necessary to design and manufacture hull jigs for the section shop and the slipway, issue nomenclature lists for the shops, distribute drawings between shops, and issue process maps. But the plant has to order materials for the construction of the ship’s hull and manufacturing of production tooling one year in advance!.

The production of tracer shields for automatic gas cutting of metal plates also became a labor-intensive undertaking. It was good that the plant already had a CAM department headed by Yu. A. Kursky, which, using the Minsk-22 computer, developed programs for the Kristal-type automatic plasma cutting machines. Since a mechanized line with shot blasting and priming was already running, the metal treatment stage was quickly completed.

Difficulties were also encountered with the manufacturing of sections. There was no a section assembly shop and it had to be built. The shop was given number 10, and all the people from the inclined slipway area were transferred to it, while the slipway was transferred to Shop 24, which provided its operation with its own specialists.

Project 1809, 1174, 1155 vessels and ships were built on the Yantar slipways. The slipway assembly of the Project 1174 ship hull was included in Shop 53’s production plan. Although the two slipways actually represented a single territory, and the middle row of crane towers served both slipways, the heads of Shops 10 and 53 behaved in accord, there were no conflicts. Each did his own thing and did not interfere with the other: one assembled the Sakhalin hull, the other – the Nosorog hull (Project 1174).   

Рrisoners were engaged in technical re-equipment of the plant after the war