Legend of the North

Legend of the North

The development of the Russian surface ship design school is closely linked to the history of the Severnoe Design Bureau (SDB), which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

The Bureau was awarded state and government decorations for a great contribution to strengthening the defense capacity of the Motherland:

1963 Order of Lenin
1985 Order of the October Revolution
April 20, 2006  Commendation of the President of the Russian Federation for a great contribution to the development of the Russian shipbuilding industry
March 24, 2011  Certificate of Honor of the Government of the Russian Federation for a great contribution to the development of the shipbuilding industry


The Bureau has been focused on designing destroyers and guard ships since its earliest days. Its specialists subsequently developed almost the entire ocean-going surface fleet of the Soviet Union, and many of the projects became truly epoch-making, being a recognized standard in the world shipbuilding for a number of parameters. Western experts have repeatedly noted that Russian ships are excellent examples of industrial design, combining great striking power, excellent seaworthiness, strong protection, effective engineering solutions and a dynamic appearance.

The development of a modern warship involves the work and intellectual activities of many teams and thousands of specialists in various industries. However, it is the design bureau that plays the key role in designing a ship – the designer devises the engineering structure. Throughout its existence, the Severnoe Design Bureau managed to successfully carry out all the tasks assigned to it. Its projects have always been ahead of their time. Almost every one of them was embodied in metal, becoming an iconic, epoch-making ship, a milestone in the history of not only domestic, but also global naval shipbuilding, and besides, also an identifiable hallmark.

The Severnoe Design Bureau is credited with the world’s first ships equipped with anti-ship missiles and the first large warships where gas turbines were used as part of the propulsion system. The Bureau has developed unique anti-submarine ships and destroyers featuring exceptional seaworthiness. It is here that the ships described as «aircraft carrier killers» and heavy nuclear-powered missile cruisers, the pride of the Russian Navy, were designed.

The glorious traditions continue today. The most advanced equipment and weapons are incorporated in each new ship project, being developed using the state-of-the-art computers with CAD software rather than on drafting boards. Since 1998, all projects at the Bureau have been developed using an automated three-dimensional numerical modeling system. In 2015, a project was implemented to exchange project data via a secure channel between the Bureau and the builder. The existing state-of-the-art 3D computer-aided design system has provided the company with a strong technological foundation and a path for development of information technologies. A unified technological environment, in turn, makes it possible to manage data and projects in a state-of-the-art manner.

Fleet of the xxi century

In 2016-2017, the modern Project 11356 frigates of the so-called admiral series, named after the Imperial Russian Navy’s Admirals Grigorovich, Essen and Makarov, were commissioned into the Russian Navy. This is a heavy upgrade of the Project 1135 Burevestnik (NATO: Krivak) class frigate and its modifications, which were built in the USSR in large numbers. The Navy and Border Guard Service received a total of 39 ships of this family at the time. Their excellent seaworthiness was repeatedly noted by the personnel that operated them. The new ships inherited all the best from their predecessors. They turned from anti-submarine ships into multimission combatants, receiving a powerful strike missile system despite their small displacement. Their main armament is a vertical launcher designed to fire Kalibr strike missiles and Onyx anti-ship missiles. Since 2016, the Project 11356 frigates have been successfully performing a combat mission off the Syrian coast.

Currently, the Bureau continues supporting the construction of a series of the Project 22350 frigates. These are ships featuring completely new capabilities, ships of the XXI century. They were the first large surface warships laid down at Russian shipyards after the collapse of the USSR.

The Project 22350 lead multi-purpose frigate Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov was delivered to the Russian Navy in 2018. In 2020, the first follow-on frigate Admiral of the Fleet Kasatonov joined the Navy. Admiral Golovko – the second follow-on ship – is the first ship of this project with a completely Russian-made powerplant. Construction of six frigates of the series is underway at the Severnaya Verf Shipyard. In terms of key performance characteristics and combat capabilities, the new ships, are comparable to their foreign counterparts and exceed them in a number of indicators, are able to significantly reinforce surface action groups. They are equipped with the most advanced integrated weapon systems and capable to effectively perform a wide range of missions.

In 2019, the Admiral Gorshkov, together with Northern Fleet ships and support vessels, made a round-the-world cruise, which was recognized as an achievement and entered the Russian Armed Forces’ Book of Records. In 2020, the frigate successfully fired a Zircon hypersonic cruise missile.

In the same year, a group of SDB specialists was awarded the Russian Federation Government Prize in Science and Technology for a contribution to the development and production of the Project 22350 frigates.

Another brand new project that is being implemented for the Russian Navy at the Zelenodolsk Shipyard named after A.M. Gorky is the Project 22160 offshore patrol ships. This is the first Russian ship designed using a modular weapon concept. Part of the armament is mounted at the construction stage and does not change throughout the entire service life. The remaining reserved areas and spaces can be used to accommodate additional weapons during repairs or upgrades. In addition, there are special places for accommodating various removable modules, which can be replaced during operation, depending on missions at hand. To date, three ships of this series have already joined the Navy, and three more are in various stages of construction.

As it turned out, Project 22160 became a focus of foreign mass media. In September 2020, the Chinese media called these ships «an unexpected trump card of the Russian Navy.»

Peace on our borders

The Severnoe Design Bureau is proud to preserve the tradition of designing ships for Russian border guards. The series construction of the Project 22460 border guard ships has been carried out since 2007. Thirteen ships have already been transferred to the Border Guard Service of the Russian Federation and another one is undergoing trials. A group of our designers was awarded a prize by the Government of the Russian Federation for the development of this project.

The armament of the border ships consists of one 30 mm six-barreled AK-306 automatic gun and two 12.7 mm Kord machine guns. Such armament is sufficient to perform missions assigned to the Rubin-class ships. During the design phase, provision was made for using the ship in various regions of the world, so the Rubin can be operated both in equatorial waters and in thin and broken ice, while the design of its steel hull ensures that the mission will be completed even after a collision with a non-compliant vessel.

Today, relying on many years of experience and using the most modern design techniques, the Bureau’s specialists, engineers and designers are working on new surface combatant projects for the Russian Navy. As part of state defense order, all-new ships are being designed and documentation is being developed for the repair and upgrade of the Project 11442M nuclear-powered battlecruiser Admiral Nakhimov, which is under modernization at the Sevmash Shipyard. In 2020, the modernization of the Project 1155 large anti-submarine ship Marshal Shaposhnikov was completed. The ship received new weapon systems, which significantly increased its combat capabilities. Now she can perform attack missions in the blue waters zone.

Around the world

Particular attention is to be paid to the Bureau’s military-technical cooperation. Ships designed at the Severnoe Design Bureau have been supplied to Bulgaria, Poland, the GDR, Egypt, Indonesia, Finland, and the People’s Republic of China since 1957. Cooperation with the Republic of India is particularly noteworthy. Without exaggeration, we can say that the formation of the Indian Navy is the merit of the Severnoe Design Bureau specialists. The Bureau’s specialists also helped build the mainstay of the Chinese Navy.

The ships built to the Bureau’s designs carry out their difficult missions in all areas of the world’s oceans and ensure Russia’s defense capacity. SDB successfully ensures the implementation of USC’s plans to further develop the Russian shipbuilding industry, intensify science and technology development in the field of naval weapons, and make Russia a great maritime power. Relying on the glorious past, SDB is confidently looking towards the future. The implementation of science and technology achievements, the use of state-of-the-art approaches to design are the real steps towards the further technical progress of the enterprise, which will make every effort to contribute to Russia’s naval power.

Projects of sdb have been always overtaking the time, emboding in metal the best features of  domestic & global naval shipbuilding
Based on designs of the bureau 550 ships and vessels were built featuring dynamic configuration & efficient engineering solutions

Map of the Bureau’s military-technical cooperation

Ships manufactured with participation of SDB have been supplied to Bulgaria, Poland, the GDR, Egypt, Indonesia, Finland, and the People’s Republic of China since 1957. Cooperation with the Republic of India is particularly noteworthy. Without exaggeration, we can say that the formation of the Indian Navy is the merit of SDB specialists. The Bureau’s specialists also helped build the mainstay of the Chinese Navy.