Project 12700 Yakov Balyaev enhances MCM capabilities of Kamchatka brigade - Part 1

According to information published by Tass on July 8, 2021, the Project 12700 mine countermeasures (MCM) vessel ‘Yakov Balyaev’ (Alexandrite-class) has dramatically increased the MCM capabilities of the Kamchatka brigade of patrol ships near Kamchatka.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Project 12700 mine countermeasures MCM vessel Yakov Balyaev (Picture source: Twitter account of @RALee85)

The keel of the ‘Yakov Balyaev’ was laid down in late December 2017 at the Sredne-Nevskiy Shipyard (a subsidiary of the United Shipbuilding Corporation); in January 2020, the vessel was launched. In late July 2020, the naval platform was transitioned to the Pacific Fleet. It covered 12,000 nautical miles via the Northern Sea Route, reached Vladivostok, completed the requires tests and trials, and joined the Russian Navy (МMF) on December 26, 2020. In May 2021, the MCM vessel joined the Kamchatka brigade of patrol ships.

The ‘Yakov Balyaev’ is going to conduct MCM tasks along with other minesweepers of the unit. The vessel is also set to practice cohesion with the Project 21980 (Grachonok-class) counter-sabotage boats.

The ‘Yakov Balyaev’ features a higher speed compared with that of the Soviet-age minehunters. The vessel’s full speed reaches 16.7 knots, while a Project 266 (Yurka-class) minesweeper produces no more than 9 knots.

The Project 12700 MCM vessel is built upon a reinforced fiberglass hull that features high strength and serviceability. The n

The propulsion of Project 12700 consists of two M-503M1 diesel engines, two rudder propellers with nozzles, and two transverse thrusters. The ship can reach 16.5 knots (31 km/h) with a maximum cruising range of 1,600 nmi (3,000 km; 1,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). She has an endurance of 10 days with a crew of 45 people. The ship is armed with one 30mm automatic cannon AK-306 SAM, 9K38 Igla short-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, an MTPU 14.5mm marine pedestal machine-gun mount, as well as UDM, MTPK and PMR series of mines.aval platform has a displacement of some 890 t, a length of 62 m, a width of 10 m, a full speed of 16 knots, and a crew of 44 servicemen.

The export-oriented variant of the Alexandrite-class minehunter is designated Project 12701 Alexandrite-E-class MCM vessel. According to the United Shipbuilding Corporation, the platform has a displacement of 890 t and is 61.6 m long and 10.3 m wide. The naval platform is intended for counter-mine protection of naval bases, offshore areas, exclusive economic zones, and maritime mineral deposits; detection and destruction of all types of sea mines; counter-mine protection of blue force ships during sea cruises; counter-mine reconnaissance; and deployment of sea mines.

The MCM vessel features a draught of some 3.1 m. The platform is powered by two diesel engines with a power output of 2,500 h.p. each, producing a speed of 16 knots, a cruising range of 1,500 nautical miles, and an endurance of 10 days. The vessel is manned by a 44-strong crew.

The Alexandrite-E’s sensor suite integrates the Diez-12700E control system, Livadiya-ME mine detection sonar, two Alister 9 counter-mine unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), two K-Ster I UUVs, 10 K-Ster C disposable remotely operated vehicles, Inspector-Mk.2 unmanned surface vehicle, a GKT-2 or GOKT-1 contact mine sweep system, and a ShAT-U sonar mine sweep system. The Project 12701 MCM vessel also carries some armaments, including an AK-306 30 mm close-in weapon system, eight short-range surface-to-air missiles, and an MTPU naval gun mount with a 14.5 mm heavy machinegun (this weapon system can be replaced by two 6P59 12.7 mm heavy machineguns). It should be mentioned that the Alexandrite-E is capable of using both traditional minesweeping systems and cutting-edge robotized MCM systems. The platform also has high seaworthiness.

The Alexandrite-E-class vessel also features relatively high potential in the global arms market. In March 2020, Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) Dmitry Shugayev told Russian media that Russia would enter an Indian competition for a new MCM vessel with the Project 12701 Alexandrite-E-class platform.

A mine countermeasures vessel or MCMV is a type of naval ship designed for the location of and destruction of naval mines which combines the role of a minesweeper and minehunter in one hull. The term MCMV is also applied collectively to minehunters and minesweepers.