During the 1970s, the Soviet Union constructed a new corvette group of compact warship known as the Nanuchka-class (also Project 1234 “Ovod”). Total strength eventually numbered forty-seven vessels completed with a single example cancelled. Five were ultimately lost under various circumstances and twenty-seven were retired (as of 2017). About a dozen remain in service with the modern Russian Navy (2017) and Algeria currently operates three ships.
The class, categorized as “missile boats”, was constructed through three major batches and a one-off ship: Series I, Series II, Series III and Series IV. The Russian Navy took on seventeen of the Series I vessels and eighteen of the Series III. Series IV was a single boat named “Nakat” but this served primarily as a trials bed for the P-800 “Oniks” anti-ship cruise missile – it was retired in 2012. The Series II mark was the primary export model sold to various Soviet-allied countries in Africa and Asia.
The ships displaces 570 tons under standard load and are given an overall length of 195 feet with a beam measuring 41 feet and a draught down to 7.9 feet. Propulsion is from 3 x Marine diesels outputting 30,000 horsepower and driving 3 x shafts under stern. Range is out to 2,500 nautical miles and speeds could reach 32 knots in ideal conditions. Aboard are forty operating personnel.
The ship is outfitted with a surface search and fire control radar. Armament is centered on 6 x SS-N-9 medium-ranged anti-ship missiles though export models were given 4 x SS-N-2 missile systems instead. Beyond this is a single SA-N-4 surface-to-air missile (SAM) launcher with some twenty reloads provided. Conventional armament includes 1 x 57mm AK-257 twin-gunned turreted deck gun (Series I). This was replaced by a single-gunned 76mm fit in the Series III ships. Short-ranged threats are countered by the single Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) 30mm AK-630 installation (Series III).
The Nanuchka-class has been used by the navies of Russia/Soviet Union, Algeria, India (all decommissioned) and Libya (all lost).
The heavily armed Project 1234 ‘Nanuchka I’-class guided missile corvettes had a heavier armament than previous Soviet missile ships. Primary armament was six P-50/4K85 Malachit (SS-N-9 ‘Silen’) anti-ship missiles, which could deliver a 500kg (1,102lb) HE or a 200kt nuclear warhead at a range of 110km (68 miles). The remarkable amount of firepower and combat electronics mounted on such a small platform was apparently purchased at the price of poor seakeeping characteristics. Seventeen units were built from 1969, along with three ‘Nanuchka lIs’ for India. Nineteen ‘Nanuchka Ills’ were built between 1977 and 1986. All the ‘Nanuchka I’s are being scrapped, while the three Indian ‘Nanuchka lIs’ were decommissioned between 1999 and 2002.