The keel for Russia’s first of two amphibious assault ships will be laid at the Zaliv shipyard in Crimea in early May.
The amphibious assault ships, will be able to carry helicopters, troops and armored vehicles. Their production had earlier been contracted out to France but was denied to Russia following the dispute with Ukraine over Crimea.
“The helicopter carrier’s keel are to be laid in early May, to coincide with celebrations of the 75th anniversary of victory [over Nazi Germany]," TASS said quoting an industry source.
The Russian Defense Ministry and the Zaliv shipyard are to sign a contract on the construction of the warships in February.
The ships will be named Sevastopol and Vladivostok, after cities in Crimea and Russia’s Far East, respectively. The ships built by France for Russia but later sold to Egypt had been similarly christened.
Having a displacement of some 25,000 tonnes and maximum length of about 220 meters the ships will be capable of carrying over 20 heavy helicopters. They will also have a dock for landing boats and will carry up to two reinforced marine battalions with a total strength of 900 men.
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko said in an interview with the Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper in late December 2019 that the contract for those ships is to be signed in 2020.
The first of the Mistral helicopter carriers had been prepared for delivery to Russia with some 400 Russian sailors sent for training to France when the deal was canceled with Paris refunding to Moscow around Euro 1.2 Billion.