Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ropucha – Toad with Tanks

Ropucha I, note twin 57 mm guns fore and aft. Ropucha II has one single-barrel 76 mm gun forward, 2 AK-630 CIWS aft.

The Ropucha (toad), or Project 775 class landing ships are classified in the Russian Navy as "large landing craft" (Bol'shoy Desatnyy Korabl). They were built in Poland in the Stocznia Północna shipyards, in Gdansk. They are designed for beach landings and can carry a 450 ton cargo. The ships have both bow and stern doors for loading and unloading vehicles, and the 630 m² of vehicle deck stretches the length of the hull. Up to 25 armored personnel carriers can be embarked.

While being designed for roll-on roll-off operations the ships can also be loaded using dockside cranes. For this purpose there is a long sliding hatch cover above the bow section for access to the vehicle deck. There are no facilities for helicopters.

The 28 ships of this type where commissioned from 1975 to 1991. The last three ships where of the improved variant Project 775M, also called Ropucha II. These have improved defensive armament and accommodation for an increased number of troops.

They were built for the Soviet Navy during the Cold War, but the current Russian Navy has little need for a long-range amphibious capability and most of them are kept in reserve or are retired. However, during the 2008 South Ossetia war ships of this type where used for landing troops at the Georgian port of Poti.

One ship of this class, the U402 Kostiantyn Olshansky, is in service with the Ukrainian Navy, and another was transferred to South Yemen in 1979 and remains in service with the Yemen Navy. The latter vessel is the only unit of this class in service outside the former USSR.

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