The first Polish missile destroyer to bear the name ORP Warszawa was built in Leningrad and initially served under the name Spravedlivyy.
In her original form she was an old-fashioned destroyer armed with guns and torpedoes and was only converted into a missile destroyer after more than a decade of intense service. Shortly afterward, she was sold to the Polish Navy and had her hull adorned with the name of the Polish capital.
The history of the ship in the Soviet Navy
The destroyer Spravedlivyy was constructed in the Severniy Sudostroitelniy Zavod imeni A.A. Zhdanova (Shipyard No. 190) in 1954–1956 as one of 27 Project 56 destroyers, also known as the Spokoinyy class (designated Kotlin by NATO). They were destroyers in the old fashion, created in the early 1950s by designers of the 53rd Central Design Bureau (CKB-53) led by head designer A.L. Fisher, who was also the author of Project 30bis (NATO: Skoryy-class).
Project 56 destroyers were vessels of supreme pulchritude and grace, with a smooth deck and highly elevated, forward-leaning prow evoking a sense of speed. The upper deck provided room for three large superstructures, two light cage masts and a pair of wide, slightly slanted funnels. The forward superstructure was crowned with the distinctive SBP-42-56 command and rangefinder station with the Yakor-M radar. A Fut-B fire-control radar was located in front of it with another such radar positioned on a platform between the mainmast and the aft funnel. At the moment of commissioning the displacement of the destroyer was 2,667 tonnes standard and 3,230 full. The length of the hull was 126.1 meters. The armament consisted of four 130 mm naval guns split between two light turrets, one on the bow and one on the stern. The anti-aircraft armament comprised four quadruple mounts of 45 mm guns. The ship was also equipped with two torpedo launchers for 533 mm torpedoes (five tubes per launcher) as well as mine-laying racks. For anti-submarine warfare the ship was provided with six depth charge throwers and depth charge racks on the stern.
As was typical for Soviet destroyers, the ship was propelled by steam turbines which provided 72,000 horsepower and let the vessel reach a speed of 38.5 knots. A meticulously designed hull improved the seakeeping ability of the ship. The design—higher sides and upper deck wider at the bow than was the case in her predecessors—was retained for many years in subsequent ship classes: Projects 58, 1134, and 1134A. It is worth noting that one of the Soviet admirals argued in favor of copying the hull design of Novik-class destroyers, which had originated before World War One! Obviously, the hull design, flawless though it might be, will not provide speed in and of itself, so an “upgrade” of the propulsion was envisaged. Improvements in the turbine design and efficiency of the boilers increased the power, which was then transferred to two three-bladed propellers.
Service In the Soviet Navy
After being commissioned the ship was transferred to the Baltic Fleet and became part of the 128th Destroyer Brigade. From 1961 until 1964 she was used for combat training and in the mid-1960s she was periodically assigned to operational deployments. Throughout October 1964 she monitored exercises in the North Sea and Norwegian Sea (FOLEX 64) and she spent the period from April until June 1968 in the Norwegian Sea and North Atlantic. While serving in the Soviet Navy she made port visits in Copenhagen, Denmark, (8–12 May 1964) and Rostock, German Democratic Republic, (18–22 October 1962). Throughout her service she bore many hull numbers: 92 (1956), 254 (1959), 256 (1960), 254 (1963?), 191 (1964), 954 (1965), 175 (1967), 375 (1969), and 372 (1970).
Conversion to Project 56A
In the summer of 1956 CKB-7 began working on the M-1 anti-aircraft system (later known as Volna), designed specifically for surface vessels. The system was tested on the Project 56K destroyer Bravyy to satisfying results and was accepted into service in 1962. However, since the vessels that were supposed to carry the system were not yet ready, a decision was made to re-arm some of the Project 56 destroyers. The decision was made easier in light of developments on the other side of the Atlantic. The Americans had commenced testing the Terrier guided surface-to-air missile system as early as 1956, utilizing the Gearing-class destroyer USS Gyatt (DD 712/DDG-1). Moreover, the US Navy commissioned a series of 23 Charles F. Adams-class destroyers in the early 1960s, each equipped with a single launcher for the Tartar SAM system. The best way of countering the American advantage was through a rapid modification of Spokoinyy-class destroyers and arming them with SAMs of their own. N.P. Sobolev’s CKB-53 designed such a modification, which would improve the destroyers’ capabilities both in the AA and ASW fields. On 25 October 1964 the project was approved, designated 56A.
Work on the first ship commenced the following year. The destroyer Spravedlivyy was modernized to Project 56A standards in the Severniy Sudostroitelniy Zavod imeni A.A. Zhdanova (Shipyard No. 190); work began on 14 May 1966 and ended on 2 November 1969. The vessel lost a significant part of her armament: the first torpedo launcher and everything astern of it was removed (i.e. the other PTA-53-56 launcher, three 45 mm SM-20-ZIF autocannon mounts and the aft SM-2-1 turret), as was the mainmast with all the antennae. The mine racks were also removed. The aft superstructure was redesigned with a reinforced deck and a plate to serve as a blast deflector for missiles being launched. These changes provided significant savings on mass and removed the need for redesigning the aft funnel.
The removed armament was replaced with a double launcher of Volna SAMs with two cylindrical magazines, each housing eight missiles. A new mast, this time a full pyramid mast, provided a base for the antennae of the Yatagan fire control system, which guided the missiles. A new MR-310 Angara search radar was installed on the foremast. The ASW armament of the destroyer was also improved through the installation of two RBU-6000 launchers (RBU-2500 on the Spravedlivyy and Skromnyy) with the Burya-56A fire control system, but the obsolete Pegas-2M sonar was retained. The outline of the stern was changed to be more rounded and depth charge racks were removed from under the deck, as was the 1-tonne stern anchor.
The modifications brought about an increase in displacement by circa 380–400 tonnes and, in turn, a drop in speed. The stability of the vessel was worsened due to the mass of new, elevated components, which then had to be compensated with additional ballast. However, since there was no room to add it, fuel had to be used for this purpose, and this meant that range would decrease. Project 56A destroyers were also provided with a completely new solution: each boiler compartment was fitted with airtight cabins from which the main mechanisms could be operated remotely.
The modified Project 56 destroyers (designated Kotlin-SAM by NATO) became the Soviet Navy’s first ships armed with guided anti-aircraft missiles. As a result, Project 56A destroyers became more versatile, but while they gained a new potential in fighting airborne targets, ASW equipment remained their Achilles heel due to the ancient sonar. The modification also brought about a significant change in the overall outline of the destroyers.
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