NOTE: I altered a base image of a ship from Shipbucket, an awesome website with great ship profiles. I just edited it to fit with what I saw as being the Sea Scorpion.
Sea Scorpion Anti-Air Frigate
Country: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics/ Russian Republic
Other Users: Ukraine, Baltic States, Republic of China, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Algeria, Cuba
Builder: Severnaya Verf 190, Leningrad
Armament: 8x 57mm Cannons (two per turret)
4x 55cm Torpedo Tubes
1x Osa-MA SAM (Wartime Upgrade)
One of the key parts of Soviet strategy to reassert the USSR as a world power during the 1960s was a massive expansion to the Soviet Navy. Following the Second World War the new Soviet STAVKA ordered a detailed critical review of the Soviet Union’s actions during the war with an emphasis on what lead to their defeat. Among the top reasons was the lack of control over the seas and a navy to ensure it. The Allied powers boasted powerful navies centered on battleships and then aircraft carriers. It was British, German, and French ships that kept the Soviet Northern and Black Seas fleets bottled up in the Norwegian and Mediterranean Seas. Then it was American and Japanese carriers which laid waste to the Soviet Navy’s bases in the Atlantic and Pacific. Stalin never particularly interested in naval warfare let the USSR’s navy (except for submarines) fall behind the curve technologically compared to the Allies.
The generals and colonels who prepared the final report to STAVKA informed the Red Army’s senior leadership that if the USSR was to have any military influence or ability to defeat the United States or European Alliance (and to a lesser extent the Japanese Empire), a modern blue water navy would be needed. However despite these conclusions the Soviets would spend what little funds they had for defense on the land and air elements of the Russian armed forces through the 1950s. The Soviet Fleet was forced to make do with the bare elements that survived the war and became a weak costal defense force.
Under General Secretary Alexander Romanov this changed. As the USA and Europeans became more interested in their own superpower rival and less in the USSR, Romanov began large scale re-armament programs. At the forefront of this was the creation of a new Soviet Navy. To lead this effort Romanov appointed Admiral Sergei Gorshkov as the commander in chief of the Russian naval forces. Having served in The Great Patriotic War Gorshkov saw the destruction of the Soviet Northern Fleet in Murmansk first hand. He like Romanov was a strong supporter of a large and powerful navy. He argued that Russia had a huge coastline and it was only sensible to have a navy that could not only defend it, but also carry the fight to the enemy.
While they understood the need for a modern naval force, both Gorshkov and Romanov understood the limitations of Soviet industry, geography, and climate. Ice would limit the usefulness of many Soviet bases along with the fact that the approaches to the major trade routes and the Soviet’s enemies were constricted (the GUIK gap in the Atlantic and the Japanese Home Islands in the Pacific). Despite these issues Admiral Gorshkov met them and in most cases overcame them. One of the first things added to the Red Fleet was a fine icebreaker fleet. Although not a prefect fix it improved the operational tempo at Soviet naval bases. Next to overcome the limits of geography the Admiral pushed Romanov to secure the rights for Soviet ships to base overseas. This was one of the major reasons for the World Socialist Alliance, to provide the Soviet Fleet with bases and areas to deploy from outside the USSR.
Industry too was revamped with new shipyards capbable of producing warships and cargo vessels quickly. Lessons learned from the last war and new developments in technology were incorporated into vessel designs. The heavy guns of old gave way to guided missiles, radar and electronic upgrades were made, plus the Soviet Navy strived to have a more professional and trained force than the conscripts of the Red Army. Longer enlistment periods with more specialized training were conducted with naval personel. By the 1970s the Soviets had gone from a fleet of a few dozen ships, to a modern two ocean navy that could project power overseas. Dreadnaught Battlecruisers, small aircraft carriers, nuclear and conventional submarines, and long range naval aviation formed the core of the Soviet Fleet. In addition to the big ships Gorshkov knew that the Russian Fleet needed supporting craft, destroyers, frigates, submarines and resupply vessels for all of the above. The Sea Scorpion frigate was a part of this support structure.
Ever mindful of the power of the Allied air forces, the Soviet Navy wanted an anti-aircraft ship armed with radar directed guns and possibly missiles. The needs of a growing Soviet surface fleet in the 1960s lead to the adoption of using a smaller vessel as an AA platform rather than a larger destroyer or cruiser (like the American Aegis). The Sea Scorpion was built with an emphasis on speed and rapid firepower. The Russian designers correctly surmised with the growth of guided missiles the days of armored warships were over. Multiple 57mm rapid fire cannons slaved to fire-control and search radar was the main weapons of the Scorpion. The eight cannons could shred any aircraft that came in range and could act in an anti-missile role to protect larger Soviet ships.
While primarily an anti-air platform the Sea Scorpion also could serve in an limited ASW role. Ship mounted torpedo tubes and RBU mortars (a war time addition) were the primary tools of the Scorpions in killing Allied submarines. Additional missions of the frigate included patrolling, convoy escort, and land fire support (in which it preformed with less success). Compared to the Dreadnaught, the Sea Scorpions were easy to produce. Many would be sold to members of the WSA. Since these nations would lack larger surface combatants Iraqi, Cuban, and other WSA members would add anti-ship missiles or larger cannons to their Scorpions.
The initial battlefield performance of the Sea Scorpions was excellent. Powerful Soviet surface groups (know as KUGs), were well defended against American air attacks in the early stages of the war. Scorpions were upgraded during World War III to also carry SAM systems improving their AAW range and ability. U.S. Navy pilots respected the Scorpion’s firepower calling it the ‘buzz-saw’ based on the noise caused by all eight of its cannons firing at once. However the Sea Scorpions were far below the abilities of the U.S. Ticonderoga ‘Aegis’ cruisers. Eventually new tactics and weapons limited the effectiveness of the Scorpion. Standard ARM missiles and the AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missiles fired by EA-6s or F/A-18s would strip the Sea Scorpions of their radar, instantly limiting their effectiveness. Plus the ASW abilities of the Scorpion were low compared to the dedicated Soviet ASW ships, making them an easy target for Allied submarines.
Today modified Sea Scorpions serve in the navies of the former WSA members and the Russian Republic. Many have lost most of their guns seeing newer SAM systems put in their place. Additional upgrades include surface to surface missiles and newer electronics. Out of necessity of these nations the Sea Scorpion will remain in service into the Twenty-First Century.
Okay first off I did not draw this whole thing. The body of the Sea Scorpion (a Kivark frigate) came from the wonderful collection at Shipbucket. He did the hard work of drawing the original ship. I've edited the structure slightly and moved the cannons around.
However the history is all mine. Thanks for any faves and comments, will be posting the Soviet Dreadnought soon!