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City Shipyard Hovercraft Is 1st Delivery to NATO State

Published: December 29, 2000 (Issue # 633)


Last week St. Petersburg's Almaz shipyards delivered the first of two enormous Zubr hovercraft it has contracted to build for the Greek armed forces under a deal arranged by Ros vooru zhe niye, the Russian state agency responsible for arms sales abroad.

While the $100 million price tag for the contract, which was signed in January 2000, makes the delivery impressive enough, it is even more significant as Ros voo ru zhe niye says that it represents the first delivery of a Russian-made warship to a NATO member country.

In fact, this was the first time one of the craft had been sold abroad at all.

Alexander Osin kin, head designer at the Central Sea Design Bureau in St. Petersburg, where Zubr was designed 10 years ago, says that the vessel's abilities make it unique.

"For example, the United States and Great Britain also have hovercraft, but the Zubr is much quicker with a maximum speed of 110 kilometers an hour and is superior in relation to many technical parameters," Osinkin said.

"The Zubr can clear land obstacles 1.6 meters high while other craft of this type can clear less than a meter," Osinkin said. "It can also carry three tanks - at 50 tons each - or 10 armored troop-carriers, while the American Landing Craft Air Cushion vessels can carry only one tank and a maximum weight one-quarter that which the Zubr can haul," he said.

The Zubr weighs 540 tons, is 57 meters long and 22.5 meters wide.

Anatoly Pavlov, a consultant at the St. Petersburg office of Ros voo ru zhe niye, said that the fact that a NATO member country bought the ship from Russia rather than from other producers could become a precedent and proves the high quality of the Zubr.

And Valery Che repovsky, technical director at Almaz, said that the sale presented no security problems. "We've sold other navy ships to Northern Af ri ca, Algeria, India, and some other countries, but never to a NATO country," he said. "This is a very profitable contract for Russia, especially since there is nothing secret about the vessel."

Cherepovsky said that the vessel delivered last week had been serving in the Russian Navy since 1994 and had just been overhauled and modified. The second ship called for in the contract will be new and is due to be finished in June 2001. Construction on the ship began this May. A group of Greek inspectors will remain in St. Petersburg to oversee the construction of the second craft.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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