Russian television showed the laying of the first modular section for the new frigate Novik at Yantar Shipyard, Kaliningrad, on 26 July. Believed to be of the Project 1244.1 design depicted here, the Novik is to be completed after 2000 and should displace about 3,600 tons full load. Project 1244.1 was to be a twin-screwed ship about 122 meters long and drawing about 9.5 meters over its pronounced bow sonar bulb. Observable features on the drawing board include (1) a raised helicopter deck over a variable-depth sonar housing, (2) an unspecified vertical-launch surface-to-air missile system either to starboard of or flanking the helicopter hangar, (3) a Fregat-M series three-dimensional air-search radar, (4) an MR-123 Vympel (Bass Tilt) gun control radar, (5) a possible MR-352 Pozitiv (Cross Dome) missile target-designation radar, (6) eight Kh-35 Uran (SS-N-25) or Oniks antiship missiles, (7) the first installation of the new twin 30-mm AK-630MI-2 gatling gun, and (8) a 76-mm 59-caliber AK-76 dual-purpose gun. The construction start is something of a surprise, as the building yard was said to be nearing bankruptcy this spring and had ceased work on the second and third Neustrashimyy- classfrigates some time ago.
Estonia received the former German Navy Type 394 minesweeper Minerva this summer and renamed her the Kalev. Her sister Diana became the Olev on 8 August. Although the Estonian Navy has operated the former East German Kondor-I-class minesweeper Sulev (ex Komet) since 1994, that ship had been configured as an intelligence collector by East Germany and had no mine countermeasures gear. Thus, the 246-ton, late-1960s vintage Kalev and Olev will be Estonia's first true mine craft and will be useful in clearing the numerous German and Russian mines still lurking in Estonia's coastal waters. Another recent transfer to Estonia was the just-retired U.S. Coast Guard navigational aids tender Bittersweet (WLB-389), which became the Valvas on 5 September.
The Swedish Navy Styrsii- class mine countermeasures craft Skafto, launched this January and completed in June, is the third of four sisters ordered in February 1994. Eight more are planned, four configured as mine hunters, followed by four equipped to support mine clearance divers. The 200-ton-full-load Styroi design is constructed of glass-reinforced plastic and incorporated signature-reduction features, a full NBC warfare protective system, and an air-filtered crew citadel. With a crew of eight officers and seven enlisted personnel, the craft has an endurance of seven days. The first four of the 36-meter Styrsiis carry two Bofors Sutec Double Eagle remote-controlled mine disposal submersibles and a Tritech SE 500 high-definition towed sonar and also are fitted with sweep gear recycled from discarded minesweepers.