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Marasesti

Guided missile frigate

Marasesti frigate

The Romanian-built Marasesti is a unique and ostensibly powerful warship, but suffers from dated weapons and electronics

 
 
Country of origin Romania
Entered service 1992
Crew 270 men
Sea endurance ~ 30 days
Dimensions and displacement
Length 144.6 m
Beam 14.8 m
Draught 4.9 m
Displacement, standard ~ 4 500 t
Displacement, full load 5 790 t
Propulsion and speed
Speed 27 knots
Range 2 800 km
Propulsion CODAD; 4 diesel engines, developing 33 760 shp and driving 2 shafts
Airwing
Helicopters 1 x IAR 330 NAVAL, 2 x Aloutte III
Armament
Artillery 2 x twin 76-mm guns, 4 x AK-630 30-mm CIWS
Missiles 8 x P-15M Termit cruise missiles
Torpedoes 2 x tripple-tube launchers for 53-65 torpedoes. 6 torpedoes are carried
Other 2 x RBU-6000 ASW rocket launchers

 

   The Marasesti is a unique warship operated by the Romania, and was the largest and most heavily-armed warship that nation has so far constructed. Building this vessel was a monumental undertaking, not only because she was an entirely Romanian project (though many of her subsystems were built under license from the USSR, and a few components were imported), but also because it was a very long and awkward affair.

   The origins of the Marasesti date back to the mid-1970s, when Romanian communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu --- then seeking to distance his nation from the Warsaw Pact --- vowed that his nation would construct “a large fleet of regional scale”. It was a poorly executed bluff, as Romania clearly didn't have the resources with which to construct and operate such a large navy, but it was intended more to sell the idea to the Romanian population than the military or foreign governments. In 1978, work finally began on what was to become a grand home-built battle fleet of exactly one ship.

   Construction of the new warship was carried-out by the the 2 Mai Military Shipyard in Mangalia (now DMHI). It was a lengthy affair, beginning when the keel was laid on March 1st 1978, and continuing until the vessel was launched in the mid-1980s. The exact circumstances of the frigate's commissioning are unclear, as various sources claim her sea trials began in 1984, but also that she was launched in 1985. She was officially christened on August 2nd 1986 by Nicolae Ceausescu himself, and named the Muntenia.

   The sea trials of the Muntenia began in the mid-1980s (again, the exact date is unclear), but soon became an imbroglio, highlighting Romania's inexperience in shipbuilding more than its growing naval power. The Muntenia was found to be significantly more top-heavy than anticipated, to the point where even maneuvering in calm seas was found to be dangerous. In at least one instance, the Muntenia almost capsized while maneuvering. It isn't surprising as to why, given that the masts, funnel, and superstructure were all originally much taller than they are now, and that launchers for the P-15 cruise missiles were at the time mounted on the superstructure!

   The remainder of the trials were halted in June of 1988, and the Muntenia returned to the 2 Mai Military Shipyard for an extensive rebuild; this effort outlived both the Cold War and the Ceausescu regime, and was eventually completed in August of 1992, when the ex-Muntenia (now named the Marasesti) was finally commissioned.

   Both the name and classification of this vessel have changed repeatedly throughout her construction and service. She was originally named the Muntenia, but was renamed Timisoara on May 2nd 1990, then finally Marasesti on August 27th 1992. Designated a "cruiser" when first completed, the Marasesti later downgraded at some point to a "destroyer", and finally designated as a "frigate" by the Romanian General Staff on April 1st 2001.

   The propulsion system is of the CODAD type. Four ALCO diesels produce 8 440 shp each, for a combined total of 33 760 shp driving 2 shafts. The total fuel bunkerage is apparently unpublished, but almost certainly very light, as the Marasesti's range is only 2 800 km (1500 nm). The minimum turning circle is unpublished, but presumably between 200 m and 400 m.

   The electronics of the Marasesti are very austere, and largely obsolete. The sensors consist of an MR-302 Rubka ("Strut Curve") air and surface search radar, a Nayada navigation radar, and an unknown medium frequency sonar. Fire control systems include a Garpun ("Plank Shave") active radar system, a Fut-B ("Hawk Screech") gunnery radar for the 76-mm battery, and two MR-104 Rys’ ("Drum Tilt") fire control radars for the AK-630 CIWS. Two PK-16 chaff launchers are also carried. The Marasesti lacks a combat information system; one was planned to be back-fitted in 2006, but it is unclear if this modification was carried out.

   The Marasesti's main battery consists of two superfiring AK-762 twin 76-mm/59 dual-purpose gun turrets. These traverse to +/-164 degrees at 30 degrees/second, and elevate from -5 to +85 degrees at 30 degrees/second. The rate of fire is 45 rounds/minute/turret, though the sustained rate of fire is likely lower. The maximum range of the AK-762 is 15 700 m, with an anti-aircraft ceiling of 11 000 m, and the burst radius of the 12.4 kg projectile against aircraft is 8 m. While the AK-762 itself has excellent performance against aircraft and ships alike, the Marasesti's fire control capabilities leave much to be desired. However, the Marasesti's AK-630 30-mm CIWS turrets are known to have good performance against aircraft and missiles alike (within their relatively short effective range); a total of 4 are carried.

   The only guided missile carried by the Marasesti is the P-15M Termit. This 2 340 kg anti-ship cruise missile carried a 500 kg HE-FRAG warhead, and has a near-supersonic top speed and a range of 80 km. The P-15M Termit is autonomous after launch, maintaining its course via INS guidance, and terminally guided using active radar. It can also be launched with its radar already active, allowing the missile to hit targets as close as 2.75 km. Eight of these missiles are carried, loaded into four fixed, twin-tube launchers. It is worth noting that the launcher arrangement on the Marasesti is highly peculiar, not only in that it has launchers aimed both forward and aft, but also because the model of launcher used were not originally designed to be carried by a fleet warship (in fact, these particular launchers are the type used on the Tarantul class missile boats).

   The ASW battery includes two RBU-6000 12-tube rocket launchers, and two triple-tube launchers for the 53-65 torpedo. The RBU-6000 has an effective range of 350 m to 5 800 m, and launches the rocket-boosted depth charge in 1, 2, 4, 8 or 12 round salvos; its RGB-60 213-mm depth charge carries a 25 kg warhead, and is effective at depths of 10 m to 500 m. The 53-65 torpedo is an acoustic homing torpedo designed for use against both submarines and surface ships, and carries a 307.6 kg warhead; it makes 45 knots and has a maximum range of 18 km.

   Total ammunition stowage consists of 3 400 76-mm shells, 16 000 30-mm shells, 144 RGB-60 depth charges, 6 53-65 torpedoes, and an unknown number and variety of helicopter-launched munitions.

   The Marasesti was generally unsatisfactory in service, and attempts were made to market her for export in the Developing World. These efforts were unsuccessful, and the Marasesti is still in service with the Romanian Navy as of 2016, with the pennant number F111. Her role as Romania's flagship was taken in 2002 by the commissioning of the Regele Ferdinand (an ex-Royal Navy Type 22 Frigate). The future of this troubled, dated, and surprisingly long-lived warship remains uncertain, and the Romanian Navy has yet to announce a plan to replace or retire the Marasesti.

 

Name Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
Marasesti (F111) 1978 mid-1980s 1992

active, in service

 

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Marasesti frigate

Marasesti frigate

Marasesti frigate

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