Polnocny Class

Overview

Country: Poland

There are several sub classes in this series of landing ships produced for the Soviet and Warsaw Pact Navies in Polish shipyards.

However the concept behind them was simple. The Soviet Navy wished to revive the ability of its Naval Infantry to undertake amphibious operations and to do that a modern fleet of landing ships was required. The Soviets began this shipbuilding work in the late 1950s with several classes of vessel. At first they could carry only infantry but later larger vessels were built capable of carrying several armoured vehicles.

The Polnocny Class was in fact a second generation design and were built at the Stocznia Polnocna shipyard, Gdansk, Poland. The Class took the name of the shipyard which built them. These vessels became the standard landing ships of the Russian Naval Infantry and its Polish counterparts. Unlike most of their Western counterparts Polnocny landing ships were heavily armed and provided a significant amount of covering fire for the troops they had disgorged. They could also beach themselves for cargo and troop exit and then pull themselves off the shore.

They were built in at least four versions, similar in many respects, but differing in size and slight detail. Three versions were known to be operated by the Warsaw Pact navies as well as an export version. In more recent years this has been further complicated by vessels being passed on to other navies as they are retired in Europe.

During the mid to late 1980s many of these vessels were replaced in Russian and Polish service with hovercraft. Many went on to civilian duties as vehicle ferries. It is extremely difficult to know just how many were produced between 1967 and 1974 – some sources suggest the high 50s while others quote a figure of 80.

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