Russian warship denied entry to Cape Town harbour

The Russian Federation’s nuclear-powered missile cruiser, Pyotr Velikiy, has been denied entry to the Cape Town harbour by the South Africa’s National Nuclear Regulator (NNR).

The NNR’s refusal was “based on non-compliance with certain aspects of the licensing requirements”, said Gino Moonsamy, a spokesperson for the regulatory body.

The South African Navy had submitted an application to the NNR in December for the Pyotr Velikiy (Peter the Great) to visit Cape Town from January 9 to 12.

Moonsamy said the specific criteria for the refusal related to a safety certificate from the Russian regulatory authority; a liability letter that provided only for international nuclear damage; and an emergency plan that was “not comprehensive enough”.

Asked if the NNR would consider a revised application, Moonsamy said if the documentation was submitted it would be reviewed.

Five years ago, a Russian navy chief said the Pyotr Velikiy, launched in 1996, was unfit for service.

According to news reports at the time, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov said the massive 256m-long cruiser “was being poorly maintained”.

The Pyotr Velikiy is heavily armed, carrying both surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles, including 20 long-range Granit anti-ship missiles. The vessel is described by Jane’s Navy International as an “immensely powerful” warship.

It is powered by two 300MW nuclear reactors, and has auxillary steam boilers.

The SA Navy on Tuesday said it was continuing with preparations for the visit.

“The SA Navy is continuing with all preparations for the visit while other role-players sort out the NNR’s requirements,” said navy spokesperson Lieutenant Commander Greyling van der Berg. - Sapa


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