Moscow Defense Brief

Krylov State Research Center

Mikhail Barabanov

The Krylov State Research Center is Russia’s leading shipbuilding research organization. For a long time it was known as the Academician Krylov Central Science and Research Institute; its current status is a federal state-owned unitary company (FGUP).


In 1890-1894 the Russian Empire’s Naval Ministry built a Towing Tank (Opytovy Bassein) in St Petersburg to conduct hydrodynamic tests on ship hulls.1 The project was initiated by the famous Russian Scientist Dmitry Mendeleev. There were only five other towing tanks in existence in the whole world at the time. On March 8, 1894 Emperor Alexander III, members of the royal family and senior Naval Ministry officials were given a tour of the facility; that day is now regarded as its official opening date. In 1900-1908 the director of the Towing Tank was Alexey N. Krylov, who made an invaluable contribution to the theory and practice of Russian shipbuilding. Under Krylov’s leadership the facility began its transformation into a versatile industry research center, equipped with a hull strength testing lab, a shipbuilding materials research lab, a physics and chemistry lab, etc.

During the Soviet period the Towing Tank branched out into new areas of research. In the 1930s it began studies of marine propellers. In 1932 the facility and its several labs became the core of the new Naval Shipbuilding Science and Research Institute (NIVK). One of the main objectives set before the institute was advanced naval research and the development of top level specifications (sometimes including conceptual design) for almost all Soviet warships.

In 1938-1939 NIVK was restructured to become the 45th Shipbuilding Research Institute (NII-45), and transferred from the MoD first to the Ministry of Defense Industry and then to the Ministry of Shipbuilding, thereby losing its purely military specialization. In 1940 NII-45 was renamed the 45th Central Science and Research Institute (TsNII). Finally, in 1944 it was named after Academician A.N. Krylov.2

During the post-war period TsNII-45 was involved in designing new generations of military naval technology, especially nuclear-powered submarines, as well as incorporating new power plants and missile weaponry into ship designs. In particular, the institute led such projects as the Soviet submarines; naval aviation and aircraft carriers; the first nuclear-powered submarine; nuclear-powered icebreakers; and several other landmark programs. It also set up new divisions to research high-speed ships and new submarine noise reduction technologies. The institute has also been heavily involved in civilian shipbuilding since the 1960s.

In 1963 the TsNII-45 divisions that led naval automation and electric technology research became independent research institutes (TsNII Avrora and TsNII SET).

The 1960s, 70s and 80s were the golden age of Soviet military shipbuilding. When the Soviet Navy was led by Admiral S.G. Gorshkov, the Krylov institute was involved in a broad range of programs aimed at creating an ‘Ocean-going Nuclear-armed Fleet’. During that period the institute set up several test facilities in Sevastopol, Sukhumi, Primorsk and Chkalov. In 1981 it took delivery of a specially built large (10,000 t) Academic Aleksey Krylov research ship. The vessel was used as a submersibles carrier and a platform for the research of ocean physics.3

After the break-up of the Soviet Union the Krylov Institute faced massive funding cuts. Most of the Russian military and civilian shipbuilding programs were frozen. The institute was forced to branch out into commercial projects and take up foreign contracts. The government soon designated it as one of several State Research Centers. During an industry-wide restructuring in 1999, the Baltsudoproekt Central Design Bureau and the Lot Central Research Institute of Standards and Certification became part of the Krylov Institute. As a result, Krylov gained access to new design capability, becoming a versatile shipbuilding research and design outfit.

Current state

In March 2007 President Vladimir Putin issued a decree “On the Federal State-owned Unitary Company Krylov State Research Center”. But the restructuring ordained by that decree took longer than expected. It was only on September 14, 2012 that the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade issued a resolution to transform the Krylov Institute into a federal state-owned unitary company (FGUP) called the Krylov State Research Center.

In April 2012 the government appointed Andrey Dutov, who has a long track record in the shipbuilding industry, director-general of the Krylov Center. In 2004-2007 Dutov served as head of the shipbuilding department at the Federal Industry Agency (Rosprom), and in 2007-2008 he was the head of the entire Rosprom. He was part of the team that led the establishment of the United Shipbuilding Corporation (OSK), which has brought the bulk of the Russian shipbuilding industry under state control. Dutov is regarded as an experienced defense industry manager who keeps up with the latest trends. His name was repeatedly mentioned among the candidates to lead OSK. His deputy and head of research at the Center is V.M. Pashin, who served as head of the Krylov Institute in 1990-2012.

The Center has a large (1,324m-long) and deep towing tank; a circulation tank; a maneuvering tank; a shallow-water tank; a high-speed tank; an ice tank; a cavitation tank; three hydro-acoustics tanks; a large wind tunnel; a system of cavitation pipes; a 50 kW nuclear research reactor; machinery for conducting strength tests on hulls and energy equipment; dock chambers for high-pressure testing of the hulls of submersibles; and a whole number of other laboratories, test benches and simulators. There is also a supercomputer facility used for mathematical modeling; its main cluster is a 21 teraflops supercomputer. In 2009 the Center began the construction of a new 80m-long ice tank (to be completed later in 2013). In 2012 it began another project to build a 162m-long versatile offshore tank (completion is scheduled for 2015) and a powerful 40 MW electric test bench for testing naval electric propulsion systems.4

The Krylov Center says its main areas of research are as follows:5

  • Fundamental research in sea-going and river ship technology

  • Drawing up and building the case for various shipbuilding programs

  • Developing and analyzing designs of sea-going and river ships, vessels and structures

  • Hydrodynamics, strength, energy and electric systems, physical fields, and hydroacoustics research

  • Designing electrical hardware, propulsion propellers, and other propulsion systems

  • Research and design solutions for offshore oil and gas drilling platforms

  • Standardization, classification and coding, certification of shipbuilding industry products and quality control systems, creating catalogues, metrological support, manufacturing specialization and coordination.


In recent years the Center has designated projects for the Russian Navy and the national oil and gas industry as its top priority. The new management, led by A. Dutov, is also placing an emphasis on these areas. In 2012-2013 the Center underwent a structural reorganization to reflect that new vision.

Following the reorganization, the Center currently consists of the following departments:

  • System integration management in military shipbuilding

  • System integration management in civilian shipbuilding

  • Transfer of promising interdisciplinary technologies

  • Hydrodynamics

  • Structural strength and endurance

  • Naval energy systems and nuclear and radiation safety

  • Naval and industrial acoustics

  • Physical fields of sea manmade objects and oceans.


The Center also has several branches, including the Baltsudoproekt Central Design Bureau; the Lot Central Science and Research Institute; and the SET Central Science and Research Institute (the latter became part of the Center in the summer of 2012). In late 2012 the Center was also given a 60-per-cent stake in the Aysberg Central Design Bureau. The Center employs a total of over 3,000 people, including 500 designers.6

The Center’s customers and partners include all the main Russian shipbuilding design bureaus.

Main activities

High-level programs

The Krylov Center is essentially the main author of the ambitious military and civilian shipbuilding programs launched by the Russian government in recent years.

In September 2007 the Russian Industry and Energy Ministry approved the “Strategy of Shipbuilding Industry Development to 2020 and in the longer time frame”; the document was drawn up in 2006-2007. In 2008 the same ministry approved a comprehensive plan to implement that strategy. As part of that plan, the government has allocated funds for the retooling of key shipbuilding industry assets, including test benches operated by shipbuilding research institutes and design bureaus.

One component of the overall strategy is a federal program of comprehensive measures to retool the Russian shipbuilding design and manufacturing companies and component suppliers. There is also an R&D plan for critically important shipbuilding technologies. The Krylov Center has been designated as the lead organization for the military component of that program (including critical and basic industrial technologies; building, upgrading and retooling manufacturing assets, etc).

In February 2008 the Cabinet approved the federal program “Development of Civilian Maritime Technology” for 2009-2016. Finally, in December 2012 the government approved the program “Development of the Shipbuilding Industry in 2013-2030”. The Krylov Center is heavily involved in that program, which aims to pool efforts being undertaken by industry players within a single coordinated approach.

The Krylov Institute was involved in drawing up the relevant sections of the State Armament Programs, including the current one, which covers the period from 2011 until 2020 (GPV-2020), and the next one, from 2016 to 2025 (GPV-2025).

Military shipbuilding

Projects for the Russian Navy remain at the core of the Krylov Center’s mission. Over the past several years the center has stepped up operations in this area, in line with a rapid increase in Russian defense procurement spending. It is involved, one way or another, in the development of every single Russian navy ship and submarine.

The center’s division in charge of military projects is the Division for system integration management in military shipbuilding (the former 1st Department of the Krylov Institure), which was set up in 2012. The division’s remit centers on formulating military shipbuilding R&D goals and objectives in accordance with long-term state armament programs.

The Center formulates various design requirements and objectives, and oversees R&D efforts on the entire range of ships and submarine platforms included in the state armament program, from aircraft carriers to small boats.

It works closely with the Russian Navy’s main R&D center, the Naval Shipbuilding and Armaments Research Institute of the Russian Naval Academy (which was known as TsNII-1 until 2010).

The Krylov Center also develops the methodology, standards and regulations to make sure that new ship designs meet all the latest requirements in terms of resilience, survivability, safety and ergonomics.

In addition to its core responsibilities, the Center also conducts advanced R&D into the future of naval technology. It is working on several future ship designs for the Russian Navy, including an area protection corvette and a fleet destroyer. It has also developed a new semi-catamaran hull design for future warships.

Important ongoing projects worth a special mention include the development of a hybrid Air-independent propulsion (AIP) for submarine which relies on a highly maneuverable low-temperature electrochemical generator, with solid polymer fuel elements and diesel fuel conversion. The Center pursues the project in partnership with the Rubin Central Naval Technology Design Bureau and TsNII SET. Engineers have built and are currently testing a demonstration prototype of a hybrid power plant which uses solid polymer fuel elements; the trial power plant has been designated as the MGEU-60.7

The Center is also working on a broad range of other naval R&D projects, including research into composite structural materials, stealth technologies for surface ships, low-noise submarines, pump-jet submarine propulsion units, fully electric propulsion, and other electric technologies. In particular, the Center specializes in the resilience and fire safety of surface ships and submarines, and their ability to stay afloat even after sustaining heavy damage.

Civilian shipbuilding

The Center has chosen projects for the oil and gas industry as its second major area of specialization. These projects mostly cater to ambitious plans by the state-owned Russian oil and gas corporations, Gazprom and Rosneft. In particular, the Center is developing future offshore platforms, as well as ice-resistant maritime structures, platforms, terminals and specialized transport and industrial systems.

The Center focuses on the development of ships and platforms for offshore areas in the Arctic. To that end, the government has allowed the Center to take over the Aysberg Central Design Bureau (which has traditionally specialized in icebreakers design). The Center has also launched a major program to build a new ice tank and an offshore tank. The government has allocated a lot of money for that program; the new offshore tank is expected to cost 3bn roubles (U$100m), and the new ice tank 800m roubles (U$26m).8

Nevertheless, practical results from the latest efforts in this particular area of Russian shipbuilding seem fairly limited for now. The government keeps postponing all the major programs of offshore exploration in the Arctic because they are hugely expensive; a case in point is the planned exploration of the Shtokman gas field. Projects to build or refit the few existing offshore platforms are progressing at a glacial pace; none of them has reached a mass production stage, and all seem to generate only losses for the Russian shipbuilding industry.

Ship design

The Baltsudoproekt Central Design Bureau, which is now part of the Krylov Center, was set up in 1925. It has always been one of the Soviet Union’s and then Russia’s leading civilian ship design bureaus. It specialized in advanced civilian ships and auxiliary ships for the Navy. It has produced a total of 200 ship designs since its foundation, which have been used to build more than 2,600 ships. The bureau is now working on a broad range of new ships for offshore oil and gas exploration and for various operations in the Arctic. Some of its latest projects include the, Project 22280 Academic Treshnikov Antarctic research ship that has already been launched; Moskva and St Petersburg, two Project 21900 large diesel-electric icebreakers built under a contract with Rosmorport; and three Project 21900M improved icebreakers for which Rosmorport signed a contract with OSK in 2011.9

The Aysberg Central Design Bureau was previously part of the now-defunct United Industrial Corporation, which was owned by the Russian tycoon S.V. Pugachev. Now that the bureau is under the Krylov Center’s control, the latter has become the sole Russian designer of icebreakers. In 2012 the Baltiyskiy Shipbuilding Yard secured a contract to build a new Project 22220 nuclear-powered icebreaker, which is an Aysberg design.10

One of the integration initiatives advocated by the Krylov management is to make Krylov the core of the Arctic Center, a proposed new facility that would lead various programs in the area of designing and building ships and marine structures. The project would make use of the Krylov Center’s strong and long-standing relations with many shipyards, component suppliers and design ships, both in Russia and abroad.

It is safe to say that the main preliminary steps towards establishing the Arctic Center, which is envisaged as a hub bringing together advanced research, design expertise and manufacturing capability, have already been made. Now its proponents need to identify the organizational and legal mechanisms to put the agreements achieved with various parties into practice. The Arctic Center will have a solid R&D and industrial capability, including various experimental and testing facilities; a strong design and engineering base; and shipyards capable of turning the center’s designs into actual hardware.

The Arctic Center project has the Russian government’s backing. Its key goal is for the participating shipbuilding companies to achieve much stronger positions on the domestic and eventually the global market as well. Active involvement of the Russian partners in the center’s work would facilitate localization and gradual import replacement programs in the Russian shipbuilding sector.

The Krylov Center is a member of the most authoritative international shipbuilding organizations and industry bodies, including the International Towing Tank Conference (ITTC); the International Congress for Ship Structural Strength (ICSS), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Institute for Noise Control Engineering (IINCE), and others. The Center regularly participates in large international exhibitions, conferences, and other industry events.

Most of the Krylov Center’s contracts portfolio consists of military and civilian contracts with Russian and foreign customers. The former category includes the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, the MoD, various shipbuilding companies, Gazprom, Gazpromdobycha Shelf, Rosneft, Giprospetsgaz, Gazflot, and others. Foreign customers include Statoil (Norway), Aker Arctic (Finland), Aker Engineering (Norway), Fincantieri (Italy), Lloyd’s Register (Britain), ABB OY (Finland), ABS (USA), Technip Offshore (USA), Nordic Yards (Germany), and others. The Center has fulfilled more than 600 contracts since 1991 with customers from Britain, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, South Korea, the United States, and other countries.

1. The Krylov Center background section is based on the following sources: the Center’s own website (; the History of Russian Shipbuilding, a compendium in 5 volumes, St Petersburg, 1994-1996; and several other sources.

2. The “military” projects of the former NIVK were transferred in 1945 to the 1st Central Science and Research Institute (TsNII-1), which was part of the MoD. The institute went on to become the Navy’s main military shipbuilding research institute.

3. Academic Aleksey Krylov, a Project 1846 ship, was built specifically for the Krylov Institute at the Okean Shipyard in Nikolayev. The ship was based in Sebastopol; after the break-up of the former Soviet Union it became the property of Ukraine, and was renamed the Kiev in 1994. It seldom left the port after 1991, and in 2005 it was sold for scrap to India.



6. Krylov Center press release of December 14, 2012.


8. New towing tank being built on Moskovskiy avenue at the site of the old TsNII tank, which was blown up //; Experimental ice // Kommersant St. Petersburg, April 5, 2011.



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