The first Mistral class amphibious assault ship for Russia will be laid down on February, 1st in a French shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, an official from United Shipbuilding Corporation said.
"Official keel-laying ceremony will be held on February, 1st in Saint-Nazaire. First bow assembly will be placed into dry dock, where the ship will be constructed", the source said. He also added that the construction had actually started in the end of 2011 after prepayment. Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief Vice Admiral Viktor Chirkov in will take the part in the keel-laying ceremony.
Recall, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that Mistral class two amphibious assault ships would not be able to operate in temperatures below seven degrees centigrade. "It's very odd that ships for offloading a landing force, floating in our latitudes won't work in temperatures below seven degrees," commented Rogozin.
Military-Industrial Commission Deputy Head Ivan Kharchenko described the deal to buy the ships as “absurd,” saying the deal had inflicted harm on the Russian shipbuilding industry.
The two countries signed a $1.2-billion contract on two French-built Mistral class amphibious assault ships including the transfer of sensitive technology in June of 2012.
The first ship will be delivered in 2014 and the second in 2015.
A Mistral-class ship is capable of carrying 16 helicopters, four landing vessels, 70 armored vehicles, and 450 personnel.
A number of Russia's neighbors have expressed concern over the deal, in particular Georgia and Lithuania.
The Russian military has said it plans to use Mistral ships in its Northern and Pacific fleets.