The Admiral Gorshkov landed in Havana waters yesterday for a two-day visit as tensions between Russia and the US continued to rise. In a move that many are comparing to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, President Putin appears to be putting on a show of military might just miles from America’s coast. And with the powerful ship having to be escorted off the British coast by the Royal Navy in March, it has left Western governments fearing its true capability.
Following a multi-year delay, the Admiral Gorshkov – named after the famous former Soviet commander – was completed by the Russian Navy last July.
While Soviet-era warships certainly presented a threat to the US, experts say the new lead ship is a significant upgrade on its predecessors.
Weighing 4,500 tons, the Admiral Gorshkov is the largest surface warship to be built since the fall of the Soviet Union.
It is equipped for anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions – with a potentially deadly supersonic cruise missile as its primary weapon.
With an estimated range of up to 410 miles, it could easily target the south coast of Florida while stationed in Cuba.
Specialist Brahmos missiles can travel at up to 3 Mach – or 2301 miles per hour – according to the manufacturer.
Given the approximate 234-mile distance from Havana, estimates suggest it would take 6.1 seconds for the supersonic projectiles to reach the US coast from the harbour.
The specialist missiles can hit targets travelling at an altitude as low as ten metres and as fast as 960 metres a second.
More worrying still for the Trump administration, the US-made Tomahawk missile can only handle a third of the speed.
In February, the Russian Navy fitted the vessel with a weapon that can cause hallucinations and vomiting.
The 5P-42 Filin fires a strobe-like beam that aims to visually impair its target – working as a defence mechanism against potential hostiles.
It can also suppress infrared lasers, short-distance anti-tank missiles and night vision devices.
A maximum speed of 34 miles per hour means the Admiral Gorshkov could reach the US in just under seven hours, thanks to two gas turbines which power the colossal ship.
Meanwhile, the frigate as a whole has an operation range of more than 4,000 miles – just short of being able to strike London.
In a show of strength that may anger US President Donald Trump, the warship is armed with a 130mm gun mount on the stern – dwarfing the US Navy’s 57mm guns.
Planes are also at risk – the vessel’s surface-to-air missiles can hit fighter jets from 180 miles away with conventional warheads that weigh 660 pounds.
14 years in the making, the Admiral Gorshkov could present a significant threat to Florida – similar to the one that President John F Kennedy heavily feared during the Cuban Missile Crisis.