USC's lame ducks | Latest news The Moscow Post
30 November 2023

USC's lame "ducks"

Alexey Rakhmanov, General Director of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, has to to make excuses for deep failures in his work.

A number of the projects in Alexey Rakhmanov’s department have been taking not standing but lying position recently, whether we are talking about new nuclear-powered icebreakers, the repair and modernization of the long-suffering Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft-carrying cruise, re-"restoration" of Sevmorput atomic lighter, construction of research vessels, update of Severnaya Verf (Northern Shipyard), etc.

But, it seems, some days ago a new host, who also tells wonderful fairy tales, appeared in the children's program "Good night, kids!". And the name of this host is Alexey Lvovich Rakhmanov. He skillfully "ran around" in sprinter way several federal media with his fairy tales during the last few days: sweet lies, seasoned with loud promises and magic numbers can be heard from the "blue" screens.

But while this New Year's serpentine winds around the ears, new detentions are taking place in the dark labyrinths of the shipbuilding corporation, new criminal cases are being initiated. Recall that with the appearance of Mr. Rakhmanov in the USC, there have become more high-profile corruption stories: over the past few years, almost 70 criminal cases have been initiated.

The other day, the Zvezdochka Ship Repair Centre distinguished itself: three employees of Zvezdochka were detained. And these are not revolver turners, but leading employees. However, after all, Zvezdochka is the main participant in the repair and modernization of the heavy cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov. What, excuse me, are USC employees doing together with their talkative boss instead of fulfilling the state task set by the President of the Russian Federation?

And when will an adequate assessment of the destructive activities of Alexey Rakhmanov be shown?

The correspondent of The Moscow Post studied the details, in which sometimes the devil himself is.  

How to get into the "black list"

And while Alexey Rakhmanov continues to talk about the achievements of USC last year, searches are being continued at the Zvezdochka Ship Repair Centre.

The day before, Head of Department for Nuclear and Radiation Safety Denis Ponikarovskikh was detained. Two deputies of Mr. Ponikarovskikh were arrested after the Chief. The reason? As Murmansk journalists write, there is a corruption component in the case. In the Department of Nuclear Radiation Safety, employees of the FSS seized all documents.

But Zvezdochka distinguished itself a few days ago, when it became known that the Arbitration of the capital rejected the request of the Zvezdochka Ship Repair Centre to recognize illegal the order of the FAS on the inclusion of the shipbuilding centre in the "black list" of unscrupulous suppliers.

Zvezdochka appeared in this "noble" list after one of the law enforcement agencies terminated the contract with the enterprise for the maintenance and repair of ships of the Northern Fleet. The price of the contract?  More than 100 million rubles. The opposing party demanded to recover 329 million rubles of debt in the form of an unprocessed advance from the Zvezdochka SC. The court met him halfway: it collected more than 200 million rubles from the ship repair centre in Severodvinsk.

In fact, against the background of the detention of Mr. Ponikarnovskikh and two of his deputies, it becomes clear why the ship repair centre disrupts contracts of national importance: according to the facts, the Zvezdochka SC is busy stuffing its own pockets.

But why does Mr. Rakhmanov continue impressively to sit in his easy chair and "talk" about the unprecedented success of the USC? And isn't that why the repair and modernization of the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is failing?

Failure with the docking of Admiral Kuznetsov

Alexey Rakhmanov gave one of the biggest interviews to the Kommersant newspaper recently. Needless to say, it was interesting to see how in this rather tough interview, Mr. Rakhmanov ran from uncomfortable questions like a hare from hunters.

The journalist asks the question, at what stage is the modernization of the dock for the cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov? Has the conflict with the contractor  JSC I.E.C. ended?

The answer is out of the ordinary, especially if you know the situation from the inside, as they removed a competent and experienced contractor - the I.E.C. company. And how they forced it to fight for an honest name, and such a name is earned for years!

 Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier

We quote the answer of the General Director of JSC USC: "We have no conflict. The company simply did not work and did not report to us for about 1 billion rubles from the advance. I.E.C. lost the court, and the appeal was left without satisfaction."

Then, without blushing, Mr. Rakhmanov talks about the new contractor and again promises not to break the deadlines with the delivery of the cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov.

We quote his answer: "What concerns the new contractor (Orgenergostroy company), with a delay of about four weeks from the deadline that was planned at the conclusion of the contract, we plan to finish the lintel. And within the next month and a half to pump out the water from the pool, so that not in May, as planned, but in June 2021 to put the cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov on a temporary scheme for docking."

What's really going on? The Orgenergostroy company completely disrupted the terms of the first stage - the construction of the enclosing lintel, the delay of work for 4 months. According to experts, the water will not be pumped out in a month and a half, as stated by Rakhmanov. The lintel at this rate will be commissioned by May 2021, because, as experts say, it is necessary to perform two-row anchoring of cells, including under water. But this cannot be done in the time period that Mr. Rakhmanov points out in his numerous interviews.

Further, the journalist of Kommersant is interested in what decision was made on the dock project? And why did the second stage of modernization become so expensive - is this due to the increase in the requirements for seismic resistance to 7.9 points?

What does the Head of USC say?

"Bank guarantees have been issued, work is underway... I think that we will be able to say that we have solved the issue of seismicity as soon as we come out with the project documentation of the second stage from Glavgosexpertiza. Today, a reduced seismicity of 6 points is expected. The previous contractor of the SSTC did not perform design and survey work very informatively and efficiently, which is what we are suffering from today, making adjustments... In one place, they could not hammer the piles, they rested on granite boulders, about which it was not known before the construction began. In another place, the piles go 4-5 m below the design mark, and, of course, all this makes some confusion. It is necessary to alter the pipe sheet piling, extend it somewhere, shorten it somewhere, use lead drilling somewhere to get piles in, chop boulders somewhere. How was it possible to treat the assessment of the site's condition like this?.."

Head of the USC Alexey Rakhmanov

And where was the head of USC before, when they rested against granite boulders? The surveys that were carried out by the general designer (also a former one) were carried out in strict accordance with the standards, fully commissioned and approved by Glavgosexpertiza. And the whole point is that Orgenergostroy simply does not perform complex work on preliminary clearing of the bottom before diving, provided  by Project of Construction Organization of the Project Documentation of the first stage. However, it gets money for this work, by the way. In addition, it is surprising that the head of a large state corporation so childishly talks about the stability and strength of the structure: "somewhere we cut, and somewhere we add" - this is an intervention in the construction of the structure, which was approved by Glavgosexpertiza, and deviations from which are unacceptable in principle!

The head of USC vaguely answers about the question of the price of upgrading the dock:

"...due to seismicity, the price increase was about 14 billion rubles. And to remove the speculation, we did additional geophysical research. We expect that the parameters of the seismicity of the construction will be made taking into account 6 points, and this will lead to some budget savings. To date, contracts have been signed based on the total budget of 23.7 billion rubles. I note that without waiting for the second stage, the current contractor has almost already completed about 15-20% of the work in terms of preparing the dock bucket for Admiral Kuznetsov staging.

But what in reality? And in light of the 4-month delay? 15-20% of the work volume....? So 15 or 20? And from what volumes of work? From those, the project for which does not yet exist and performing which, Orgenergostroy is simply engaged in arbitrariness?

Comment by Sergey Sapronov, an expert on corruption issues:

"The Admiral Kuznetsov cruiser has become the target of numerous jokes by Western experts. This situation is not unfounded... Repair of the Admiral Kuznetsov cruiser will go down in the annals of the history of the Navy, because it turned into some kind of accidents chain. But huge amounts of money have been allocated for repairs and modernization, which increases the risks of corruption.

Today, in the shipbuilding industry, delays in the provision of project documentation, the change of contractors are recorded, which ultimately affects the timing of project implementation and the efficiency of using budget funds.

Initially, USC signed a contract for the construction of the dock and repair of the aircraft cruiser with the company JSC I.E.C. Repairs were estimated at almost 80 billion rubles, of which 23 billion rubles – the cost of reconstruction of the dry dock. But in 2019, USC terminated the contract. The corporation claimed: the contractor is experiencing financial difficulties, does not perform the work. The I.E.C. company accused the customer of improper financing and delays in the provision of project documentation. The dispute between JSC USC and JSC I.E.C. is being resolved in the Arbitration Court. This delays the deadline. Initially, the cruiser was supposed to dock in 2022, and now this deadline has been postponed to 2023.

Why? The main reasons for problems with the implementation of the state defense order are the inefficiency of the management and control systems of the USC. This conclusion is confirmed by the resolution of the Prosecutor General's Office, and, obviously, we will soon see the consequences...

Problems with nuclear icebreakers

USC has a lot of trouble with new nuclear icebreakers. Recall that this year the Baltic Plant finally handed over the Arktika nuclear-powered vessel. But the icebreaker has problems with the electric propulsion system.

Mr. Rakhmanov pretends that all the problems have already been solved!

Arktika nulear icebreaker turned out to be unprofitable for Rakhmanov

We quote: "On the Arktika according to the electric propulsion system, all approaches are defined. The icebreaker made the first wiring. Even at the stage of sea trials, it showed that with one non-working winding on the traction motor, we fulfill all the declared characteristics, speed and draft. But the technical conditions must be met and today the technology is being developed, which in August will be implemented with the ship's docking at the Kronstadt Marine Plant, to replace the broken engine…"

But how did the vessel come to the Northern Sea Route with such a serious breakdown?

And then Mr. Rakhmanov actually admits that the lead vessel Arktika, as well as the nuclear icebreaker Sibir so far... are a loss for USC.

 Sibir nuclear icebreaker is still under construction

This is what the great "storyteller" says, hiding his eyes.

What is the reason? It consists in a significant change in the list of components due to the imposed sanctions.

The Head of USC is trying to explain the problems with the construction of nuclear giants by the fact that when USC began to build the Arktika icebreaker, it proceeded from a fairly large share of imported components. After the competition and tender were held, the icebreaker had to be redesigned by 60%!"

"...The icebreaker was built longer not because we are crooked, but because the ship had to be redesigned entirely: taking into account the results of competitions for the choice of contractors," Alexey Rakhmanov admits. "Unprofitability is nothing more than our common shipbuilding payment for the restoration of competencies that we did not have."..


The Ural nuclear icebreaker is still unclear when it will go to sea

Thus, according to Rakhmanov, a series of nuclear-powered vessels of the project 22220 will become profitable from the third vessel — the Ural nuclear icebreaker.

Here we are!

The adventures of the North Sea Route and abandoned polar explorers

But that's not all the surprises from the USC Head.

A separate chapter deserves the history of the Sevmorput nuclear lighter, which today from the coast of Angola "goes" to St. Petersburg for re-repair.

The nuclear freighter was supposed to deliver a new wintering complex to the Vostok scientific station. But in mid-November, due to a screw failure, the campaign had to be interrupted: one of the blades of the rotating mechanism was lost. The last repair of the Sevmorput was at the Kanonersky Shiprepairing Yard in St. Petersburg. More than 20 types of work were performed at the plant, including manipulations with the screw–steering complex.

Recall that Sevmorput was built in Kerch in 1988. The vessel of such a gigantic size gave advantages in the development of the Arctic: it could accommodate many times more cargo than lighter locomotives of previous designs, and this saved both time and a lot of money.

Sevmorput nuclear lighter carrier

But in 1998, due to the lack of funds for the restoration of the energy resource, the lighter locomotive was put on the parking lot.

Antique ship decided to reanimate Rosatom. In 2016, it transported cargo from Murmansk to Kotelny Island. After 4 years, he delivered a lot of fish from Kamchatka to St. Petersburg. But an accident interrupted a new exit on the way to the Vostok polar station.

Due to the accident on the Northern Sea Route, Russian polar explorers have already had to postpone the modernization of the Vostok station, which is more than 90% worn out, for at least a year.

This is how USC solves problems of national importance.

Under the watchful eye of prosecutors

Recall that Alexey Rakhmanov has been in charge of USC since June 17, 2014.

He is the fourth head of USC since the creation of the corporation. The personnel row/set continues, if we take into account both the turnover of personnel at USC and the recruitment of employees for "friendship". Today, USC remains one of the most problematic state corporations. The Prosecutor General's Office repeatedly keeps revealing numerous violations in its activities.

Alexey Rakhmanov has been "conducting" USC since 2014

On the audit Prosecutor General's office has been established: financial status of organizations USC gets worse: the money allocated by the state for recreation, go for other purposes: USC places this money in deposit accounts of commercial banks.

Thus, in the Khabarovsk Region, a criminal case on the fact of the loss of more than 300 million rubles using the bill system was initiated. Thus, an artificial debt of the Amur Shipyard to an offshore company in Cyprus was created. The story with the sale of stocks of Vympel Design Bureau was connected with Cyprus. But the court, after the intervention of law enforcement agencies, declared the transaction invalid.

The criminal case was initiated based on the results of an inspection of the Zvezdochka enterprise in Severodvinsk. Alexander Ushakov, General Director of Severnaya Verf, was charged with the disappearance of 38 million rubles.

Our source in USC repeatedly reported that with the arrival of Alexey Rakhmanov, friends, acquaintances, relatives, "necessary" people followed him in the corporation.

Mr. Rakhmanov settled many of his classmates on "bread" positions in the corporation.

A curious story with the reconstruction of the territory of the Aurora cruiser. Kronstadt Marine Plant has announced a tender for asphalting the Southern Wall berth at a cost of 16.8 billion rubles. 4 companies decided to compete for the right t participate in the reconstruction. The competition was won by the Ramirend road construction company. But another bidder, the Rubin company, appealed to the Federal Antimonopoly Service. But the FAS conducted a formal check. Then the story took an unexpected turn: it turned out that the owner of Ramirend, a certain Anton Goldscher in the recent past had the surname Leontiev. And at one time he was in charge of Metallokonstruktsiya LLC. But the permanent owner of Metallokonstruktsiya LLC until the liquidation was a certain Dmitry Rakhmanov. And although there is no direct evidence of family ties between Alexey and Dmitry Rakhmanov, the media persistently call them brothers.

Key positions in the shipbuilding industry today, therefore, are occupied by people who are very far from this industry! Here, for example, such a bright personality, as Alexey Zhidakov. This is the former chairman of the Board of RIA Novosti.

Later, he became an external manager of the Tushino Machine-building Plant. He was noted in the scandal of non-payment of wages: and it was more than 21 million rubles. He became a defendant in the case. And after such circus acts, he came to USC.

Another valuable person is USC Vice-President for Civil Shipbuilding Evgeny Zagorodny. He was previously involved in solar panels. Now he works in shipbuilding.

Further. In Chicago, a certain Ilya Kokarev and Dmitry Paltsev studied together with Rakhmanov. After graduation, Rakhmanov started developing the business of Severstal Auto, while Kokarev and Paltsev rushed into shipbuilding. Soon Rakhmanov went to work in the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Kokarev and Paltsev by this time became the owners of the Caspian Energy Group of companies. Soon, USC acquired a stake in Caspian Energy, but control over the group's engineering assets remained with Rakhmanov's classmates. From 2011 to 2014 control of the group remained with Kokarev, who not only retained a stake in the business, but also became a member of the Board of Directors of the Rosshelf company. It was Rosshelf that represented the interests of USC in the management of Caspian Energy. Rakhmanov's classmates brought three Rosshelf companies to offshore companies. Damage - more than 570 million rubles. The friends also managed to "divide" more than 14 billion rubles received for the construction of an ice-resistant platform, which was ordered by Lukoil.

Recall that USC was one of the first to fall under Western sanctions. But Mr. Rakhmanov then arrogantly said that he did not see any problems with import substitution: "Here for us the task is simple."

The results of this "simple task" were summed up at the Maritime Board in St. Petersburg. "If we start to analyze where the billions were spent, it turns out that today everything should have already been invented and available in demonstration samples. But there is nothing. That is, the money was eaten, and the results were zero, " - the disappointing conclusions of the Marine Board.

Alexey Rakhmanov has been managing USC for more than 6 years

In June 2014, before his "race" at USC, Mr. Rakhmanov also gave several media interviews, where he outlined his program. He promised to build a full-fledged management company, which will be the centre of major decision-making. And he promised to centralize a number of key functions – it was about finance, about the function of personnel management, about logistics. He spoke very beautifully, how to create an effective mechanism from disparate enterprises that were "integrated under one umbrella".

He promised to assemble a professional team that was supposed to lead USC to the leaders of global shipbuilding. Rakhmanov promised to make this BREAKTHROUGH in two years... But it's been more than 6 years!

Experts believe that the situation at USC today is MUCH WORSE than in mid-2014.

But Mr. Rakhmanov is doing well in another direction: with the relocation of the head office of USC to St. Petersburg. 48 USC specialists are already working in Northern Palmyra, and the rest of the valuable personnel, including Mr. Rakhmanov himself, will soon be brought up.

The cost of moving is estimated at... 1.8 billion rubles! Huge money.

Right, because polar researchers at the Vostok station don’t need anything: the comfort of our "storyteller" and his team is a lot more important than the work of the Arctic Russian plants or nuclear icebreaker of 22220 series timely setting off to the Sevmorput. What can we say about the "tricky" promises to repair the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier in time, if today there is a many-month delay from the schedule?

How long will "effective" top manager Alexey Rakhmanov drown the domestic shipbuilding industry? And why did the Government of the Russian Federation not take into account the conclusions of the Maritime Board about the destructive activities of the USC and Mr. Rakhmanov?

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