MPK-44is the name for a small anti-submarine ship similar to a small frigate. The Russian Navy does not use the name frigate. Most ships are typed by their function and mission. MPK stands for Malyy Protivolodochnyy Korabl (Малый Противолодочный Корабль), literally small anti-submarine ship. Most of these small frigate types are designed for and employed in anti-submarine warfare. However, others are designed for coastal defense and patrol work. Ships designed for patrol work are classified as SKR Storozhevoy Korabl, literally patrol ship.
Unlike most frigates of the USN, RN, Japan or Western Europe, they are not designed for fleet escorts, as they have a fairly short range. They are designed to patrol or guard sea areas. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the Soviet Fleet strongly emphasized its ASW capabilities. Project 1124 Albatros fit in with this strong emphasis on anti-submarine capability. They were designed to guard the sea frontiers of the Soviet Union. They have been built in five series. NATO assigned a code name for these small vessels based on Russian nicknames. Project 1124 vessels were named Grisha, which can be translated to Greg.
The first series was designated as Project 1124 without any suffix. Other series had a letter suffix added to 1124 to differentiate the series in the class. The NATO name for this first series was Grisha I. Sixteen Grisha Iís were built from 1968 to 1974 at Zelenodolsk.
For their size the ships of the Grisha Class are very heavily armed. The ships are 234 feet 10 inches (71.6m) in length, overall, by 32 feet 2 inches (9.8m) in beam, by 12 feet 2 inches (3.7m) in draught. They displace 950 tons standard and 1,200 tons full load. The Grisha I has a twin SA-N-4 retractable launcher in the bow, twin 57mm/80 AA guns in a stern mounted gunhouse, two RBU-6000 ASW mounts and two twin 21-inch (533mm) torpedo tubes, one pair on each side. Additionally they have optional mounting for stern depth charge racks (12 depth charges) at the fantail at the end of the mine rails. Given the strong history of the use of the naval mine by the Russian Fleet since the days of the Tsar, the class is designed to carry and deploy 18 mines. Other Project 1124 series had different armament fits.
The Grisha Class is powered by four diesel (M503) engines for 16,000 shp, plus one gas turbine of 15,000 shp turning three shafts. Top speed is 30 knots. At speed they have limited endurance, 450 nm at 27 knots. However, for patrol/guard work their low speed range of 4,500 nm at 10 knots serves them in good stead. They normally work in pairs because of a constraint in the use of their variable depth sonar. It cannot be used while moving, so one ship will sprint to the next search position, while the other one drifts, searching with the sonar. (History from Guide to the Soviet Navy by Norman Polmar)
Combrig has just released two models of the Project 1124 small anti-submarine ship. The photographs in this article show the original Project 1124 MPK-44 Ex-Komsomolets Latvii (Grisha I) design. The other is of Project 1124P Izumrud (Grisha II) design. With this kit Combrig changed its kit design in one significant area. Most Combrig kits have "Aztec steps" cast into the hull or superstructure at the locations for the inclined ladders. Most modelers would probably remove these to replace them with photo-etched ladders. With the MPK-44 the two ladders at the deck break are separate resin pieces. They can be used by themselves and will give a much better appearance than a solid block aztec steps, or if the modeler wishes to use photo-etched inclined ladders, there is now no need to cut out any cast ladders on the hull.
The Combrig kit for the Izumrud Project 1124P (Grisha II) will be covered in the near future. The ships of this sub-class are unusual in that they were operated by the KGB as boarder patrol ships.