The soviet shipbuilding industry constructed and passed to the Soviet Navy 14 light gun cruisers under 68bis project in the early 50-ies of the last century. The 12th cruiser of this series got the name of the great Russian commander Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov, Field-Marshal-General, hero of the Patriotic War of 1812.
The cruiser "Mikhail Kutuzov" was laid in February 1951 at the Black-Sea Shipyard in Nikolaev and was completed in January 1954. After the official testing on August 9, 1954, the USSR naval ensign was hoisted on the ship. This day is the annual commemoration day of the ship.
After passing the required navigational assignments, the ship was incorporated into the Black Sea Fleet in January 1955. The zone of its responsibility was the Mediterranean and the Black seas, as well as the Central Atlantic, where "Mikhail Kutuzov" was in service until its withdrawal from operational status in 1988. By that time, the ship had covered 211,900 miles.
Many of the postwar ships of the 68bis project were given an opportunity to demonstrate their benefits in the conditions of peace. In this respect, the cruiser "Mikhail Kutuzov" has made a "political career" and become a venue of high-level meetings. The Indonesian President Sukarno, the head of Egypt Abdel Nasser, the King of Ethiopia Haile Selassie I, the Shah of Iran with a spouse as well as other high and mighties were its guests in different years.
"Mikhail Kutuzov" officially participated in two armed conflicts during the Arab-Israeli war in 1967 and 1973. It was stationed in the port of Alexandria as a reserve command post of the Chief military adviser of USSR in Egypt. The cruiser did not take part directly in the combat operations, but the very fact of its presence in Alexandria was a guarantor of peace. The attack on the ship "Mikhail Kutuzov" would have been equivalent to an attack on USSR. It is partly for that reason that it became possible to avoid a raid on the port of Alexandria.
During its career, the "ship-politician" made 15 long-distance marches; the most memorable of them took place in June 1957, when the cruiser was assigned to Leningrad to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the October Revolution.
A sea force of the Black Sea fleet, composed of cruiser "Mikhail Kutuzov", destroyer "Bezukoriznennyy" (Irreproachable) and two patrol boats, passing across the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, reached the Atlantic Ocean, rounded Europe and made a passage along the route Sevastopol-Tallinn-Leningrad under the flag of the Commander of the Black Sea Fleet Squadron, Rear Admiral Vasily Chaly. Upon arrival in Leningrad, the ships moored on the berth in front of the Lieutenant Schmidt Bridge.
The Black Sea seamen, following the flagship cruiser "Mikhail Kutuzov", prepared to honour the memory of Field-Marshal Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov and lay flowers on his grave in the The Kazan Cathedral. It was an amazing event for the Leningraders. The seaborne crews, about 600 men, came ashore from the Black-Sea ships. The officers and sailors were dressed in uniform - all white from head to foot. This form was unusual for seamen of the Northern and Baltic fleets; in addition, the Leningraders were accustomed to the black sea uniform. The seamen unfurled the USSR naval ensign. The ship orchestra stroke up a march, and the seamen headed for Nevsky Prospect with measured steps towards The Kazan Cathedral. Crowds of gawkers surrounded the seamen. The cruiser commander, captain second rank Grigory Golota welcomed the Leningraders: "We, the seamen of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet, have arrived to you from Sevastopol to celebrate the Navy Day!" "Hurray! These are our Sevastopol mates! "- the people replied. Everyone applauded; often the exclamations "Well done!" were heard. The seamen laid a wreath to the tomb of Field-Marshal M.I. Kutuzov under the Soviet anthem. Then, under the proud music of "Varyag", the Black Sea seamen set off for a return journey. The traffic on Nevsky Prospect was stopped. Thousands of people welcomed the seamen. Many of those who had survived the Leningrad siege had tears in their eyes. Everyone felt proud of our glorious Navy. The patriotic upsurge in Leningrad was extremely high in those days.
The postwar programme of construction of Soviet Navy ships included the erection of more than 20 cruisers of 68bis project; however, 6 ships ("Shcherbakov", "Admiral Kornilov", "Kronstadt", "Varyag", "Arkhangelsk", "Vladivostok") were not completed. The 68bis-project cruisers were conceived in the epoch of scientific and technological revolution and impetuous development of weapon ordnance. The magnificent combat and operational characteristics of these cruisers were proven within all fleets, in the course of numerous campaigns and mimic warfare.