The Russian battle cruiser Peter the Great has been ordered to return to port over safety fears.

The flagship of the Russian Navy's Northern Fleet was ordered back to dock after an inspection at sea last week by a Russian admiral.

Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov concluded that it could ‘explode at any moment.’

The cruiser is one of Russia's most modern warships. It co-ordinates operations in the northern seas, and oversaw the failed efforts to save the 118 seamen who perished in the August 2000 Kursk nuclear submarine disaster.

But experts in Russia and abroad were playing down fears that its nuclear reactor was at risk. It is thought it will return to Murmansk, its normal base when not at sea.

The ship is also carrying cruise missiles which can be equipped with nuclear warheads.