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Russia’s Deadliest Sub Is Heading to the Pacific

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Russia’s Deadliest Sub Is Heading to the Pacific

Moscow’s Pacific fleet will soon receive its first Borei-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine.

Russia’s Deadliest Sub Is Heading to the Pacific
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Borei-class (aka Dolgorukiy-class), Project 955, fourth generation nuclear-powered ballistic submarine (SSBN), Alexander Nevsky, will join Russia’s Pacific fleet in early September based on information obtained from the Russian Joint Staff, according to TASS .

“In mid-August, the Alexander Nevsky started subglacial passage from the Northern Fleet to the Pacific Fleet for the permanent combat duty. It is expected to arrive in Kamchatka in the first week of September,” a source within the Russian Joint Staff told TASS.

The Alexander Nevsky is the second Borei-class vessel built and was commissioned in December 2013. Once arriving in Russia’s Far East, it will join the permanent readiness forces of the Russian Pacific fleet and will be part of the 25th division of submarines based in Vilyuchinsk.

New Russian submarine facilities for the boats of the Borei-class are currently under construction on the Kamchatka Peninsula at the Rybachiy Nuclear Submarine Base in Vilyuchinsk, located nine miles (15 kilometers) across Avacha Bay from the region’s capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, and should be completed by the end of September. Rybachiy is home to most of Russia’s Pacific nuclear submarine fleet and will be the homeport of the Alexander Nevsky.

After undergoing routine maintenance work at its new homeport, the Alexander Nevsky’s primary task will be to conduct strategic nuclear deterrence patrols in the Pacific Ocean for which it is equipped with 16 Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles.

As I noted before (See: “Putin’s Red October: Russia’s Deadliest New Submarine”), the Bulava (RSM-56) is armed with 6-10 warheads per missile – each warhead yielding 100-150 kilotons – for a total of 96 to 160 warheads on board the Alexander Nevsky.  The Bulava boasts a range of over 8300km.

However, the submarine will not conduct scheduled Bulava weapon drills in the Sea of Okhotsk.  “The Alexander Nevsky will not carry out a combat training launch of Bulava on the range in the northwest of Russia this year,” the Joint Staff source said.

As I noted back in March:

All in all, the Russian Navy plans to build eight SSBN’s of this class (with an option to construct two more) by 2020. The next vessel in the class, the Knyaz Vladimir, is designated as a Project 955A Borei II. It could field four more additional missile tubes (bringing the total number of missiles potentially up to 20) and is currently under construction. According to RT, it will boast smaller hulls and cons, improved acoustics and lower sound levels. A fifth Borei-class sub, the Knyaz Oleg, was laid down at the Sevmash shipyard in July 2014.

The first Borei-class boat, Yuriy Dolgorukiy, was commissioned in January 2013 and currently serves in Russia’s Northern Fleet. The arrival of the Borei-class SSBN,Vladimir Monomak, commissioned in December 2014,  in the Pacific Ocean has been postponed due to outstanding trials (some sources indicate that the delay has been, in fact, due to a failure of the Russian defense industry to deliver a full set of Bulava ICBMs) to 2016. All in all, four Borei-class SSBNs are expected to join Russia’s Pacific Fleet over the next few years.