The nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) Knyaz Vladimir (Prince Vladimir), the Russian Navy’s first upgraded Project 955A Borei-(A)-II-class (“North Wind”) or Dolgorukiy-class SSBN, is expected to enter its second stage of sea trials at the end of this month, according to a Russian defense industry source.
“After electromagnetic field measurements at the Sevmash Shipyard’s dockside are over, the Knyaz Vladimir will take to the sea in late June for the second stage of shipbuilders’ trials that will last several months,” the defense industry source was quoted as saying by TASS news agency on June 14.
The first round of sea trials of the boomer reportedly took place in late November/early December 2018 and finished in January 2019. “The trials revealed some technical problems, which, however, will not affect the sub’s delivery to the Navy in late 2019,” according to the source.
The delivery of the Knyaz Vladimir to the Russian Navy will occur with a two-year delay a result of a contract dispute between the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Severodvinsk-based Sevmash Shipyards. The SSBN was laid down in 2017 and floated out in 2017.
Borei-A-class boomers reportedly feature improved stealth capabilities, better maneuverability, and an increased payload of nuclear-tipped submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBMs), as I wrote previously:
In comparison to the Borei-class, Borei II[A]-class submarines are fitted with four additional missile tubes, boast smaller hulls and cons, and feature improved acoustics and lower sound levels, next to a number of other technical improvements.
Both variants of Borei-class subs will be armed with Bulava (RSM-56) [SLBMs]. The Borei-class[is] capable of carrying up to 16 Bulava [SLBMs], whereas the improved Borei II-class can carry up to 20 ballistic missiles.
The Knyaz Vladimir is the first of a planned fleet of five Borei II-class SSBNs. In addition to the Knyaz Vladimir in 2012, two other improved Borei-class boomers were laid down in 2014. Under the Russian government’s 2018-2027 state armament program, two yet to be named Borei II-class SSBNs, laid down in December 2015 and 2016 respectively, are slated for delivery to the Russian Navy in 2026 and 2027.
The Russian Navy currently deploys three Borei-class boomers. The Borei-class SSBN Yuri Dolgoruky is in service with Russia’s Northern Fleet, while the remaining two – Alexander Nevsky and Vladimir Monomakh — are deployed with the Russian Pacific Fleet. The first-of-class Yuri Dolgoruky principally serves as testing platform for the Bulava (NATO reporting name SS-NX-30 or SS-N-32) SLBM and has far not conducted any deterrence patrols.