Asia Defense | Security

Russia to Lay Down 2 Project 636.3 Fast Attack Subs This Week

Two diesel-electric attack submarines will be laid down on November 1 in St. Petersburg, according to the head of the Russian Navy.

Franz-Stefan Gady
Russia to Lay Down 2 Project 636.3 Fast Attack Subs This Week
Credit: Wikimedia Commons/mil.ru

The Admiralty shipyard in St. Petersburg will lay down two improved Project 636.3 Kilo-class (aka Vashavyanka-class) diesel-electric attack submarines (SSKs) on November 1, according to the Russian Navy commander-in-chief, Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov.

“Two Project 636.3 diesel-electric submarines Ufa and Magadan will be laid down simultaneously on the same day, November 1, 2019, at the Admiralty Shipyard in St. Petersburg,” the admiral was quoted as saying by TASS news agency on October 28 during a working meeting at the shipyard in St. Petersburg.

Admiralty shipyard is expected to deliver six new improved Project 636.3 SSKs to the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet by the end of 2025. It laid down the first two out of six planned improved Project SSKs for service in the Far East in July 2017.

Those two subs — the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and the Volkhov — were initially scheduled to join the Pacific Fleet in 2019 and 2020 respectively. Due to funding issues and construction bottlenecks, the dates were later revised to 2020 and 2021.

Between August 2010 and November 2016, Admiralty shipyard built six improved Project 636.3 SSKs for the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet. Five of the subs were deployed to the eastern Mediterranean, with at least two reportedly attacking land targets inside Syria with M-54 Kalibr (NATO designation: SS-N-27A “Sizzler”) cruise missiles in 2015 and 2017.

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The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) decision to build improved Project 636.3 Kilo-class subs was partially influenced by cost overruns and construction issues with other sub building projects including the Project 677 Lada-class program, as I noted previously:

The Russian Navy originally intended to field a fleet of six Lada-class attack submarines. However, up until now only one submarine, the St. Petersburg, laid down in 1997, has entered service with the Russian Navy. While funding for one more Lada-class attack, the Velikiye Luki, has been secured, contracts for the fourth and fifth boat of the class are only expected to be signed in 2019. There is reason to believe that construction of the class will cease after the handover of the Velikiye Luki.

The improved Project 636.3 Kilo-class SSKs (nicknamed “Black Holes” by the U.S. Navy) are known for their quietness, as I explained elsewhere:

The Project 636.3 Kilo-class is an improved variant of the original Project 877 Kilo-class design. The updated version is slightly longer in length — the sub’s submerged displacement is around 4,000 tons — and features improved engines, an improved combat system, as well as new noise reduction technology.

The new SSKs reportedly feature a special anechoic coating applied on the outer hull surface to reduce noise emanating from the boat’s interior. Notably, the sub class is not equipped with an air-independent propulsion system.