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 boomer, will likely be commissioned by the end of March, according to the head of the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), Alexei Rakhmanov.
“I think another month and a half is needed,” Rakhmanov was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency on February 10. He added that sea and weapons trials of the new SSBN have been completed.
An anonymous Russian defense industry source said in December 2019 that the Knyaz Vladimir will be delivered to the Navy in the first half of 2020.
The boomer was originally expected to be commissioned by the end of 2019. However, the latest round of sea trials in November of last year revealed a number of deficiencies that needed fixing.
The Borei-(A)-II-class boomer’s initial round of sea trials reportedly began in late November/early December 2018 and finished in January 2019. The second round kicked off in early July 2019 and lasted until November of the same year.
The Knyaz Vladimir also conducted weapons trials during that period. The SSBN has for the first time test fired a RSM-56 Bulava (NATO reporting name: SS-N-32) submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in October 2019. As I explained back in 2o19:
The Bulava SLBM–a sea-launched variant of the Topol-M—can reportedly be fitted with six to 10 nuclear multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) warheads yielding 100 to 150 kilotons apiece, as well as 10 to 40 decoys. The three-stage solid propellant (with a liquid head stage) Bulava has an estimated range of over 8,300 kilometers (5,157 miles).
The Knyaz Vladimir was laid down in 2012 and floated out in 2017 with a two-year delay. Borei-(A)-II-class boomers feature upgraded stealth capabilities, better underwater maneuverability, and can carry extra 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.
(…) The Borei-class[is] capable of carrying up to 16 Bulava [SLBMs], whereas the improved Borei II-(A)-class can carry up to 20 ballistic missiles.
Like the original Borei-class, the Borei-II-(A)-class SSBN also retains a double-hull construction. The Knyaz Vladimir is the first of a planned fleet of five Borei II-(A)-class SSBNs. In addition to the Knyaz Vladimir in 2012, two other improved Borei-(A) -class subs were laid down in 2014.