Asia Defense | Security

Second Project 636.3 Sub for Russian Pacific Fleet Begins Dockside Trials

The dockside trials of the latest diesel-electric sub for the Russian Pacifc Fleet are expected to last three months.

Franz-Stefan Gady
Second Project 636.3 Sub for Russian Pacific Fleet Begins Dockside Trials
Credit: Admirality Shipyard

The second improved Project 636.3 Kilo-class (aka Vashavyanka-class) diesel-electric attack submarine (SSK), the Volkhov, destined for service in the Russian Pacific Fleet, has begun dockside trials at the Admiralty Shipyard in St. Petersburg, the company, part of Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation, announced on March 2. 

“The trials will take about three months,” the shipyard’s press release was quoted as saying by TASS news agency yesterday.  “Over this period, specialists will check all the ship’s systems, assemblies and mechanisms. They include the navigation system, communications, the general ship-borne systems, the control equipment, the torpedo and missile armament, the sonar and other items.”

Dockside trials will be followed by shipbuilders’ sea and state trials, the company said. The Volkhov was floated out in December 2019 and laid down in July 2017. The sub is expected to be commissioned in November 2020. The Volkhov is slated to join the fleet in 2021. It is unclear when precisely the Volkhov or Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky will become fully operational and deploy with the Pacific Fleet. 

Admirality shipyard officially delivered the first Project 636.3 Kilo-class SSK, the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, to the Pacific Fleet in November 2019. The sub was handed over to the fleet during a ceremony at the shipyard on November 25 last year. Both the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and Volkhov were laid down at the same time. Two more subs of the class, the Magadan and the Ufa, are currently under construction at the Admiralty shipyard. The two SSKs are slated to be floated out by 2022.

The Admiralty shipyard is contracted to deliver a total of six improved Project 636.3 SSKs to the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet by 2025. As I wrote elsewhere:

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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.

Project 636.3 Kilo-class SSKs (referred to as “Black Holes” by the U.S. Navy) is known for its quietness and features some of Russia’s most advanced submarine technology, 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.

Project 636.3 Kilo-class SSKs have a crew of 52 and can conduct underwater patrols for up to 45 days. The subs have an operational range of up to 12,000 kilometers and are armed with heavyweight torpedoes, anti-ship and land attack cruise missiles, and can also carry mines.