The Russian Navy takes delivery of the sixth Borei-class nuclear submarine.

Russia significantly increased its modern naval nuclear forces on Thursday with the delivery to the Navy of a new Borei-A-class submarine at the Severodvinsk shipyard.

On December 29, the Generalissimo Suvorov ballistic missile submarine (K-553) was formally handed over to the Pacific Fleet from the Sevmash shipyards in the Arkhangelsk region. Both President Putin and Defense Minister Shoigu participated from Moscow in the televised ceremony.

The submarine is the sixth of the Borei class and the third modernized Borei-A. It carries up to 16 Bulava nuclear missiles. It will set sail for the Rybachy naval base on the Kamchatka peninsula next summer on an interfleet transit along the Northern Sea Route.

Putin, who first ordered a massive modernization of the country’s nuclear submarine fleet in 2012, praised the work done by Sevmash.

“The latest nuclear aircraft carriers being designed and built there are unmatched in the world in many respects,” the president noted.

He said that “Generalissimo Suvorov” significantly increased the capabilities of Russia’s strategic naval nuclear forces.

The submarine, which is number six, will be followed by another four of the same class of 4th generation vessels, the first class of SSBN designed and built after Soviet times. 

Borei- and Borei-A will replace the aging Delta-IV class submarines of the Northern Fleet and the even older Delta-III class submarines sailing with the Pacific Fleet.

The propeller was covered to hide its features from television cameras and attending official journalists. However, it is known that the Borei-class submarines are the first in Russia to be powered by a pump-jet propulsion system powered by an OK-650 reactor.

From the ship hall, the “Imperator Aleksandr III” will now be floated ahead of factory tests, including weapons tests in northern Russian waters.

The last three Borei-A class submarines, “Knyaz Pozharskiy,” “Knyaz Potemkin,” and “Dmitry Donskoy,” will enter service, according to plans, in 2024, 2028, and 2029. All three will be deployed in the Northern Fleet, with Gadzyievo on the Kola Peninsula as their base of operations.

Russia will have 12 Borei-class submarines available by the end of 2031. Emperor Alexander III and Generalissimo Suvorov’s submarines are the sixth and seventh of the class, respectively. 

It is expected that it will enter service if the tests of the Emperor Alexander III submarine are successfully passed in August 2023.

What we know about the Borei-class submarines

The Borei-class submarines are smaller than the Typhoon-class submarines they will replace. This fully applies not only to the tonnage of subs but also to service personnel.

 An estimated submarine in this class will cost just over 700 million dollars. The Borei was first introduced in 2013, but the idea for the submarine dates back to the 1990s.

According to The National Interest, this submarine class is much quieter than its Soviet predecessors and much of the NATO submarine fleet. 

The reason, according to experts, is the jet-pump propulsion system, made up of an OK-650V nuclear reactor, a 50,000 CV steam turbine, and a pump reactor.

The maximum speed underwater is 29 knots (54 km/h). During the tests of the first six submarines of this class, the depth to which the submarine was submerged was 400 meters.

 The main armament for which the submarine is considered extremely dangerous is 16 Bulava ballistic missiles. They carry nuclear warheads and thus become a structural part of the Russian nuclear triad.

Submarines of this class can be armed with six or eight torpedo tubes. The submarine has anti-torpedo protection thanks to integrating six external tubes of 533 mm Special Purpose External Tubes [SPETS] REPS-324 Shlagbaum. The submarine’s third armament also includes RPK-2 Viyuga anti-submarine/ship missiles.

What we know about the RSM-56 Bulava

This nuclear ballistic missile was developed as an armament for the Bolava class submarines. This is a new weapon from Russia, which was accepted into service in 2018. A missile is said to cost just over $32 million. 

The missile was manufactured in 2011 and underwent several tests before being serviced. The first test took place that same year [2011] when it was successfully launched by the lead Borei class submarine Yury Dolgorukiy.

The conventional version of the missile has an operational range of up to 8,300 km. However, Russia has started to improve the Bulava, and a distance of just over 10,000 km has been reached. Each missile can carry between 6 and 10 MIRV equivalent nuclear warheads of 100-150 kt.

The rocket has a diameter of 2 meters and a length of 11.5 meters. It weighs almost 37 tons and is powered by an engine through a solid, liquid three-stage head stage. The engine uses solid propellant and liquid fuel.

The disappearance of the Belgorod submarine

Russia has made significant efforts to modernize its aging Soviet Navy. One of the latest acquisitions of the Russian Navy is the Oscar II-class Belgorod submarine. The submarine entered service in 2022.

Immediately after joining the Russian fleet, sometime in November 2022, the submarine disappeared from NATO radar for a while. 

At the same time, there was talk in the public space that Moscow was ready to conduct a nuclear weapons test.

The Podvodnzia Belgorod is the carrier of Russia’s latest nuclear weapon, the Poseidon underwater drone/torpedo, considered the most destructive nuclear weapon currently in service worldwide.

 No clear test was done [that we know of], but the disappearance of the Belgorod caused concern, as NATO lost a submarine named Roxas from its radar. This means that Belgorod’s ability to remain “invisible” or “silent” underwater is very good.

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