"Knyaz Vladimir" sailing the White Sea on test trials. Photo: mil.ru

Troubles delay Russia’s prestigious ballistic missile sub

“Knyaz Vladimir”, the first upgraded Borey-A class submarine, will not be handed over to the navy by the end of 2019 as planned.
December 31, 2019

It is December 31 and no ceremony to hoist the navy’s flag is announced at the Sevmash yard in Severodvinsk on the shores of the White Sea.

It was in early December President Vladimir Putin saidKnyaz Vladimir” was in the final stage of sea trials and Northern Fleet Commander Aleskandr Moiseev said the sub would be “handed over in the course of December.”

The submarine is the first upgraded version of Russia’s 4th generation ballistic missile submarines carrying 16 Bulava ballistic nuke-missiles. In difference with the three first Borey-class subs, the “Yuri Dolgoruky”, “Aleksandr Nevsky” and “Vladimir Monomakh”, the Borey-A class of which “Knyaz Vladimir” is the first has several visible changes.

The tower doesn’t have the front overhang, the bow is more streamlines and the superstructure of the hull is changed. The biggest differences, however, are likely inside where more of the control room and steering gear are computerized.

Little is said about the reasons for the delay. On December 30th, state-owned news agency TASS wrote a short story telling that the sea tests were completed in December “during which certain deficiencies were identified.”

The delivery is postponed to 2020 and TASS hints that new sea trials would be needed before the sub can be handed over to the navy.

Delaying the delivery of “Knyaz Vladimir” comes as a big blow to the Sevmash yard. Celebrating its 80th anniversary on December 21st, hoisting the navy flag to the first prestigious cutting-edge Borey-A class was supposed to be the major event for the shipyard in the jubilee year.

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Sevmash is today the only yard in Russia building nuclear-powered submarines.

A news video about the submarine’s successful sea trials when it launched a Bulava missile from the White Sea in late October is posted on the top of Sevmash’s portal. The video also features Putin’s statement about the sub supposed to be handed over to the navy by the end of the year.

Also the “Kazan”, the first serial Yasen class multi-purpose submarine, was supposed to be delivered to the navy in 2019, but is delayed until the end of 2020 after a several technical challenges were discovered during sea trials.

Knyaz Vladimir” was floated out from the shiphall in Severodvinsk on November 17th, 2017 and the first trials started in November 2018.

A total of eight Borey-A class submarines are expected to be built at the Sevmash yard. Additional to “Knyaz Vladimir”, four others are already at different stages of construction, while the two last are planned to be laid down in 2020.

Half of the submarines will be based with the Northern Fleet on the Kola Peninsula, while the other half will sail for Russia’s Pacific Fleet.

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