A Delta-IV class submarine in the Barents Sea. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Northern Fleet starts removing oldest ballistic missile subs

The 36 years old "Ekaterinburg" is first to be sent to scrap.
April 28, 2021

Time has come for the Russian navy to withdraw from service the last class of Soviet-era strategic submarines. Phase-out, however, will take time and happen over years until all new modern Borei class submarines are delivered from the shipyard in Severodvinsk.

Ekaterinburg” is first of the six Delta-IV subs to be decommissioned some time in 2022, according to state-affiliated news agency TASS. The submarine has been laid-up at the shipyard in Severodvinsk for the last two years, but no formal announcement on decommissioning has been made. 

The submarine started to sail for the Northern Fleet in 1986, and is the second oldest in the class. In December 2011, “Ekaterinburg” made world-wide headlines as a fire broke out while the vessel was dry-docked at shipyard No. 82 in Roslyakovo north of Murmansk. It later turned out that the nuke-missiles were not removed as required before the sub entered the dry-dock. The fire was finally extinguished with seawater by lowering the dock.
A Delta-IV class submarine can carry 16 Sineva or Liner missiles, which each carry four nuclear warheads. 

After the fire in 2011, the “Ekaterinburg” was repaired and re-entered service in 2014. 

The five other Delta-IV class vessels are “Verkhoturye”, “Tula”, “Bryansk”, “Karelia” and “Novomoskovsk”. 

So far, the Northern Fleet has received two of the new Borei-class ballistic missile subs, the “Yury Dolgoruky” and the “Knyaz Vladimir”. In total, 10 subs of the class will be built by 2027 or 2028, of which five or six will sail with the Northern Fleet and the other with the Pacific Fleet.

All of the Northern Fleet’s strategic submarines are based in Gadzhiyevo on the coast to the Barents Sea some 100 kilometers from Russia’s border to Norway. 

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