Northern Fleet gets priority in receiving new ballistic missile subs
The strategic importance of the Northern Fleet based on the Kola Peninsula is growing as Arctic tensions are rising.
The plan for redistribution of the Borei-A submarines is now being made, newspaper Izvestia reported this week.
Originally the three next subs of the class, currently under construction at the Sevmash yard in Severodvinsk, were supposed to be part of the Pacific Fleet’s 25th nuclear submarine division based on Kamchatka. Now, sources in the Defense Ministry said to the newspaper that at least one will instead be part of the 31st division based in Gadzhiyevo on the coast to the Barents Sea.
That will either be “Knyaz Oleg” or “Generalissimus Suvorov”.
“Knyaz Oleg” is currently undergoing sea trials and is expected to be handed over to the navy later this year.
Four submarines of the Borei class are so far delivered, of which two are with the Northern Fleet (“Yury Dolgorukiy” and “Knyaz Vladimir”) and two are sailing with the Pacific Fleet (“Aleksandr Nevsky” and “Vladimir Monomakh”).
According to Izvestia’s source, the decision to possibly relocate was taken after the navy’s Arctic Umka exercise in March this year, where three nuclear submarines from the Northern Fleet surfaced through the ice simultaneously north of Franz Josef Land.
Giving priority to the Northern Fleet is interesting since it is the Pacific Fleet that today operates the oldest ballistic missile submarines of the Delta-III class while the Northern Fleet has all of the five newer Delta-IV subs still in operation.
The move follows a pattern from the last decades of the Cold War when the Northern Fleet was given most of the newest nuclear submarines and naval weaponry.
It will also mean that a larger portion of Russia’s naval-based strategic nuclear warheads will be sailing the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean.
A Borei class submarine can carry 16 ballistic Bulava missiles, each armed with 6 to 10 nuclear warheads.
Originally, eight Borei-class submarines were supposed to be built, but last year the Defense Ministry signed contracts with the Sevmash shipyard for an additional two, to be named “Dmitry Donskoy” and “Knyaz Potyomkin”.