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Russia to start building 2 nuclear Borei super-subs in 2013

Published time: January 12, 2013 12:32
Edited time: January 12, 2013 21:08
Vladimir Putin (R) speaks at the ceremony of laying the strategic submarine Knyaz Vladimir (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolskyi)

Vladimir Putin (R) speaks at the ceremony of laying the strategic submarine Knyaz Vladimir (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolskyi)

Russia is to start building two new advanced nuclear-powered Borei class submarines before year’s end. Once complete, they will be lurking under the sea with 20 Bulava nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles each.

­Borei class submarines are traditionally named after renowned Russian military commanders.

Yury (I Vladimirovich) Dolgoruky was an 11th-century ruler of the northern Vladimir-Suzdal Principality, but received his nickname, which literarily means “long-armed” for meddling in the affairs of the southern Kiev. He is commemorated as the founder of Moscow, although his actual role in the city’s development was likely defending an already-existing settlement with a wall.

Vladimir Sviatoslavich, also known as Knyaz (prince) Vladimir, ruled the Great Novgorod and Kiev in the 10th century. He is best known for converting Russia to Christianity, although he also led military campaigns against enemies as varied as raiding nomadic Pecheneg, competing Poles and distant Byzantines. The latter led to Vladimir’s marriage to a Byzantine princess and conversion from paganism.

Aleksandr Suvorov was a career military man who flourished under the rule of Empress Catherine II (the Great). Praised for never losing a battle, he was a key figure in the Russian wars against Ottoman Turkey. A somewhat darker part of his legacy is the suppression of the Kościuszko Uprising in Russian Poland. In his later years under Paul I, he fell out of grace for some time, but then led Russian troops against the revolutionary France to Italy and Switzerland.

Mikhail Kutuzov is most known for commanding Russian troops during the 1812 invasion by Napoleon and defeating the French. His earlier military career is associated with the Russo-Turkish confrontation. In fact he was one of Suvorov’s officers during the storming of the Turkish fortress of Izmail in 1790, which became a key political event of the 1787–1792 war.

­One of the submarines may be named Aleksandr Suvorov after one of the most decorated generals of the Russian Empire, a source in the defense industry told the media. Its construction is expected to start on July 28, which is Russian Navy Day.

The second vessel is likely to be named after Mikhail Kutuzov, the iconic Russian general of the Napoleonic Wars. Its keel is to be laid down in November.

The vessels are to be built by the shipbuilder Sevmash in Severodvinsk in the north of Russia.

Both submarines are of the Borei class, the most modern strategic nuclear-powered submarines in the Russian Navy. The lead vessel of the class, Yury Dolgoruky, officially entered service on Thursday, with two of his sister-ships currently afloat and undergoing trials.

The two new vessels are distinct from those three, being of an advanced Borei-A version of the same design. They will carry 20 nuclear ICBMs each, as opposed to 16 on the older submarines. They will also have improved maneuverability and better weapon control systems and will generate less noise.

Russia plans to build five Borei-A submarines. The first of them, Knyaz Vladimir, is already in construction.

Earlier this week Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said the five ships may be complete by 2018. This would be ahead of the schedule, since the initial plan was to launch the last of the submarines by 2020.

Apart from Borei class submarines, the Navy wants to purchase seven Yasen class attack nuclear powered submarines before 2020. The design is comparable to the US Seawolf class submarine in terms of purpose and characteristics.

The lead ship of the series, Severodvinsk, was launched in 2010, while another submarine, Kazan, is currently under construction.