Still Waiting for Subs

Budnichenko and Krivoruchko at Sevmash

Krivoruchko and Budnichenko at Sevmash

The press-conference photo shows Deputy Defense Minister and arms tsar Aleksey Krivoruchko with Sevmash general director Mikhail Budnichenko. Heavily scaffolded CGN Admiral Nakhimov provides the backdrop. The Sevmash boss looks like he needs some antacids.

Krivoruchko told the assembled Russian media:

“The quantity of nuclear submarines being transferred to the fleet will be increased, the decision on this has been made. We expect to receive 10 nuclear submarines of projects 955A and 885M by 2024.”

If we’re generous, we could say the Russian Navy got (or will get) five new SSBNs and two new SSNs — a grand total of seven — in the first two decades of the 21st century.

Now Krivoruchko says Sevmash will finish and deliver ten in the next five years.

Let’s look closer.

The initial 955A — Knyaz Vladimir — is in trials and could be accepted in December 2019.

Krivoruchko also told the media Knyaz Oleg, Yasen-M SSNs Kazan and Novosibirsk, and former project 949A Oscar II SSGN Belgorod — now project 09852 and reported Poseydon “doomsday torpedo” carrier — will be received in 2020.

He also noted that contracts for two more Borey-A (making ten Borey boats overall including seven Borey-A units) and two more Yasen-M (nine Yasen overall including eight Yasen-M) have been signed.

If Kazan arrives in 2020, Novosibirsk seems more likely in 2021. Knyaz Oleg might reach the fleet in 2021.

Krasnoyarsk possibly in 2022, and Arkhangelsk in 2023. Generalissimus Suvorov could be delivered in 2023 or 2024. Perm perhaps in 2024.

The first of the last two Borey-A SSBNs currently on the books — Imperator Aleksandr III — might make the 2024 deadline. But almost certainly not the other — Knyaz Pozharskiy.

So ten new nuclear submarines in Russia’s order-of-battle by the end of 2024 is certainly conceivable, but is it likely? Here are some difficulties:

  • Russia is still taking an inordinate amount of time to build boats. Nine, ten, even 11 years. It hasn’t delivered a new nuclear submarine in five years. Saying it can cut the time to seven or eight years could be specious.
  • 2020 is the big year. If Russian builders don’t deliver the five submarines Krivoruchko promised in 2020, his plan for 2024 becomes impossible. All other boats will be pushed back accordingly.
  • The backlog in the hall at Sevmash will be hard to unwind. Instead of cutting to 7-8 years, build time could stay at 9-10-11 years.
  • Five years is a long time. Political, economic, technological, and military changes could impact Krivoruchko’s schedule decisively.

Perhaps Krivoruchko’s message is just the MOD’s latest effort to hurry Sevmash along.

The extra two 955A SSBNs Krivoruchko mentioned, if built, would give Moscow a force of ten modern boats to split evenly between its Northern and Pacific Fleets.

Submarine Class Delivery Laydown to Delivery (Years)
Yuriy Dolgorukiy Borey 2013 16
Aleksandr Nevskiy Borey 2013 10
Vladimir Monomakh Borey 2014 9
Severodvinsk Yasen 2014 20
Knyaz Vladimir Borey-A 2019-2020 (?) 7-8 (?)
Kazan Yasen-M 2020 (?) 11 (?)
Belgorod ex-Oscar II 2020 (?) 28 (?)
Novosibirsk Yasen-M 2021 (?) 8 (?)
Knyaz Oleg Borey-A 2021 (?) 7 (?)
Krasnoyarsk Yasen-M 2022 (?) 8 (?)
Arkhangelsk Yasen-M 2023 (?) 8 (?)
Generalissimus Suvorov Borey-A 2023-2024 (?) 8-9 (?)
Perm Yasen-M 2024 (?) 8 (?)
Imperator Aleksandr III Borey-A 2024-2025 (?) 8-9 (?)
Knyaz Pozharskiy Borey-A 2025-2026 (?) 8-9 (?)
??? Yasen-M
??? Yasen-M
??? Borey-A
??? Borey-A

7 responses to “Still Waiting for Subs

  1. Pingback: Still Waiting for Subs - Policy

  2. Pingback: Highlights + #UKR Update – September 11, 2019 | Blog

  3. They took all of 5 years to build 955A Knyaz Vladimir. What takes a considerable amount of time is systems integration and sea trials on a new ship class, which is to be expected. Especially if you had a construction gap and are trying to cram a lot of new stuff into a hull. Build time and delivery time are two different problems. The build time has gone down significantly.

    For argument’s sake, let’s ask how inordinate these time lines are compared to other countries who do not have 3x or 5x the defense budget and have not seen a major divestment of resources. British Astute-class submarines take the UK about 10 years a piece from time laid down to commissioning. French ballistic missile submarines took about 8-11 years from being laid down to commissioning. Hmmm.

  4. Knyaz Vladimir actually took longer than 5 years- it is an open secret that “metal was first cut” sometime before the official laying down date. But still, not a bad rate (considering how fast non-US countries build boomers), and especially good considering it is essentially a new ship compared to 955.

    Kazan’s build time is not atrocious either all things considered, but the trials are a seperate story. Again, quite different ship compared to Severodvinsk. IMO predictions until Kazan is accepted (earliest 1+ years from now) are pointless, and after Novosibirsk will be the new benchmark.

  5. Thanks for commenting….

    The Kremlin wants to play in the same league with the U.S. so building at the rate of the U.K., France, and other non-U.S. players won’t cut it…. U.S. has commissioned seven Virginia-class boats and laid down five more in the past five years. Russia may get a little breather when the Columbia-class SSBN enters production.

  6. First milestone missed…

    OPK source says delivery of pr. 955A Borey-A Knyaz Vladimir has been put off again due to defects found in state testing. They will take time to fix but source still hopes Russian Navy will get boat in 1Q of 2020. More underway time may be required.

  7. Military source tells Interfaks that Borey-A SSBN Knyaz Vladimir will be officially commissioned in first half of June. But its acceptance act was signed today.

    So Knyaz Vladimir’s construction, trials, and acceptance took seven years, nine months, and 28 days….

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