Nerpa shipyard sighed with relief in the morning of June 18 when the news came that Co-operative Threat Reduction program, or CTR, received a prolongation for seven years.
Nerpa shipyard, located on the Kola Peninsula, was founded back in 1972 to repair general-purpose nuclear-powered submarines. In 1992, Nerpa was granted the right to decommission nuclear submarines of second generation. In May 1998, the management of Nerpa signed an agreement with CTR which stipulated scrapping of three Delta-class submarines. In 1999, negotiations went on to scrap five more submarines at Nerpa and repair spent fuel Malina-class (PM-12) transport vessel that belongs to the Northern Fleet. Talks were also underway to support Nerpa with completion of a decommissioning plant. The construction of the plant started back in 1993 and was scheduled to be completed in 1996, but short funds tossed the original plans.
In spring this year, with the Kosovo conflict breaking out, the heavy exchange of warlike words between Washington and Moscow threatened to jeopardise CTR prolongation. But everything went smoothly after all.
"This [CTR prolongation] was very important for us," Pavel Steblin, general director of Nerpa shipyard, told Murmansk daily Polyarnaya Pravda. Steblin said that Nerpa received funds from Russian defence establishment to repair a submarine last time in 1996. The Presidential Program on Nuclear Submarine Decommissioning is not funded properly. This year, only 20% of the earmarked $1,300,000 was received from the state to scrap submarines.
Today, Nerpa is finished with decommissioning the first two Deltas. The third one will be completed by the end of this summer. The forth Delta has arrived expecting its turn to get scrapped.
CTR was founded in 1991 when the U.S. Congress directed the Department of Defence to help secure former Soviet weapons of mass destruction. Since 1991, Congress has provided $2.3 billion to support CTR’s efforts. The program is also known as the Nunn-Lugar program. Since 1992, CTR developed a specific program for dismantling ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) required under START- 1 arms reduction treaty. In 1997-98 CTR realised that the Russian government was unable to pay workers to carry out the scrapping of submarines. As a result, in 1999, CTR was on contract for seven strategic submarines: one Yankee and six Delta-class submarines. In 1999, CTR planned to sign contracts for nine additional submarines. The decommissioning takes place at Nerpa and Zvezdochka shipyards in the Russian Northwest and at Zvezda shipyard in the Far East of Russia.