Russian navy puts first nuke sub to sea since Soviet fall

Publish date: February 13, 2008

Russia has launched its first new-generation nuclear submarine since the fall of the Soviet Union, the submarine's maker said on Wednesday.

The Yury Dolgoruky was launched at Russia’s secretive Sevmash shipyard in the Arctic town of Severodvinsk on Tuesday night. "The atomic submarine Yuri Dolgoruky was launched into the water," Sevmash said in a short statement.

Named after a Slavic prince who helped to defend Moscow, the Borei-class submarine can carry 107 sailors for 100 days without surfacing, Reuters reported.

The long-delayed submarine was moved to a dry dock last year in the presence of First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who hailed the construction as a major step towards reviving the accident-prone navy, the agency said.

Russia’s navy has suffered a string of fatal accidents, including the loss of the Kursk nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea in August 2000. All 118 sailors aboard died.

President Vladimir Putin, who has increased rhetoric in the face of NATO’s expansion towards Russia, has boosted arms spending as part of a plan to upgrade Russia’s nuclear attack forces.

Russia’s navy recently held naval exercises in the Atlantic Ocean after a sortie into the Mediterranean. Additionally, Russian bombers flew near a US aircraft carrier south of Japan on February 9th, prompting Washington to begin reviewing whether Moscow is returning to a Cold War mindset, said Reuters.

The Yury Dolgoruky has taken more than 12 years to build after funding problems in the chaos of the 1990s when the navy and shipbuilding sector lost much of its talented personnel and government funding.