Long delayed Yury Dolgoruky Russian nuke sub beging final sea trials

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Publish date: September 5, 2009

Written by: Charles Digges

The strategic nuclear submarine Yuri Dolgoruky, built by the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk, has completed a series of tests at sea, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported, saying it will be the first nuclear submarine to be launched by Russia in 17 years.

According to preliminary estimates, the submarine will need five to six more sea trial runs before its handover to the Navy, said the agency.

“The nuclear submarine missile carrier Yuri Dolgoruky has completed one of the stages of testing in accordance with the approved programme and returned to Sevmash’s wharf,” the shipyard’s spokeswoman, Anastasiya Nikitinskaya, told ITAR-TASS on Monday.

The launch of the Yuri Dolgoruky – which is part of Russia’s new Borei class nuclear submarine – was initially scheduled for 2002 but was delayed by budget constraints.

Currently, there are two more Borei class submarines under construction – the Alexander Nevsky and Vladimir Monomakh, ITAR-TASS said. The planned contingent of twelve strategic submarines is expected to be commissioned within the next decade, and five of the subs are planned for purchase by 2015.

The Borei class is designed to replace the Delta III and Typhoon classes now in the Russian Navy’s service.

The current sea trial experienced a set of more recent delays. It was rolled out of its construction hall in 2007. In December 2008, it could not put to sea for trials due to a delay in delivery of the Bulava missiles that will arm it. In November, its reactor was activated and it was announced sea trials would begin before the end of 2008. The sea trials were delayed at the end of the year until spring 2009, said ITAR-TASS.  

The Russian military developed Bulava missile that the Yury Dolgoruky will be carrying to possess advanced defence capabilities making it nearly impervious to existing missile-defence systems. Among its claimed abilities are evasive maneuvering, mid-course countermeasures, decoys and a fully shielded warhead. The missile is designed to be capable of surviving a nuclear blast at a minium distance of 500 metres, the agency reported.

Russia’s defence industry claims the Borei is a state-of-the-art submarine, boasting a silent drive system and a design that is less detectible by sonar. Other advances include a compact and integrated hydrodynamically efficient hull for reduced broadband noise and the first ever use of pump-jet propulsion on a Russian nuclear submarine, said ITAR-TASS.

Weighing in at a cost of  $890 million, the Borei class subs will be 170 metres long, 10 metres in diameter, and have a maximum submerged speed of at least 46 kilometres per hour, said the agency.