Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Project 935 / Project 955 Borei

Russia’s first Borey class ballistic missile nuclear submarine, the Yury Dolgoruky, was officially put into service with the Russian Navy on Sunday, 30 December 2012. “The hoisting of the flag and the signing of the acceptance act will be held at the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk on Sunday, December 30,” the Rubin design bureau said in a statement. On the same day, the Sevmash floated out a third Borey class submarine, the Vladimir Monomakh. A second Borey class vessel, the Alexander Nevsky, was undergoing sea trials and could join Russia’s Pacific Fleet in 2014.

A Borey class strategic submarine is 170 meters (580 feet) long, has a hull diameter of 13 meters (42 feet), a crew of 107, including 55 officers, a maximum depth of 450 meters (about 1,500 feet) and a submerged speed of about 29 knots. All the Borey class strategic submarines will carry up to 16 Bulava ballistic missiles with multiple warheads.

The Borey class submarines are expected to form the core of Russia's strategic submarine fleet, replacing the aging Project 941 (NATO Typhoon class) and Project 667 class (Delta-3 and Delta-4) boats. Russia is planning to build eight Borey and Borey-A class subs by 2020. The Alexander Nevsky was built in six years, starting in 2004. Construction of the Vladimir Monomakh started in 2006 and was scheduled to be commissioned in 2012. Work was supposed to have begun on a fourth submarine in 2009 which should have taken five years to complete. This apparent trend of shorter submarine construction times has been made possible by the resumption of regular funding of defense contracts.

But this schedule was not and cannot be met. Placing 8 boats in service by 2020 would require commissioning one boat per year starting in 2014, which would require laying down one boat per year. But as of the end of 2012 only the fourth Borey had been laid down [in mid 2012]. The second unit [Aleksandr Nevskiy] took ten years from start of contruction to commissioning [four years were required from launching to commissioning], and the third unit [optimistically] appeared to have shortened this interval to nine years.

Assuming the fourth unit also took six years to build and a further four to commission, it would not enter service until the year 2022. Assuming [optimistically] that one boat per year is laid down each year after 2012, the force goal of eight boats would not be reached until the year 2026, versus the year 2017 that was the stated goal as of 2007.

By early 2013 a two-fold solution was in sight: bigger submarines, and laying down more than one submarine each year. Russia’s Sevmash shipyard planned to lay down two upgraded Borey class nuclear-powered strategic submarines in 2013, capable of carrying 20 ballistic missiles each, Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper said on 14 January 2013, citing defense industry sources. The construction of the Alexander Suvorov, the fifth in the series and second of the improved Project 955A (Borey-A) class, was to begin on 28 July 2013, when Russia celebrated Navy Day, while the sixth submarine, the Mikhail Kutuzov, was to be laid down in November 2013. The metal cutting works for the hulls of these vessels had been carried out since 2011, the paper said. The improved vessels will be equipped with advanced sonar, navigation, communications and fire-control systems and will be more "stealthy."

Russia was planning to have three Borey class and five Borey-A class submarines by 2020. Russia’s first Borey class submarine, the Yury Dolgoruky, officially entered service with the Russian Navy on 10 January 2013. It was assigned to the 31st submarine division of the Northern Fleet.

Project 935

On 16 October 1996, Commander in Chief of the Russian Navy ADM Feliks Gromov announced that work would start on a new-generation strategic nuclear-powered submarine, which he said would be "two or three times more powerful" than any submarine currently in the fleet. The keel of the fourth-generation Project 935 strategic missile submarine Yuri Dolgoruky was laid down at the Sevmash State Nuclear Ship-Building Center at Severodvinsk on 2 November 1996. The keel-laying was postponed for a week after poor weather made it impossible for high ranking officials to attend, including First Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin, Presidential Chief of Staff Anatoly Chubais, Moscow mayor Yuri Luzkhov, and Admiral Gromov. Kokoshin described the new Yuri Dolgoruky as a state-of-the-art submarine with "substantial improvements" over those currently in service, and Chubais termed the new submarine "a totally unique thing, a submarine for the next century."

The city of Moscow sponsored the project, as the lead vessel is named after Prince Dolgoruky, the traditional founder of the city. The wages of shipyard workers and the crew of the new boat will [reportedly] be paid by the city in the event that the federal government is unable to pay. So-called "Presentation" weapons were commonplace in the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War. Presentation weapons were almost always the result of monetary collections taken up locally and voluntarily, and offered towards the cost of various vehicles or other items in the name of some personality or entity. Thus, the workers of a factory, town, or even just local citizens could take up a collection and "buy" a tank or aircraft (etc.) in the name of their Factory, group, or perhaps a local or even national figure -- contemporary or historical.

One of the oldest Russian annals, the Lavrenty Chronicle, was compiled in Nizhny Novgorod at the request of Prince Dmitry Konstantinovich. It contains "The Instructions to His Children of Vladimir Monomakh". Vladimir Monomach ruled in Kiev, the then capital of the Russian state, between 1113 and 1125. He was the father of Yuri Dolgoruky, the founder of Moscow. The meeting of Prince Dolgoruky and Prince Svyatoslav Olgovich on 04 April 1147 in Moscow is the oldest mentioning of Moscow in chronicles.

This was the first submarine of the new Borei-class [Boreas], with a length of 170 meters, a body diameter around 10 meters, and a submerged speed of over 25 knots (over 45km/h). With about half the displacement of the Typhoon, the 935 class was nonetheless designed to carry 20 SLBMs of a new type.

The Yuri Dolgoruky should have entered into service in 2001 as the first of six third-generation submarines that were to replace Mk 941 Typhoon-class SSBNs. However, this did not happen because the development of a solid-fuel ballistic missile, which was to have replaced the obsolete R-39 (RSM-52) SLBM (NATO reporting name, SS-N-20 Sturgeon), was not completed. The missile's initial three tests were conducted unsuccessfully at a White Sea testing range in the late 1990s. Each time, the missile blew up in mid-air, failing to reach its target.

The lead unit of Russia's fourth generation ballistic missile submarine would have reached initial operational capability by 2004, if the plan of launching it by 2002 remained on track. But the Navy leadership's plans to launch one new-generation submarine per year beginning in 2002 appeared unrealistic with the planned financing of national defense. Consequently no more than 9-12 missile-armed submarines with a total of 800-1,000 warheads were likely to remain in the naval strategic nuclear forces by 2010, although the START I and II treaties allow Russia to have up to 1,750-1,900 warheads in the naval component.

As of early 1999 it appeared that construction had ceased on the first unit of the Borei-class, pending a redesign of the ship to accomodate a different missile from the originally intended SS-N-28, which had failed its first three test firings and was subsequently said to have been abandoned. The first remained under construction with a scheduled launch in 2005. Other sources stated the commissioning year to be 2007-2010, depending on availability of funds.

Project 955

The redesigned submarine was reclassified as Project 955. The creation of D-19UTH missile complex designed for the new nuclear strategic submarines of the Borei-class was undertaken at GRTs KB named after V.P.Makeev. The D-19UTH launch complex is to replace the D-9 launch complex with RSM-52 ballistic missiles. The new complex would be equipped with a solid-fuel ballistic missile of greater reliability and longer range, capable of being fired from the surface and under-water positions.

As of May 2000 the Yuri Dolgoruky, which was reported in 1998 to be only 2-3% complete, was said to be 47% complete. Government funds were approved in December 2000 for construction of the SSBN. The new design is intended to carry a dozen naval variants of the Topol-M ballistic missile.

As of June 2000 the Russian Navy claimed that it operated 26 strategic nuclear submarines carrying 2,272 nuclear warheads on 440 ballistic missiles. This force is said to consist of 5 Typhoon class submarines, 7 Delta-IV class submarines, and 13 Delta-III class submarines [which only adds up to 25, not 26 submarines]. Not all of these submarines are seaworthy. The oldest of these boats, which entered service in 1983, will reach the end of their 20-25 year service life about the time the first 935 is commissioned. In fact, by the end of 2000 the active Russian SSBN force was about a dozen submarines, with a few other units nominally in commission. The Russian Navy reportedly believed that 12 strategic nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles represent the minimum necessary force structure. According to media reports a classified presidential decree of 04 March 2000 established this force goal for the period through 2010.

Little progress had been made on the first submarine due to the lack of funding. In 2003, Sevmash reportedly received extra funding to accelerate the completion of this submarine. In July 2003 it was reported that construction of Yuri Dolgoruky was 40% complete.

In August 2003 the head of the MoD newbuilding department, Alexei Moskovsky, said that the Russian fleet would get four new strategic subs armed with new missiles by 2010, under the conditions of timely financing. But he did not exclude the possibility that the commissioning of the subs may be delayed by 1.5 to 2 years due to economic and technical reasons. He said this would include three Yuri Dolgoruky type (project 955), armed with the the new Bulava missiles, as well as the project 941 Akula sub returned from the overhaul in 2002, also equipped with the new Bulava missiles.

On 19 March 2004 Sevmash laid down a second strategic missile submarine of the Project 955 Borey class. The Aleksandr Nevskiy was designed from the outset to carry a new solid-propellant Bulava missiles. Alexander Nevsky was born on May 30, 1219 at Pereaslavl, a fief of his father, Prince Yaroslav, who was of the house of the Grand Prince of Suzdal. Alexander's fame was a warrior and saviour of his people. It is to St. Alexander Nevsky that the Russian people are wont to address their prayers at times when great misfortunes befall the nation and threaten its existence. Alexander is venerated as a saint without having been a hermit, an ascetic or a martyr.

As of late 2005 two submarines were being constructed at the Sevmash plant in Severodvinsk in the Arkhangelsk region. At that time it was reported that the first submarine, the Yury Dolgoruky, was to be commissioned in 2006 and the second, the Alexander Nevsky, in 2007. In late 2005 it was reported that a third would be ready by 2010.

On 19 March 2006 Severodvinsk witnessed the keel-laying ceremony for the third submarine to be built under the Borei project, the Vladimir Monomakh. Deputy Defense Minister Gen. Alexey Moskovsky said that the Defense Ministry will create an infrastructure to provide comprehensive maintenance for the country's new Borei-class nuclear submarines. "We are coming to realize that not only the weaponry itself is important, but its life cycle is, too..." Nuclear submarines' maintenance should cover every stage of their life cycle, from development through salvage, Moskovsky said. Construction had already begun on two other submarines of the same type. As of early 2006 it was reported that the first such boat was to be commissioned in 2008 [a two year delay from estimates reported a year earlier]. Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Vladimir Masorin said that the navy hadn't yet determined how many Borei-class submarines would be built within a decade, but added there would be "more than four or six. ... There will be as many of them as necessary to fully modernize the sea-based strategic forces". Each new Borei-class submarine will be equipped with 12 Bulava missiles, which have a range of 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). Masorin said that the navy will conduct several test launches of the Bulava missile 2006 and in 2007. The construction of Borei-class submarines, designed to carry Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles, is part of the Russian navy's current modernization effort.

Vladimir Monomakh played a most important part in the development of Russia during the Middle Ages. His grandfather Yaroslav gave him the Russian name of Vladimir and the Christian name of Vasili, and his father and mother that of Monomakh; either because Vladimir was really through his mother the grandson of the Greek emperor Constantine Monomachus, or because even in his tenderest youth he displayed remarkable warlike valor. In 1113 an uprising of the Kievans, determined to accept no one but Monomakh, succeeded in bringing the large part of Russia under his house. A popular story had it that Prince Vladimir Monomakh received the insignia of tsardom from the Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus. On the basis of this legend, the jeweled and fur-trimmed crown of the Moscow rulers became known, in the 16th century, as Monomakh's crown (Shapka Monomakhova). The crown is masterpiece of Central Asian art of the late 13th or early 14th century. But contemporary accounts tell us nothing of all this, and it is inherently improbable that Byzantium would bestow upon the Russian grand prince, who was no longer formidable, a title whose exclusive possession is so jealously guarded. He was in his 61st year when he became grand-prince, and he avoided fighting as far as possible. As far as circumstances permitted, he was a prince of peace, and a number of most important legislative measures are attributed to him.

The Sevmashpredpriyatiye shipbuilding plant launched the first Project 955 strategic submarine, Yuri Dolgorukiy, on 15 April 2007. The vessel was evidently incomplete, lacking forward planes either on the bow or sail. The new submarine, the Yuri Dolgoruky, is reported to be 82% complete and should embark on its maiden voyage by October 2007. Speaking at the launching ceremony, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said the Yury Dolgoruky was actually Russia's first new-generation strategic nuclear submarine in the past 17 years. The first deputy prime minister earlier said the submarine will undergo sea trials in 2007 and will be fully equipped with weaponry in 2008. After that, it will become operational in the Russian Navy.

The submarine had a length of 170 meters (580 feet), a body diameter around 13 meters (42 feet), and a submerged speed of about 29 knots. It can carry up to 16 ballistic missiles [which is reportedly seen in April 2007 launch photographs of the submarine], not the dozen initially reported.

Two other Borey-class nuclear submarines, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh, were under construction at the Sevmash plant, with a fourth submarine on the future production schedule list. As of 2007 it was reported that Alexander Nevsky (the second sub) will be ready by 2009 and Vladimir Monomah - by 2011. The announced plan is for 8 Boreis by 2017. By 2015 the State Arms Program provides for building 7 project 955 submariness. In the following two years an eighth will be constructed under a new Arms Program.

As of June 2000 the Russian Navy reportedly believed that 12 strategic nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles represented the minimum necessary force structure. According to media reports a classified presidential decree of 04 March 2000 established this force goal for the period through 2010. The six remaining 667BDRM Delta-IV submarines were placed in commission between 1988 and 1992. Based on a typical service life expectancy for American attack submarines of 30 years, these units might be retired in the 2018-2022 timeframe. However, based on the apparent 42 year nominal service life of the American SSBN-726 Ohion Class submarines, the 667BDRM submarines might expect to remain in service through the 2030-2035 timeframe. This suggests that the Russian Navy might be content with acquiring no more than half a dozen Borey-class submarines by 2018, though such a number might suffice until around the year 2030.

Project 955U Borey-A

Starting with the hull of the fourth submarine, missile submarines would be based on the improved design of Project 955U. Based on available information as of late 2010, the first submarines manufactured under the project would carry 20 missiles instead of 16. This would represent the third major design change in this program, and apparently introduced a delay of at least two years in the construction schedule of the fourth and later units.

The start of construction of Russia's fourth Borey-class nuclear-powered submarine was postponed from December 2009 to the first quarter of 2010, a Defense Ministry official said on 15 December 2009. Construction of the Project 955 Svyatitel Nikolai (St. Nicholas) ballistic-missile submarine was to begin on December 22 at the Sevmash shipyard in the northern Russian city of Severodvinsk. The keel-laying ceremony was timed to coincide with the shipyard's 70th anniversary. The official, who requested anonymity, stressed that the project was not being "frozen" but simply delayed for "organizational and technical reasons." Russia started the construction of the fourth Borey-class strategic nuclear-powered submarine on 10 February 2010. A shipyard spokesman said "The work on the sub construction effectively started last year."

As of 2009 Russia was planning to build eight of these subs by 2015. Fourth-generation Borey-class nuclear-powered submarines were expected to constitute the core of Russia's modern strategic submarine fleet. However, the submarine's putting into service could be delayed by a series of setbacks in the development of the troubled Bulava missile, which had by then officially suffered seven failures in 12 tests. However, some analysts suggested that in reality the number of failures was considerably larger. For example, according to Russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer, of the Bulava's 12 test launches, only one was quite successful. The future development of the Bulava has been questioned by some lawmakers and defense industry officials, who have suggested that all efforts should be focused on the existing Sineva SLBM. But the Russian military has insisted that there is no alternative to the Bulava and pledged to continue testing the missile until it is ready to be put in service with the Navy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin participated on 30 July 2012 in a ceremony to launch construction of Russia’s fourth Borei-class (Project 955A) ballistic missile submarine. The ceremony for the boat, the Knyaz Vladimir, was held at Sevmash, Russia’s largest shipyard and sole nuclear submarine maker located in the port city of Severodvinsk on the White Sea. “By 2020, we should have eight Borei-class submarines,” he said. “Two of them - the Alexander Nevsky and one other - are in trials. I am sure the entire project will be implemented.” The ceremony for the boat, the Knyaz Vladimir, was held at Sevmash, Russia’s largest shipyard and sole nuclear submarine maker located in the port city of Severodvinsk on the White Sea. At that time three other Borei class boats were reported to be in various stages of development at Sevmash. The Yury Dolgoruky was then undergoing sea trials, while the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh were under construction.

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