Preparations are in full swing this week at the giant Sevmash yard in the northern Russian city of Severodvinsk. As soon as the sea ice melts, two brand new nuclear-powered submarines will sail into the White Sea for testing.
The “Generalissimo Suvorovis among the 4th generation Borey-A-class strategic submarines to be armed with 16 Bulava ballistic missiles, each capable of carrying six nuclear warheads.
The second submarine to leave for sea trials is “Krasnoyarsk” of the Yasen-M class.
Both ships are currently being prepared by commissioning teams, the shipyard’s Vesti Sevmash TV news channel reports.
“All work is being carried out according to schedule,” noted Mikhail Fedyanevsky, head of the delivery team.
As Fedyanevsky is interviewed in front of the submarine, the work of installing the escape pod on the sail takes place in the background.
The solemn ceremony ofKrasnoyarskwas performed last July. Unlike older attack submarines built in the late Soviet period, the Yasen-M class are multi-purpose ships that can carry different weapons, including the new, most advanced Tsirkon long-range hypersonic cruise missiles.
There are ten silos for vertically launched cruise missiles.
Despite Russia’s current economic collapse as a result of international sanctions, the Sevmash shipyard assures that it will follow President Putin’s orders to “accelerate the pace of renewal of the navy, build modern surfaces and submarines of different conceptions and classes”.
Katarzyna Zysk, professor of international relations at the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies, told the Barents Observer that new submarines are a top priority in Putin’s weapons modernization effort.
She notes that the Borei and Yasen play “a central role in defending and deterring Russia”.
“Plus,” says Zysk, “both are very high-profile projects. There is a special place in Putin’s heart for the navy.
The professor does not expect any immediate change.
“The construction program and the financial resources allocated to it may not be immediately affected by the ensuing economic crisis. The medium and long-term outlook is much more uncertain, however,” says Katarzyna Zysk.
Complementary to “Krasnoyarsk”, the Sevmash shipyard has four other Yasen-class ships in various stages of construction. The submarines will be based both with the Northern Fleet on the Barents Sea coast and with the Pacific Fleet in the Far East.
There are also four other Borei-class ballistic missile carriers to be launched at Severodvinsk by 2029, when the class will be the backbone of Moscow‘s nuclear sea deterrent. The Borei class replaces the old Delta-IV and Delta-III submarines which currently perform deterrent patrols, including under Arctic sea ice.
Katarzyna Zysk argues that Russia’s large conventional arms losses in the Ukraine war could further increase the importance of nuclear weapons, including those deployed on submarines.
“Given the weakening of Russian conventional forces, the role of nuclear weapons in Russian defense and deterrence could increase further.”
Zysk clarifies: “In particular, to date, nuclear deterrence has proven to be very effective for Russia in the ongoing confrontation: Putin’s threat of a major nuclear escalation has been one of the main reasons for the Western restraint in imposing a military cost and getting directly involved in the war in Ukraine.
Before the award ceremonyNovosibirskLast December, President Putin warned that Russia was ready to take military action to counter hostile NATO moves.
“In the event of the continuation of the obviously aggressive line of our Western colleagues, we will take adequate military-technical measures of retaliation and will react firmly to hostile measures,” the president said in his speech to the College of the Ministry of Defense.