By TASS Russian news agency
It was reported in mid-2019 that a contract for two SSBN of project 955 would be signed at Army-2019 forum. No contract was signed, but a new date to lay the 9th and 10th SSBN of project 955A was announced — May 9, 2020, expert Alexander Shishkin writes in his blog.
The project to build a series of eight SSBN was reported in May 2018 when a defense industry source disclosed a decision to build another six submarines of project 955A at Sevmash Shipyard. It was reported in mid-2019 that a contract for two SSBN of project 955 would be signed at Army-2019 forum. No contract was signed, but a new date to lay the 9th and 10th SSBN of project 955A was announced — May 9, 2020, expert Alexander Shishkin writes in his blog.
Reports about the planned signing of the contract for the 9th and 10th SSBN at Army-2020 forum and their laying in 2021 caused confusion. The media claimed two more submarines can be laid and their number would increase to 12. The truth is that 10 submarines are to be built by projects 955 and 955A and the number may increase to 14. It is difficult to substantiate the necessary SSBN strength, as they are a component of strategic nuclear forces rather than the Navy.
Item 2 of article II of the New START said each party can independently determine the composition and structure of strategic offensive armaments. It makes the parity of naval components of nuclear triads unnecessary.
As for January 1, 2020, the naval component of US strategic nuclear forces comprised 220 deployed SSBN launchers and the same number of submarine-launched Trident II. It means 11 out of 14 Ohio-class submarines with 20 of 24 missile launchers (four launchers are formally inoperative). Another 60 launchers are considered non-deployed (it makes a total of 280). The replacement of Ohio subs with Columbia class will decrease the number of deployed and non-deployed launchers to 192 (16 launchers in 12 SSBN).
As for project 955A, the most appropriate number is 12 subs. Firstly, it will correspond to the Pentagon plans. Secondly, it can be divided in two and three to meet the requirement to triple the strength to ensure permanent presence in the ocean. One submarine is on combat duty, another one prepares for a sortie, and the third one is in overhaul or upgrade.
The reported laying of new project 955A SSBN on the Victory Day triggered suggestions that their names would be related to the date. Although there was no official confirmation, open sources said they will be called the Marshal Zhukov and the Marshal Rokossovsky.
In late February 2020, a letter of Navy Commander-in-Chief Nikolai Yevmenov of December 23, 2019 to the Vladivostok Naval Assembly was published. It said:
“the military council of the Navy supported the proposal to name as the Ryurik the sixth serial strategic submarine (factory # 209) of project 955A to be built for the Pacific fleet.”