New SSBNs for the Russian Navy
The most important addition to the Russian Navy is undoubtedly the K-553 Generalissimus Suvorov strategic nuclear-powered submarine of Project 955A Borey-A.
The Generalissimus Suvorov is the sixth Project 955 Borey “boomer” overall and the third of the Borey-A version. The first three Project 955 SSBNs used hull sections from the unfinished Project 971 Shchuka-B SSNs, as can be seen from their silhouettes, while Project 955A is already the hydrodynamically optimized target model of the latest Russian SSBNs. Of these six ships, four Boreys joined the Pacific Fleet. One of them is Generalissimus Suvorov, which was assigned to the 25th Submarine Division based in Vilyuchinsk.
The keel of the Suvorov was laid down on December 26, 2014, at the Sevmash Shipyard (Severodvinsk Machine Building Plant) in Severodvinsk, northern Russia. On December 25, 2021, the vessel was rolled out of the hangar onto the Sukhona floating dock, which was used to launch the submarine on January 11, 2022. On July 20, the Suvorov began factory acceptance trials at sea. On November 3, the submarine-launched a 3M30 Bulava SLBM (submarine-launched ballistic missile) from an underwater position in the White Sea as part of government testing, which dropped on the Kura firing range in Kamchatka.
On December 21, the Suvorov was handed over to the Russian Navy, and eight days later it raised its national flag in Severodvinsk and began service in the Pacific Fleet. This year, the submarine will be transferred to the Far East via the Northern Route.
On the same day, a ceremony was held at Sevmash to roll out another submarine of this class, Emperor Aleksandr III. Construction of the boat began on December 18, 2015, and the Russians plan to commission the “boomer” later this year.
The Borey A-class SSBNs are 170 meters long, have a submerged displacement of about 24,000 tons, and their main armament consists of 16 SLBMs 3M30 of the R-30 Bulava system. They are the first Russian nuclear submarines to be equipped with a pump-jet. Three more Borey-As are under construction, and two more have been ordered. These submarines will form the main class of Russian SSBNs, replacing the last unit of Project 667BDR Kalmar (K-44 Ryazan’) and five of Project 667BDRM Delfin.
Another MCM vessel for the Pacific Fleet
The seventh Alexandrit-class MCM ship of Project 12700, the Anatoliy Shlemov, was commissioned and joined the Russian Pacific Fleet‘s 114th brigade of water defense vessels on December 29, 2022.
The Aleksandrit class is built at the Sredne Nevskiy shipyard in Pontonnyy near St. Petersburg. They are the world’s largest ships made of glass fiber reinforced plastic by vacuum infusion (890 tons displacement, 61.2 m length). Hull molding began on July 12, 2019, and launching took place on November 26, 2021. In July, the four-month voyage of the Anatoliy Shlemov in tow began on the Northern Sea Route from the Baltic to the Pacific.
The Aleksandrit-class MCMVs fell victim to sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union following the annexation of Crimea in 2014. The first ship was equipped with French MCM systems. ECA Group supplied two unmanned survey and identification systems, including a USV Inspector Mk2 equipped with an interferometric side-scan sonar and an ROV Seascan. The Russians currently deploy systems of their own manufacture, including ROVs and acoustic-magnetic sweeps.
Construction of three more Aleksandrites is underway. At the moment, they serve in the Baltic, Black Sea and Pacific fleets, but more will go to the Northern Fleet as well.
More Kalibr missiles in the Baltic Sea
On December 29, the flag was raised on the tenth Project 21631 Buyan-M corvette of the Baltic Fleet, the Grad. These undersized vessels (949 tons, 74.1 m) carry the 3R14 Kalibr-NK system and can fire 3M14 cruise missiles against long-range land targets, as well as supersonic anti-ship 3M55 Oniks. They are fired from an eight-cell UKSK 3S14 (Universal’nyy korabel’nyy strel’bovyy complex, Universal Ship Launching System) launcher. Four Buyan-M-class corvettes, part of the Black Sea Fleet, are currently deployed to launch 3M14 Kalibr missiles against critical infrastructure in Ukraine.
Russia is building two more Buyan-Ms, which will most likely be the last. The manufacturer is Zelenodolsk Shipyard, based in Zelenodolsk, Tatarstan. The production rate is low due to problems with the propulsion system. The Small Grad has been under construction for more than five years (keel laid in April 2017). European Union sanctions are also the reason. The first ships have Rolls-Royce MTU engines and ZF Friedrichshafen gearboxes. After their deliveries were stopped, Chinese Henan Diesel Engine engines began to be installed, but they proved unreliable and unsustainable. The latest Buyan-M has Russian Kolomienskiy Zavod engines, but the company is slow to produce them.