Submarines: Russia Gets Yuri Into The Water


April 23, 2007: After many delays, Russia has finally launched the first of its new "Borei Class" ballistic missile nuclear subs (SSBN, or "boomers"). The launching of the first ship in the class, the Yuri Dolgoruky, was supposed to have taken place last year. But there were some more unexplained technical problems that delayed it until this month. Construction of the Yuri Dolgoruky began eleven years ago, but money shortages, and technical problems, have slowed progress. This is the first new Russian boomer to be launched in 17 years.

The second ship in the class, the Alexander Nevsky, is also nearing completions. Construction on the third, the Vladimir Monomakh, has just begun. Russia wants to have about a dozen of these boats, to replace the current Delta IV class SSBNs. The Delta IVs are getting old, and have only about a decade of useful service left.

The Boreis are closer in design to the Delta IVs, than to the more recent, and much larger, Typhoon boats. The Boreis are 558 feet long and 44 feet wide. Surface displacement is 15,000 tons, and twelve Bulava SLBMs (Sea Launched Ballistic Missile) are carried. Work on the Yuri Dolgoruky was delayed for several years because the first missile being designed for it did not work out.

A successful land based missile, the Topol-M, was quickly modified for submarine use. The Bulava was a larger missile, cutting the Boreis capacity from twenty to twelve missiles. The boat also has four torpedo tubes, and twelve torpedoes or torpedo tube launched missiles. The Borei also sports a huge sonar dome in the bow.

The Boreis have a crew of 107, with half of them being officers (a common Russian practice when it comes to high tech ships like nuclear subs). Each of these boats will cost at least two billion dollars. This high cost, by Russian standards, is partly because many factories that supplied parts for Russian subs were in parts of the Soviet Union that are not now within the borders of present day Russia. So new factories had to be built. All components of the Boreis, and their missiles, will be built in Russia. A dozen of these boats probably won't be completed for at least a decade.

Another problem is the new Bulava missile, which has failed three recent flight tests. The Bulava is believed to be fundamentally sound, but it could be several years before all the kinks are worked out. It will take that long to finish work on the Yuri Dolgoruky,




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