2021 has become a record year for Russia’s only nuclear-powered submarine construction site. Three submarines were handed over to the navy, two were launched and two more were launched.
Since the last days of the Soviet Union, workers at the two Severodvinsk construction sites have not been busier than they are today. While the Sevmash builds new submarines, the Zvezdochka repairs and modernizes older submarines.
Moscow’s naval modernization program over the past decade stands in stark contrast to the considerable neglect of the years following the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
2022 marks the tenth anniversary of the Russian Navy’s first 4th generation multipurpose submarine, the Severodvinsk, successfully launched a Kalibr cruise missile from a submerged position in the White Sea. While it took almost 20 years to complete the construction of the Severodvinsk, subsequent ships of the Yasen-M class are built at a significantly faster speed.
construction of the Novosibirsk, which was ordered for the Navy in late December 2021, took eight years.
Similar speeds are also observed for the new Borei-A class guided missile submarines following the Yuri Dolgorukiy which took 16 years from its entry into service in 1996 until its entry into service for the Northern Fleet in 2012. Knyaz Oleg, handed over to the Pacific Fleet just before Christmas last year took seven years to build.
By January 1, 2022, the following 13 nuclear-powered submarines are in various stages of construction at the Sevmash shipyard and are all expected to be delivered to the Navy before 2027.
Class Borei-A (SNLE)
- Generalissimo Suvorov
- Imperator Alexander III
- Knyaz Pojarskiy
- Dmitry Donskoy
- Knyaz Potyomkin
Yasen-M Class (SSGN)
While much publicity is given for the ceremonies, launching and commissioning of ballistic missile submarines and multipurpose submarines, much less is known about special purpose submarines. The Barents Observer has repeatedly reported on the Belogord, the world’s longest submarine built on a modified Oscar-II class hull. The submarine will carry the new Poseidon nuclear-powered drones and will likely be based with the Pacific Fleet later this year.
Two other carriers of the Poseidon drone are currently under construction at the Sevmash site, the Khabarovsk and Ulyanovsk. These two submarines are very rarely reported in Russian media or other military sources in Russia.
A blog site monitoring new and existing Russian Navy ships, however, suggests that the Khabarovsk will be commissioned in 2024, and followed by Ulyanovsk in 2025. When Ulyanovsk was set up in 2017, the Barents observer reported that the vessel was of the Yasen-M class.
Other unconfirmed submarines that may be in the works for construction in the coming years are two more Borei-A-class ships, two more Poseidon aircraft carriers, and one or two special mini-submarines bound for GUGI, the agency of the Ministry of Defense. Principal Directorate of High Seas Research.
Design work for the 5th generation nuclear submarines, known as the Husky-class, is reportedly underway, but no construction contract has yet been signed.
In addition to the new submarines, the Sevmash shipyard is working on the repair and modernization of the large nuclear-powered combat cruiser Admiral Nakhimov. Originally commissioned in the Soviet Navy in 1988, the warship was rarely deployed at sea and has been in Severodvinsk for 23 years. If no further delays are announced, the battle cruiser will return to service for the Northern Fleet in 2023.