Russia launches first nuclear submarine since USSR's collapse

Russia’s strategic nuclear-powered Yury Dolgoruki submarine has finally been launched. It is the first submarine, which Russia made after the collapse of the USSR. Russian shipbuilders can be both proud and ashamed of the new cruiser: the works on the submarine began 16 years ago.

The construction of the nuclear cruiser was very slow due to the lack of finance. When the submarine was finally assembled, it turned out that the Bulava rocket was not ready for it. Officials of Russia’s Defense Ministry say that the new rocket would be passed into service in 2009 or in 2010.

The Yury Dolgoruki can submerge at the depth of 400 meters. The cruising capacity makes up 90 days. The submarine is 160 meters long and 13.5 meters wide. The sub is equipped with torpedoes and cruise missiles. It also has six torpedo launchers and shoulder-fired air defense systems. The submarine can fire Bulava missiles from 12 launching silos, but all of them are empty for the time being.

Yury Dolgoruki is the first SSBN submarine of the Borei class that is being built for the Russian Navy. Named after the founder of Moscow Yury Dolgoruki, it was laid down on 2 November 1996 and was first planned to enter service in 2001.

However, the SS-N-28 missile that the Borei class was supposed to carry was abandoned after several failed tests, and the submarine was redesigned for the Bulava missile. Based on the Russian Topol-M (SS-27) ICBM the Bulava missile is smaller than the original SS-N-28, and in the 2007 START treaty data exchange it was reported that all Borei-class submarines would carry 16 missiles instead of 12, as originally intended.

The submarine was rolled out of its construction hall into a launch dock on 15 April 2007 in Severodvinsk, when it was about 82% complete. The Russian Government has allocated nearly 5 billion rubles, or 40% of the Navy's 2007 weapons budget, for the completion of the submarine.

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov