Russia has launched a new strategic missile submarine, the Yuri Dolgorukiy, to be armed with the Bulava ballistic missile. This weapon is modified from the land-launched Topol-M missile (given the NATO designation SS-27).
The launching took place at Severodvinsk, site of the massive Sevmash shipyard on Russia’s Arctic coast, on April 15, 2007. The last ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) to be completed in the then-Soviet Union was a Project 667BDRM (Delta IV) in 1984.
Two additional submarines of this design are reported to be under construction at Sevmash — the Alexandr Nevskiy and the Vladimir Monomakh. A fourth unit is planned.
Significantly, the Yuri Dolgorukiy is not the submarine of that name that was laid down as Project 995 on November 2, 1996. The construction of that submarine was halted on January 22, 1998, when less than five percent complete. That program was cancelled because of technical and financial difficulties. The submarine was to have been armed with a planned R-39UTTH (NATO SS-N-28 Grom) missile, which was itself cancelled in 1998 due to problems
Subsequently, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, said that a “redesigned”? Yuri Dolgorukiy would be completed in 2007. The new submarine employs the bow and stern pressure hull sections — including the propulsion section — of the Project 971 (NATO Akula II)-class submarine Kuguar. Work on that torpedo-attack submarine(SSN )was also stopped after the collapse of the Soviet Union, making her components available for the new SSBN.
Similarly, the second unit, the Alexandr Nevskiy, is being constructed with sections of the fourth Akula II SSN, which had been assigned the name Rys’. Some components for the other new SSBNs are being shipped to Severodvinsk from the Komsomol’sk shipyard in the Far East, which previously cuilt nuclear-propelled submarines.
This use of SSN components to produce ballistic missile submarines is similar to the U.S. Navy’s construction of its first ballistic missile submarines of the George Washington (SSBN 598) class using the plans and some components of the Skipjack (SSN 585) attack submarines.(Despite numerous stories to the contrary, the George Washington was not built by taking an SSN on the building ways and cutting her in half and inserting a missile section to produce the nation’s first SSBN.)