On 9 September, ITAR-TASS reported two Pacific Fleet Akula-class submarines had begun a three-week Northern Sea Route (NSR) transit to Severodvinsk for a “deep modernization” at Zvezdochka. They will reach the shipyard during the last ten days of the month, according to the Defense Ministry press-service.
Pacific Fleet proyekt 971 / Shchuka-B SSNs Bratsk and Samara were loaded on Dockwise’s heavy transport Transshelf at Avachinskaya Bay on 23 August.
This is the first time two submarines have been transported together. Nuclear-powered icebreakers will accompany Transshelf along the NSR. Until now, Pacific Fleet Akulas were repaired at Vilyuchinsk or Bolshoy Kamen in the Far East.
Zvezdochka publicized the boats’ imminent departure back on 20 August. Buried in this item is a reported RF government decision on a shipyard division of labor, under which Zvezdochka will modernize Akulas and Zvezda (Bolshoy Kamen) will work on Oscar II-class SSGNs (proyekt 949A / Antey).
But it looks like Zvezdochka already worked on the Northern Fleet’s Oscar IIs in previous years; Pacific Fleet units remain for Zvezda.
Zvezdochka has a contract for four Akula modernizations. Two Northern Fleet units — Leopard and Volk — are already there. According to Flot.com, the 21-year-old Improved Akula Leopard arrived in 2013 and will return to the fleet in 2016. 22-year-old Volk got to Zvezdochka this year. Both were built by Sevmash in Severodvinsk.
Akula II Bratsk and Samara — 24 and 19 years old respectively — were both built at Komsomolsk in the Far East.
Zvezdochka’s “deep modernization” reportedly includes a recore and replacement of all electronic, control, and weapons systems.