Tag Archives: Proyekt 955

Failure to Launch

SSBN Yuriy Dolgorukiy (photo: RIA Novosti / Sergey Guneyev)

Not the same as a failed launch, of course . . .

Interfaks reports proyekt 955 Borey-class SSBN Yuriy Dolgorukiy cancelled a Bulava test launch on Saturday.  According to Sevmash, the power supply to one of Dolgorukiy’s systems malfunctioned.  The submarine returned to the factory to investigate.  The Interfaks source said the state commission supervising Bulava testing indicated the launch would be put off until late this week.

The source emphasized there aren’t issues with the Bulava, which was fully ready for launch.  Interfaks recalled the 15th launch scheduled for last December was delayed until June because Dolgorukiy wasn’t ready, although the official reason was White Sea icing.  The June launch from the submerged Dolgorukiy was successful.

In Moskovskiy komsomolets, Olga Bozhyeva’s source says the problem was a sensor in a system needed to prepare the missile for launch.  They postponed until later Saturday, but, when they couldn’t fix it, the SSBN returned to port Sunday morning.  The source says the state commission will probably delay the next launch attempt until September.

RIA Novosti provided a more official spin on the cancelled test.  It emphasized there was no unsuccessful launch.  The news agency’s state commission source stressed that, when submarines go to sea for system testing, the commission makes its decisions based on many factors and conditions.  And the source stated the Bulava flight test program will be completed in the established time frame.

Bulava News

Today Navy CINC, Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy announced four more tests of the Bulava SLBM this year.  According to Interfaks, Vysotskiy said plans call for a salvo launch either this year or next, depending on the state commission overseeing the Bulava’s testing.

Last Wednesday, a defense sector source told Interfaks to expect the next Bulava test in a month.  Originally, the source said, it was supposed to be a salvo launch a month after the successful June 28 test from Yuriy Dolgorukiy.  But analysis of the June flight test and preparation for the next took longer than expected.  This source said the 16th test will be in late August, or possibly even fall.  He said Dolgorukiy will fire two Bulava SLBMs, one after another. 

On June 30, Vysotskiy claimed the second proyekt 955, Borey-class SSBN Aleksandr Nevskiy will finish sea trials, and test fire a Bulava this year.  But he didn’t repeat the claim today.

Severodvinsk Trials and GOZ Tribulations

Severodvinsk (photo: RIA Novosti / Vladimir Rodionov)

Your typical good news, bad news story . . . happily for the Russian Navy, the Severodvinsk is nearing its first at-sea testing, but the new submarine has also been held up as a prime example of outrageous price increases in this year’s state defense order.  Final delivery of this SSN, as well as the first two Borey-class SSBNs, represents a big part of troubled GOZ-2011.

RIA Novosti reports new fourth generation Yasen-class (proyekt 885) SSN Severodvinsk will soon head into the White Sea for two months of underway testing, according to Malakhit Design Bureau General Director Vladimir Pyalov.  He added that, after this at-sea period, the final phase of state testing will take place.  

A very precise Mr. Pyalov says Severodvinsk is currently 98.9 percent complete.  He thinks the Navy will accept the new boat before year’s end and, in all, six of these multipurpose submarines will be built.  The second proyekt 885 Kazan is slated for delivery in 2015. 

RIA Novosti says proyekt 885 is a double-hulled, single-shaft boat with a reduced acoustic signature.  The conning tower has a streamlined, oval shape.  The boat is divided into ten compartments. 

For the first time, according to RIA Novosti, Russian designers put the submarine’s torpedo tubes amidships to allow for a new bow-mounted sonar system.  Proyekt 885 has eight vertical launch tubes for supersonic cruise missiles.  It has new communications and navigation systems as well as a fundamentally new nuclear power plant, according to the news agency’s report.  The new submarine is said to be first in noise reduction and stealth among attack submarines worldwide.

But the Severodvinsk couldn’t evade detection in the furor over breakdowns in the state defense order.

Earlier this month, RIA Novosti reported on disputes between the United Shipbuilding Corporation (OSK), submarine-builder Sevmash, and the Defense Ministry over naval construction in this year’s GOZ.  In particular, the military accuses the builder of doubling its prices for proyekt 955 Yuriy Dolgorukiy and proyekt 885 Severodvinsk.

An OSK spokesman defended Sevmash saying the cost of its work on Severodvinsk is only 30 percent of the total price, with the balance being the cost of armaments and components supplied by several dozen enterprises.  He blamed inflation in the industrial sector and the economy more generally.

Summarizing his discussion of submarines with OSK, RIA Novosti reports, Defense Minister Serdyukov said:

“They are giving us an increase in prices on new orders, and, naturally, we don’t agree with this.”

But, he added he’s convinced the Defense Ministry will persuade the producer to lower its prices.

Izvestiya mentioned that Severodvinsk was originally intended for a production run of 30 submarines, now reduced to six more than 20 years later.  As recently as March, the Navy still publicly hoped for ten.

Serdyukov told the paper:

“. . . it’s incomprehensible what the price of the ship [sic] consists of, if the cost of the lead boat was 47 billion rubles ($1.7 billion), but the next, exactly the same is now 112 billion ($4 billion).”

“Of course, the price will grow if, in the cost of one ship [sic], they include all accompanying expenditures on other enterprise projects in no way connected with it, like maintaining kindergartens, infrastructure, etc.”

“We’re prepared to pay, but on the condition that the price formation process will be transparent.  As practice shows, if all articles in the contracts are “decoded,” then it seems it’s possible with confidence to deduct up to 30% from the final cost of a finished product.”

These must be bitter words for an enterprise that went many, many years without completing its trademark product — a nuclear-powered submarine.

A Sevmash source says the cost of submarine construction is directly related to higher prices for materials, energy, and integration:

“The entire range of equipment for a submarine is supplied by monopolistic companies trying to dictate their prices.”

Dolgorukiy Returns to Sea

This morning ITAR-TASS reports that fourth generation Borey-class SSBN Yuriy Dolgorukiy is at sea for testing.  This is the boat’s first underway period of 2011. 

At the close of last year’s Arctic navigation season, Dolgorukiy returned to the hall at Sevmash, where it was prepared for the concluding phases of its state underway testing.  Sevmash says the submarine should be officially handed over to the Navy within the next few months.

Recall the Russian press reports that modified Typhoon SSBN Dmitriy Donskoy will be the launch platform for this year’s first Bulava SLBM test.

Fateful Season for Bulava Begins

A Defense Ministry source tells RIA Novosti that Bulava SLBM testing will resume between 15 and 17 June.  The test launch will come from modified Proyekt 941U SSBN Dmitriy Donskoy, though the source claims Borey-class SSBN Yuriy Dolgorukiy is ready to fire the missile.

Recall that Proyekt 955 Dolgorukiy was back at Sevmash for work this winter.

The source says the first launch from Dolgorukiy will come after two successful firings from Donskoy.

Bulava now has 7 reported successes in 14 tries.  There will be 4-5 tests in 2011.

If they are successful (and at least a couple come from Dolgorukiy), the SLBM and its intended submarine will be accepted into the Navy inventory.  And serial production of Bulava will ramp up. 

If they aren’t, the naval strategic modernization effort will find itself back where it was prior to two successful launches last October.

But the Russians seem pretty confident this time around.

Careful How You Read

Be careful what you read, but be even more careful how you read it (or who translates it).

The Russians won’t put both SLBMs and SLCMs on their fifth generation submarines.  Would that really make military sense?  What they apparently intend is to build a multipurpose hull to fit out as either SSBN or SSN.  Now does that raise interesting arms control verification issues?

Several days ago, in advance of March 19 – the 105th anniversary of Nikolay II’s designation of the submarine as an Imperial Navy ship class (i.e. Submariner’s Day since 1996) – a “highly-placed RF Navy Main Staff representative” elected to tell RIA Novosti about work on Russia’s fifth generation submarine.

Production of the fourth generation proyekt 955 SSBNs and proyekt 885 SSNs is just really now reaching the ramp-up stage.  But design and development of fifth generation submarines is included in the State Program of Armaments, 2011-2020, according to RIA Novosti’s Navy Main Staff source.

When you Google “Russian fifth generation submarine,” you get a string of English-language news and blog items that say things like:

“. . . a high-level Russian navy insider said a future ballistic-missile submarine would also carry cruise missiles.”

“Russia is planning to equip its fifth-generation nuclear submarines with both ballistic and cruise missiles, a media report said.”

Even RIA Novosti’s own English-language site bollixed it:

“Russia’s proposed fifth-generation nuclear submarines will be armed with both ballistic and cruise missiles, a senior Navy source told RIA Novosti on Saturday.”

RIA Novosti actually wrote:

“The fifth generation submarine will be standardized for ballistic as well as for cruise missiles.” 

And RIA Novosti’s unnamed admiral actually said:

“The concept for creating a new nuclear submarine (APL or АПЛ) envisages a unified hull both for multirole [i.e. attack] as well as for strategic submarines, therefore design bureaus Rubin and Malakhit which today specialize in designing strategic and multirole submarines respectively are working on its development.” 

Rusnavy.com got it right.  

As always said about new submarines, the unknown admiral said the fifth generation will be distinguished for its lowered noise, automated control systems, reactor safety, and long-range weapons.  But he added:

“I’m not talking about ballistic missiles, we’re talking long-range cruise missiles and torpedoes.”

Aleksandr Nevskiy Launch Planned

According to ITAR-TASS, Sevmash shipbuilders have announced they’ll launch the second proyekt 955 Borey-class SSBN Aleksandr Nevskiy at the end of November.  Nevskiy was laid down on 19 March 2004.  Lead unit Yuriy Dolgorukiy is preparing for a test launch of the Bulava SLBM likely in December.

ITAR-TASS says Borey unit 3 Vladimir Monomakh (laid down in 2006) is on a buildingway at Sevmash.  Nevskiy and Monomakh were not identified as proyekt 955A boats.  The wire service also didn’t mention anything about an official lay down for hull 4 (Sv. Nikolay).  Plans are for not less than 8 of the Borey SSBNs.