Rear Adm. Dave Johnson, Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) program executive officer (PEO) submarines has a model of Russian nuclear guided missile submarine (Severodvinsk) placed outside his office in a common area so that he could look at it every day on his way to his office.
“We’ll be facing tough potential opponents. One only has to look at the Severodvinsk, Russia’s version of a [nuclear guided missile submarine] (SSGN). I am so impressed with this ship that I had Carderock build a model from unclassified data.” Johnson said.
Severodvinsk leverages many of the automation technologies the Soviet Union invested in during the 1970s and 1980s with the Project 705 Lira-class boats—better known by their NATO-code name as the Alfa-class. The Alfa-class submarines—which were built with a titanium hull and liquid-metal cooled reactor—were the fastest and deepest diving operational submarines ever built—save for the lone Soviet Project 661 Anchar-class (NATO: Papa-class) boat. As such, the 13,800-ton, 390-foot long, submarine is highly automated vessel with a crew of only 32 officers and 58 enlisted submariners.
The vessel might have a maximum speed of between 35 and 40 knots. It is far quieter than previous Russian submarines and has a maximum “silent” speed of about 20 knots. Like most new nuclear submarine designs, Severodvinsk reactor is designed to last for the life of the boat.
According to the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), while the new Russian submarine is quieter than the Improved Los Angeles-class boats, the new vessel is not quite as silent as the Seawolf or Virginia-class. However, the Russians were always only lagging slightly behind the U.S. in quieting technology according to Navy sources.
The Yasen-class boats do not make use of a double-hull—instead it has hybrid design with a lighter structure over the vessel’s pressure hull according to Russian media reports. Another unique feature for a Russian vessel is that it incorporates a spherical bow sonar called the Irtysh-Amfora for the first time. As a result, Severodvinsk has its torpedo tubes located at about mid-ship like U.S. submarines. The vessel has eight torpedo tubes, four of which are 650mm tubes while the rest are 533mm tubes. Combat Fleets of the World estimates that the Yasen-class may carry as many as 30 torpedoes.
The Russian navy is set to take delivery of an improved Project 885M Yasen-class attack submarine in 2016 according to Russian state media, which is named after the city of Kazan. The new Project 885M boat incorporates many improvements over Severodvinsk. Kazan is expected to have improved sensors and weapon systems compared to Severodvinsk. It is also likely to be quieter than Severodvinsk.
The Russian navy hopes to procure a minimum of eight Yasen-class attack boats.
SOURCES – USNI, National Interest