February 17, 2011:
In Russia, the fifty man crew for the first Graney (Yasen) class SSGN (nuclear powered cruise missile sub) have taken their boat to sea, or at least around the harbor. Sea trials begin in three months, but first the sub is taking baby steps to ensure that everything works. Nevertheless, these harbor trials are seen as major progress. Russian submarine building has been on life support since the Cold War ended in 1991. Many subs under construction at the end of the Cold War were cancelled, and the few that avoided that spent a decade or more waiting for enough money to get finished. The first Graney crew was put together five years ago, and has been training, and waiting, ever since. The crew will now continue training on their new boat, which will enter service next year.
Two years ago, construction began on a second Graney class SSGN. Russia plans to complete six boats of this class by the end of the decade. Construction of the first Graney class boat, the Severodvinsk, began in 1993, but lack of money led to numerous delays. Originally, the Severodvinsk was to enter service in 1998. Work on the Severodvinsk was resumed seven years ago. If work is not interrupted, the second Graney class boat should be ready in less than five years.
The 9,500 ton Graneys carry 24 cruise missiles, as well as eight 650mm (25.6 inch) torpedo tubes. Some of the cruise missiles can have a range of over 3,000 kilometers, while others are designed as "carrier killers." The larger torpedo tubes also make it possible to launch missiles from them, as well as larger and more powerful torpedoes. The ship is highly automated, which is why there is a crew less than half the 134 needed to run the new U.S. Virginia class boats. The Graney design is based on the earlier Akula and Alfa class SSNs. Russia had originally planned to build 30 Graneys.