Submarines: Another Russian Tragedy


April 18, 2010:  Russia has run into "technical problems" (as they describe it) with their new Yasen class SSGN (nuclear powered cruise missile sub). The first one was to be launched next month. But that is now delayed until the end of the year. A second Yasen class boat began construction last year.

Construction of the first Yasen class boat, the Severodvinsk, actually began in 1992, 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, and it is supposed to enter service late next year. If work is not interrupted, the second Yasen class boat should be ready in six or seven years. The first one is now expected to enter service sometimes next year. The second boat, the Kazan, will contain much better technology, and new features developed during the long delays while building the first one.

The problems with Yasen are probably due to the collapse of the huge Soviet era defense industries in Russia since 1991. Most of the best people have gone to commercial firms, where the pay is better, and the work often more interesting. The remaining defense manufacturers are having increasing problems meeting their deadlines, and avoiding quality control problems.

The 9,500 ton Yasens carry 24 cruise missiles, as well as eight 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. There is a crew of fifty, and the design is based on the earlier Akula SSNs. Russia had originally planned to build 30 Yasens, but now the navy will probably have to make do with no more than a dozen.