Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dolgorukiy SSBN: The Dirty Secret Under the Hood

Dolgorukiy SSBN "Yuriy Dolgorukiy" underway in the White Sea - September 7, 2009
(Image courtesy of
The Russian Navy’s newest class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines is not as new as Moscow's submarine dealers would like you to know.

All of the Dolgorukiy-class (Project 955) SSBNs launched to date are actually hybrids of Akula SSNs and Oscar II SSGNs. I’m not sure why this isn’t more clearly explained in the English-language Wikipedia article, but it’s abundantly clear in the Russian-language version of the article.

If it were only the Frankenstein hull, then all debate could center on the third generation hull structure’s impact on the submarine’s theoretical tactical performance and detectability. But the hull is not the only borrowed item on this submarine.

It turns out that in addition to hull sections, the Dolgorukiy SSBN is borrowing used steam turbines from scrapped nuclear-powered submarines that were built nearly 30 years ago. This month, the Northeastern Repair Center in Vilyuchinsk (Kamchatka Peninsula) announced it was signing a contract (worth RUB 1,198,951) with the Far East subsidiary of Onega Scientific Research Technological Design Bureau (in Bolshoy Kamen, east of Vladivostok) for the “creation of technological and design documentation to support the removal of modular steam turbine plant equipment” plus “assistance during the deinstallation and removal of an Azurit-M modular steam turbine plant [from Oscar II SSGN “Krasnoyarsk”]" in the 4th quarter of 2014. The umbrella contract under which this work is to be done is Z/1/1/0169/GK-12-DGOZ, signed on May 25, 2012, which actually covers the construction of hulls 5-8 of the Dolgorukiy SSBN class. Thus, the steam turbine plant on “Krasnoyarsk” will be used in the construction of a future, new and improved Project 955A version of the Dolgorukiy SSBN (the 955A series started with the fourth hull, "Knyaz Vladimir"). And there is a strong suspicion that this has happened with some, if not all, of the earlier units, as well.

How much would you pay for a “new” car that used a frame constructed from 30-year-old cars and that was powered by a used engine?

Show me the Car Sub Fax!!!