|Kilo SS "Rostov-na-Donu" heading out for factory sea trials - October 21, 2014|
(Image credit: A. Akentyev)
The Russian Ministry's public affairs office reported yesterday that the test program for "Rostov-na-Donu" - the second new Project 636.3 Kilo-class diesel submarine built for the Russian Navy - was "nearing completion." That sounded odd given that the submarine didn't commence factory sea trials until October 21 of this year. But a closer review suggests the statement may be closer to truth than fiction.
The tables below depict the major milestones in the construction of the first three hulls of the new series.
|Keel laid||August 20, 2010||-||-|
|Launched||November 28, 2013||1,216||-|
|Sea trials start||May 30, 2014||1,399||+183|
|Delivery||August 22, 2014||1,483||+84|
|Keel laid||November 21, 2011||-||-|
|Launched||June 26, 2014||948||-|
|Sea trials start||October 21, 2014||1,065||+117|
|Delivery||December 31, 2014||1,136||+71|
|Keel laid||August 17, 2012||-||-|
|Launched||August 28, 2014||741||-|
|Sea trials start||May 2015||-||-|
There are easily identifiable differences in the day counts between the major milestones in the tables. For example, the time between keel-laying and launch of the three units decreased from 1,216 days ("Novorossiysk") to 948 days ("Rostov-na-Donu") and to 741 days ("Staryy Oskol"). That's a nearly 22% decrease in time between the two milestones when comparing "Novorossiysk" to ""Rostov-na-Donu" and nearly 40% when comparing "Novorossiysk" to "Staryy Oskol". Additionally, the shipyard shaved off 22% between the same period of time for the second and third hulls.
The significant decreases in time between keel-laying and launch can be explained by a combination of factors, to include:
- delivery of design documentation --- the later it arrives, the later the first unit will launch
- first of the series --- as with any new program, the first unit (even one that is only a slightly modified version of an existing submarine class) is bound to have a few construction/design issues that impact production
- sub-contractor deliveries --- major components are often ordered in batches, meaning successive unit construction should not be delayed
- improvements in shipbuilding processes when building multiple orders of the same submarine class
- workforce availability --- the shipyard has had to seek additional temporary manpower after "Novorossiysk" in order to fulfill both domestic and export submarine construction project timelines
Finally, if the above MOD report is correct and "Rostov-na-Donu" will be delivered by the shipyard no later than December 31, the projected time period between commencement of sea trials and delivery will be at most 71 days, which is 13 days (15%) shorter than for "Novorossiysk". Using the timeline day counts for "Rostov-na-Donu" and factoring in the time of year, projected timeline dates for "Staryy Oskol" would be late May for commencement of sea trials and early August for delivery.
Projecting timeline dates for the next three Kilos, however, is tricky. In order for Admiralty Shipyards to meet the delivery deadline of 2016, as stated multiple times by various high-level military officials, the shipyard's construction timelines will have to be more aggressive. The last two units, "Kolpino" and "Velikiy Novgorod", were laid down last month. If it takes two years between keel-laying and launch (using "Staryy Oskol" as the model), then both units will be facing the same Gulf of Finland seasonal weather issues that impacted "Novorossiysk". Therefore, unless things change, they will not be delivered to the MOD until spring or summer 2017.