Sunday, December 28, 2014

Severodvinsk SSGN: How Many and When?

Severodvinsk nuclear-powered submarine "Severodvinsk" (November 9, 2014)
[credit: TASS]
It is quite frequently reported that Northern Machine-Building Enterprise (SevMash) will build either seven or eight Severodvinsk-class nuclear-powered multipurpose submarines - Project 885 and 885M - by 2020. In November 2012, ITAR-TASS reported that "SevMash will build seven Project 885 and 885M Yasen fourth-generation nuclear-powered strike submarines by 2021..." A year ago, an unnamed "defense industry source" told RIA Novosti that "the Russian Navy plans to receive no less than eight submarines of this type by 2020." And in April of this year, ITAR-TASS changed its 2012 forecast and reported that "SevMash shall build eight Yasen and Yasen-M nuclear-powered submarines by 2020."

Are these numbers and timelines real?

Construction of the first (and only) Project 885 hull, "Severodvinsk", took 20 years from keel-laying to delivery. During that time, requirements were changed and new design specifications were implemented. The second unit, "Kazan", was laid down in July 2009 and is being built under the improved Project 885M design. Initial reporting indicated "Kazan" would be delivered in 2014. The delivery date, however, began slipping into 2015, 2016, and now 2017. A 2017 delivery would equate to eight years since the hull was laid - a lot better than 20 years.

After reviewing equipment delivery schedules, the actual timelines for only seven units looks something like this:

160 Severodvinsk Dec 1993 Jun 2010 Dec 2013
161 Kazan Jul 2009 (2016) 4Q2017
162 Novosibirsk Jul 2013
163 Krasnoyarsk Jul 2014

Unless SevMash production and contractor-supplied equipment deliveries can be sped up, delivering more than five submarines by the end of 2020 appears improbable.