New Russian SSN: Too Costly To Continue

Well, it seems that even our old friends the Russians are having cash-flow problems. All that new technology comes with a price, and the Russians are in sticker shock over the costs of their latest purchase.


A fourth-generation Russian nuclear-powered multipurpose attack submarine that was floated out on Tuesday is too expensive for serial production, a business daily said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrived in the northern port of Severodvinsk to attend the official float-out ceremony.

The construction of the Severodvinsk, the first Project 885 Yasen (Graney) class submarine, began in 1993 at the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk, but has since been dogged by financial setbacks. Russia planned to float out the submarine on May 7 to mark the 65th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in May 1945.

Russia’s Vedomosti daily said the price of the strategic project was kept secret, but the estimated cost reached $1 billion.

Mikhail Barabanov, the editor-in-chief of Moscow Defense Brief magazine, said the submarine’s cost was too high to make it viable for serial production

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched defense procurement costs increase both in these United States and abroad.  The US Navy’s ship procurement system is broken, and until the Navy takes a firm hand and reins in the civilian sector, things won’t change. Apparently, the Russians are still copying American products and procedures, but this time they went a bit too far and it will bite them financially.

Now, that’s not to say that  Project 885 Yasen (Graney) class submarine isn’t a valuable addition to the Russian Navy. Far from it.  It’s a capable platform, much quieter than previous boats, and armed with 24 cruise missiles  and 10 torpedo tubes.  He’s (all Russian ships are referred to in the masculine) following the same mission profile of stand-off attacks against US Carrier (and others) Battle Groups, but the increased range of the new cruise missiles makes it an attractive target for land-attack missions, while retaining the capabilities for mine-laying, and classic ASW and ASU warfare.

The first Graney class (Russian for “ash tree”) is named Severodvinsk and is a capable boat. He carries 10 torpedo tubes in both 533mm and 650mm diameter, which indicates both conventional and special-purpose torpedoes. His cruise missiles are from several classes, to include the 3M51 Alfa SLCM, the P-800 Oniks SLCM or the RK-55 Granat SLCM.

Severodvinsk has a single reactor driving a single shaft, with a projected speed of  20kts surfaced, and 35+kts submerged, and a test depth of 600 meters.  Technical innovations and a reliance on computers has enabled the crew to be reduced to 50 men, of 26 enlisted and 24 officers.

If Russia can find the wherewithal to continue production, this can be a complimentary boat for the Borei class of SSBN’s, capable of providing protection of them at some distance, or alternately assuming an offensive capability in support of Russian land operations in the same manner we used our SSN’s to support the invasion of Iraq.

More here here and  here


16 Responses to “New Russian SSN: Too Costly To Continue”

  1. 1 Scott "Scooter Pie" AW1 Retired
    June 22, 2010 at 18:07

    Russia is defintely trying to build back up their military might. Within the last year, 2 Russian subs surfaced just outside our east coast. What is alarming is the attitude of Obama, the Pentagon, and tne Navy admiral that stated that we are not concerned, the cold war is over and they have every right to be there if they want to. The Obamas spokesman even said we are not even sure their subs carry any missles onboard these days. GOD are we idiots. Because our ASW is practically zero these days, we probably would not have known they were there without they having surfaced. In the ASW days of past, we would have tracked them from leaving their port and we would have round the clock tracking of these submarines. I personally believe they have always continued to patrol since the days of the cold war (I personally do not believe the cold war was ever over) even if at a reduced capacity. Now that we have become “NON” ASW oriented, we are and will continue to increase becoming vunerable. I am afraid that with the current “AW’s” that are not trained in “real” ASW and the elimination of the P-3 for the P-8, we are in deep $#&%. I pray and hope that I will be proven wrong.

  2. 2 ewok40k
    June 22, 2010 at 18:12

    Well, Russians can’t use 20% (or more) of GDP on defence anymore… I wonder if someone in their Navy HQ is trying to reasses “what we need/what we can afford” balance, especially if the budget hangs on the prices of oil and gas…

  3. 3 ClarkWard
    June 23, 2010 at 00:17

    As I have opined before in various places… our ASW capability is going to sh**. Surface ships are getting LESS good at it, not better, for all the technical toys we can cram in. I am certain that shifting our attack submarine procurement to a high/low mix of SSNs and SSKs would help decrease our vulnerabilities. Additionally, increasing our MPA assets and building a large number of DE-type subhunters would be helpful in reversing our downward trend. With DE’s, I’m not suggesting FFGs. I’m suggesting taking the WW2 DE concept (if not one of the actual hull designs) and bringing it into modern use. Lose the depth charges and 2 of the 3″ guns, add a modest torpedo armament, small bow array, a towed array, and upgraded electric drive. (Those are just the highlights and before you criticize, hey, it’s MY pipe dream 😉

    • June 23, 2010 at 00:59

      Hey, you get no argument from me on any of those points.

      There is a demonstrable need for an SSK for Coastal patrol of these United States, including the Gulf. That would be an ideal and efficient use of a conventional-power boat, and free up the SSN’s for blue-water duty.

      To my mind, reopening the assembly line for the Perry class, modified for specific convoy/ASW warfighting is reasonable too. Either that, or a new build with a similar function using the Aegis destroyer hull and power-train. Adding a larger array of torpedoes, and a larger gun mount, stripping out the VLS for a new magazine/turret assembly. Maybe add a Harpoon box-launcher.

      • 5 ewok40k
        June 23, 2010 at 05:53

        Why do I get feeling you will get instead is a promise of ASW package for the LCS, soon, really soon…
        Iranians have Kilos, already. They might be amateurs, but sometimes newbie with good gun will score a big game in a first hunt. And dont start me on Chinese, they might not look like naval nation, but the same was speaken of the Japanese prior to Tsushima.

      • 6 ClarkWard
        June 24, 2010 at 01:23

        This post got me thinking about us; when the budget fit hits the shan, and we are forced to operate our country without further loans from China… how are WE going to align our force mix? I am betting that we will be floating 7 or 8 flattops in 20 years, if that. The costs are getting too high to be the ‘everywhere guy’, and we can’t keep borrowing to pay for that status. When we inevitably have to scale back our forces to meet budegtary reality, what do you guys think we’ll wind up with? (Ground and sea forces, and what the heck, the air bubbas too)

      • 7 ewok40k
        June 24, 2010 at 09:29

        AF will end up with 20 B-2s, 122 F-22s and unspecified number of F-35s at the pointy end of the things. B-52s wont fly forever, and F-15s/F-16s are mostly due to retire too… A-10s will eventualy fall victim to “too slow and not sexy” mafia and at best some will be shipped to Poland, where they will be again deterring what has left of Soviet armor might.

  4. 8 virgil xenophon
    June 23, 2010 at 20:16

    Tim, this is slightly OT but since this post IS about the Soviet Navy and subs and I didn’t know if you’d get back to CDR Sal’s place and the discussion of Blimps/Skycat, I thought I’d ask it here. RE; SAMs on Subs. Besides the Sam located in the Sail, didn’t they once put a WWII gun-mount-like SA-3-like mount aft of the Sail on some of their diesels? The rationale being that as most used to transit on the surface at night in heavily trafficked waters (my O-6 Capt of the last US conventional attack sub ret. in New Orleans told me they used to string the deck rigging/lights to look like fishing trawlers in the Med) their real fear was visual acquisition at night by aircraft–hence the deck-mounted SAMs. IIRC I saw an overhead pic (taken at VERY low alt–probably by guys like you) of one once, but don’t remember the class? Do you?

    • June 23, 2010 at 21:15


      For certain, the Kilo and Akula classes both carried an 8-tube mount, located in the sail, that had either SA-N-8 or SA-N-10 missiles. These were targeted by a control slaved to the periscope, so that only the top of the sail had to be exposed. The pod extended up and angled out to fire the missiles.

      It is thought that other submarine classes may have carried the standard shoulder-fired variant, and deployed it off the bridge if needed. FWIW, we had RedEyes onboard most of the destroyers and cruisers and these were broken out and tasked to crewman to fire from the signal bridge when airborne targets were expected or detected.


  5. 10 virgil xenophon
    June 24, 2010 at 03:28

    Yes, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about an exposed missile assembly–swivel-type like the old WWII subs guns–right behind the sail with some twin(IIRC) SAMS–looked almost like our Army Hawk assembly–again if a 40 year-old memory holds–on a conventional diesel. Ring a bell?

    • June 27, 2010 at 17:29

      I haven’t been able to track one down yet. However, I’ll keep looking because now you’ve piqued my interest 🙂

      • 12 J.M. Heinrichs
        June 29, 2010 at 03:48

        Just the Kilo class had the SAM mounting, in the sail. The use of larger AA mounts would probably be as successful as the U-Boat AAA systems of 1944.


  6. 13 SCOTT the BADGER
    June 24, 2010 at 22:38

    I know that on FRAMs it was the job of the Signalmen to man the Redeyes. I like the idea of a modern DE. 1X 5/54, 2 launchers for MK 46 torpedos, a 12 round VLS for ASROC, a rolling airframe missle launcher for air defense, and perhaps a couple of helos. I bet even with the sonar suite it would require, it would still cost less than a LCS.

  7. 14 virgil xenophon
    June 27, 2010 at 16:46


  8. 15 virgil xenophon
    June 27, 2010 at 17:24


  9. 16 lyn jones
    September 21, 2010 at 16:58

    What is wrong with our country? We were by the grace of Almighty God, the greatest of all countries. Everyone needs to read right now the book,”The 1980’s Countdown to Armageddon”. You don’t have to read it for spiritual purposes, just read it to understand what is going on today. I am at the age that I remember a lot of this happening that’s in this book and did not understand it at the time. But this past year I see God turning his back on the country that was so fantastic because of the stupidity and sins of men running it. 30 years ago the writer of this book tried to show the world the danger coming to us, and it’s almost here. KEEP WATCHING!!!

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