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Brand new attack submarine not ready for service

The 120 metre long multi-armed nuclear powered submarine "Severodvinsk"before sailing the White Sea last autumn. Photo: Military-Today.com

Russia’s first Graney-class submarine should have been on duty now, but today the Russian Defence Ministry announces a more than one year delay.

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“The deadlines for the contract of the Russian Navy to bring the Yasen class (NATO name Graney class) submarine into service were not fulfilled, the deadline was delayed to 2012, Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister Aleksandr Sukhorukov told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.

The first of the Graney class, named “Severodvinsk” was supposed to be transferred from the Sevmash shipyard to the navy by the end of 2011 after a test period last autumn. The submarine had her maiden voyage in the White Sea in September.

Upon return the port at Sevmash, the press-service of the naval construction yard said all tests of the submarine’s systems and installations went according to plan, BarentsObserver reported. “Severodvinsk” was then said to continue sea trials after all identified deviations have been eliminated.

The Defence Ministry doesn’t give details on what now causes the postponement.

The price tag on the construction of “Severodvinsk” has been a long-lasting torn in the relations between United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) and the Defence Ministry. The ministry had to cash out 50 billion RUB - making it the single most expensive ever built at the naval yard in the city with the same name as the submarine.

Today’s announcement comes on top of a story that started nearly 20 years ago. The first welding work with the hull of the “Severodvinsk” started back in December 1993 following blueprints and drawings that still had the USSR-stamps. According to the first plans, the submarine was to be launched in 1995 and commissioned for the navy in 1998. The long construction period for the submarine was caused not only by economical problems in the 90ties, but also an essentially new design of the hull and weaponry onboard.

If the submarine finally set course for a homeport somewhere on the coast of the Kola Peninsula in 2013, parts of the hull will already be 20 years old.

Severodvinsk” is the first of Russia’s new fourth generation multi-purpose submarines of the Graney-class. The submarine is the most heavily multi-armed submarine put to sea since the Oscar-II class. While the Oscar-II class, like the ill-fated “Kursk” submarine, can carry cruise-missiles with a limited range, the new Graney-class carries a variety of long-range cruise missiles. The new missiles is by RIA Novosti said to have a range of up to 5,000 kilometres. Due to the missiles long-range, the submarine is rather to be categorized as a sub-strategic weapon than a traditional attack submarine.

Severodvinsk” is not the first post-Soviet submarine that faces challenges after tests during the maiden voyage. In November BarentsObserver reported that the crew onboard the brand new strategic submarine “Aleksandr Nevsky” were afraid to sail the advanced submarine due to “dozens of major flaws.”