A proud ceremony took place in Severodvinsk as the navy’s “Yekaterinburg” was taken out from workshop at Zvezdochka yard after two years of repair and upgrades.
Expert on nuclear safety with the Bellona Foundation in Norway, Nils Bøhmer, says to BarentsObserver that the submarine should not have been put on water again.
““It is alarming that such an old submarine, so extensively destroyed by a major fire, now is back on the water again. There is unfortunately a big risk that next time this submarine is hit by a fire or other accident, we could have a real disaster,” says nuclear physisist Nils Bøhmer.
A film from the ceremony, posted by Zvezdochka on YouTube (go to 5:15), clearly shows the weld on the forward part of the outer hull where the cutting was made before the fire started in Christmas 2011. The fire took place while the submarine was in for hull repair at the floating dock at Roslyakova yard north of Murmansk. The fire made world-wide headlines, especially when it became clear that the intercontinental nuclear missiles with warheads where still onboard when the submarine caught fire.
In Severodvinsk, the submarine’s sonar and other equipment damaged in the fire in the first compartment is repaired.
“Yekaterinburg” (K-84) is one of the Russian Northern fleet’s seven Delta-IV class submarines that can carry up to 16 missiles. Commissioned back in 1985, she is one of the oldest still-sailing nuclear powered submarines in the fleet. With the recent upgrade, “Yekaterinburg” is expected to be in service even beyond 2020 as the backbone of Russia’s naval nuclear deterrent.
“The repair and extended life-time of the Delta-class results in substantially exceeded regulatory terms of the submarines,” says Zvezdochka director Vladimir Nikitin in a comment posted on the naval yard’s portal.
Next Delta-IV class submarine to be upgraded in Severodvinsk is “Tule” the sistership of “Yekaterinburg”. She will be taken into the workshop later this year.
In the longer run, all Delta-IV class missile subs will be replaced by the newer Borei-class.