Russia has recently launched its first new generation nuclear submarine since the fall of the Soviet Union, as the Kremlin seeks to upgrade its undersea nuclear strike force. The long-delayed “Yuri Dolgoruky”, the first Borei-class (Arctic Wind) nuclear submarine, was moved to the dry docks at a highly secret submarine base in the Arctic town of Severodvinsk, the heart of Russia's northern submarine fleet.
The “Yuri Dolgoruky”, which takes its name from a Slavic prince who helped defend Moscow, can descend to a depth of 450 meters (1,500 feet) and can carry 107 sailors for 100 days without rising to the surface. But Russia has had problems developing the Bulava-M ballistic missiles, which the new submarines will carry. The missiles, which have a range of 8,000 km (5,000 miles), have misfired in four out the five recent tests.
The “Yuri Dolgoruky” has taken 12 years to build following funding problems in the chaos of the 1990s, when the post-Soviet navy and shipbuilding sector lost much of its talent.
The submarine, which is said had cost about 23 billion rubles ($890 million), should have been ready in 2002 but will enter full service in the northern fleet in 2008. Russia will build 8 of the new generation submarines by 2018, according to defence officials.