The most lethal new subs in the growing Russian submarine arsenal are those of the Yuri Dolgoruky class, also known as the Project 955 Borey class. Construction of the Dolgoruky has been a protracted affair – the ship was laid down at the Sevmash military shipyard in Severodvinsk in 1996 but not launched until 2007. Sea trials began in 2009, but development of the ship's primary weapon, the Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), itself has been fraught with problems. It was only in 2014 that the submarine submerged with a full load of 16 ICBMs, according to Russian media.
A second Borey, the Alexander Nevsky, was laid down in March 2004 and began sea trials in 2011. Like the Dolgoruky, the ship and its missiles have experienced numerous problems, and trials continued at least through 2013. Vladimir Monomakh, the third Borey, was commissioned last December after eight years of construction and trials.
Three more Boreys are under construction, and Russian Navy chief Adm. Viktor Chirkov said in December two more would be laid down in 2015, for a total of eight, all expected to be in service by 2020. They will carry 128 nuclear tipped missiles within range of anything in the world.
The design of the Dolgorukys uses many features of earlier submarines. In fact, the first units used pieces and components built for earlier submarines that were either scrapped or never finished. Russian media reports indicate the Vladimir Monomakh used significant hull components of the decommissioned Akula-class attack submarine Ak Bars.
"I get the feeling for all the big talk from the Russians about building a new fleet, they're probably having trouble getting stuff," Norman Friedman, naval analyst and author, told Defense News. "For the first subs, they used pieces from earlier subs."
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