Russia Has a Christmas Gift for the U.S. Navy: Its Deadliest Submarine Ever

Mark Episkopos

The United Shipbuilding Corporation is expected to lay down the second Yasen-M submarine later this week, forging ahead with Russia’s most expensive post-Soviet submarine project.

Sevmash shipbuilding company director Mikhail Budnichenko told the Russian state news agency TASS that the keel-laying ceremony for Novosibirsk, the second Yasen-M submarine, will be held on December 25. Budnichenko added that two additional Yasen-M submarines will be laid down during the 2020 annual victory day celebration commemorating the surrender of Nazi Germany in World War II, as part of a procurement contract signed in the summer of 2019.

The Yasen-M line is a modernization package that is meant to account for the sixteen-year gap between the first commissioned Yasen vessel-- Severodvinsk-- and the upcoming Kazan submarine.

TASS is calling Novosibirsk the “first serially-produced submarine of the 885M ‘Yasen-M’ project” to be laid down; this, despite the fact that Kazan-- the flagship Yasen-M vessel-- was launched back in 2017 and is currently undergoing trials with the aim of being transferred to the Russian Navy in December 2020. There are two factors worth noting about this discrepancy. First, there is still some debate as to whether or not Kazan should be considered a serial Yasen-M unit, or as something of a technical intermediary between the original Severodvisnk and the recent line of Yasen-M vessels beginning with Novosibirsk. Secondly, TASS may still be correct in spirit even if not in letter; Novosibirsk is due to be commissioned before Kazan, which is undergoing additional testing after the discovery of “design flaws” in its “complex control systems.” 

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