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Borei submarine

The Borei Submarine is the most up to date nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine in the Russian fleet. With work starting in 1996, the Borei has been introduced to replace a host of outdated vessels including the Delta III, Delta IV and the Typhoon.

Borei’s birth

The very first submarine of this class, the Yury Dolgoruky was eventually completed in 2007. Work first began on the vessel in 1996 but with severe delays, mainly caused by funding issues, this initial phase of the project was to take eleven years.

Originally known as Project 935, the name was changed to Project 955 after the missile that the submarine was intended to carry was redesigned. The new vessel also had to be altered in order to accommodate its new cargo.


As the first submarine of its class to be launched in the post Soviet era, the Borei is extremely advanced with a crew of 130 in operation. It has an operational diving depth of 380 metres with a maximum depth of 450 metres and can stay at sea for up to 100 days.

The adaptation for Russia’s new class of nuclear armoury means that it has six 533 millimetre torpedo tubes and is capable of carrying sixteen Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missiles. The Borei is 160 metres in length and can travel at a submerged speed of 26 knots.


Lack of funding played a huge part in early delays and this was certainly a significant reason as to why it took eleven years from initial construction to launch. The Yury Dolgoruky was originally scheduled for launch in 2002 and many experts blame budget constraints for a further five year delay but there were other factors too.

The Borei experienced repeated failures during test launches of the Bulava missiles and at one point it was suggested that the sub should be modified to carry R-29RMU Sineva missiles instead.

Final launch

The very first Borei submarine was unveiled on 15th April 2007 with senior military and government personnel in attendance. However, it didn’t engage in sea trials until June 2009 and largely because of on-going problems with the Bulava missile launch, it is yet to be fully operational.

Two more Borei submarines are also awaiting fully complete construction followed by service – the Alexander Nevskiy which was rolled out into floating dock in December 2010 and the Vladimir Monomakh which is expected to be launched sometime in 2012.

The future

The history of the Borei submarine has been plagued by financial issues and by technical problems but it is truly an impressive vessel with first class specifications. It is claimed that a further eight submarines will be completed by the end of 2020 which should finally see an end to the Delta subs that form part of a currently outdated fleet.

In addition, there are signs that the complications involving missile launching are being dealt with and after a Bulava slbm was successfully fired in June 2011, the ‘teething troubles’ of these impressive vessels could finally have been addressed.

Matt Harris

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