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Russia’s High-Tech Nuclear Submarine Delayed By Design Flaws

The auxiliary systems onboard the Yasen-M class submarine "Kazan" do not meet the Defense Ministry’s requirements.

Oleg Kuleshov

The delivery of Russia's most expensive and technically advanced nuclear submarine to the Russian Navy is being delayed by design flaws, Russian media have reported.

"Kazan" (K-561) is the first modernized multipurpose submarine of the Yasen-M class after "Severodvinsk" was handed over to the Northern Fleet in 2013. There are considerable changes in the auxiliary systems on "Kazan" compared with "Severodvinsk." While construction on "Severodvinsk" started just after the breakup of the U.S.S.R. in 1993, "Kazan" was laid down 16 years later, in 2009.

Serious technical challenges will need to be fixed before the Sevmash yard in Arkhangelsk region can hand the submarine over for active duty, several Russian media have reported.

"According to the results of mooring tests, as well as the test sailings during the winter, it was concluded that a number of auxiliary parts and assemblies of the vessel do not meet the tactical and technical requirements set by the Defense Ministry," a source in the defense industry was quoted by the state-run TASS news agency as saying.

"Kazan" was supposed to be handed over to the Navy in 2018, but was then delayed to 2019. "It is absolutely impossible to do all this before the end of the year," the person speaking to TASS said, commenting on fixing the flaws.

"It’s possible that it will take all of 2020, so Sevmash will be able to transfer 'Kazan' to the fleet only in 2021."

"Kazan" sailed out for its first sea trials in September last year.

Alexey Rakhmanov, head of the United Shipbuilding Corporation which Sevmash is part of, told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency that the sea trials have revealed a number of design flaws on the submarine.

"Testing submarines is not easy. First of all, we are talking about how the control systems, which were used for the first time on this submarine, work. Besides, I won't lie, a number of design flaws were discovered," Rakhmanov said to the state-controlled news agency.

When completed, the Yasen-M class submarines will be able to carry the advanced sea versions of the Kalibr and Onyz cruise missiles, in addition to mines and torpedoes. Some of these weapons can be armed with nuclear warheads.

"Kazan" was put on the water in March 2017. The sister vessels in the Yasen-M class are under construction in the ship halls at Sevmash. These are "Novosibirsk," "Arkhangelsk," "Krasnoyarsk," "Perm" and "Ulyanovsk."

Yasen and Yasen-M class are the Russian Navy's first fourth-generation multipurpose submarines.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports the cost of Yasen-M class to exceed 200 billion rubles (2.76 billion euros).

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