Notes: In 1977, the SKB-18 (Kormilitsin) design bureau began work on a 4th generation SSGN. In 1985 a design was finalized, incorporating the best elements of the latest SSGN and SSN classes into a multi-role sub. The keel of Severodvinsk was laid at the Northern Machine-Building Enterprise (today Sevmash) in the city of Severodvinsk on 21 December 1993.
Work stopped almost immediately after it started, and was not resumed until 1996. At that time, Jane’s Fighting Ships stated that it had a new targeted in-service date of 1998. However work stopped again in 1997, not resuming until a brief spell in 2000. In 2006 Severodvinsk was only in 25% of a state required to launch. It seemed the vessel was abandoned, however in 2007 the Russian navy stated it wanted to refocus away from specialized SSN/SSGN types towards combined-arms designs, of which this would be the obvious first step. In 2008 work resumed and in February 2009, Sevmash stated that completing the sub was now it’s top priority. In March 2010, Sevmash announced that the hull was nearly structurally complete and that the sub would be launched on 7 May 2010, as part of Russia’s annual WWII commemoration week. However on 14 April 2010, it was announced that this date could not be met and the sub was not launched until that June.
Eleven planned sisters were cancelled early on. However on 30 March 2009, the Russian navy restored the orders for five more subs of this class. On 26 July 2009, the second hull was formally ordered from Sevmash. The Russian navy announced it planned to build a total of six units of this class, with the final four units being launched one per year between 2013-2016. The final four units will be to a revised “Project 885.1 Yasen-M” design although what the changes will be has not yet been said.
Starting with Kazan, the class is to have systems completely of Russian Federation origin. Previously, Russian shipbuilding has been hampered by the need to import systems such as sonar hydrophones, pumps, etc from other ex-Soviet nations.
On 1 February 2012, Russia announced that the in-service date for Severodvinsk had been pushed into 2013 due to unspecified problems during her 2011-2012 sea trials. Severodvinsk is currently homeported at her namesake of Severodvinsk, Russia. In August 2012, a civilian Russian news source stated that the submarine's problems were much more severe than the navy was letting on, specifically that the reactor as failing to deliver the anticipated power output, and that the electronics systems were not inter-operating properly.
Propulsion: The class was designed with a “monoblock” reactor; meaning the entire propulsion system (PWR, coolant loops, turbines, generators, coolant pumps) is contained within the reactor compartment. The advantage is the obvious space/weight savings, the disadvantage is that any repairs can only be done in-port with the reactor shut down and the compartment ventilated. The reactor is intended to have a lifespan as long as the submarine’s (about 25 years). Initially, the class was intended to have a PJP but later Russian navy display models show a traditional skewed 7-bladed propeller. Then in early 2010, a drawing showing a PJP again was released. Two small maneuvering thrusters are included.
Weapons: Eight launch tubes for SS-NX-26 Yakhont cruise missiles are carried, each housing three missiles. Some cutaway drawings show them angled (as on the sole “Charlie III” class Novgorod Velikiy) while others vertical. The supersonic, anti-ship SS-NX-26 has a range between 69NM - 161NM depending on the flight profile selected. Early drawings with the spherical sonar array (see “Sensors” section below) showed eight 21” torpedo tubes amidships in the American style. More recent models showed six amidships 21” tubes and two large 650mm tubes atop a cylindrical bow array, but in 2010 a new sketch appeared showing eight 650mm tubes, all amidships. Loadout would be thirty weapons: torpedoes (types SAET-60, UGST, TEST-71ME, and the new type TE-2 if it is actually in fleet service). If 650mm tubes are installed, the SS-N-16 “Stallion” ASW missile could also be supported. Finally several sources state that tubes linered down to 21” could also fire the “Klub” family of missiles, specifically the 3M51 Alfa (Klub-S) land-attack model. The MDS mobile mine will also be carried, as will the MG-74ME tube-fired decoy.
Several defense-industry websites have stated that the Russian navy is working on a “Project Grom (thunder)” strategic cruise missile as an alternate to the endless problems experienced by the SS-NX-30 Bulova SLBM. The stated range for the proposed missile is 2400NM, which would be astonishing for a cruise missile. The Project 885 would likely carry this missile, if it is ever built.
Sensors: Initially this class was to have the Irtysh-Amfora combined spherical/hull/towed array system (as tested in the “Yankee Pod“ SSAN), however later display models show a “Shark Gill” cylindrical array. The “Shark Tail” towed passive array is streamed from the upper rudder, rather than a “bullet” housing (however a 2010 drawing showed the towed array streamed from a fairing on the lower port-side hull). Models have shown a “Pert Spring” SATCOM and two periscopes extended, it can be assumed that a “Snoop”-series radar is included plus most likely the “Amber Light” and “Rim Hat” EW masts, a RDF (likely “Park Lamp”), and Kremmny-2 IFF.
Control systems: It has been reported that Severodvinsk will use the “Ash-M” system; this is apparently a multi-sensor integration with the sub’s fire control and navigation systems (somewhat similar in concept to the USN’s AN/BSY-1). The Severodvinsk will be able to interface with the “Legend” satellite-based anti-ship targeting system.
Miscellaneous: The VSK escape pod is carried in the sail. The outer hull has the same anechoic coating as seen on the “Delta IV” class SSBNs. According to the Bellona website, the hull uses reduced-magnetism steel but this is not confirmed by any other source. It is so far unclear if this class will use non-penetrating optronic periscopes, or a traditional design. The Paravan towed antenna is likely carried. The class was originally intended to have a crew of just 50 but this has apparently been revised upwards; perhaps due to experiences with the many automated systems aboard the now-discarded “Alfa” class SSNs.
Displacement: 9500t surfaced, 13,800t submerged Dimensions: 396’x41’3”x30’ Machinery: Nuclear: 1 PWR (likely OK-650V), 1 shaft (see notes) Max speed: 16kts surfaced, 31 ¾ kts submerged Diving Depth: 984’ operational, 1804’ test, 2100’ crush Complement: 90 (32 officers, 58 enlisted)