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Russia Submarine Import and Export Behavior


Russia is an exporter of submarines and does not import them.


The Soviet and later Russian nuclear submarine program involved a variety of industrial enterprises. It encompassed an expansive network of research, design, and production centers, including the world's largest shipbuilding complex, known today as the Russian State Center for Atomic Shipbuilding (GRTsAS) in Severodvinsk, made up of two shipyards: the Northern Machine-Building Enterprise (more commonly referred to as Sevmash), and the Zvezdochka State Machine-Building Enterprise. The Severodvinsk shipyards are involved in the design, construction, testing, repair, and decommissioning of nuclear-powered ships.

Previously, construction of nuclear-powered submarines was also carried out at the Amurskiy Zavod shipyard in Komsomolsk-na-Amure, in the Russian Far East. However, although the Zvezda shipyard in Primorskiy Kray continues to be used for submarine dismantlement, all nuclear submarine modernization procedures are now carried out at the Severodvinsk shipyards in the Russian Northwest.

Submarine Tables for Russia

To date, neither Russia nor the Soviet Union before it has sold nuclear submarines to foreign parties. However, technology transfer from the Soviet Union assisted the Chinese in the construction of their first nuclear boat in 1966, which copied but was not identical to Soviet Project 629 (NATO name Golf) class submarines. In addition, from 1988 to 1991 the Soviet Union leased a Project 670 Skat (NATO name Charlie I) class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine, the K-43 (renamed Chakra while in Indian service). The reactors were operated by a Soviet crew and the vessel was returned to the Soviet Union. [1] In the late 1990s, Russia and India began discussing the possible lease of a Project 971 Shchuka B (NATO name Akula II) submarine. [2] President Medvedev confirmed that the Kremlin was considering the deal during his trip to India in December 2008. On 4 April 2012, Defense Minister A. K. Antony commissioned the Akula-II class K-152 Nerpa, rechristening it the INS Chakra II. The Indian Navy is leasing the submarine for a 10-year period at an estimated cost of USD 920 million. [3] Russia had expected to transfer the Nerpa to India a couple of years earlier, but was forced to delay its plans in November 2008 after the vessel suffered an onboard accident while undergoing sea trials in the Sea of Japan. [4] The Russian Navy's Shchuka B submarines are equipped with 28 cruise missiles, each armed with nuclear or conventional warheads with a striking range of 3,000 km. However, the Indian version is armed with the 300-km Klub missiles already installed on the Project 1135 (NATO name Krivak) class frigates and the Project 877 Varshavyanka (NATO name Kilo) class diesel submarines Russia has built for India.

Russia, like the Soviet Union before it, has a large diesel submarine production program and actively exports these boats. The height of Soviet submarine exports came between 1960 and 1980, when some 90 diesel boats were exported around the world. The most-exported submarine was the Project 613 (NATO name Whiskey) class boat: 61 submarines of this class were exported to eight countries. In the early 1970s, the Soviets also exported large numbers of Project 633 (Romeo) class submarines, which became the mainstay of the Chinese fleet. By the mid-1970s, the Soviet Union had begun exporting Project 641 (Foxtrot) class submarines. Finally, in the mid-1980s, it started selling the Project 877 Varshavyanka (NATO name Kilo), and its later variant Project 636 class submarines, which are the mainstay of its current export program. Contracts for 37 Varshavyankas have been concluded to date, including three to Iran in the early 1990s, as well as boats sold to India, China, Poland, Romania and Algeria. Additional countries that have purchased Project 636 Kilo-class submarines include Indonesia, who ordered two in 2007 at a cost of $200 million each, and Vietnam, who ordered six of the vessels in December 2009 at a cost of $2 billion. [5] In 2008, there were also reports that Venezuela was planning to purchase six Project 636 submarines. [6] Both the Project 636 Kilo-class and the export version of the Project-677, the Amur-1650, are equipped with the Novator 3M-54 Klub-S integrated missile system. The Amur-1650 has also been fitted with a new anti-sonar coating for its hull, as well as advanced anti-ship and anti-submarine weaponry.

Varshavyanka-class submarine for the Indian Navy, Zvezdochka Shipyard, Severodvinsk Zvezdochka, www.star.ru

China has emerged as a critical importer of Russian-made naval equipment. In 1994, Beijing purchased four diesel-electric Varshavyankas from Russia, including two improved Project 636 models. It is believed that these four original vessels will be taken to Russian shipyards in the near future to be retrofitted with the Klub-S anti-ship missile system. Today, however, China's inventory of kilo-class submarines has risen to twelve, with the remaining eight being Project 636 or 636M variants armed with Klub-S missiles. An order for an additional eight submarines was completed in 2002, and by 2007 all of the submarines had been delivered. Five of these submarines were built at the Admiralty Shipyard in St. Petersburg, with the remainder being constructed at the Sevmash Shipyard in Severodvinsk and Krasnoye Sormovo in Nizhniy Novgorod. Some sources also suggest that Russia has continued to assist China in its construction of nuclear-powered submarines. [7]

India is another key export market for Russian submarines. Besides the lease of the INS Chakra II (mentioned above), India has imported ten Varshavyankas (known in India as the Sindhughosh-class), six of which are equipped with the 3M-54 Klub-S missile system. [8] Furthermore, Russia is reportedly part of a joint bid with Germany's HDW for the sale of submarines and submarine construction technology to India. Russian participation likely focuses on the submarines' weapon systems (Russia has been jointly developing the BrahMos missile with India).

The chief promoter of Russian submarine exports is the Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering in St. Petersburg, which designed three generations of Russian nuclear- and diesel-powered submarines, including all of Russia's diesel submarine exports. Rubin showcases these vessels at international defense exhibitions. The boats are constructed at the Admiralteyskiye Verfi (Admiralty Shipyards) in St. Petersburg, the Krasnoye Sormovo Shipyard in Nizhniy Novgorod, and the Amurskiy Shipyard. The Malakhit (or Malachite) Central Marine-Engineering Design Bureau in St. Petersburg has also been a major designer of submarines, submarine power plants (both nuclear and diesel), and submarine-launched weaponry since its formation in 1948. More recently, it has turned to the design and production of mini-submarines, for military and civilian uses. [9]

Amur-class Submarine Rubin, www.ckb-rubin.ru

Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering

Since the Rubin design bureau was founded in 1901, it has designed more than 20 submarine classes, totaling approximately 950 submarines, of which 138 were nuclear. [10,11] With waning demand and resources for nuclear submarine production, the state-controlled Rubin design bureau has focused its efforts on establishing commercial exports of fourth generation Project 667 Amur-class and Varshavyanka-class diesel submarines. [12] Diesel submarines built from Rubin designs serve in 14 navies around the world.

The first exports of Project 877E (Varshavyanka) class submarines were delivered to the Polish and Indian navies in April 1986. Project 877EKM is a modification of 877E, including new cruise missiles, inertial navigation, and automated information and control systems. Sindhushastra, the lead boat of Project 877EKM, outfitted with the Klub-S cruise missile (NATO name SS-NX-27 Alfa) complex, was built at Admiralty Shipyards and handed over to India in 2000. Russia is also refitting earlier Project 877E boats with the Klub-S missile system; India, for example, has had five Varshavyankas refit with the Klub-S system. [13]

The Amur-class is the export version of the Project 667 (Lada) class submarine. An extremely quiet boat, the Amur can be outfitted with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems. The Amur is smaller than the Varshavyanka, designed for operation in littoral waters; it is expected to cost significantly less than the Varshavyanka boats. [14] The first of class, Sankt Peterburg, a Project 667 boat for the Russian Navy, was launched by Admiralty Shipyards in October 2004. The most likely customer for the export version, the Amur 1650, is India. [15]

In 2005, Rubin also entered into a joint venture with the Italian shipyard Fincantieri to develop a new diesel-electric submarine, the S-1000, which is based on the Amur-class and uses AIP technology. [16] India was reportedly interested in purchasing this vessel, and was considering an Italian offer to build six boats for $3.5 billion. However, no agreement materialized. [17]

Malakhit Central Marine-Engineering Design Bureau

The Malakhit design bureau was founded in 1948, and takes credit for designing the Soviet Union's first nuclear-powered submarine (the Project 627, NATO name November, class SSN), which was constructed at Sevmash. Malakhit worked in close cooperation with the Kurchatov Institute, and designers at Malakhit were the first Russians to outfit nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles. [18] Malakhit also designed the world's first nuclear submarine equipped with heavy metal-cooled reactors, the Project 645 (a.k.a. November-class), and participated in the creation of the world's first titanium-hulled nuclear submarine, the Project 661 Anchar (NATO name Papa) SSGN. [19] Most recently, Malakhit has been developing new unified torpedo-missile armament systems to accommodate the latest types of cruise missiles, torpedoes, rocket-assisted torpedoes, and mines, and remains the leader in designing hardware for the Russian Navy. [20]

In the export sphere, Malakhit's main push has been the export of mini-submarines, small submarines, and equipment for the oil and gas market. The Triton-class mini-submarine is even being promoted to commercial customers for tourism. For foreign navies, Malakhit is promoting the Project 865 Piranya (NATO name Losos) class mini-submarine to Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Near East, which appeared at expositions in Indonesia (February 2005), and Singapore (May 2005). [21,22] The Piranya was originally designed for the Soviet Navy; the first of class was laid down in July 1984. While the Russian Navy no longer uses Piranyas (only two were ever built), Malakhit believes that the vessel, which is quick and relatively inexpensive to build, is well-suited to navies that must operate in shallow waters. There have also been negotiations with France over joint construction and sale of Piranyas to third countries. According to Russian sources, these offers, initiated at the November 2004 EuroNavale expo in Paris, await French government approval. [23]

The Malakhit design bureau designed the Project 971 Shchuka-B or Bars (NATO name Akula) class nuclear-powered submarine. It also designed the Project 885 Yasen-class nuclear attack submarine for the Russian Navy, the second vessel of which, the Kazan, was laid down in 2009 at the Severodvinsk shipyard. [24] The first vessel, the Severodvinsk, began sea trials in 2011, and is expected to join the Northern Fleet of the Russian Navy by the end of 2013. [25]

Project 636 (Improved Kilo) submarine, Admiralty Admiralty Website, www.admship.ru

Northern Machine-Building Enterprise (Sevmash)

The largest of the two shipyards of the Russian State Center for Atomic Shipbuilding (GRTsAS) in Severodvinsk, the Northern Machine-Building Enterprise (more commonly referred to as Sevmash) began building nuclear-powered submarines in 1952. By 1995, Sevmash had constructed 125 submarines and had produced all the Northern Fleet's SSBNs. [26, 27] Currently, the shipyard is constructing fourth-generation submarines for the Russian Navy. These include the second and third vessels from the new Borey-class SSBN, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh, as well as the second vessel of the new Yasen-class SSGN, the Kazan. On July 27, 2005, Sevmash launched the second of two diesel-electric Kilo-class submarines the yard is building for export under contract to Rosoboroneksport. The first was launched in May 2005. The two submarines were the first diesel boats constructed at Sevmash in 40 years. [28] Sevmash is also reported to have provided technical assistance to Iran during a refit of its three Kilo-class submarines at Bandar Abbas in mid-2005. [29]

Zvezdochka State Machine-Building Enterprise

The smaller of the two shipyards of the Russian State Center for Atomic Shipbuilding (GRTsAS) in Severodvinsk, Zvezdochka, was commissioned in 1954. Since its establishment, the yard has repaired and modernized over 100 first-, second-, and third-generation submarines. [30] More recently, Zvezdochka has been involved with dismantling SSBNs under START I. Zvezdochka also constructs submarines for export, and repairs submarines previously exported. For example, it has overhauled and modernized several of India's Project 877EKM Varshavyanka (Kilo) class submarines. [31] Two of India's Kilo-class submarines, the Sindhugosh and Sindhuvijay, have already been equipped with the Club S (SS-N-27) missile at Zvezdochka, and there are plans to retrofit four additional vessels with the missile system during the next five years. This work is likely to be carried out at Indian shipyards. [32] Furthermore, five of India's Kilo-class submarines have already been overhauled at Zvezdochka. Most recently, the modernized Sindhurakshak was returned to India in January 2013. [33] These submarine upgrades include improvements to the hull structure, as well as improved control, and sonar and electronic warfare systems.

Admiralteyskiye Verfi (Admiralty Shipyards)

Also known as Admiralty-Sudomekh, United Admiralty, and Leningradskoye Admiralteyskoye Obedineniye, Admiralteyskiye Verfi is a former nuclear submarine production facility, and consists of two side-by-side shipyards in St. Petersburg. [34,35] Unlike Sevmash and Zvezdochka, both state-owned entities, Admiralteyskiye Verfi is a joint stock company. To date, the Admiralty Shipyards have built 298 submarines, of which 41 were nuclear. The shipyard is currently building a series of new Project 667 Lada-class submarines for the Russian Navy, and has laid down an Amur 1650 (the export variant of the Lada), but has yet to find a buyer. It had promoted the boat to India, but in 2001 India decided to purchase French Scorpènes instead. [36] Additionally, Admiralty Shipyards has built a line of Varshavyanka submarines for the Indian and Chinese navies. The shipyard built five of the eight SSKs ordered by Beijing, and is likely to build six Kilo-class submarines for delivery to Vietnam. [37] In June 2006 Rosoboroneksport signed a $400 million contract with the Algerian Navy to build two Project 636 Kilo-class submarines, and these vessels are currently being constructed at Admiralty. [38] The shipyard also has contracts to modernize Indian and Chinese Project 877EKM Kilos (outfitting them as Project 636 vessels); each such contract is worth approximately $1 million.

Krasnoye Sormovo Shipyard

The Krasnoye Sormovo Shipyard was founded in 1849. It built the Soviet Union's second- and third-generation Project 670 Skat and Chayka (NATO name Charlie I and Charlie II) SSGNs; Project 671 Ersh, Semga, and Schuka (NATO name Victor I, Victor II, and Victor III) SSNs; Project 945 Barrakuda (NATO name Sierra) SSNs; and Project 641 Som (NATO name Tango) and Varshavyanka diesel submarines. [39] In 1994, the shipyard was privatized. [40] Since that time, the yard has constructed three Kilos for China. [41] In 2005 it delivered its last Project 636 submarine to China. Although Krasnoye Sormovo has not produced any Kilo-class submarines since 2005, it is said to have maintained its production capability, and there are suggestions that it wishes to be included in the contract to build six new vessels for the Vietnam Navy. [42]

Amuirskiy Zavod

The Amurskiy Sudostroitelnyy Zavod, located in Komsomolsk-na-Amure, Khabarovsk territory in the Russian Far East, began operations in 1957. [43] The shipyard produced 56 submarines from 1960 to 1996. Because the shallow waters of the Amur River prevented the launching of large vessels, Amurskiy Zavod built only smaller SSBNs—Project 667A Navaga (NATO name Yankee) and Project 667B Murena (NATO name Delta I) SSNs; Project 971 Shchuka B (NATO name Akula); Project 671 Ersh and Shchuka (NATO name Victor I and III); and Varshavyanka-class diesel submarines. [44, 45]

In November 1992, President Boris Yeltsin announced the termination of nuclear submarine construction at Amurskiy Zavod, and the consolidation of future nuclear submarine production at the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk. [46, 47] An Akula SSN (the K-295 or Drakon), completed at Bolshoy Kamen's Vostok Plant (Primorskiy Kray) in 1995, was the last nuclear submarine released from the Komsomolsk-na-Amure plant. Despite the presidential order, however, two nuclear submarines remained under construction at the facility. The two submarines were Project 971 Shchuka-B (NATO name Akula II) class submarines. [48] During President Vladimir Putin's October 1999 visit to the facility (when Putin was prime minister), the decision that one submarine would be completed and the other used for spare parts in Severodvinsk was announced. [49] However, instead of being dismantled, the latter vessel was simply mothballed. Meanwhile, reports continued to surface that India would lease the first Akula II completed at Amurskiy Shipyard (discussed above).

The shipyard has been unsuccessful in obtaining new contracts for the construction of Kilo-class submarines for export. In May 2002, Russia's export agency (Rosoboroneksport) signed a contract for the sale of eight Kilos to China. Initially, Amurskiy Zavod was to build two of these vessels. However, in June of that year the Russian Shipbuilding Agency transferred the contract to Sevmash instead, reportedly saying that strategic exports should be made by state-owned, not private, shipyards. However, Krasnoye Sormovo, a private yard, retained its contract for one of the Chinese Kilos. [50]

[1] Yuriy Golotyuk, "My na lodke katalis...," Vremya novostey, February 15, 2001; in WPS Oborona i Bezopasnost, February 19, 2001; in Integrum Techno, www.integrum.ru.
[2] Marina Kravchenko, "Boris Aleshin raskonserviroval atomnyye submariny dlya Indii," Kommersant, October 11, 2004; in Integrum Techno, www.integrum.ru.
[3] "India Launches Nuclear Submarine," Jane's Intelligence Weekly, 4 April 2012, www.janes.com.
[4] ET Bureau, "INS Chakra: Govt Inducts Russian-origin Akula II class Nerpa into Navy," The Economic Times, April 4, 2012, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com.
[5] "Vietnam orders submarines and warplanes from Russia," BBC, 16 December 2009, news.bbc.co.uk.
[6] "Russia to sell 3 submarines to Venezuela," USA Today, 4 April 2008, www.usatoday.com
[7] "Submarine Forces of China," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 11 November 2009, www.janes.com.
[8] International Institute of Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2009 (London: Routledge, 2009).
[9] "Sankt-Peterburgskoye morskoye byuro "Malakhit" rossiyskogo agentstva po sudostroyeniyu pravitelstva RF," Biznes Sankt Peterburga Website, www.spb-business.ru.
[10] Thomas Nilsen, Igor Kudrik, and Alexander Nikitin, "Nuclear-powered vessels," The Russian Northern Fleet, Bellona Foundation, www.bellona.no.
[11] Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering Rubin Website, www.ckb-rubin.com.
[12] Starshell, "World Submarine Developments," www.naval.ca.
[13] Nikolai Novichkov, "Fifth Indian submarine to get Club-S," Jane's Missiles and Rockets, August 1, 2002.
[14] David Markov, "Europe, More Details Surface of Rubin's 'Kilo' Plans," Jane's Intelligence Review, May 1, 1997, www.janes.com.
[15] "Moscow may help India build closed-cycle submarines," RIA Novosti, 27 March 2013, en.rian.ru
[16] "Russia, Italy Developing Joint Conventional Submarine," ITAR-TASS, December 16, 2005; FBIS Document CEP20051216027020.
[17] Vivek Raghuvanshi, "India Considers New Italian-Russian Submarine," DefenseNews.com, 20 February 2006, www.defensenews.com; Shiv Kumar, "Navy pitches in for Russian Amur submarine," The Tribune, 24 January 2007, www.tribuneindia.com.
[18] Thomas Nilsen, Igor Kudrik, and Alexander Nikitin, "Nuclear-powered vessels," The Russian Northern Fleet, Bellona Foundation, www.bellona.no.
[19] Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering Rubin Website, www.ckb-rubin.com.
[20] Thomas Nilsen, Igor Kudrik, and Alexander Nikitin, "Nuclear-powered vessels," The Russian Northern Fleet, Bellona Foundation, www.bellona.no.
[21] "Morskoye byuro mashinostroyeniya 'Malakhit' prognoziruyet rezkiy rost sprosa na malyye podvodnyye lodki," ITAR-TASS, February 17, 2005, http://armstass.su.
[22] Sergey Zavorotnyy, "V Singapure shtormilo," Tribuna, May 28, 2005, p. 6; in Integrum Techno, www.integrum.ru
[23] Andrey Mikhaylov, "Podvodnyye lodki: nash otvet 'supostatu,'" Pravda.ru, November 3, 2004, www.pravda.ru.
[24] "Yasen class (Project 885)," Jane's Fighting Ships, 7 August 2009, www.janes.com.

[25] "APL Severodvinsk vyshla v Beloye Morye na ocherednoy etap ispytaniy," RIA Novosti, June 3, 2013, www.rian.ru.
[26] Oleg Bukharin and Joshua Handler, "Russian Nuclear-Powered Submarine Decommissioning," Science and Global Security, vol. 5, 1995, p. 251.
[27] "APL Severodvinsk vyshla v Beloye Morye na ocherednoy etap ispytaniy," RIA Novosti, June 3, 2013, www.rian.ru.
[28] Vladimir Anufriyev, "Na oboronnoy verfi Sevmash v Severodvinske spushchena na vodu vtoraya dizel-elektricheskaya podvodnaya lodka, postroyennaya na eksport," ITAR-TASS, July 27, 2005; in Integrum Techno, www.integrum.ru.
[29] "Iran's Naval Forces," The Office of Naval Intelligence, Fall 2009.
[30] Pavel Kachur, "Sindhuvir Operational Again," Military Parade, September-October 1999, p. 32.

[31] Nikolai Kalistratov, "Zvyozdochka: Russia's Ship Repair Industry Leader," Military Parade, May-June 1998, pp. 78-80.

[32] "Russia to equip four Indian subs with cruise missiles," RIA Novosti, 16 September 2009, www.rian.ru.
[33] "Russia delivers upgraded fifth Kilo-class submarine to Indian Navy," Net Resources International, 30 January 2013, www.naval-technology.com.
[34] Valery Marinin, "Nuclear Submarine Construction in Russia," Military Parade, March-April 1995, pp. 114-119.
[35] Robin Lee, "Ongoing Naval Construction Programs," State of the Russian Navy Data Page, www.webcom.com.
[36] Aleksandra Gritskova and Konstantin Lantratov, "Rossiya osnastit Iranskiye podlodki raketami," Kommersant, July 4, 2005, p. 6; in Integrum Techno, www.integrum.ru.
[37] "Russia to build 6 Kilo-class diesel submarines for Vietnam," RIA Novosti, 27th April 2009, www.rian.ru.
[38] "Algerian Navy (Algeria)," Jane's Naval Construction and Retrofit Markets, June 2008, www.janes.com.
[39] Robin Lee, "Ongoing Naval Construction Programs," State of the Russian Navy Data Page, www.webcom.com.
[40] Yevgeniya Morozova, "The Ships Got Caught in a Gale: Post-Privatization Passions Have Become More Intense at Nizhniy Novgorod's 'Krasnoye Sormovo' Plant on the Eve of the Anniversary at the Well-Known Russian Military Industrial Complex Enterprise," Segodnya, August 6, 1999, p. 6; in "Krasnoye Sormovo Plant Survival in VPK Struggles," FBIS Document FTS19990815000542.
[41] Praym-TASS, "'Varshavyanka' poydet v Kitay," Rossiyskaya gazeta, March 25, 2000; in Natsio http://nel.nns.ru.
[42] "Nizhniy Novgorod authorities petition for local plant to build sub," Agentstvo Biznes Monitoringa, 9 December 2009.
[43] Oleg Bukharin and Joshua Handler, "Russian Nuclear-Powered Submarine Decommissioning," Science and Global Security, vol. 5, 1995, p. 251.
[44] Bellona Report, www.ngo.grida.no.
[45] "Yeltsin: No More Red Submarines?" Arms Control Today, November 1992, p. 35.
[46] Bellona Report, www.ngo.grida.no.
[47] "Yeltsin: No More Red Submarines?" Arms Control Today, November 1992, p. 35.
[48] Interfax, July 9, 1997, "Payments for Two Nuclear Submarines Uncertain;" in FBIS-UMA-97-190.
[49] "Vremya" newscast, October 27, 1999; in "Russian Premier Visits Nuke Sub and Aircraft Plants," FBIS Document FTS19991104001084.
[50] Anna Smolina, "Ushla kitayskaya podlodka," Kommersant (St. Petersburg), October 22, 2004; in Integrum Techno, www.integrum.ru.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents.


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