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Changes introduced into SSBN design


Changes have been introduced into the design of Borey-A-class nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) of project 955A. The Knyaz Vladimir is the first renewed sub which is completing trials. It had its superstructure remade and the bowlines became more streamlined. The changes improve seaworthiness and decrease underwater noise. Transformations of project 955A SSBN are likely to continue, the Izvestia daily writes.


Changes introduced into SSBN design K-535 Yuri Dolgoruky, first Borei-class ballistic missile submarine of the Project 955 in service with the Russian Navy (Picture source: Schekinov Alexey Victorovich)


The exterior of the first SSBN of project 955A radically differs from predecessors, such as the Yuri Dolgoruky, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh. There is no so-called horn of the missile launching platform behind the deckhouse of the Knyaz Vladimir. There are no grooves in front of the deckhouse which likely contain acoustic systems of project 955 SSBN. Besides, the bowlines are more streamlined. The superstructure exterior has changed. Project 955 SSBN have a canted superstructure. The Knyaz Vladimir has the deckhouse of traditional profile.

The Knyaz Oleg which is to follow the Knyaz Vladimir will have a unique profile. The final exterior of subsequent project 955A subs will be selected after comparison trials of both SSBN and the better option will be chosen, sources in the Defense Ministry said.

The Soviet Navy often changed the exterior of major submarines and green-water warships. It was mostly due to new equipment and arms installed on new ships of the series.

It is normal practice that the exterior of the lead ship differs from subsequent ones, Rear Admiral and former commander of a nuclear submarine, Hero of Russia Vsevolod Khmyrov said.

"The lead warship is used to test various arms and technologies. After trials, changes are introduced into the systems, arms and communications. The contract allows the flagship to differ from subsequent warships which often happens. Warships and submarines are built by unique projects. They are not copied like civilian vessels," he said.

Visual changes of the submarine exterior concern light hull transformation. Its geometry and lines usually change after a new monitoring system, antennas and upgraded arms are installed on the submarine. There can be no design changes, but the hull is changed to improve seaworthiness, Khmyrov said.

Changes may be triggered by the end of Soviet-era design elements for project 971 submarines which were used to build project 955 SSBN. In particular, the Yuri Dolgoruky used the design of the unbuilt Kuguar K-137.

Submarine upgrade is a necessary step. Twenty-three years have passed since the laying of the Yuri Dolgoruky, which was the first SSBN of project 955. New equipment, element base and hydrodynamic research have appeared and have to be taken into account in ongoing construction. Judging by the exterior of project 955 SSBN which sailed out, the many years of experience have been taken into account. However, nothing is known about the tactical and technical characteristics of the Knyaz Vladimir. The Navy command previously said project 955A SSBN will be distinguished by lower noise, improved arms controls and higher maneuverability, the Izvestia said.


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