RUSSIA’s first new submarine to be built since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 entered service yesterday.
Work began on the Borei-class nuclear-powered submarine Yuri Dolgoruky in 1996.
President Vladimir Putin sees the new class of sub as a key component of the country’s nuclear arsenal and has pledged to further strengthen Russia’s navy, following the chaos of the immediate post-Soviet era.
Defence minister Sergei Shoigu informed Mr Putin that the submarine was now operational via a videolink from the 558ft vessel, which has been designed to carry Russia’s answer to the Trident missile system, the inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) it calls Bulava.
“Comrade commander-in-chief! … The vessel has been handed over to the Russian navy,” Mr Shoigu told Mr Putin in a message shown on state TV from the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk, on the White Sea.
“The development of a powerful, effective navy is one of Russia’s chief priorities,” Mr Putin said. “We will only increase the pace, the renewal and development of the fleet.”
He was speaking from the Severomorsk naval base on the Barents Sea, where he gave an award to the crew of the warship Pyotr Veliky. He said the state has earmarked the equivalent of more than £80 billion by 2020 to upgrade naval forces.
Russian navy chief Admiral Viktor Chirkov said the Yuri Dolgoruky was expected to go on combat duty early in 2014 after a series of exercises.