This is a brief summary of the status of the Russian ballistic missile submarine fleet in the end of 2004 and of its prospects for 2005 and the next few years. The situation with se-based ballistic missiles warrants a separate post, which will follow shortly.
Right now Russia has only three submarines of the Project 667BDRM (Delta IV) class that can go to a patrol at sea. Three other submarines of this class, which are still considered to be active, are undergoing overhaul. These three are K-114 Tula, K-117 Bryansk, and K-18 Karelia. Tula was supposed to get back to active service in 2004, but because of delays will financing this date slipped to 2005. Bryansk is still in dock and is not expected to be launched before 2006. Karelia just entered the overhaul in September and, judging by the experience of its predecessors, will be back in service no earlier than 2008. The only submarine that has not been through an overhaul yet – K-407 Novomoskovsk – is expected to be placed in dock some time in 2006, when overhaul of Bryansk is completed. Two other submarines – K-51 Verkhoturie and K-84 Ekaterinburg – completed overhaul in December 1999 and April 2002 respectively.
The navy still has six submarines of the older class – Project 667BDR (Delta III). Two of these are with the Northern Fleet and four – with the Pacific Fleet. Although these submarines may still be counted as active for the purposes of the START treaty, they are being decommissioned and will most likely be taken out of service in 2005-2006.
Project 941 (Typhoon) submarines fared no better. Only one of the six ships of this class – TK-208 Dmitry Donskoy – remains in service and only as a test bed for the new Bulava missile. It is unlikely that Dmitry Donskoy will ever be deployed as a combat submarine with full missile load. All other Typhoon submarines are slated for elimination and the division that included them was disbanded in April 2004.
Russia is building two new submarines of the Project 955 class – Yuri Dolgorukiy and Aleksandr Nevskiy. It was reported that by the end of November 2004 construction of the hull of Yuri Dolgorukiy was completed and the ship will be ready by 2006.