Construction of the fourth submarine of the Project 955 class, Svyatitel Nikolay, which was scheduled to begin on December 22, 2009, has been postponed until "the first quarter of 2010". The officials were quick to insist that this does not mean that the Project 955/Bulava program is in trouble after the latest failure of the Bulava missile.

It is most likely that the construction will indeed begin in 2010. But the program is, of course, in trouble. As I wrote in November, the Soviet military complex had a long history of dealing with this kind of  troubled programs - they were rarely cancelled, but the production would be scaled down and the resources would be moved elsewhere. The decision to postpone construction of the St. Nicholas submarine appears to be a modern version of this treatment. Although the original plan called for eight submarines of the Project 955 class, I would be very surprised if we will see the fifth one.