MOSCOW, January 29 (RIA Novosti) – A St. Petersburg shipyard said Wednesday it will float out in May the second of six Varshavyanka-class diesel-electric submarines to be delivered to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in the next two years.
The much anticipated delivery of the submarines, dubbed “black holes in the ocean” by the US Navy because they are nearly undetectable when submerged, is a key part of Russia’s naval strategy in the Mediterranean, where Moscow has recently deployed a permanent task force consisting of some 10 surface ships.
Construction of the second submarine – the Rostov-on-Don – began at the Admiralty shipyard in November 2011, followed by the Stary Oskol in August 2012.
The first boat in the batch, the Novorossiisk, will begin dock trials on February 1, while construction of the fourth vessel, the Krasnodar, is expected to start on February 20, the shipyard said.
All six submarines will be deployed at the Novorossiisk naval base by 2016, according to the Russian navy.
The Varshavyanka-class (Project 636) is an improved version of the Kilo-class submarines and features advanced stealth technology, extended combat range and the ability to strike land, surface and underwater targets.
The submarines are mainly intended for anti-shipping and anti-submarine missions in relatively shallow waters.
The vessels, crewed by 52 submariners, have an underwater speed of 20 knots and a cruising range of 400 miles (650 kilometers) with the ability to patrol for 45 days. They are armed with 18 torpedoes and eight surface-to-air missiles.
The Russian Black Sea Fleet has not received new submarines for decades and currently operates only one boat: the Kilo-class Alrosa, which joined the navy in 1990.