The Russian Borei-A submarines feature pop-out auxiliary thrusters for additional power at low speeds. Credit: Russian Defense Ministry.

The Russian Navy’s newest submarine, the Knyaz Vladimir, appears to have conquered its nagging technical issues, China Daily reported.

The press office of the Russian Northern Fleet said the ballistic missile-equipped, nuclear-powered Project 955A Borei-A class (“North Wind”) submarine has headed out for final sea trials.

“On Tuesday evening, the cruiser set off for the White Sea from Severodvinsk for final trials,” the Northern Fleet press office said in a statement.

The trials will last several days, first in the surfaced and then in the submerged position, it added.

The Knyaz Vladimir was originally set to formally join the Northern Fleet in 2017, but that schedule repeatedly slipped due to “certain deficiencies,” according to media reports.

The double-hulled submarine is the first upgraded version of Russia’s 4th generation ballistic missile submarines carrying 16 RSM-56 Bulava ballistic missiles, The Barents Observer reported.

In difference with the three first Borey-class subs, the “Yuri Dolgoruky”, “Aleksandr Nevsky” and “Vladimir Monomakh”, the Knyaz Vladimir reportedly has several visible changes.

A Russian media tour inside the Knyaz Vladimir submarine. Credit: Russian Defense Ministry.

The tower doesn’t have the front overhang, the bow is more streamlined and the superstructure of the hull is changed. The biggest differences, however, are likely inside where more of the control room and steering gear are computerized, The Barents Observer reported.

It also features a variety of amenities for their crews, including a banya, or sauna.

In autumn last year, it also test-fired a new Bulava nuclear-armed, ballistic missile (see video).

The Bulava SLBM – a sea-launched variant of the Topol-M — can reportedly be fitted with six to 10 nuclear multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) warheads yielding 100 to 150 kilotons apiece, as well as 10 to 40 decoys, The Diplomat reported.

The three-stage solid propellant (with a liquid head stage) Bulava has an estimated range of over 8,300 kilometers (5,157 miles).

The Borei-As also feature pop-out auxiliary thrusters for additional power at low speeds, where the pump-jet propulsion systems are not as capable, The Drive reported.

This will help the submarines be able to efficiently cruise and maneuvre very quietly at low speeds, which will further help keep them concealed and ensure their ability to retaliate during a nuclear confrontation, The Drive reported.

The Russian Navy presently has three Project 955 Borei class submarines in service, the first of which became operational in 2013.

According to a report carried by Russian state news agency Tass, a contract has been signed to build two more missile-carrying underwater cruisers as part of this project, and there are also plans to build two more Borei-A subs.

Half of the submarines will be based with the Northern Fleet on the Kola Peninsula, while the other half will sail for Russia’s Pacific Fleet, The Barents Observer reported.

The Knyaz Vladimir Borey-A-class SSBN test fires a Bulava missile in the White Sea. Credit: Russian Defense Ministry.

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