Russia’s newest strategic sub tests torpedos under Arctic ice

The Borei-class Knyaz Oleg took part in Barents Sea exercises earlier in May.

By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer - May 23, 2022
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The Knyaz Oleg was commissioned on December 21, 2021. (Russian Ministry of Defense via The Independent Barents Observer)

Five months after it was commissioned by the Russian Navy, the submarine Knyaz Oleg took part in a torpedo-shooting and battle-training exercise at a closed range in the Barents Sea, according to the Northern Fleet.

The brand new strategic Borei-class sub has taken part in a series of exercises aimed at preparing vessel and crew for Arctic operations. The training was to prepare the crew for opening of holes in the Arctic sea-ice for vessel emersion.

Parts of the torpedo-shooting exercise was done in team-play with a Northern Fleet submarine. The Knyaz Oleg also trained counteractions against enemy subs under the sea ice.

The Northern Fleet has long experience from operations under the ice.

In March 2021, three nuclear-powered subs surfaced from under the ice inside an area with a radius of 300 meters near Franz Josef Land. The operation was part of Exercise Umka-21, one of Russia’s most complex military drills ever in the high Arctic.

The Knyaz Oleg is Russia’s newest strategic submarine. It was officially handed over by the Sevmash Yard to the Russian Navy on December 21, 2021.

Both Russia President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu participated at the ceremony in Severodvinsk via video link from the Defense Ministry Collegium in Moscow.

The ceremony included the commissioning also of multi-purpose Yasen-sub Novosibirsk.

“The new submarines have a formidable striking force,” Putin said in his congratulation speech to the shipyard and navy.

The Knyaz Oleg is the fifth submarine of the Borei class now in service. Another five are still at different stages of construction at the Sevmash Yard. When all are delivered, the Borei class will be the backbone of Russia’s navy nuclear deterrence. Each of the vessels can carry 16 Bulava missiles, said to have an operational range of more than 8,000 kilometers. Each missile can carry six nuclear warheads.

During test sailings this autumn, the Knyaz Oleg test fired a Bulava missile from the White Sea towards a target on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula in the Far East.

Following training in the Barents Sea, the submarine is expected to sail under the Arctic sea ice to the Russian Far East where it will become part of Russia’s Pacific Fleet.