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Russia’s project 09852 nuclear-powered submarine Belgorod is primed to complete state trials by the end of 2021.
The brand-new model submarine is slated to be the first carrier of the Poseidon nuclear-armed underwater drones.
It was first floated back in April, 2019.
The Belgorod nuclear submarine was initially built as a submarine of Antey-class of a project 949A.
It was laid by Sevmash on July 24, 1992, and re-laid on December 20, 2012, as project 09852 and floated on April 23, 2019.
Its technical characteristics are kept secret. In November 2018, the Russian Defense Ministry said the crew of the submarine had been formed.
The hull was lengthened to approximately 184 meters and the ship’s displacement ballooned to 30,000 tons submerged–more than fifty per cent greater than the U.S. Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. In fact the only submarine type which is larger is the Typhoon Class.
The resulting submarine is unique, as it will be a single unit from the entire class.
Back in June 2021, the Belgorod sailed for the first time, and began its sea trials.
The nuclear-powered Belgorod is neither an attack nor a ballistic missile submarine.
It is a special mission submarine; Belgorod will be a mothership to other undersea vessels. The sub can carry a payload on its back, behind the sail, or a Losharik class mini-submarine that attaches and detaches to the bottom of the hull.
The Belgorod is largely an enigma for Western analysts, as it will combine both the role of the abovementioned “mothership” and also that of a nuclear strike and deterrence submarine.
These two roles are seen as contradictory because performing one may compromise the other. The nuclear deterrence role requires remaining hidden and out of harm’s way. While the ‘special mission’ may take her into potential danger. And which role will be the primary one is also unclear.
The Poseidon weapon will also take a few years to be deployed, so it may take Belgorod several more years before the submarine is truly operational.
Recent Russian media reports suggested that the submarine will serve in the pacific, as opposed to the Arctic-based Northern Fleet.
This seems counterintuitive as it would stretch the logistics for the deep diving submersibles which are based in the Northern Fleet.
Regardless, the submarine is a one-of-a-kind nuclear-powered underwater vessel and it is unlikely that another one like it will be made anytime soon, if at all.