The Yasen-class nuclear-powered attack submarine of the modern Russian Navy is one of the most potent submarine groups in the world today (NATO assigns the type the codename of "Severodvinsk" after the lead-ship). Ten boats of the class are planned with five under construction and one completed as of this writing (2018). The group is much respected by Western commanders who see it as a growing primary undersea threat due to its enhanced capabilities and firepower. The submarines began construction in 1993 and began to enter commissioned service in 2013.
The boats were being planned as early as the late 1970s towards the end of the Cold War period (1947-1991) but a myriad of issues (including the collapse of the Soviet Union and the decay of the Soviet-Russia Navy thereafter) delayed their true start dates until the 2010s. Funding for the series eventually arrived in 2003 which led to a reboot of the program and it was decided to field the class alongside the equally-new nuclear types - the Dolgorukiy-class (detailed elsewhere on this site).
The Yalen-class is lead by Severodvinsk (K-560) which was laid down on December 21st, 1993 and launched on June 15th, 2010. She was commissioned for service into the Russian Navy (Northern Fleet) on December 30th, 2013 and represents the only boat of the group built to the earlier Project 885 standard. Kazan (K-561) is set to be commissioned sometime in 2018 and represents the first of the Project 885M (modernized) boats. She will be followed in service by Novosibirsk (K-573), Krasnoyarsk (K-571), Arhangelsk (K-564), Perm, and Ulyanovsk - the latter to be commissioned sometime in 2023 or beyond.
The profile of the boats are traditional as submarines go: the sail is well-integrated to the dorsal spin ahead of midships and the nose section is well-rounded for cutting through the deep. The aft-section of the hull tapers to a point to which a single, multi-bladed propeller shaft is situated. A cruciform plane pattern offers the needed control for the boat while dive planes are seated along the forward-end of the hull, just forward and below the sail's position. Atop the sail is the usual mix of sensors and communications arrays.
Internally the boats carry a modest crew of sixty-four men. A "Snoop Pair" installation operates as the boat's main surface-search system and the sonar fit is the MGK-600 "Irtysh-Amfora" unit. A full CounterMeasures (CM) kit aids survivability and basic noise-reduction and stealth features are built into the design where possible. Power is from a single KPM pressurized 4th Generation water nuclear reactor giving the boats unlimited range (essentially limited only by crew fatigue and available food stores) Kaluga Turbine Works developed the steam-based turbines used in the class. The powerpack, rated for up to 30 years without refueling, gives a surfaced maximum speed of 20 knots but this increased to an impressive 28 knots underwater. The hull has been tested to depths of 600 meters (2,000 feet) and is deemed one of the quietest operating submarines in service anywhere - matching some of the boats available to the West.
Dimensions include a running length of 458 feet and a beam measuring 50 feet. When surfaced, the boat displaces 8,600 tons, When submerged, this becomes 13,800 tons.
Project 885/Project 885M Standards
The class is built to two slightly different standards known as Project 885 and Project 885M (modernized/modified)). Armament primarily differentiates the two designs where the Project 885 boats have an 8-cell Vertical Launching system (VLS) with 10 x Torpedo tubes (split between 8 x 650mm tubes and 2 x 533mm tubes) and the Project 885M boats are given an expanded 10-cell VLS bay though with only 8 x Torpedo tubes (arranged as 6 x 650mm and 2 x 533mm tubes) installed. Further capabilities for both design standards include the ability to disperse naval mines.
This armament support is at the heart of such attack submarine types as the Yasen-class: the boats are equipped to fire the "Oniks", "Kalibr-PL" and "Kh-101" surface-to-surface/land-attack missiles giving the boats a potent reach from below the surface of the water. The Kalibr missile family is of particular note for it has already been used successfully by the Russians in the ongoing Syrian Civil War (2011-Present), crossing the airspaces of entire countries in the Middle East region to reach their targets.
Such potency and capability comes at a cost, however, and the price-per-unit is a limiting factor for the class with a single example running at about $1.5 to $3.5 billion USD. The United States Navy has run into similar issues with its more advanced boats like the Seawolf-class - where just three were taken into service.