12:48 GMT11 July 2020
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    Floating beneath the depths of the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean, the stealthy new sub is expected to help preserve global strategic stability in the face of US moves to pull out of major arms control agreements and deploy advanced dual-use missile defense systems near Russia’s borders.

    The Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet has commissioned the Knyaz Vladimir, the first of the new Borei-A class of strategic missile submarines armed with 16 new Bulava submarine-launched intercontinental missiles to be completed and fielded.

    “On Russia Day, June 12, a ceremony was held at the Sevmash factory in Severodvinsk to accept the new Borei-A Knyaz Vladimir strategic missile submarine into the Navy, and the lifting of the naval St. Andrew’s flag,” the Defence Ministry said in a press statement.

    The ceremony was presided over by Navy chief Adm. Nikolai Yevmenov, and attended by other senior military, state and military industry officials. Yevmenov declared that the new submarine is unparalleled in its capabilities, and suggested that its deployment “underlines the status of the Russian Federation as a great naval power with an ocean-going fleet.”

    “The Knyaz Vladimir strategic missile submarine embodies within it the scientific thought of our scientists and shipbuilders,” he added.

    Tweet reads: The Knyaz Vladimir nuclear submarine has joined the Russian Navy. A flag-lifting ceremony took place aboard the Borei-A-class sub.

    The Knyaz Vladimir (lit. ‘Prince Vladimir’) is named after the famed medieval ruler of Kievan Rus, the loose federation of East Slavs which would later become modern-day Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

    The submarine will join the 31st Submarine Division of the Northern Fleet. Rigorous state testing of the vessel was carried out in late 2019, with further testing taking place between May 12-21 to resolve problem areas pointed out by the defence ministry.

    Ceremony of Navy taking delivery of new Knyaz Vladimir Burei-A-class strategic missile submarine. June 12, 2020.
    ВМФ России
    Ceremony of Navy taking delivery of new Knyaz Vladimir Burei-A-class strategic missile submarine. June 12, 2020.

    The Knyaz Vladimir was laid down at Sevmash in July 2012, and is the first of seven Borei-A class vessels expected to be fielded over the coming decade. In addition to their strategic weapons, the fourth-generation nuclear submarines feature improved silent propulsion, better maneuvering and prolonged operation at depth capability, and advanced weapons control systems. The Borei-A class is the successor to Project 955 Borei, a nuclear missile sub design created during the late Cold War by the Rubin Design Bureau and built in the 1990s and 2000s, with three original Borei-class vessels completed and fielded.

    Last week, US defence observer and open-source intelligence expert H I Sutton named the Borei-A class Knyaz Vladimir in a list of important Russian submarines to watch out for, saying the boats are expected to form “the backbone of Russia’s seaborne nuclear deterrent for decades to come.”

    Navy flag-lifting ceremony aboard the Knyaz Vladimir strategic missile submarine. June 12, 2020.
    ВМФ России
    Navy flag-lifting ceremony aboard the Knyaz Vladimir strategic missile submarine. June 12, 2020.

    The Kynaz Vladimir’s Bulava missiles have a range of over 9,000 km, and their multiple independently-guided reentry vehicles are almost impossible to intercept using currently existing missile defense systems. In other words, the subs are expected to have enough firepower to guarantee a Russian strategic response even in the event of an enemy surprise attack, thereby "scratching" the itchy trigger fingers of any potential adversary. The vessel class also features traditional 533 mm torpedo tubes to enable them to defend themselves against enemy ships and subs.

    The ship was formally transferred to the Navy on Russia Day, an annual holiday marking the day when Soviet Russian Republic President Boris Yeltsin declared the republic’s sovereignty from Mikhail Gorbachev's central Soviet government on June 12, 1990.

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