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    VLADIMIR PUTIN SAILS OUT ABOARD SUBMARINE

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    SEVEROMORSK, FEBRUARY 16, 2004, /RIA-NOVOSTI CORRESPONDENT/ -- President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation is now sailing the Arkhangelsk SSBN (Strategic Submarine Ballistic Nuclear).

    The Russian leader flew over to Murmansk February 16, with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov meeting Putin at the airport. Ivanov told the Commander-In-Chief that the North fleet's elements, as well as those of the Strategic Missile Force and the Space Force, were ready to conduct the strategic headquarters exercise's active phase.

    Putin then left for Severomorsk where the North fleet's main base is located.

    The Russian head of state entered a tent on the pier, taking a look at submariners' uniforms and receiving a sailor's pea-jacket.

    He then entered another tent, which contained submarine-crew rations, i.e. juices, fresh vegetables, fruits, wine, eggs, dairy products, caviar, Caspian roach, as well as canned meat and fish.

    Shrovetide has begun, Putin reminded those present, inquiring whether submarine crews will be able to eat pancakes, which are the most popular Shrovetide food. Putin's interlocutors assured him that pancakes were a must.

    Putin went straight onto the conning tower's bridge, after boarding the Arkhangelsk, the Russian leader's spokesman Alexei Gromov noted. He observed ship-mooring sites in the harbor. After that, he went down below, entering the central command post, where the officer of the watch reported on the submarine's projected operations in the war-games zone.

    Putin inspected the SSBN, visiting the reactor-control room.

    Putin mixed with officers, while inspecting the submarine; moreover, he acquainted himself with their working conditions. The Commander-In-Chief then lunched together with the SSBN's officers.

    Vladimir Putin also conferred with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, the Russian Navy's commander-in-chief Vladimir Kuroyedov and Alexei Rukshin, who heads the General Staff's main operations department, aboard the Arkhangelsk.

    This is Putin's second voyage aboard a submarine. In April 2000 the then president-elect Vladimir Putin took part in the North fleet's Barents Sea exercise.

    At that time, the Russian head of state put to sea April 5 aboard the North fleet's Karelia SSBN, eventually spending the night 50 meters below and observing the war games April 6. Among other things, Putin watched the submerged Borisoglebsk SSBN of the Kalmar (Squid) class launch her RSM-50 ballistic missile; meanwhile the Karelia was staying on the surface.

    Putin underwent a sailor-initiation ceremony aboard the Karelia, drinking sea water and receiving his honorary-submariner certificate.

    The Commander-In-Chief will stay aboard the Arkhangelsk until noon February 16, observing the North fleet exercise; the Arkhangelsk is also involved in this headquarters exercise.

    The Arkhangelsk ranks among other third-generation heavy-duty Mk 941 Akula (Shark)-class SSBN-s (NATO reporting name, Typhoon).

    Six Typhoon multi-hull submarines were launched over the 1977-1989 period; these submarines, which were developed at the Rubin central design bureau in St. Petersburg, are the largest in the world, measuring 175 meters long and 22.8 meters wide. They displace up to 33,800 tons each.

    Two nuclear reactors with a rated power of 50,000 h.p. each accelerate any Typhoon-class submarine to 27 knots underwater. These submarines can also dive to 400 meters.

    Each Typhoon-class submarine is crewed by 170 men, also wielding 20 silo-based ballistic missiles.

    The Arkhangelsk was repaired at the Sev-Mash-Predpriyatiye ship-yard over the 2002 period, with the North fleet subsequently receiving her. The submarine was placed in a dock, with ship-yard workers upgrading her systems and equipment; some mechanisms were replaced, as well. These repairs lasted for 12 months in a row.

    In October 2003 the Karelia successfully launched her ballistic missile from the White Sea, eventually hitting a target at the Kura range on the Kamchatka Peninsula.

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