Russia has decided to upgrade the submarine fleet in the Baltic Sea. This will happen through a transfer of the submarine Alrosa from the Black Sea Fleet to the Baltic Fleet. That reports Izvestia.
The Baltic Fleet will not actually increase the number of submarines, because an older one will be retired at the same time. But it does mean that the Baltic Fleet will replace an old and outdated submarine with a more modern and capable one.
At present, the Baltic Fleet has two submarines – Dmitrov and Vyborg. Dmitrov was commissioned in 1986 but has just completed a major update and is apparently in good shape. Vyborg, however, is about to be retired. It is the oldest remaining Kilo class in the Russian Navy, and it has not been modernized or received significant repairs in recent years. This summer, the destroyer Bespokoynyy was transferred to the Patriot Park in Kronstadt for a future as a museum ship, and it is expected that Vyborg can look forward to a similar fate. So when Alrosa comes to the Baltic, it will be a welcome addition for the Baltic Fleet.
Alrosa was originally commissioned in 1990. It is a unique kind of submarine, equipped with a pumpjet propulsion system instead of a propeller. This makes Alrosa more quiet compared to the standard Kilo, which is very quiet already. (Pictures of Alrosa’s pumpjet drive in dock can be seen here.) Technically, Alrosa is a project 877V submarine, so while it is a further development from the original project 877 Kilo, it is not the new project 636 Improved Kilo.
A curious detail in this regard is that the pumpjet propulsion system was made famous in Tom Clancy’s novel “The Hunt for Red October”, but in the movie the boat had a magnetohydrodynamic drive instead. In any case, it is about making a very silent drive.
The transfer to the Baltic Fleet will take place when the Black Sea Fleet receives new submarines that are under construction. This arrangement shows Russia’s priorities between its navies: The Black Sea Fleet is high on the list, and the Baltic Fleet is at the bottom.
The submarines in the Baltic Sea have a range of tasks that are not directly related to their primary purpose. They function as support vessels during sea trials of newly constructed submarines on the shipyards in the Baltic Region, and they serve as training platforms for new submarine crews from both Russia and other countries. And then they serve as training assets for the Baltic Fleet’s surface ships during anti-submarine exercises.