When the U.S. Navy’s new SSBN (X) conducts its first patrol in 2031 it will be an entirely new vessel, but the boat will initially rely on life-extended 1990s vintage Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) to perform its nuclear deterrence mission. The Navy currently expects to keep the D5 in service into the 2040s, after which it may replace the long-serving weapon with a new missile. Read More
The Yuri Dolgoruky, Russia’s newest ballistic-missile submarine, officially entered service in the Northern Fleet on 17 January, completing a long and arduous journey into Russia’s navy. While the submarine is often lumped in with Russia’s aggressive new armaments program, construction actually started back in 1996, when Vladimir Putin was not the Kremlin’s overlord but an obscure bureaucrat serving as deputy chief of the Presidential Property Management Department, and Russia was not an oil-fueled “energy superpower” but a bankrupt economic disaster. A great deal has happened to Russia’s navy since construction of the Dolgoruky began, very little of it good. So while the submarine’s newness has been highly touted—by, among others, a Russian government intent on promoting “modernization”—when viewed in context it’s not nearly so impressive.