Vietnam has taken delivery of the first of a planned six Project-636 Kilo-class submarines from Russia, according to several local press reports.
The ship — HQ-182 Hanoi — is reported to arrive at the Cam Ranh Bay in January. The second Kilo — HQ-183 Ho Chi Minh City — is expected to follow shortly thereafter.
HQ-182 Hanoi completed sea trials in July and Vietnamese crews have been training in April, according to a July release from the Admiralteiskie Verfi shipyard in St. Petersburg, Russia.
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The delivery of the diesel-electric Kilo (SSK) is part of a 2009 deal Vietnam struck with Russia to bolster the country’s submarine force. The deal — worth $1.8 to 2 billion — well help the Vietnamese assert control of their territorial claims offshore in the hotly contested South China Sea region.
The boats have been called the ‘black hole’ by the U.S. Navy for their level of quietness. A specialized coating developed by the Russians make the submarine difficult to detect by active sonars and at the same time shield the noise inside a submarine from passive detection.
Other countries in the region have also been expanding their submarine forces in the last several years.