Russian Naval Flotilla’s Deployment to Cuba: A Renewed Display of Power Projection Amid Global Tensions


A significant development in international naval operations has emerged as a Russian flotilla, including a modern nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine, is set for a rare deployment to Cuba. Cuban officials have emphasized that none of the Russian Navy vessels headed toward the Caribbean will be carrying nuclear weapons, a move likely intended to mitigate tensions between Moscow and Washington. Nevertheless, this deployment underscores a renewed Russian interest in strategic operations within the broader region.

In a statement issued yesterday, Cuba’s Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces confirmed that the advanced Yasen-M class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine Kazan, along with three other Russian naval vessels, will dock in Havana from June 12-17. The flotilla comprises the Project 22350 frigate Admiral Gorshkov, the oil tanker Pashin, and the salvage tug Nikolai Chiker. “None of the vessels is carrying nuclear weapons, so their stopover in our country does not represent a threat to the region,” the ministry assured.

Image : Admiral Gorshkov Russian frigate- Wikipedia

NameAdmiral Gorshkov class
BuildersSevernaya Verf, Saint Petersburg
OperatorsRussian Navy
Preceded byNeustrashimy class, Krivak class
Succeeded byProject 22350M frigate
CostApproximately US$250 million per unit
In commission2018–present
General Characteristics
TypeGuided missile frigate
DisplacementStandard: 4,550 tons<br>Full: 5,400 tons
Length135 m (442 ft 11 in)
Beam16 m (52 ft 6 in)
Draught4.5 m (14 ft 9 in)
Propulsion2 shaft CODAG<br>2 10D49 cruise diesel engines 5,200 shp (3,900 kW)<br>2 M90FR boost gas turbines 27,500 shp (20,500 kW)<br>Total: 65,400 shp (48,800 kW)
Speed29.5 knots (54.6 km/h; 33.9 mph)
Range4,850 nmi (8,980 km; 5,580 mi) at 14 kn (26 km/h; 16 mph)
Endurance30 days
Sensors and Processing Systems
Air search radars5P-27 Furke-4 main radar for detection, tracking, and targeting of air and surface targets<br>5P-20K “Poliment” 4 faced active phased array radar
Surface search radar34K1 “Monolit” surface search, AShM, and auxiliary artillery targeting radar
Artillery Fire Control Radar5P-10 Puma
SonarZarya-M sonar, Vinyetka towed array sonar
Navigation3 × Pal-N radars
Other2 × target illuminators aft superstructure for Palash CIWS
CommunicationsVigstar Centaurus-NM
Electro-Optical Systems2 × MTK-201M and 2 × 5P-520
Combat systemSigma-22350
Electronic Warfare & Decoys
EW SuiteProsvet-M
Countermeasures2 × PU KT-308<br>8 × PU KT-216<br>2 × 5P-42 Filin
Naval gun1 × 130 mm Amethyst/Arsenal A-192M
VLS cells16 (2 × 8) 3S14 VLS cells for Kalibr, Oniks, Zircon anti-ship cruise missiles or Otvet anti-submarine missiles (Admiral Gorshkov, Admiral Kasatonov, Admiral Golovko, Admiral Isakov)<br>32 (4 × 8) 3S14M VLS cells for Kalibr, Oniks, Zircon or Otvet anti-submarine missiles (Admiral Amelko, Admiral Chichagov, Admiral Yumashev, Admiral Spiridonov)
Surface-to-air missiles32 (4 × 8) Redut VLS cells for 9M96, 9M96M, 9M96D/9M96DM(M2) and/or quad-packed 9M100
CIWS2 × Palash CIWS each with twin Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-6-30 6 barrel 30 mm rotary cannons
Torpedo tubes2 × 4 330 mm for Paket-NK anti-torpedo/anti-submarine torpedoes
Machine guns2 × 14.5 mm MTPU pedestal machine guns
Aircraft Carried1 × Ka-27 series helicopter
Aviation FacilitiesHelipad and hangar for one helicopter

The ministry added that such visits by naval units from other countries are a historical practice of the revolutionary government with nations maintaining relations of friendship and collaboration. This move is perceived as part of a broader effort by Russia to reassert its presence in strategically important regions, amidst ongoing geopolitical frictions with the United States.

On the previous day, U.S. officials had indicated their expectation of Russian warships and aircraft arriving in the Caribbean for military exercises. These exercises are seen as part of Moscow’s broader response to American support for Ukraine, particularly President Joe Biden’s decision to allow Ukraine to use U.S.-provided weapons to strike inside Russia, a move that has significantly angered the Kremlin. “As part of Russia’s regular military exercises, we anticipate heightened naval and air activity near the United States this summer. These actions will culminate in a global Russian naval exercise this fall,” a U.S. official stated.

The same official noted that the Russian deployment is not perceived as threatening but confirmed that the U.S. Navy would be monitoring the maneuvers. “We are not concerned by Russia’s deployments, which pose no direct threat to the United States,” the official said. “This is about Russia showing that it’s still capable of some level of global power projection.”

The Russian flotilla, though small in size, is larger than previous such deployments, highlighting the significance of this move. Last July, the Russian Navy sent the training ship Perekop into Havana for a four-day visit. However, the inclusion of the Kazan and the Admiral Gorshkov in the current deployment is noteworthy due to their modern and advanced capabilities.

The Kazan and the Admiral Gorshkov are equipped with vertical launch system silos capable of accommodating Kalibr long-range cruise missiles, which can be used for both anti-ship strikes and land attacks. Additionally, they can deploy Oniks supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles. The Admiral Gorshkov, notably, was the first Russian Navy warship to operationally deploy with the new Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles, according to official Russian claims. Unlike previous-generation Russian SSGNs, the Yasen class, especially the advanced Yasen-Ms, are far more versatile, functioning not only as cruise missile platforms but also as general-purpose attack boats, intelligence gatherers, and potentially as special missions platforms.

U.S. Air Force General Glen VanHerck, head of U.S. Northern Command and the U.S.-Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command, has described the Yasen boats as nearly on par with U.S. Navy types in terms of quietness. He indicated that this growing class of submarines would soon present a persistent threat to the American homeland unlike any before.

While both U.S. and Cuban authorities are downplaying the threat posed by the Russian deployment, Moscow has warned of potential “asymmetrical steps” in response to Washington’s backing of Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin has suggested that Russia could supply long-range weapons to regions around the world where they could be used against Western targets. One potential region for such activity is Cuba, given the historically close relationship between Havana and Moscow.

TABLE – The advanced Yasen-M class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine Kazan

NameYasen-M class
Notable FeatureCapability to launch a range of anti-ship and land attack missiles
Historical ContextHeralding days of the tense Cold War, particularly the Cuban Missile Crisis
Recent DeploymentA Russian nuclear-powered submarine of the Yasen-M class, the Kazan, will visit Havana, Cuba
Announcement DateJune 6, 2024
Visit DatesJune 12 to 17, 2024
Vessels InvolvedKazan (Yasen-M class), Admiral Gorshkov (missile frigate), Pashin (fleet replenishment tanker), Nikolai Chiker (salvage tug)
Nuclear Weapons StatusNone of the vessels are carrying nuclear weapons
Design BureauMalakhit Engineering Bureau
ShipyardSevmash Shipyard (JSC PO/Joint Stock Company Sevmash), part of the USC (United Shipbuilding Corporation)
Based OnAkula-class
Role ShiftShift from SSNs (hunter-killer role) to SSGNs (nuclear guided missile submarine)
Construction TimeKazan constructed in eight years, less than half the time taken to construct the lead ship of the class, the Severodvinsk
Notable MissilesHypersonic 3M22 Zircon (future), Kalibr, P-800 Oniks, Iskander, Iskander-M, Kinzhal
Vertical Launch System (VLS)UKSK (3P-14B) vertical launch system with 8SM-346 modules, each holding either five 3M54-1 Kalibr missiles or four P-800 Oniks anti-ship missiles
Future Missiles4500-km Kalibr-M missile, submarine-launched variant of the Kh-101
Hypersonic Missile SpeedZircon with a reported speed of Mach 6-8
Strategic MessageMoscow’s strategic message to the U.S. emphasizing the right to enhance strategic relations with countries around North America
Cultural EngagementsVisits of naval groups from other countries are a historical practice; activities include a courtesy call on the Cuban Revolutionary Navy Commander and the Governor of Havana, and tours of historical and cultural interest
Announcement OriginMade by the Cuban side, indicating no intent of aggression towards the US mainland
Previous Military EngagementsOn Jun. 27, 2023, the RuMoD (Russian Ministry of Defense) and Cuban defense minister General Alvaro Lopez discussed military and military-technical issues
Intelligence GatheringThe Kazan’s presence will likely attract several ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) assets, including U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon
P-8A Poseidon CapabilitiesMulti-mission platforms with sensors including Advanced Airborne Sensor, APY-10 multi-mode synthetic aperture radar, MX-20 electro-optical/infrared turret, and ALQ-240 Electronic Support Measure suite, contributing to a single fused tactical situation display shared over both military standard and internet protocol data links
Strategic ImpactLong-range strike missions superseding SLOC (Sea Lines of Communication) as a primary task, necessitating changes in NATO’s ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) strategy
Operational FlexibilityRussian submarines can achieve their operational ends without traversing traditional defensive barriers like the GIUK (Greenland–Iceland–UK) gap
Demonstrated CapabilityLong-range missile fires into Ukraine since February 2022, using various missiles such as Kh-101 ALCMs, P-800 Oniks, Kalibr sea-fired cruise missile, Iskander and Iskander-M tactical ballistic missiles, and Kinzhal aeroballistic hypersonic missiles
Significance of Cuban VisitReflects a strategic and diplomatic message rather than an immediate military threat; engagement includes cultural and diplomatic activities rather than military drills
Weapons LoadoutKazan equipped with UKSK (3P-14B) vertical launch system with modules for Kalibr and Oniks missiles; future capabilities include Kalibr-M and submarine-launched Kh-101
Impact on NATO StrategyNecessitates a shift from traditional ASW strategies to accommodate the long-range strike capabilities of Yasen-class submarines

In May, Putin hosted Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel during the annual Victory Day military parade on Red Square. Ties between Diaz-Canel and Putin have deepened since the onset of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. During the Soviet era, Cuba was a significant ally of Moscow, with regular deployments of Russian Navy flotillas and long-range maritime patrol aircraft. The deployment of Soviet nuclear weapons on the island famously triggered the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Similarly, Venezuela has maintained close relations with Moscow, including on a military level. Earlier this week, a senior U.S. official suggested that the current Russian Navy deployment might also include a port call in Venezuela. “We expect that Russia will temporarily send combat naval vessels to the Caribbean region, likely conducting port calls in Cuba and possibly Venezuela. There may also be aircraft deployments or flights in the region,” the official said.

Adding to the complexity of the situation, the U.S. Coast Guard recently released photos showing operations involving the U.S. Coast Guard Legend class cutter Stone (WMSL-758) in the Atlantic Ocean. These operations, which included maneuvers alongside the Arleigh Burke class destroyers USS Truxtun (DDG-103) and USS Donald Cook (DDG-75), as well as the Canadian Halifax class frigate HMCS Ville de Québec (FFH-332), were conducted from June 3 to June 6 in the 2nd Fleet area of operations. While there is no direct link to the Russian Navy deployment, the timing of these operations and their release is notable, indicating heightened awareness and readiness by the U.S. forces in response to the upcoming Russian flotilla’s visit to Havana.

The U.S. Navy’s 2nd Fleet, reestablished in response to the renewed threat posed by the Russian Navy in the Atlantic, particularly from new-generation submarines, will be closely monitoring the situation. The establishment of this fleet underscores the strategic importance the United States places on countering Russian maritime activities in the Atlantic and surrounding regions.

“We should expect more of this activity going forward,” the U.S. official remarked regarding the upcoming Russian visit to Cuba. “Although these deployments incur a cost on the Russian Navy, which is struggling to maintain readiness and conduct operations with an aging fleet, they represent Russia’s commitment to demonstrating its naval capabilities and strategic reach.”

The implications of this deployment are manifold. While it serves as a reminder of Russia’s ability to project power globally, it also highlights the challenges faced by the Russian Navy in terms of maintaining operational readiness and modernizing its fleet. The deployment of advanced vessels like the Kazan and the Admiral Gorshkov indicates a strategic focus on showcasing newer, more capable assets, even as the broader fleet struggles with issues of aging equipment and resource constraints.

From a geopolitical perspective, the Russian flotilla’s visit to Cuba is a clear signal to the United States and its allies of Moscow’s willingness to assert its presence in regions historically within the U.S. sphere of influence. This move can be seen as part of a broader strategy by Russia to counterbalance U.S. actions in Ukraine and demonstrate its capability to influence global maritime dynamics.

The historical context of Russian (and formerly Soviet) naval deployments to Cuba adds an additional layer of significance to the current developments. The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 remains a pivotal moment in Cold War history, and while the current situation does not suggest a return to such levels of tension, the deployment of modern Russian naval assets to Cuba inevitably evokes memories of that era.

Furthermore, the potential involvement of Venezuela as another port of call for the Russian flotilla highlights Russia’s efforts to strengthen its ties with other allies in the region. Venezuela, like Cuba, has maintained a close relationship with Moscow, and the possibility of Russian naval and aerial activities in both countries signals a broader regional strategy.

In conclusion, the upcoming deployment of the Russian naval flotilla to Cuba represents a significant development in global naval operations and geopolitics. While the immediate threat to the United States is downplayed by both U.S. and Cuban officials, the deployment underscores Russia’s strategic intentions and capabilities. As the situation unfolds, the United States and its allies will continue to monitor and respond to these maneuvers, ensuring that regional stability and security are maintained. The interplay between historical alliances, modern naval capabilities, and geopolitical strategies will undoubtedly shape the future of maritime operations in the Caribbean and beyond.

APPENDIX 1 – Modernization and Strategic Role of the Russian Navy’s Submarine Fleet

The Russian Navy commands one of the largest submarine fleets globally, comprising an estimated 58 vessels. Among these, 11 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) are pivotal to Russia’s strategic deterrence. Despite the economic hardships following the Soviet Union’s collapse, Russia has significantly modernized its submarine force in recent years, ensuring its capabilities remain robust and formidable.

Capabilities at a Glance

Russia’s submarine fleet consists of 58 submarines:

  • Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBNs): 11
  • Nuclear-Powered Attack Submarines (SSNs): 17
  • Nuclear-Powered Cruise Missile Submarines (SSGNs): 9
  • Diesel-Electric Attack Submarines (SSKs): 21
  • Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) Enabled: 0


Russia’s submarine industry has a vast network of research, design, and production centers, which turned to export markets to survive the post-Soviet economic downturn. As economic prospects improved in the 2000s, the Russian government reincorporated the former Soviet naval industry under the state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), consolidating over 60 shipyards, design bureaus, and repair facilities. Major units of USC include Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering, Malakhit Central Marine-Engineering Design Bureau, Northern Machine-Building Enterprise (Sevmash), and Zvezdochka State Machine-Building Enterprise.

In recent years, Russia’s submarines have posed potential threats related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Concerns have arisen that these submarines could target critical infrastructure in the North Atlantic, with unconfirmed reports suggesting Russian submarines were involved in the attack on the Nord Stream pipeline.

Modernization and Current Capabilities

Since the Soviet Union’s fall, Russia has embarked on extensive projects to improve its submarine fleet. In 1993, construction began on the Yasen-class submarine Severodvinsk (K-885), commissioned in 2014. The Russian Navy plans to replace its SSNs and SSGNs with the Project 885-M Yasen-class submarines. In 2017, Russia launched its second Yasen-class submarine, the Kazan, which entered service in February 2021. In June 2019, Russia signed a contract with Sevmash for two additional Project 885-M Yasen-class nuclear-powered attack submarines.

The Borei-class (NATO: Dolgorukiy) SSBNs are crucial to Russia’s post-Cold War strategic arsenal. First launched in 1996, the Borei-class is set to replace the aging Typhoon-class, Kalmar-class (NATO: Delta III), and Delfin-class (NATO: Delta IV) submarines. Despite increasing its defense budget, the Russian Navy faces a considerable backlog of modernization, maintenance, and dismantlement tasks, causing delays in the Borei-class construction program and forcing the retention of two aging Kalmar-class (NATO: Delta III) submarines. In 2017, Russia launched its first Borei-A class submarine, ‘Knyaz Vladimir,’ featuring incremental upgrades to the original design. In 2021, Knyaz Vladimir was deemed fully operational and has since participated in unprecedented under-ice expeditions. The Russian government remains committed to the modernization program, viewing it as imperative for maintaining its nuclear deterrent.

In April 2019, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced plans to build two new Borei-K-class nuclear submarines. The first, Knyaz Oleg, was laid down in July 2014 and commissioned to the Pacific fleet in late 2021. The second, Generalissimo Suvorov, was commissioned in late 2022 and operates in Russia’s Northern fleet as of early 2023. These vessels are almost identical to the previous Borei-class submarines but are capable of firing long-range cruise missiles.

In 2015, the Russian Ministry of Defence announced plans to upgrade and repair twelve existing Antey-class SSGN submarines to extend their service life by twenty years and fit them with Kalibr cruise missiles. As of July 2019, the Irkutsk was the only Antey-class submarine upgraded, with upgrades completed in 2022, followed by sea trials. The next submarine expected to undergo upgrades is the Chelyabinsk, which has been out of service for the past 15 years.

In 2015, a Russian media broadcast revealed plans for a new long-range nuclear-powered torpedo. The torpedo—referred to as the Status-6 or “Poseidon” in Russia and the “Kanyon” in the United States—is fitted with a 100-megaton nuclear warhead designed to create radioactive tsunamis. In his March 2018 speech, President Vladimir Putin confirmed the torpedo was under development. In April 2019, Russia launched the Project 9852 Belgorod, a submarine capable of launching the Status-6 torpedo.

In 2016, the Russian government signed a contract for the construction of six Project 636.3 (Varshavyanka) submarines. In March 2019, the Russian Navy launched its first Project 636.3 vessel, the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, followed by the Volkhov. The Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky was delivered to the Russian Navy in December 2019, and the Volkhov entered the Russian Pacific fleet in October 2020.

In 2017, the Russian government announced plans to replace several diesel-electric Kilo-class submarines with six Project 677 “Lada-class” (NATO: St. Petersburg) vessels. Although these will be the most advanced diesel-electric submarines in the Russian Navy, they will not be fitted with AIP systems. The first ship of this class was launched in 2018 in St. Petersburg.

Ship Biographies

Delfin-Class (NATO: Delta-IV)

The Russian Navy possesses six Project 667BDRM “Delfin-class” (NATO: Delta IV) SSBNs, built between 1985 and 1992, all part of the Northern Fleet based at Yagelnaya Bay on the Kola Peninsula. These submarines are 167 meters long and can travel up to 22 knots when submerged. Their weapons systems are armed with R-29M Shtil SLBMs, torpedoes, and Type 86R Vodopad anti-submarine missiles. The Delta IV-class submarines have also been upgraded to carry modified SS-N-23 SLBMs known as Sinevas, each capable of carrying up to four warheads. Four to five of the six Delta IV-class vessels are operational at any given time.

Kalmar-Class (NATO: Delta-III)

After retiring two Delta III submarines in early 2018 (the Podolsk (K223) and the Svyatoy Georgiy Pobedonosets (K433)), the Russian Navy now possesses one Project 667BDR “Kalmar-class” (NATO: Delta III) SSBN, the Ryazan K-44. This submarine is 155 meters long and can travel up to 25 knots when submerged. Its weapons system is armed with R-29 R (NATO designation: SS-N-18 Stingray) SLBMs, torpedoes, and Type 86R Vodopad anti-submarine missiles. The Ryazan K-44 is operational with Russia’s Pacific Fleet on the Kamchatka Peninsula.

Borei-Class (NATO: Dolgorukiy)

The Russian Navy possesses three Project 955 “Borei-class” (NATO: Dolgorukiy) SSBNs. These submarines are 170 meters long and can travel up to 29 knots when submerged. Each vessel can carry 16 Bulava SLBMs, each containing multiple MIRVs. Featuring pump-jet propulsion and other acoustic improvements, the Borei-class submarines are considerably stealthier than their Soviet-era predecessors.


The Borei-K is the newest class in the Russian Navy, with two boats already in service and six more planned. They have the same displacement and length as the previous Borei-class submarines. The Borei-K-class submarines feature a hydrodynamic hull that significantly reduces their acoustic signature. The major difference between the Borei-K-class submarines and the past Borei models is their capability to launch cruise missiles instead of SLBMs.

Antey-Class (NATO: Oscar II)

The Russian Navy possesses eight Project 949B “Antey-class” (NATO: Oscar II) SSGNs. These submarines are 154.7 meters long and can travel 33.4 knots when submerged. Their weapons systems include four 533mm torpedo tubes, SS-N-19 Granite (NATO: Shipwreck) anti-ship cruise missiles, RPK-2 Tsakra (NATO: SS-N-15 Starfish) ASW missiles, two 650mm torpedo tubes with Type 86R Vodopad (NATO: SS-N-16 Stallion) anti-ship cruise missiles, and thirty-two mines. They can also be fitted with 3M51 Alfa (NATO: SS-N-27) SLCMs. While Russia has not indicated these vessels can carry nuclear-tipped weapons, the Granite cruise missiles could be modified for nuclear payloads.

Shchuka B-Class (NATO: Akula)

The Russian Navy possesses ten Project 971 “Shchuka B-class” (NATO: Akula) SSNs. The Shchuka B-class submarines are tasked with both anti-submarine and anti-shipping missions. These submarines are 110.2 meters long and can travel 33.3 knots when submerged. Their weapons systems include RK-55 Granat (NATO designation SS-N-21 Sampson) SLCMs, 3M51 Alfa (NATO designation SS-N-27) SLCMs, and RPK-2 Tsakra (NATO designation SS-N-15 Starfish) anti-ship cruise missiles launched from four 533mm tubes. Additionally, these vessels carry four 650mm torpedo tubes with Type 86R Vodopad anti-ship cruise missiles and mines. Improved Akulas (971U) and Akula-IIs (971O) have six additional 533mm external tubes in the bow. While Russia has not indicated these submarines carry nuclear-tipped weapons, the Shchuka B-class’ ‘Kalibr’ cruise missiles (a variant of the RK-55 Granat SLCMs) could be modified to carry nuclear payloads.

Project 945 and Project 945A (NATO: Sierra I and Sierra II)

The Russian Navy possesses a total of four Project 945 and Project 945A (NATO: Sierra I and Sierra II) SSNs. The Sierra I-class submarines are 112.7 meters long, while the Sierra II-class submarines are 107.16 meters long. Both submarines have a top speed of 36 knots when submerged. Their weapons systems include P-100 Oniks (NATO designation SS-N-22 Sunburn) anti-ship cruise missiles, RPK-6 Vodopad and Type 86R Vodopad anti-ship cruise missiles, and Type 40 torpedoes fired from four 533mm tubes and four 650mm tubes. In lieu of torpedoes, these vessels can carry 42 mines.

Shchuka-Class (NATO: Victor-III)

The Russian Navy possesses three Project 671RTM “Shchuka-class” (NATO: Victor III) SSNs. These submarines are 107.2 meters long and can travel 30 knots when submerged. Their weapons systems include four 533mm tubes with torpedoes, RK-55 Granat SLCMs, 3M51 Alfa SLCMs, RPK-2 Tsakra missiles, and two 650mm torpedo tubes with Type 86R Vodopad anti-ship cruise missiles. Additionally, the Shchuka-class vessels can carry thirty-six mines in lieu of torpedoes.

Yasen-Class (NATO: Severodvinsk)

The Russian Navy possesses one Project 885 “Yasen-class” (NATO: Severodvinsk) SSGN. The submarine is 119.8 meters long and can travel 31 knots when submerged. Its weapons system includes ten 533mm torpedo tubes armed with UGST-M heavyweight guided torpedoes and eight vertical launch silos for P-800 Oniks missiles.

Project 877/636 Varshavyanka (NATO: Kilo)

The Russian Navy possesses a total of 21 Project 877 and the improved Project 636 (NATO: Kilo and Improved Kilo-class) vessels. The Project 877 submarines are 72 meters long, while the Project 636 submarines are 73.8 meters long. Both submarines can travel up to 17 knots when submerged. Their weapons systems include 3M-14E land attack cruise missiles or 91RE1 antisubmarine torpedoes, six 533mm tubes with 18 torpedoes, and Club-S missiles (NATO: SS-NX-27 Alfa) which can have supersonic 3M-54E or subsonic 3M-54EI anti-ship missiles. In lieu of torpedoes, these vessels can carry 24 mines.

Lada-Class (NATO: St. Petersburg)

The Russian Navy possesses one Project 677 “Lada-class” (NATO: St. Petersburg) SSK. This submarine is 66.8 meters long and can travel up to 21 knots when submerged. Its weapons system includes six 533mm torpedo tubes or mines in lieu of torpedoes.

Import and Export Behavior


Russia does not import submarines.


The Russian Federation, like its Soviet predecessor, is a major exporter of diesel-electric submarines. Soviet submarine exports peaked between 1960 and 1980, when they exported 60 Project 613 (NATO: Whiskey-class) submarines to nine different countries, including Albania, Bulgaria, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, China, North Korea, Poland, and Syria. Recently, Russia’s Kilo- and Improved Kilo-class submarines have become popular export commodities, finding customers in states such as China, India, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

To date, neither the Soviet Union nor Russia have exported nuclear-powered submarines, preferring to offer leases or provide technical assistance instead. The Soviet Union made its first nuclear-propulsion-related transfer in 1958, assisting China in constructing its first nuclear submarine. In 2012, the Russian Federation leased a nuclear-powered submarine for the first time, delivering an Akula-class submarine (Nerpa K-152) to India for a ten-year contract.

The modernization and strategic enhancement of Russia’s submarine fleet underscore its commitment to maintaining a robust and formidable maritime force. With continued investments in advanced technologies and new submarine classes, Russia aims to ensure its naval capabilities remain at the forefront of global maritime power. The strategic importance of these submarines in both offensive and defensive roles, coupled with their advanced technological features, highlights the critical role they play in Russia’s national security strategy.

APPENDIX 2 – How Russia’s Yasen-M Submarine Compares to the U.S. Navy’s Block-V Virginia

Russia’s naval modernization efforts have led to significant advancements in submarine technology, most notably with the introduction of the Project 885M Yasen-M class submarines. Concurrently, the U.S. Navy is enhancing its Virginia-class submarines, particularly with the development of the Block V variant. This detailed comparison aims to evaluate the latest Yasen-M and Block V Virginia classes, focusing on their weapons load and overall combat capabilities.

Overview of Submarine Programs

Yasen-M Class

The Yasen-M class represents the pinnacle of Russian submarine design, featuring advanced stealth capabilities, powerful weapons systems, and sophisticated sensors. The K-571 Krasnoyarsk, launched on July 30, 2021, is the third of eight planned Yasen-M class submarines. These submarines are designed to carry a variety of cruise missiles, including the Zircon hypersonic anti-ship missile, the P-800 Oniks, and the 3M14K Kalibr.

Key Specifications:

  • Displacement: Approximately 13,800 tons submerged
  • Length: 139 meters
  • Beam: 15 meters
  • Draft: 10 meters
  • Speed: Over 30 knots submerged
  • Diving Depth: Estimated at 600 meters
  • Crew: 85 (including 32 officers)

Block V Virginia Class

The U.S. Navy’s Virginia-class submarines are a cornerstone of its undersea warfare capabilities. The Block V variant introduces significant enhancements, primarily through the Virginia Payload Module (VPM), which increases the submarine’s missile capacity. The Block V is part of a broader effort to ensure the U.S. maintains its undersea dominance.

Key Specifications:

  • Displacement: Approximately 10,200 tons submerged
  • Length: 140 meters
  • Beam: 10 meters
  • Draft: 10 meters
  • Speed: Over 25 knots submerged
  • Diving Depth: Estimated at 490 meters
  • Crew: 132 (including 15 officers)

Weapons Load Comparison

Yasen-M Weapons Load

The Yasen-M class is equipped with a diverse arsenal of missiles and torpedoes, providing it with substantial offensive capabilities. The submarine can carry up to 72 torpedo-sized weapons, including cruise missiles, torpedoes, and anti-submarine missiles.

  • Cruise Missiles: 32 vertical launch tubes capable of carrying the Zircon, Oniks, and Kalibr missiles.
    • Zircon (3M22): Hypersonic anti-ship missile with an estimated range of 1,000 km, reaching speeds of Mach 8-9.
    • Oniks (P-800): Supersonic anti-ship missile with a range of 600 km.
    • Kalibr (3M14K): Subsonic long-range cruise missile with a range of 2,500 km.
  • Torpedoes and Anti-Submarine Missiles: Up to 40 torpedo-sized weapons, including advanced torpedoes and anti-submarine rockets.

Block V Virginia Weapons Load

The Block V Virginia class incorporates the Virginia Payload Module, significantly increasing its missile capacity. Each Block V submarine can carry up to 66 weapons, distributed between the torpedo room and the VPM.

  • Cruise Missiles: 40 vertical launch tubes dedicated to Tomahawk missiles.
    • Tomahawk Block V: Dual-purpose missile capable of both land-attack and anti-ship roles, with a range of 1,600 km.
  • Torpedoes and Anti-Submarine Missiles: 26 torpedo-sized weapons, including Mk 48 ADCAP torpedoes and anti-submarine rockets.

Stealth and Sensor Capabilities

Both the Yasen-M and Block V Virginia classes are designed with advanced stealth technologies to minimize their acoustic signatures and evade detection. These capabilities are critical for their roles in covert operations and strategic deterrence.

Yasen-M Stealth and Sensors

The Yasen-M class features a low-noise propulsion system and anechoic coatings to reduce its detectability. It is equipped with the Irtysh-Amfora sonar suite, which includes a spherical bow sonar array, flank arrays, and towed arrays for comprehensive underwater detection capabilities.

Block V Virginia Stealth and Sensors

The Block V Virginia class incorporates the latest in acoustic quieting technologies, including special hull treatments and advanced propulsors. Its sensor suite includes the AN/BQQ-10 sonar system, which integrates bow, flank, and towed arrays for enhanced situational awareness.

Operational Roles and Strategic Implications

The Yasen-M and Block V Virginia classes play pivotal roles in their respective naval strategies, serving as versatile platforms for power projection, deterrence, and maritime dominance.

Yasen-M Operational Roles

The Yasen-M class is designed for multi-mission capabilities, including anti-ship, anti-submarine, and land-attack missions. Its ability to carry hypersonic missiles like the Zircon gives it a significant advantage in naval engagements, particularly against high-value targets.

Block V Virginia Operational Roles

The Block V Virginia class is optimized for a range of missions, from strike warfare and special operations to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). The addition of the VPM enhances its strike capabilities, making it a formidable platform for land-attack missions and sea control.

Future Developments and Upgrades

Both Russia and the United States are continually advancing their submarine technologies to maintain an edge in undersea warfare.

Future of the Yasen-M Class

Russia plans to continue upgrading the Yasen-M class with the latest technologies, including improved sonar systems, electronic warfare capabilities, and next-generation weapons. The integration of the Zircon missile represents a significant leap in offensive capabilities, positioning the Yasen-M as a key component of Russia’s naval strategy.

Future of the Block V Virginia Class

The U.S. Navy is focused on incorporating cutting-edge technologies into the Block V Virginia class, including the integration of hypersonic missiles through the Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) program. These advancements will further enhance the Block V’s versatility and lethality.

The Yasen-M and Block V Virginia classes represent the pinnacle of Russian and American submarine design, respectively. While the Yasen-M boasts a larger weapons load and the capability to carry hypersonic missiles, the Block V Virginia class offers a highly versatile platform with significant enhancements in missile capacity and multi-mission capabilities. Both submarines will play crucial roles in their nations’ naval strategies, shaping the future of undersea warfare for years to come.

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