It’s always helpful to understand the enemy order of battle. To that end, let’s look at the Russian submarine fleet. Here’s a nice summary.
“The Russian Navy currently has 15 ballistic missile submarines — 10 in the North Fleet and 5 in the Pacific Fleet. The North Fleet currently has seven such vessels in service: one submarine of the 955 Borey (“Boreas”) class [Borei], one of the 941 Akula (“Shark”) class, and five of the 667BDRM ‘Dolphin’ class [Delta IV].
The strategic forces of the Pacific Fleet consist of two 955 Borey class submarines and three submarines of the 667BDR Kalmar (“Squid”) class [Delta III] that are nearing the end of their life cycle (one of them is undergoing repairs). This means that four submarines are battle-worthy.”
“11 ballistic missile submarines are now ready for combat duty in the Russian Navy.” (1)
According to Wiki, the Russian submarine fleet consists of the following.
13 Ballistic Missile Subs (SSBN)
- 1 Typhoon (commissioned 1981)
- 3 Delta III (commissioned late 1970’s)
- 6 Delta IV (commissioned late 1980’s)
- 3 Borei (commissioned 2013-4) – replacing the outdated Typhoon and Delta classes; 8 planned
7 Cruise Missile Subs (SSGN)
- 7 Oscar II (commissioned early 1990’s)
18 Nuclear Attack Subs (SSN)
- 1 Sierra I (commissioned 1987)
- 2 Sierra II (commissioned early 1990’s)
- 4 Victor III (commissioned early 1990’s)
- 10 Akula (commissioned 1990’s)
- 1 Yasen (commissioned early 2014) – replacing the Akula class
21 Conventional Attack Subs (SSK)
- 16 Kilo (commissioned late 1980’s)
- 4 Improved Kilo (commissioned 2014-5)
- 1 Lada (commissioned 2010)
Other sources list one or two fewer or greater numbers in each category, reflecting the uncertainty and difficulty in obtaining accurate numbers.
Jane’s has noted that some ships remain technically in service but have little operational capability. In addition to operational questions, the Russian fleet is severely constrained by budget and many subs are poorly maintained and probably not realistically operational. Budget issues also prevent many subs from operating even if technically capable.
“According to Nenashev [Captain 1st Rank Mikhail Nenashev, Chairman of the All-Russia Fleet Support Movement], Russia can now afford to have at least two ballistic missile submarines out at sea at all times — one each for the North Fleet and the Pacific Fleet. During the period of an active threat, three submarines from each one of these fleets can be deployed at sea, …”
“According to Kurdin [Captain 1st Rank Igor Kurdin, Chairman of the Submarine Sailors' Club], there were periods when not a single submarine was at sea, and only a handful of them were on combat alert duty near piers at their home bases.” (1)*
*Note: I am not familiar with this source and cannot assign a level of credibility to it. Take it as informational.
My general impression is that half the listed subs are actually operational, at best, and very, very few actually operate at any given moment. Several sources suggest even fewer are operational.
Further, the majority of the subs represent dated technology and would not be considered significant threats today. The Sierras, early Kilos, Deltas, and Oscars, at a minimum, are marginally effective, at best. The Akulas are competent subs but no longer the threat they once were.
Finally, the Russian capabilities and strategies would probably preclude much in the way of far reaching submarine activities in the event of war.
’s priorities are strategic deterrence and coastal
defense. Neither role will result in
Russian submarines flooding the world’s oceans with their presence. The majority would probably be retained in
protected bastions close to home. Russia simply no longer has the numbers, budget, or
resources to conduct extensive world wide submarine operations. During a major war, only a few submarines
would likely operate in open oceans.
These would constitute a nuisance but hardly a significant threat. Russia
All of this ties in with my previous views on P-3/8 ASW aircraft and their role in war. We see from this that the Russian submarine fleet does not constitute a world-ranging threat and this leads, in part, to questioning the need for, and role of, the P-3/8 and the numbers of aircraft required.
and India Report, “More Russian nuclear submarines
deployed in the Pacific”, Russia 2 April 2015, Roman Kretsul, Vzglyad