The Russian navy is adding to its fleet of nuclear submarines as Moscow continues to upgrade the entire fleet of surface ships and subs.

The nuclear-powered Kuzan was put to sea in recent weeks, allowing the Russian navy to return to sub patrol levels last seen during the days of the Soviet Union, according to Russian media.

“The Yasen-M class nuclear-powered submarine cruisers are some of the most advanced battleships that amassed all cutting-edge submarine shipbuilding technologies,” Admiral Vladimir Korolev, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian navy, said as the most advanced Russian nuclear attack submarine, Kazan – the second submarine of the Yasen-M class – was launched in the northern Russian port of Severodvinsk.

The sub was laid down in 2009 and is expected to join the Russian fleet next year. Korolev said four more submarines of the same class – Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Arkhangelsk, and Perm – are now being built at the Sevmash shipyards in Severodvinsk. One of those vessels will be launched in 2019, while the last of seven vessels of this project, Ulyanovsk, will be laid down in 2017.

Russia expects to have all seven vessels entering fleet service by 2023.

Yasen-M class submarines are to replace the older Russian attack submarines of the Akula-class forming the backbone of the Russian Navy’s conventional submarine force.

The new vessels are said to be similar in class and capability to U.S. Virginia– and Seawolf-class boats.

“We are creating a group of nuclear-powered submarines that will carry out missions in all regions of the global ocean and ensure Russia’s security,” Korolev said at the Kazan launch ceremony, as cited by TASS.

He added that Russia planned to launch another nuclear-powered ballistic missile cruiser named Knyaz Vladimir later this year. It will be the fourth submarine of the Borei class. It is designed to carry six 533mm and six 324mm torpedos, Onyx and Kalibr cruise missiles as well as 16 Bulava ballistic missiles with an operational range between 8,000 and 8,300 kilometers (~4,100 – 5,100 miles).

The vessels are expected to see service in Russia’s Pacific and Northern Fleets.

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