Monday, August 24, 2009

Russia sends another strategic nuclear submarine for scrapping


An official farewell ceremony for a strategic nuclear submarine from the Russian Northern Fleet was held at the Zvezdochka shipyard in northern Russia. The K-496 Borisoglebsk, a Delta III class ballistic missile nuclear submarine, was decommissioned in December 2008 after over 30 years service. The operational lifetime of these submarines is estimated to be 20-25 years.

"The submarine's crew, Zvezdochka and Sevmash workers, Northern Fleet's active-duty personnel and veterans attended the farewell ceremony on August 14," the shipyard said in a statement. The Borisoglebsk is known for its March 1993 collision with the Graling U.S. nuclear submarine, which had been tracking the Russian sub at the distance of 11-13 kilometers. The K-496 was subsequently sent for repairs to the Zvezdochka shipyard.

The Delta class submarines have formed the backbone of the Soviet and Russian strategic submarine fleet since their introduction in 1973. They carry nuclear ballistic missiles of the R-29 Vysota family. Russia has signed cooperation agreements on the disposal of decommissioned nuclear submarines with the United States, Britain, Canada, Japan, Italy and Norway.

Russian Rosatom state nuclear corporation, the U.S. and Canada will finance the dismantling of the Borisoglebsk submarine at the Zvezdochka shipyard. Zvezdochka is Russia's biggest shipyard for repairing and dismantling of nuclear-powered submarines. The shipyard has the capacity to dismantle up to four nuclear submarines per year.

During the dismantlement, spent nuclear fuel is removed from the submarine's reactors and sent into storage, the hull is cut into three sections, and the bow and stern sections are removed and destroyed. The reactor section is sealed and transferred into storage. Russia has scrapped more than 200 out of 250 nuclear submarines built in the Soviet Union and pledged to dismantle the remaining outdated vessels by 2012.

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