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Putin launches nuclear sub ‘Emperor Alexander III’

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his address to the nation at the Kremlin in Moscow on Feb. 21, 2022. (ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)
January 03, 2023

Russia launched a new nuclear submarine called “Emperor Alexander III” – and three other vessels – last week, with President Vladimir Putin vowing to “increase the pace and volume” of shipbuilding amid his war in Ukraine.

State media said the sub – named for a Russian monarch nicknamed “The Peacemaker” – can carry 16 of Russia’s nuclear-tipped “Bulava” intercontinental ballistic missiles, Fox News reported. The ship is set to be tested in June.

During the ceremony, another Bulava-armed sub, the “Generalissimo Suvorov,” was handed over to the Russian Navy from shipbuilding company Sevmash, according to the Barents Observer. Russian flags were also hoisted over the “Grad,” a small missile ship, and the “Anatoly Shlemov,” a sea minesweeper.

Putin said the new ships will “significantly increase the capabilities of our nuclear forces,” adding that they have “modern navigation, communications and hydroacoustics systems, high-precision weapons and robotic systems,” according to Fox News.

The Generalissimo Suvorov is the sixth nuclear submarine to join Russia’s Navy under its “Borei” project, which aims to replace the country’s Soviet-era submarines. After testing, the Emperor Alexander III is set to be the seventh.

“Four more such submarines will be built as part of the current state armament program, which will ensure Russia’s security for decades to come,” Putin said during the ceremony.

The Borei class’ pump-jet propulsion system is significantly quieter than Soviet predecessors and many NATO rivals, according to The National Interest. The three Borei-class submarines launched since 2020 are upgraded to the “Borei II” standard, which has a more efficient hull, upgraded weapons targeting, and better stealth and living quarters.

Putin said during the ceremony that Russia will upgrade its Navy while “taking into account the experience gained, including during a special military operation” – a euphemism for the now-10-month Ukraine invasion. While the war has largely been on land, a naval blockade and the sinking of a Russian flagship have been significant elements.

Putin, who has been carefully isolated since the COVID-19 pandemic, oversaw the ceremony through a video connection, according to the Moscow Times.