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Upgraded Northern Fleet Akula moves out of repair hall

A long-delayed project to upgrade Russian Northern Fleet Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) appears to be building momentum after a second boat was moved out of an upgrade hall.

Video imagery of the Project 971I Schuka-B (Improved Akula)-class submarine Leopard being moved on a lift out of the Zvezdochka Ship Repair Centre facility at Severodvinsk shipyard after a rededication ceremony was posted online by the Russian Ministry of Defence’s Zvezda television channel on 26 December 2020. The Russian state news agency TASS also reported the event, saying it occurred on 25 December.

The Zvezda report showed the submarine, which still had scaffolding installed behind its sail to enable the final elements of the upgrade to be completed, being moved by the lift into the repair centre’s basin in preparation for being lowered into the water. Workers will now complete the upgrade work as it is tied up at the yard’s pier.

“The nuclear submarine Leopard has become the first ship of the third generation, which is undergoing medium repair and deep modernisation at the shipyard of the Severodvinsk Zvezdochka Ship Repair Centre,” Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Nikolai Evmenov was reported as saying by the TV channel.

The television channel reported that the submarine had its weapon systems replaced, as well as improved control systems, communications, navigation, hydro-acoustics installed. This is part of a project to expand the submarine’s weapons suite and to reduce its acoustic signature, it said. TASS reported that the Leopar d would now be capable of launching Kalibr cruise missiles.

Ahead of Leopard and Vepr returning to frontline service after completing their acceptance trials during the coming months, the Northern Fleet only has two Akula-class SSNs in service: the legacy Project 971 (Akula)-class submarine

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