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Analysis 2/3: Russian Sevmash Shipyard to introduce block-modular submarine construction

Russian naval defense company Sevmash Shipyard has started the development and concept of a new generation of submarines with the introduction of block-modular technology into the construction of nuclear submarines, the Independent Military Review writes. In its history, Sevmash has built 133 nuclear submarines and another four are undergoing trials.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 The Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk uses the modular-aggregate method introduced for the construction of third-generation submarines, such as projects 971 Akula-class submarines. (Picture source Twitter account Capt(N) @Capt_Navy)

Sevmash was upgraded in the 1970s for the construction of third-generation submarines. New bigger slipway #55 was built for project 941 SSBN. A lot of new equipment was installed for the construction of project 971 SSN.

The Soviet disintegration stopped the re-equipment. It is necessary to catch up now and eliminate the technological gap with the West. It concerns block-modular construction used to build US Virginia-class subs, UK Astute and French Suffren.

The technology assembles submarines from major blocks with equipment. It decreases labor intensity and accelerates construction. So far, the shipyard in Severodvinsk uses the modular-aggregate method introduced for the construction of third-generation submarines, such as projects 971 and 941.

The method delivers readymade but untested sections to the slipway. They are united into blocks for hydraulic trials and separated again. It was advanced technology in late Soviet times. The technical progress in shipbuilding has developed a lot since then and another step forward is to be made. The block-modular method will decrease the time and production costs. It will accelerate the construction in the slipway, as most work to equip the hull will be done by specialized workshops.

Sevmash said its CEO Mikhail Budnichenko initiated the new approach. He has been working at Sevmash since 1977 and eight years as CEO. Project leader Alexander Spiridonov said a task force for the technology was created in 2016. It also included representatives of Rubin and Malakhit design bureaus in St. Petersburg. The two bureaus are dealing with all new projects of nuclear submarines.

The United Shipbuilding Corporation then launched a project to design the block-modular method and use it in the construction of next-generation submarines.

Sevmash is upgrading production capacities and creating new infrastructure. It is necessary to build up new logistics and services. The block-modular method is being discussed in various departments. If the idea is approved, Sevmash will be the first Russian enterprise to use the innovative technology in submarine construction.

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