The Russian Borei Class Nuclear Submarine

Isaac Westlund
November 14, 2018

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2018


Fig. 1: The Borei Class submarine in action. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Named after Boreas the northern wind, the Russian Borei class submarine (see Fig.1) is one of the Russian Navy's newest submarine designs. Designed as a replacement to the Russian Akula, Delta III, and Delta IV class nuclear submarines, the Borei class was meant to modernize the Russian submarine fleet. At 525 ft. long, 45 ft. wide, displacing 21,000 tons of water when submerged, and being manned by 107 crewmembers, the Borei class is considerably smaller than its predecessor, the Akula class which displaced 48,000 tons of water and required a crew size of 160. [1] However, as it was built more than twenty years later, the Borei made up for its lack of size through modern improvements. Powered by a OK-650B 190-megawatt nuclear power plant, the Borei could achieve speeds of up to 15 knots surfaced, 29 knots submerged and is capable of diving to depths of up to 1,500 ft. [1] Furthermore, rather than using a standard propeller to propel itself, the Borei class uses a pump-jet. This allows the Borei to be both more maneuverable as well as stealthy due to the pump-jet being much quieter. In terms of weaponry, the Borei can carry sixteen RSM-56 Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles. These are some of Russia's newest missiles with a reported range of around 5,000 miles and are capable of hitting targets worldwide. [2] Besides the ICBMs the Borei class has eight torpedo tubes mounted at its front for naval ship-to-ship combat. [1]


After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Navy lacked the serious funding capabilities necessary to significantly advance its nuclear submarine fleet. As the Soviet era Akula, Delta III, and Delta IV classe submarines aged, rather than attempting to modernize the old subs, the Russian Navy realized that it would be significantly cheaper to overhaul them completely with the creation of the Borei submarine class. Although construction started in 1996, funding continued to be an issue and it was not until 2007 that the first of these submarines, the Yury Dolgorukiy was finally finished. [3] Even after this, the Yury Dolgorukiy was still not commissioned into the Russian Navy until 2013 due to repeated testing failures with the Bulava missile that it was designed to carry. [3] Thankfully, there is no documentation that the Borei class submarine has seen combat.

© Isaac Westlund. The author warrants that the work is the author's own and that Stanford University provided no input other than typesetting and referencing guidelines. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] K. Mizokami, "Russia's New Missile Submarine Sure Looks Familiar," Popular Mechanics, 30 Nov 17.

[2] G. Faulconbridge, "Russia Starts Production of New Ballistic Missiles," Reuters, 1 Dec 08.

[3] S. Gutterman, "New Russian Nuclear Submarine Goes into Service," Reuters, 10 Jan 13.