24 August 2015
News that Russia is testing the latest addition to its underwater fleet of war machines, the BS-64 Podmoskovie nuclear submarine, have apparently left western analyst wondering what the watercraft is capable of while on months-long missions in the deep waters of the world ocean.
The BS-64, previously known as K-64, is not a new sub, but a refurbished Project 667BDRM ballistic missile submarine (NATO reporting name: Delta-IV) that spent over 15 years at a repair plant located in the Russian port city of Severodvinsk. Laid down in 1982, it was commissioned four years later and remained in service until 1999.
The Podmoskovie is capable of carrying a crew of 135 people and is armed with 16 R-29RMU Sineva liquid-fueled ballistic missiles. It has been assigned to Russia's Northern Fleet.
The 550-foot sub powered by two nuclear reactors was converted into a vessel designed to conduct scientific research, as well as a carrier for nuclear deep-water stations, including the top secret Losharik sub.
The new section allows the submarine to dock and undock deep-water vessels and houses a compartment for the crew and a research unit.
The BS-64 "appears to be part science vessel, part spy ship, part commando transport, and part 'mothership' for mini-subs and drones. But no one outside of the Kremlin and the Moscow's future crew knows for sure," defense analyst David Axe observed in an article titled "Russia's Mysterious New Submarine."
Norman Polmar, an expert focusing on naval and intelligence issues, fueled keen interest for the Podmoskovie by cautioning against underestimating Russian engineers.
"These guys are far more innovative than we ever were," Axe quoted Polmar as saying. The naval expert who has advised the US government on submarine strategy speaks from experience since he has been to the Russian design bureaus tasked with developing submarines.