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29 Jun, 2021 14:24

Russia sends world’s largest underwater vessel to sea for first time, tests continue of nuclear armed mega-submarine 'Belgorod'

Russia sends world’s largest underwater vessel to sea for first time, tests continue of nuclear armed mega-submarine 'Belgorod'

A long-awaited Russian experimental atomic-powered submarine, capable of carrying up to six nuclear-armed Poseidon drones, has entered the White Sea in the remote far north for the first time for testing, according to local media.

At 184 meters, it is also the world’s biggest-ever submarine, even surpassing the Russian Navy's Soviet-made Dmitriy Donskoy.

On Saturday, news agency TASS, citing a source, revealed that the vessel – named ‘Belgorod’ – went out for its first round of testing at the weekend. The White Sea is an inlet of the Barents Sea, in the Arctic Ocean.

Built in the secretive city of Severodvinsk, the Belgorod is due to be handed over to the Navy at the end of the year.

The craft is notable not only for its size but also for its capabilities, and will add a new dimension to Russia’s nuclear deterrence. The submarine is able to carry six Poseidon drones, unmanned underwater vehicles capable of delivering nuclear payloads. The vehicle itself is powered by its own reactor. Although little is known about the vessel, it is thought that it could reach and attack targets on America’s coastline.

The drones were first announced by President Vladimir Putin in March 2018 and went into test phase later that year.

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The Belgorod itself is based on the Soviet-made Antey, known by NATO as Oscar II. It was first launched in 2019 and, after more sea trials, is expected to be put into service in 2021.

In April, TASS reported, citing a source, that the submarine would mainly be deployed in the Pacific Ocean after commissioning.

The testing of the Belgorod comes just a week after Russia’s most high-profile naval incident in recent years. On Wednesday, Russian forces demanded that a British ship, the HMS Defender, leave waters off Cape Fiolent, near the Crimean city of Sevastopol. After being ignored, the coast guard fired warning shots at the British boat, causing a diplomatic incident.

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