Russia Conducts Submarine Sea Trials and Amphibious Landing Exercise in Arctic

“Two of Russia’s newest nuclear-powered submarines have completed a 5,500 nm voyage under the Arctic ice cap.

Historically, the Russian Far East has not been a high priority on the Kremlin’s military spending list, but that is changing. According to independent Norwegian news site The Barents Observer, Russia has added two new nuclear-powered submarines to its Pacific Fleet. The Pacific Fleet now has three of the latest long-range nuclear-powered strategic Borei-class submarines, while the Northern Fleet has two. The second excerpted article from The Barents Observer reports that the Northern Fleet’s annual summer/autumn exercise continues as scheduled with amphibious assault landings, but no riverine exercise up the Yenisei River to the riverport of Dudinka and then overland to Norilsk. Riverine exercises are complicated, and according to the excerpted article, elements of the Arctic brigades have fought in Ukraine and many of the current soldiers and sailors of the brigades are new. Amphibious assault landings are a good starting point before attempting a riverine exercise in the Arctic.


Thomas Nielsen, “Nuclear subs made trans-Arctic under-ice transfer from Barents to Pacific,”The Barents Observer (independent Norwegian news site in Russian and English currently blocked in Russia), 28 September 2022.

Two of Russia’s newest nuclear-powered submarines have completed a 5,500 nm voyage under the Arctic ice cap. Built at Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk and tested in the White- and Barents Seas, the two submarines “Novosibirsk” and “Knyaz Oleg” are now ready for combat patrols.

The inter-fleet transit from the Northern Fleet to the Pacific Fleet contributes a substantial strength to the submarine forces in the Russian Far East. “Knyaz Oleg” of the Borei-class carries 16 ballistic nuclear missiles, while the “Novosibirsk” is armed with some of the navy’s most modern long-range cruise missiles, torpedoes and mines.

Both submarines participated in the Umka-2022 naval exercise taking place in the Chucki Sea in September before sailing into Vilyuchinsk naval base near Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy according to the Defense Ministry.

There are now three Borei-class ballistic missile submarines in active service with the Pacific Fleet. The “Novosibirsk” is the first 4th generation Yasen-class multi-purpose sub to be deployed in the Pacific. 

Thomas Nilsen, “Russia shows off Arctic Military Power”, The Barents Observer (independent Norwegian news site in Russian and English currently blocked in Russia), 22 September 2022.

The official press statement says nothing about how the mock enemy managed to get to Cape Chelyuskin. The cape is the northernmost tip of the Taymyr Peninsula, also known to be the northernmost coastline of the Eurasian mainland.

Here, between icebergs and frozen tundra, the soldiers of Russia’s Northern Fleet countered an imagined illegal armed sabotage reconnaissance group. The drill this week included landing amphibious assault forces supported by choppers and artillery fire from the destroyer “Admiral Levchenko” – the lead warship on the Arctic voyage.

September expeditions with exercises along the Northern Sea Route have been an annual highlight for the Russian navy over the last decade. This year, the voyage is supervised by Vice Admiral Oleg Golubev, Deputy Commander of the Northern Fleet.

Armored personnel carriers were brought to shore by “Aleksandr Otrakovsky”, the landing ship that last year sailed side-by-side in the Black Sea with the cruiser “Moskva”. That warship sank after being hit in Putin’s war off the coast of Ukraine earlier this year.

Troops now training for Arctic warfare on the top of the world come from the same infantry brigades that have lost hundreds of soldiers on the battlefields in Ukraine since Putin ordered them to invade on February 24th.

Thousands of kilometers from the violent fighting in Ukraine, the soldiers practiced tactical actions to capture the beach and made a five-kilometer march on the permafrost of the peninsula.

The navy ships set out from the Kola Bay on August 10 and have conducted navy drills at Franz Josef Land, near the offshore oil rig Priazlomnaya in the eastern Barents Sea and in the Kara Sea on their way to Severnaya Zemlya and the Laptev Sea where a drill took place at the Kotelny Island last week. 

Russia’s Newest Nuclear Submarine Joins Northern Fleet

“The ‘Belgorod’ special purpose submarine, carrier of the so-called doomsday Poseidon drones, will be in experimental operation with the Northern Fleet before later to serve in the Pacific Fleet.”

According to the excerpted article from Norway-based The Barents Observer, Russia recently announced that its newest nuclear-capable research submarine, the Belgorod, will begin “experimental operation” with the Northern Fleet in Arctic waters.  Many of Russia’s research submarines begin their work with the Arctic portion of the Russian Navy’s specialized submarine and surface fleet designed for espionage, deep-sea rescue, and special operations.  However, according to the article, the Belgorod’s real mission is to carry up to six Poseidon autonomous nuclear-powered underwater attack drones.  The Belgorod is likely to join the Pacific Fleet as part of Russia’s nuclear triad when the Poseidon drone system is deployable.


Thomas Nilsen, “World’s longest nuclear submarine handed over to the ‘Russian Navy’,” The Barents Observer (independent Norwegian internet news service in Russian and English currently blocked in Russia), 8 July 2022.

An official press release posted by the Sevmash submarine yard on 8 July says the “Belgorod” (K-239) is a “research submarine”.  In fact, the vessel is built to carry one of the craziest weapons of mass destruction mankind ever has seen:  The Poseidon is an autonomous, nuclear-powered underwater drone that can deliver its nuclear payloads from deep under water after crossing distances like the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean.

Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Nikolai Evmenov, stated: “… this is a significant day for us” as … advanced achievements of science and the latest construction technologies were applied….  “The submarine “Belgorod” opens up new opportunities for Russia in conducting various studies, allows conducting diverse scientific expeditions and rescue operations in the most remote areas of the World Ocean.”  … The statement also adds that the submarine can conduct search and rescue operations in deep waters as it carries autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles. There is no mention of the Poseidon drone weapon armament.

With the U.S. developing an anti-ballistic missile defense system, Russia started to develop a deep-diving response capability.  The Poseidon is a 24-meter-long torpedo-shaped vehicle with an estimated range of 10,000 km and can travel at speeds of 100 knots down to a maximum depth of 1,000 meters.  Powered by a small nuclear reactor, it could be armed with a megaton nuclear warhead.

The submarine likely carries six Poseidon drones.  The submarine also serves as a mother vessel for a deep-diving midget nuclear-powered submarine, like the infamous Losharik, a mini-submarine that got the world’s attention in July 2019 when its batteries caught fire and all 14 officers on board died. 

The “Belgorod” has an elongated hull of what was originally meant to be an Oscar-II class multi-purpose submarine, a sister vessel to the ill-fated “Kursk” submarine that sank in the Barents Sea during a naval exercise in August 2000.   The hull of the submarine was laid down in 1992, but only twenty years later, in 2012, the Defense Ministry decided to use the hull to construct this giant special purpose vessel.  With a hull elongated by 29 meters to 184-meters, the one-of-a-kind vessel is longer than the world’s largest submarine, the Soviet-built Typhoon-class. 

The “Belgorod” launched in April 2019, the “Belgorod” started sea trials in the White Sea last summer.  The Russian Navy has not announced where the “Belgorod” will be based for the period it will be in experimental operation with the Northern Fleet.  It could be Severodvinsk where the Poseidon drone development will be conducted or at Olenya Bay on the Kola Peninsula where the other special-purpose submarines of GUGI, Russia’s Main Directorate for Deep Sea Research, are based.  Indications are that the long-term assignment of the Belgorod will be with the Pacific Fleet.

Indonesia Upgrades Naval Submarine Fleet

Submarine KRI Nagapasa, Indonesian Navy.

Submarine KRI Nagapasa, Indonesian Navy.

“Yudo explained that the plan to purchase Scorpene submarines had undergone a long evaluation in order to modernize the equipment of the Indonesian Navy’s weapons systems.”

Recently, Indonesia acquired two Scorpene submarines from France, modernizing its navy’s weapons systems.  The accompanying articles from local sources provide insight intotwo factors that prompted Indonesia to pursue new submarines.  First, China has repeatedly entered the waters of the North Natuna Sea, which Indonesia claims as its exclusive economic zone and China asserts is within its so-called nine-dash line.  The Natuna Sea is important for both countries’ economies due to its substantial oil and gas reserves.  Second, in April 2021, an Indonesian submarine sank off the coast of Bali, killing 53 crew members.  The 44-year old submarine’s sinking highlighted the age and vulnerability of Indonesia’s aging submarine fleet and the need for an upgrade.  The next step for Indonesia is to receive training on operating the Scorpene submarines and acquire the necessary spare parts and an air-independent propulsion system.


“Prabowo Bakal Beli 2 Kapal Selam Scorpene, KSAL: Kita Sudah Cek, Kita Setuju (Prabowo will Buy 2 Scorpene Submarines, KSAL: We Have Checked, We Agree),” (historically pro-government and nationalist-leaning Indonesian-language news source), 5 March 2022.

The Chief of Naval Staff (KSAL) Admiral Yudo Margono agreed to the plan to purchase two Scorpene ships from France. According to Yudo, the Scorpene submarine is a submarine that meets the requirements to be able to operate within the confines of Indonesian waters…. In addition, Yudo explained that the plan to purchase Scorpene submarines had undergone a long evaluation in order to modernize the equipment of the Indonesian Navy’s weapons systems.”

Source: “Indonesia to ramp up submarine fleet in response to Chinese incursions,” (news source covering Indian and Asian current affairs), 30 May 2021.

In response to repeated Chinese incursions into its waters, Indonesia aims to expand its submarine fleet by as much as triple its current line to 12 total vessels, according to multiple defense sources.

This comes after the Indonesian submarine that went missing off the coast of Bali with 53 crew members on board sunk last month, killing all crewman.

Image Information:

Image: Submarine KRI Nagapasa, Indonesian Navy.
Source: Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL),_Indonesian_Navy.jpg
Attribution: CC x 2.0