The Russian Navy conducted simultaneous submarine rescue exercises in Kola Bay in the Barents Sea and Avacha Bay on the Pacific coast. The exercises were carried out on Monday 27 November and demonstrated a range of rescue capabilities including Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and the AS-34 Priz-class Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV).
Demonstrating the capability simultaneously on entirely different sides of the planet, on the same day, seems to offer a clear signal that this rehearsal was prompted by the recent loss of the ARA San Juan. The Russian Navy will be especially sensitive to the San Juan tragedy due to the loss of the Kursk and exercising their submarine rescue units might be just as much to boost confidence in the capability internally as it is for external demonstration.
The exercises are all the more significant as the navy has deployed rescue equipment to support the search for the San Juan. The support team flew to Argentina on Saturday 25 November and deployed on board a local vessel with a Panther plus ROV and a diving team.
Earlier this week the Russian Navy confirmed it was developing the next variant of the country’s strategic ballistic missile submarines (SSBN). The Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces announced that the development of the Borey-B had begun and the General noted that 5 of the Borey-A are now under construction. The first of the Borey-A is due to launch this month so the announcement seems appropriately timed to coincide with this.
General Valery Gerasimov said "Work has begun on the creation of an atomic submarine cruiser with improved characteristics of Borey B," at a meeting of the Defense Ministry's board and he also pointed out that 102 ballistic missiles were acquired for the SSBN fleet in the past five years.
The announcement of a Borey-B variant and the imminent launch of the first Borey-A expected this month will likely cause some discussion over class naming as and when the various boats come into service and depending on how much the classes vary. The Borey-B announcement seems to meet with the rearmament programme announced by President Putin in May 2017, which mentioned a future ‘Husky-class’ SSBN through the 2025 timeframe.