MOSCOW, February 10 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu inspected a naval base Monday in the country’s Far East in preparation for the arrival of new nuclear submarines, according to the ministry.
The inspection of the facility on the Kamchatka Peninsula comes amid an overhaul of the country's navy, including the construction of the first post-Soviet submarines, the Yasen-class attack and the Borey-class strategic nuclear missile submarines.
The first boats of the two new classes were commissioned last year.
Mikhail Tashlyk, the official in charge of construction of docking and maintenance facilities for the new submarine types at the Rybachy submarine base, told Shoigu they would be completed by the end of the year.
The defense minister underscored that the work must remain on schedule, as two new Borey-class strategic missile submarines – the Alexander Nevsky and Vladimir Monomakh – are expected to join the Pacific Fleet by the end of next year.
The Borey-class submarines, the length of almost two football fields, can carry up to 16 of the country's new Bulava nuclear missiles, which have suffered a string of failures in launch tests as recently as September. The navy ultimately expects eight of the boats to enter service by 2020.
The buildup of Russia's Pacific Fleet comes as the Obama administration in the US pursues a pivot of military assets toward Asia in light of the region’s growing importance.
According to a ministry spokesperson, Shoigu’s visit was to include tours of the submarine facilities as well as residential areas in the nearby closed military town of Vilyuchinsk.
Ryabachy, located nine miles (15 kilometers) across Avacha Bay from the region’s capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, has been the Pacific Fleet's primary nuclear submarine base since the Cold War.