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Pacific News Minute: Pacific Base for Putin's Red October

Mikhail Kamarov / Flickr
Mikhail Kamarov / Flickr

Russia's Pacific Fleet has steadily dwindled since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but that's about to change with the deployment of a new ballistic missile submarine that's been dubbed Putin's Red October. More from Neal Conan, in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Naval Chief Admiral Viktor Chirkov told the Sputnik news agency that Russia's Pacific Fleet submarine base will be ready to accommodate the new Borei class submarines by October first.  Construction on new medical and recreational facilities is underway at Rybachiy on the Kamchatka Peninsula, along with a crane designed to load the new Bulava missile.

The Borei, which translates as North Wind, is Russia's first post-Soviet ballistic missile submarine.  Western experts credit underwater speeds of thirty knots, a maximum depth of 1500 feet and quieter pump jet propulsion, similar to that used on the latest American subs.  Each can carry 16 Bulava missiles, and each of them carries as many as ten warheads with a range of well over five thousand miles.

Three of eight planned Boreis are complete.  They will replace the aging Delta 3, Delta 4 and Typhoon classes.  At the height of the Cold War, the Soviets tried to challenge the blue water supremacy of the U.S. Navy.  As of late, Russia's Navy has been less aggressive than its modernized Army and Air Force, and focused almost entirely on coastal defense and strategic deterrence which is where the Boreis come in.  One of them, the Alexander Nevsky, recently test fired a Bulava missile off Kamchatka.  

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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