A powerful Russian nuclear-powered submarine – an Oscar-II class, believed to be the Orel (K-266) – has been seen entering the Baltic Sea early on the morning of 9 July.
According to a report in the Forbes magazine, the nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine entered the Baltic Sea under the Great Belt Bridge, the link between the Danish islands of Zealand and Funen. The magazine says that Russia normally only deploys diesel-electric submarines to the area, and that the arrival of the Oscar-II will massively increase the firepower of the Russian Navy.
The submarine is expected to appear at the Navy Day parade in St Petersburg, Russia, on 26 July. The magazine, however, speculates that it may participate in training exercises with other units, and it’s seen as a show force in the Baltic Sea.
Forbes points out that the Orel submarine is significant because it carries P-800 Oniks missiles – supersonic ones that can engage both warships and land targets. It could also be loaded with 3M13K Kalibr land-attack cruise missiles, which are roughly equivalent to the American Tomahawk cruise missiles.
The Orel is one of three Oscar-II class submarines still serving in the Russian Northern Fleet, all assigned to the 11th Submarine Division, berthed at Guba Bolshaya Lopatka (part of Zapadnaya Litsa, also known as Zaozersk), on the Kola Peninsula northwest of Severomorsk.
The submarine was laid down at the Sevmash Shipyard in Severodvinsk on 19 January 1989 – intended for the Soviet Navy. From 1991-1993, it was known as Severodvinsk, but was renamed Orel on 20 March 1993 or 6 April 1993 and entered service with the Russian Navy (Russia is the successor state of the Soviet Union that collapsed in late 1991) that same year.
Cover: Orel (K-266). Photo by Mil.ru, shared under the CC BY 4.0 licence.