Project 09852 SSAN Belgorod commission satellite imagery

Russian navy Project 09852 auxiliary submarine-nuclear (SSAN) Belgorod was commissioned – likely to the Northern Fleet – on 8 July 2022 at Severodvinsk.

Commander of the Russian navy, Admiral Nikolay Yevmenov, was in attendance for the ceremony at the south pier of the navy base.

Whilst the time of the ceremony isn’t known, at 0927 UTC one of the Airbus Pléiades imaging satellites was able to capture the SSAN either before or after the event.

©CNES 2002, Distribution AIRBUSDS/SkyWatch Space Applications Inc./Tony Roper

The temporary parade ground, made up of wooden planking/decking is clearly visible in the imagery on the quayside.

Commander of the Russian navy, Admiral Nikolay Yevmenov, salutes the honour guard at the Belgorod commissioning.

During the ceremony, Yevmenov stated that “Belgorod opens up new opportunities for Russia in conducting various research, allows diverse scientific expeditions and rescue operations in the most remote areas of the World Oceans”.

A Sevmash shipyards press release stated “The ship is designed to solve diverse scientific tasks, conduct search and rescue operations, and can also be used as a carrier for deep-sea rescue and autonomous uninhabited underwater vehicles”

178 metre long, Belgorod will be the mothership for unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) and small research submarines including Project 1910 Kashalot class nuclear-powered SSAN. It is also reported to be able to be armed with nuclear-armed 2M39 Poseidon “torpedo’s/UUVs”.

It is interesting that Belgorod has been officially called a research and rescue submarine, when Poseidon gives it a potential nuclear weapon strike capability. Quite how the double role mission will be tasked or carried out is unknown.

Belgorod will probably join the other Northern Fleet special purpose submarines at Olen’ya Guba naval base in the Kola Peninsula operating for the Directorate of Deep-Sea Research (GUGI). These are Project 09787 Delta IV Stretch SSAN Podmoskovye and Project 667 Delta III Stretch SSAN Orienburg – themselves both motherships for the smaller special purpose submarines.

From here it is probable the GUGI operations will start from, with Poseidon likely to be loaded at the Gadzhiyevo weapons loading pier further north at the base there.

For a cutaway drawing of the possible layout and potential loadouts of Belgorod, head over to Covert Shores.