ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Final sea trials will begin soon for the St. Petersburg, the first of Russia's new Lada-class diesel submarines.
The Admiralty Shipyards said Tuesday the new class, which has actually been in the construction and trials phase for nearly 10 years, features a new anti-sonar paint job and a quieter design.
The RIA Novosti news service said the St. Petersburg was the first of three Lada subs completed or under construction at the Admiralty yards. The next boat in the line, the Kronshtadt, will be commissioned in 2009.
The Lada-class, also known as Project 677, is a successor to Russia's Soviet-era Kilo-class submarine and is smaller than the Kilo and assumed to have the latest in quiet-running non-nuclear propulsion -- the characteristics that have become a concern to U.S. admirals who are gearing their 21st Century fleet to operations in shallow coastal "littoral" waters where an undetected submarine could cause considerable havoc to amphibious operations or commercial shipping.
Analysts say the vessel carries a mix of torpedoes and cruise missiles, and extended ability to run submerged using a seven-blade propeller.
The submarine is also available for export. RIA Novosti said Indonesia has expressed interest in buying a pair of the new boats. Russia has also provides submarines and maintenance in the past to India, China and Iran, although there are no apparent plans at this time to sell the Lada-class to Tehran.