Submarine War: America’s Virginia-Class vs. Russia’s Deadly Yasen (Who Wins?)

    Kyle Mizokami


    Stealth sub showdown? 

    In a head-to-head confrontation between a Virginia Block III—the version under construction when Severodvinsk was commissioned—who would win? Both submarines are the pinnacle of their country’s submarine technology and, pitted against one another, would be fairly well matched. Severodvinsk may be slower, but it can dive deeper. The Virginia may be faster, but according to Combat Ships of the World, the hull has only been tested to 488 meters. Virginia likely has the edge in sonar detection, thanks to the new Large Aperture Bow sonar.

    The United States Navy’s submarine force emerged from the Cold War as the undisputed masters of the undersea realm. The elite, all-nuclear submarine force watched as its Soviet submarine force rivals rusted away pierside, the newly founded Russian Federation unable to maintain them.

    After more than twenty years of American submarine supremacy, a new challenger has arisen from the deep. Slightly familiar and almost two decades in the making, it’s an unusual challenge to U.S. naval superiority, but nevertheless one with a long, lethal pedigree. How does this new old upstart, Russia’s Yasen-class submarine, compare with the new backbone of the U.S. submarine force, the Virginia class?

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    The Yasen (“Ash Tree”) class of submarines was conceived as early as the mid-1980s by the Malakhit Central Design Bureau, one of the Soviet Union’s three main submarine bureaus. Construction of the first submarine, Severodvinsk, began in 1993 in Russia at the Sevmash Shipyards, but lack of funding delayed completion for more than a decade. Severodvinsk was finally launched in 2010, and commissioned into the fleet in 2013.

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