History of the Akula III
The Yasen-class submarines were designed by Malakhit, which was formed through the late 1950's merger of the SKB-143 and TsKB-16 design bureaus. Work on the initial design was scheduled to start in 1977 and be completed in 1985. Malakhit is one of the three Soviet/Russian submarine design centers, along with Rubin Design Bureau and Lazurit Central Design Bureau.
Construction on the first submarine started on 21 December 1993, with its launch slated for 1995 and its commissioning for 1998. However, the project was delayed due to financial problems and it appeared during 1996 that work on the submarine had stopped completely. Some reports suggested that as of 1999 the submarine was less than 10 percent complete. In 2003 the project received additional funding and the work of finishing the submarine restarted.
In 2004 it was reported that the work on the submarine was moving forward, but, due to the priority given to the new Borei-class SSBNs, the lead unit of the class (Severodvinsk) would not be ready before 2010. In July 2006 the deputy chairman of the Military-Industrial Commission, Vladislav Putilin, stated that two Yasen-class submarines were to join the Russian Navy before 2015.
On 24 July 2009, work commenced on a second submarine, named Kazan. On 26 July, the Russian navy command announced that starting in 2011, one multipurpose submarine would be laid down every year, although not necessarily of this class.
An August 2009 report from the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence estimated the Yasen-class submarines to be the quietest, or least detectable, of contemporaneous Russian and Chinese nuclear submarines, but said they were still not as quiet as contemporary U.S. Navy submarines (i.e. Seawolf and Virginia classes).
In April 2010, it was reported that the 7 May launch of the first boat had been postponed due to "technical reasons". Then, the launch of the first submarine and the beginning of sea trials were scheduled for September 2011.
On 26 July 2013 the third submarine, named Novosibirsk, was laid down.
On 30 December 2013, Severodvinsk was handed over to the Russian Navy. The flag-raising ceremony was held on 17 June 2014 marking its introduction into the Russian Navy.
In October 2014, one of the U.S. Navy's top submarine officers, Rear Admiral Dave Johnson, the Naval Sea Systems Command's program executive officer (PEO) for submarines, said "We'll be facing tough potential opponents. One only has to look at the Severodvinsk, Russia's version of a nuclear guided missile submarine (SSGN). I am so impressed with this ship that I had Carderock build a model from unclassified data".
According to 60 Minutes, unnamed Pentagon officials claimed that Severodvinsk on her maiden deployment "slipped into the Atlantic Ocean and for weeks evaded all of the attempts to find her" in the summer 2018.
Kazan was rumoured to be active, along with five other nuclear submarines, in the northern Atlantic in spring 2020. However, she may actually have been on sea trials since she was reported commissioned in May 2021.
On 4 October 2021, Severodvinsk performed two test launches of Zircon missile, from surfaced and underwater position. The launches were performed from White to Barents Sea and were successful.