Russia’s Pacific Fleet Upgrades Kamchatka Submarine Base
Amidst growing tensions in the Western Pacific over rival Chinese and United States efforts to bolster their presence there, Russia’s military is pursuing a major upgrade of the Viliuchinsk naval base in the Russian Far East. Viliuchinsk is the Pacific Fleet’s ballistic nuclear missile submarine (SSBN) base on the southeastern coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula. The Sea of Okhotsk has been used as a “bastion” for sheltering Russian naval SSBNs since Soviet times, but Viliuchinsk’s advantage over Vladivostok, to the south, is that it has direct access to the open ocean. The Viliuchinsk upgrades include constructing new hardened submarine shelter pens for the Pacific Fleet’s SSBN and attack submarines. Given the distance of Pacific Fleet warships from European-based Northern Fleet maintenance and repair facilities in the Kola polar region, the harbor is also to receive a modern floating dock for berthing and repairing the Russian navy’s recent Project 955 Borei- and Project 885 Yasen–class submarines to lessen the facility’s current near-total reliance on shipyards at the other end of Eurasia.