Vietnam's first Russian-made sub docks at Cam Ranh

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The process of discharging the HQ182 Hanoi submarine from the transport vessel Rolldock Sea and leading it to the Cam Ranh military port on Friday. Photos by Nguyen Chung 

The first of six Varshavyanka-class submarines that Vietnam ordered from Russia docked at Cam Ranh military port Friday, ending its journey of more than six and a half weeks from Russia.

Thanh Nien reporters witnessed the Rolldock Sea submerge gradually in the morning and its hatch open so that the HQ182 Hanoi could float in the water and exit the vessel.

The Rolldock Sea, a Netherlands-flagged heavy lift vessel that carried the submarine from St. Petersburg to Cam Ranh, was staying at a site nearby to the port in Khanh Hoa Province's Cam Ranh Bay.

Two tugboats from the Vietnam People's Navy started pulling it out of the vessel at 1:30 p.m., safely leading it inside the port in 30 minutes.

A source said five Russian technicians going with the submarine on the trip from St. Petersburg were scheduled to use a "special paint" to redecorate it, before its official handing over ceremony scheduled for January 10.

The Rolldock Sea arrived at Cam Ranh Bay Tuesday evening, and stayed there for two days of customs procedures and security checks that began on Wednesday.

"The arrival of the (enhanced) Kilo-class submarine signals a major step forward in Vietnam's ability to defend itself," Carl Thayer, a Vietnam expert at the University of New South Wales in Australia told Thanh Nien

He said with all six submarines fully operational by 2016, Vietnam will have a "potent" anti-access/area-denial capacity, which will force its potential enemies to "take into account Vietnam's submarine capacity.

"An adversary will suffer major consequences if it attacks Vietnam," he said.

The HQ182 Hanoi was officially launched in August 2012 and then subjected to several trial runs at sea.

It is one of the six diesel-electric submarines considered improvements over the older Kilo-class  that Vietnam agreed to buy from Russia under a US$2-billion deal signed during a visit by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to that country in 2009.

Under the contract, Russia will deliver all the vessels by 2016, train Vietnam crews, and supply Vietnam with necessary spare parts.

The submarines, nicknamed "black holes" for their ability to remain undetected underwater, are designed for anti-submarine and anti-ship missions in relatively shallow waters, general reconnaissance, and patrols.

They are equipped with six 533-millimeter torpedo tubes and 3M54 (or 3M-54 Klub) caliber cruise missiles. They displace 3,100 tons of water, reach speeds of 20 knots (37 kilometers per hour), dive to 300 meters and can hold 52 crew members.

They make little noise and can hit long-distance targets.

The second and third submarines, named HQ183 Ho Chi Minh City and HQ184 Hai Phong, were launched in December 2012 and last August, respectively.

RIA Novosti cited sources from their manufacturer, the St. Petersburg-based Admiralty Shipyards, that the two subs are scheduled to be delivered to Vietnam later this year.

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