Russian Navy will not modernize in-service Project 941 Akula strategic nuclear-powered submarines due to financial reasons, reports ITAR-TASS referring to a source in defense industry. According to him, complete modernization of one Akula-class sub is comparable to construction of two new Project 955 Borei submarines.
At present, Russia operates three Akula-class subs – SSBN Dmitry Donskoy, SSBN Arkhangelsk, and SSBN Severstal. Two latter ones are moored at Severodvinsk port and not operational due to lack of armament (ballistic missiles R-39). SSBN Severstal has been staying idle since 2004, and SSBN Arkhangelsk – since 2006. SSBN Dmitry Donskoy was used as an experimental submarine participating in test launches of Bulava ballistic missiles.
As was reported early Dec 2011, Dmitry Donskoy would definitely remain in service and be used as testing platform for new submarines. In particular, she was supposed to take part in tests of armament and sonars. SSBN Dmitry Donskoy is registered in White Sea Naval Base. It was planned to decommission the sub by 2014.
Currently, Russian Defense Ministry and the Navy are shaping destiny of Akula-class subs. As was reported in Sept 2011, Russian defense ministry could decide either to upgrade SSBN Severstal and SSBN Arkhangelsk under Project 941UM (just like Dmitry Donskoy) or to dismantle the subs. In 2010 Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Vysotsky said that two Project 941 reserve subs would be in service till 2019. He pointed out by the way that "those subs have great modernization potential".