Vietnam's first Kilo submarine Hanoi about to be floated off heavy lift vessel Rolldock Sea.
Vietnam's first Kilo submarine Hanoi with Cam Ranh port (naval base) in the background.
South China Sea confrontation, centered around disputed islands, with Vietnam and China being two of the major adversaries.
"In pictures: Hanoi submarine arrives at Cam Ranh port"
VietNamNet Bridge - On January 3, Vietnam’s first Kilo-636 submarine named Hanoi ["HQ182"] entered the military port of Cam Ranh [use to be called Cam Ranh Bay during the "American War"] in Khanh Hoa province.
Heavy lift vessel Rolldock Sea, carrying the submarine, arrived at the port on the first day of the year after a six week voyage from St Petersburg .
The submarine is scheduled to be handed over to the Vietnamese side on January 10 .
The second, to be named Ho Chi Minh, is expected to arrive at Cam Ranh by March .
The submarine is the first of six diesel-powered 636 Varshavyanka (kilo)-class submarines that Viet Nam bought from Russia to modernise its navy, enhancing the country's capacity to defend its territorial waters.
The other submarines are being built at Admiralty Verfi Shipyards in St. Petersburg .
The 73.8m-long submarine can operate at a maximum depth of 300 metres and at a range of 6,000-7,500 nautical miles for 45 days and nights with 52 crew members. It has the quietest engine in the world [debatable] and is the best choice for reconnaissance and patrols.
The agreement to sell six Kilos to Vietnam, was announced in mid December 2009. The Kilo 636 is not the world's most advanced conventional submarine (that title may go to late model HDW 214s) however the Kilo's up front price is relatively inexpensive. Vietnam's Kilos will not have AIP. Vietnam also benefits from strengthening its political, economic and strategic relationship with Russia.
Vietnam is courting closer relations with Russia, India and the US as a counterweight to the China threat (on land and sea) to Vietnam. The asymmetric power of Vietnam's submarines will provide limited defence of Vietnam from the risk of Chinese sea-based invasion.
Vietnam is also competing with China and other nearby countries for resources under the South China Sea. Submarines provide a cheaper alternative to expensive surface ships (like aircraft carriers) for Vietnam in that competition. Vietnam has no submarine tradition outside of owning two old midget Yugo Class submarines. It will take years of Russian training to make Vietnam's submarine flotilla efficient. Russia will regain some of the naval intelligence and military power it lost when Russia withdrew from Cam Ranh Bay.
Vietnam's Kilo Subs Steadily Being Built By Russia, July 7, 2013 http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/vietnams-kilo-subs-steadily-being-built.html and
Vietnam's Evolving Nuclear (Energy) Program (with close Russian involvement), October 12, 2013 http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/vietnam-signs-ambiguous-nuclear.html