Russian submarines match Cold War-era patrol intensity

FILE - in this file photo taken on Thursday, July 2, 2009, the Russian nuclear submarine, Yuri Dolgoruky, is seen during sea trials near Arkhangelsk, Russia. The Russian navy said in a statement Friday March 31, 2017, that its submarines have increased combat patrols to the level last seen during the Cold War. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

MOSCOW — Russian submarines have increased combat patrols to the level last seen during the Cold War, the navy chief said Friday.

Adm. Vladimir Korolyov said that Russian submarine crews spent more than 3,000 days on patrol last year, matching the Soviet-era operational tempo.

"It's an excellent level," he said in remarks carried by state RIA Novosti news agency.

The Russian military had fallen on hard times after the 1991 Soviet collapse when it was forced to scrap many relatively new ships and keep most others at harbor for lack of funds. The military has revived its strength thanks to a sweeping arms modernization program amid tensions with the West over Ukraine.

Korolyov spoke after attending the launch of a new Yasen-class nuclear-powered attack submarine called the Kazan. He hailed the new ship as the most modern in the world, emphasizing its low noise level making it hard to track it.

"It represents the cutting edge of nuclear submarine design," Korolyov said in televised remarks.

The navy plans to commission seven Yasen-class submarines that are armed with torpedoes and long-range Kalibr cruise missiles, which for the first time have been tested in combat during the Russian campaign in Syria.

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