Moscow, Russia: Russia’s newest strategic nuclear-powered submarine, the Borey-class Yury Dolgoruky, started a series of sea trials in the White Sea, the Sevmash shipyard said on Thursday.

The trials are part of the manufacturer’s test program and depending on their outcome, official state testing will begin, a Sevmash spokesman said.

The submarine, a 23-billion ruble ($755 million) project, is expected to be armed with the troubled Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).

The Bulava (SS-NX-30) has officially suffered seven failures in 12 tests. Some analysts suggest that in reality the number of failures is considerably larger. Some observers claim only one of the 12 launches has been an outright success.

The future development of the Bulava has been questioned by several lawmakers and defense industry officials, who suggest that all efforts should be focused on the existing Sineva SLBM.

However, that would require major changes to the Borey-class submarines. The Russian military has insisted that there is no alternative to the Bulava and pledged to continue testing the missile until it is ready to be put into service.