Cold War Soviet Submarines

Proyekt 183R – 112 boats 1952-60

The Soviet silent service in the cold war

Soviet conventional attack submarines

Whiskey class SSK (1951)

Quebec class SSK (1950)

30 submarines (1950-54)

Preserved M-296

These 30 conventional attack submarines (project 615) were users of the closed Kreislauf power system, recovered from the archives of the Third Reich and produced by the expertise of German engineers courted in Russia in 1946. This system was based on the use of liquid oxygen pressurized, decomposed and stored on board. It allowed long dives, interesting speeds, and above all had the merit of being more stable than the Walter method. This last place gave rise to a single submarine, the S-99 called “Whale” by NATO, which made many dives and finally exploded and sank during a test.

Quebec Quebec had the enormous disadvantage of not having to move far away from a port in order to get supplies of liquid oxygen. Moreover, their reliable dimensions made them semi-coastal units. Designed by the TsKB18 under the patronage of Kassatier. These units gave relatively good satisfaction, but their speed and autonomy condemned them to the speedy researches in the field of nuclear propulsion. As a result, these units entered service at a time when they were already out of date, and the project went no further. The Quebec class models will remain in service until the 80s, but many were victims of serious accidents, explosions and fires: The closed circuit system called “Kreislauf”, experienced by the Germans in 1945 was far from reliable.


Displacement: 1330-1700 tons Surface/dive
Dimensions: 77 x 6,7 x 4,9 m
Propulsion: 3 shafts, 2 diesels, 1 Kreislauf 6900 hp system et 18/16 knots Surface/dive 200 m max
Crew: 30
Armement: 4 TLT 533 mm proue (12 torpilles), 2 x 25 mm AA.
Electronics: Radar Snoop Plate, Sonar Tamir, antenne passive Feniks.

Zulu class SSK (1952)

Romeo class SSK (1957)

Project 633: 21 submarines
Romeo class

The 21 classic “Romeo” class attack submarines (Project 633) were upgraded “Whiskeys”, with a more solid hull allowing them to dive deeper and more spacious to improve range. They used a new passive antenna (Feniks M); an Arktika sonar, and a “fez” type underwater telephone (NATO code). They finally had two more torpedo tubes. But the project did not continue, research was done on a new generation (The Foxtrots). Long bin versions with missiles would never see the light of day, and one unit, the S188, would serve as a test bed for 650mm encapsulated missiles until 1989. Most of the “Romeo” were sold or transferred: 2 to Algeria, 4 to Bulgaria, 3 to Syria, 6 to Egypt, and 12 to North Korea, China recovering the licenses and the manufacturing equipment to continue the series: 35 Chinese Romeo will see the day, of which 7 were then sold to North Korea.The surviving Russians were struck off the lists in 1987.

Displacement: 1,330-1,700 t
Dimensions: 77 x 6.7 x 4.9 m
Propulsion: 2 diesel, 4 electric generators, 8,000 hp. 15.5/13 Knots, Diving 300 m
Crew: 90
Armament: 8 x 533 mm TTs (6 bow 2 stern, 14 torpedoes, 28 mines).
Sensors: Radar Snoop Plate, Sonar Herkules, Fenika passive antenna, CME Stop Light.

Juliet class SSKG (1962)

Project 651: 16 submarines

Typical of the proliferation of models intended to counter the American Task Forces, the Juliett (Nato Code J) are also “aircraft carrier killers”, designed on the same model as the Echo, but without nuclear propulsion, and with a less armament. Much more economical, they could also use the SS-N 3 in a tactical nuclear warhead version. Designed for the Black Sea and the Northern Fleet (Arctic), some were transferred to the Baltic in 1981. These 16 units, completed between 1963 and 1968 began to be withdrawn from service in 1988: Two, followed by two others at the end of 1989. They were then gradually sent to the scrapping: 4 in 1991, another was demolished following a deplorable state (it sank at the quay), yet another in 1992. Two were still in service in June 1994.

Displacement: 3000t, 3750t FL
Dimensions: 90 x 10 x 7m
Propulsion: 2 DE turbines, 5,000 hp. 16 Knots max. Dive 300 max.
Crew: 78
Sensors:Front Door/Front Piece Radar Electronics, Snoop Slab, Sonar Artktika, Feniks M, Herkules.
Armament: 4 AN SSN3, 6 x 533 mm (bow, 16), 4 x 406 mm (aft, 12).

Foxtrot class SSK (1963)

Project 641: 74 submarines

Cuban Foxtrot.

The “Foxtrot” class attack submarines (NATO Code F) were the best known and most widely used conventional Soviet submarines during the second half of the Cold War. They were still in service in 1990. 62 units were built until 1983, the last 12 additional being intended for export: Cuba, India, Libya, Poland. The Foxtrots were also built under license in China.

They should have been mentioned in the “1960” part of the Soviet Navy, because the B94, production prototype, was started in October 1957, launched in December 1957 and completed in 1958. The Foxtrots had the same on-board electronics as the Tango. They were developed in parallel, with the same snorkel, but had a new fire control system for torpedoes. Heavier than the Zulu, which they succeeded, they had better autonomy (90 days against 60) and plunged deeper (280 meters max.), At the cost of a reinforcement of the hull, resulting in 150 additional tons, and a drop in speed in diving and on the surface. The Foxtrots were planned for an operational life of 27 years: In 1987 the first was struck off the lists, followed by four more until 1988. By 1989, a total of 20 had been withdrawn from service. There were therefore 42 left in January 1990. The B-475, retired in 1994, was bought to be exhibited in London. Currently cruelly lacking in maintenance, they are all in reserve, many unable to go to sea.

Displacement: 1957t, 2484t
Dimensions: 91.3 x 7.5 x 6 m
Propulsion: 3 shafts diesels, 6,000 hp. 16.6/15.9 Knots, 250-280 m dive
Crew: 75
Electronics: Radar Nakat M, Sonar Feniks M, Artika, hercules, interceptor sonar
Armament: 10 x 533 mm TTs (6 bow, 4 stern).

Tango class SSK (1972)

Project 641 Buki “som”: 19 submarines

The 18 classic attack submarines of the “Tango” class (Soviet code name projekt 641 “Som” BUKI) succeeded the Foxtrots of the large series. They were a new milestone in the evolution of attack submarines thanks to BUKI technology (In Russian: “New armament – Enlargement – New command system – Emergency design”. At the same time, they had a hull relatively conventional, inspired by previous ones: The “Kilos” will be more revolutionary in this. They were built quickly using unfinished sections of SALE class Juliett and numerous elements from the “Foxtrots”. (These sections allowed to “inflate” the internal volume 7.8 to 9 meters).

The additional space was used to accommodate a new large sonar, guidance equipment for SSN-15 missiles launched by torpedo tubes, three types of sonar being present. The first of these “Tango” was operational in 1973 and presented during the Naval Review of the Black Sea in Sevastopol, but they were all assigned to the Northern Fleet, tracking the American ANS. They were also associated with the Delta, in order to protect their flanks during outings on the high seas. The last of this class were launched in 1981 and operational in 1982. Their tubes were originally defined to be capable of launching SS-N 15 encapsulated missiles. . They were operational in 1990, but were taken out of service between that date and 1995 for the most part: In 2000, there were 4 in the Northern fleet, at the quayside, in general condition excluding an operational outing, and 6 others in reserve. The much more modern Kilos have easily supplanted them.

Displacement: 3,100t, 3,900t
Dimensions: 91.5 x 9 x 7 m
Propulsion: 3 shafts DE, 6,000 hp. 20/16, 300m dive
Crew: 72
Armament: 6 x 533 mm TTs bow, 24 torpedoes or mines.

Kilo class SSK (1986)

Project 877: 72 submarines

These classic attack submersibles (project 877) introduce a style and philosophy radically different from the Tango, the last conventional ones built in 1972-81. They were designed by the venerable design office of Rubin, the great specialist in Soviet submarines, known under the NATO code name “Kilo” (Granay project, and Warshavyanka project for export), with 24 units produced for the Soviet Navy, then Russian, from 1980 to 1992, and 29 for export. (Iran, India, China, Algeria, Poland, Romania). The series continues under license in China, like the “Foxtrots” of old.

In appearance, the Kilo are massive and short, very different from the older, slimmer ocean units. But the Kilo are above all coastal submarines specifically designed around a computer system for the management of fire and the control of organs at a central station. Most of the functions were indeed automated. The space saving compared to the old system results in a drastic reduction in tonnage. In addition, the “Kilo” have an incomparably reduced acoustic and magnetic signature thanks to the UEP system, with the elimination of ballast openings, suspended diesel-electrics, a painted and treated hull with an anechoic structure. Finally, the hull was treated to the new “Albacore” standard, giving it much better performance underwater and as a corollary a reduced speed on the surface. Unlike the old “Foxtrot” and “Tango”, fast and optimized to navigate most of the surface, the “Kilo” are true “submarines”, perhaps the most faithful heirs of the U-Boote Type XXI of the last world war.

In addition, this optimization of shapes was dictated for the first time in a much more obvious way for export and responded to the desire to meet the demands of most potential and regular customers in the USSR. Despite the shorter dimensions, the internal volume was much greater (especially with two full decks) than the old “Foxtrots”. These dimensions are also the result of space savings made by the adoption of a first true diesel-electric system. Last but not least the “Kilo” are distinguished by their AA missile launching ramp, with an SA-N-5 “Arrow” or SA-N-8, with 16 vectors in reserve, and 6 bow tubes including two special for torpedoes guided. A new slightly lengthened version is currently under construction for export, a significant windfall for the Russian State, at $ 250 million per unit for the latest 877 KEM (E for export) projects.

The latest “Kilo” designed are type 636: They are 2 meters longer, 55 tonnes heavier. It was the Rosvoorouzhenie, a state-owned company, which took charge of this new design specifically for sale abroad. “Jumboised” by the addition of a short section of 1.20 meters, these new “Kilo” have more powerful diesel-electric, improving speed and range, and better suspension, to further reduce the acoustic. Externally, the inverted “Y” rudder is another original feature. Its 6 bow TLTs are able to “drop” 24 mines. As the reloading operations are automated, it only takes 15 seconds thanks to the computerized system to reload the tubes. 30 “Kilo” models 877K and 877M and 636, of which 15 examples of the latter models are currently in service in the Russian Navy. This class currently exists with 14 active and 7 in reserve.

Displacement: 2325t, 3076t
Dimensions: 72.6 x 9.9 x 6.2m
Propulsion: 2 shafts diesel 3,650 hp, 1 Mot. elect. 5,790 hp 10/17 Knots, 300 m dive
Crew: 53
Sensors: Sonar MGK 400 “Shark Teeth”.
Armament: 1 silo, 16 missiles SAN-5, 6 x 533 mm TTs (bow, 18 res.).

Soviet nuclear attack submarines

November class SSN (1962)

Project 627 Kit: 15 submarines

The “November” class ANS (Project 627 Kit) were the first nuclear submarines and the first ANS in the Soviet Union. with a hull derived from that of the Zulu (not yet cigar-shaped), and a new streamlined kiosk, they were significantly larger (110 meters, 4500 tons) to accommodate the 70MW reactor which made a lot of talk: Never the Soviet Union had attempted to design a reactor small enough to fit into a submarine. It was not a success of reliability otherwise, in view of the losses suffered by the 15 units of this class, and this despite exceptional performance, the best of the time. Even within the Russian Navy, he was referred to as the “widowmaker”. However, although disastrous, these repeated accidents made it possible to release a profitable experience for the new generations of ANS. The K-3 will be the first Russian craft to surface at the North Pole in 1962, four years after the USS Nautilus.

The “November” were derived from a first project in 1952, intended to launch torpedoes with nuclear warheads for lack of ballistic missiles: The enormous T15 torpedoes (24 meters long by 1.55 meters in diameter) were supposed to make up for the absence. ballistic missiles on board at this time. This project was canceled, then drifted until 1955 on a more conventional ANS project. The prototype, the K-3 (Leninsky Komsomol), was designed by the SKB143 office, the same one that had adapted the Walter patent (the revolutionary propulsion system developed by the Germans but never operational in 1945). The famous 70MW reactor drove two groups of turbines and was coupled to a diesel (to navigate on the surface). It was efficient, giving 30 knots underwater and more in the tests carried out from July 4, 1958 at 10:03 am and ended on December 1, 1958, 3 years after those of the USS Nautilus. The K-3 made a strong impression on the Americans by following the USS Enterprise at 31 knots on January 17, 1968, to such an extent that this episode, widely reported by the press, allowed the Pentagon to press the Senate for the vote on the budget concerning the new Rapid SNA Class Los Angeles.

Production started with the K14, then the “production prototype”, the K5. The K27, launched in 1962, was experimenting with a liquid metal cooled reactor. It was only operational in 1964 and made two cruises before being definitively struck off the lists following a powertrain accident and demolished in 1969. The k-42 was the last of the series, in 1963. Subsequently, the K-8 was lost body and goods in front of Cape Finisterre in April 1970 (reactor accident and fire), the K3 suffered the same fate in 1967 (39 direct deaths, many others irradiated) but was saved.

The K11 and K5 also had severe engine damage. All ANS of this class were withdrawn from service in the years 88-92: There remained one, the K159, struck off the lists since 1988, and which was towed for demolition on August 30, 2003 and sank with the 9 sailors who were edge. this other tragedy after that of the Kursk went more unnoticed, but President Putin promised an investigation, the conclusions of which immediately excluded any involvement of nuclear: The reactors had been deactivated since 1988. However Admiral Suchkov was implicated and a The trial opened, but it ended with a dismissal, the responsibilities not being directly attributable in what was classified as an accident caused by an error of human origin.

Displacement: 4500t, 5300t FL
Dimensions: 110 x 9 x 7.7 m
Propulsion: 1 NR, 2 turbines, 30,000 hp. 30 Knots
Crew: 80
Armament: 8 x 533 (bow 24 torpedoes).
Sensors: Park Lamp Antennas Sensors, Arktika sonar, Mars 16KP.

Echo I/II class SSNG (1957-60)

Project 659: K-45, 59, 66, 122, 259
Project 675: 29 boats
Echo II

The “Echo” (or Chaika) class attack submarines were the world’s first SNALE (nuclear missile attack submarines). The “Echo I” were launched in Komosmolsk in 1959-61, and operational in 1961-62. They were equipped with the “Hotels” reactor, and had 8 lateral orientable ramps for SSN-3 missiles, capable of being equipped with a tactical nuclear charge, with the aim of making these 5 units perfect door destroyers. planes. However, they did not have a radar for driving these missiles. It was decided to convert them in 1970-72 into pure SSNs, without their ramps. Three suffered accidents, including two from serious fires. In 1990, only 4 remained in service.

The “Echo II” class attack submarines were the successors of the Echo I in 1962-67. The first had served as prototypes, highlighting the weaknesses of their reactor. They were 29, built in Severodvinsk and Komsomolsk. They were extended by 5 meters to fit a radar for guiding anti-ship missiles. Their reactor was more or less the same type as that of the Echo I, with however some improvements of detail. This did not prevent the considerable number of accidents recorded: 6 due to reactors, 4 by collisions and 2 for other causes, and all serious: One of them was even lost in 1968 in the Gulf of Kola.

As a result of these damages, it was decided in 1990 to gradually withdraw all units fitted with the first generation reactors. However, the “Echo II” thanks to their radar, then later to the conversion of 14 units to the new standard to carry SSN-12 Bazalt missiles, will keep their missile ramps. Three would later be converted to satellite missile guidance. By 1990, however, there were only 27 in service, and by the end of 1991, 16. The Echo Is that remained with the old SSN-3 missiles were deactivated in 1993 and the last in 1994.

Echo I

Echo II

Displacement: 4500t Surface, 5500t Dp
Dimensions: 110 x 9.1 x 7.5m
Propulsion: 2 turbines, 1 reactor, 24,000 hp. 20/25 knots
Crew: 75
Armament: 8 SSN-3 misiles, 6 x 533 mm (bow) TTs, 4 TLT 406 mm lateral.

Features (Echo II):
Displacement: 5,000t Surface, 6,000t Dp
Dimensions: 115 x 9 x 7.5m
Propulsion: Same but 20/23 knots
Crew: 90
Armament: same

Victor I/II/III class SSN (1965-72-76)

Project 671/671V/571K Ersh – Project 671 RT, 671 RTM Shchuka

Victor III underway

The “Victor” class ANSs (project 671 Ersh) were the first “pure” ANSs in the Soviet Union (PLA, Podvodnaya Lodka Atomnaya) since the sinister November, the “widowmakers” who had served as test beds for development of nuclear breeder reactors in order to turn them into “submarine interceptors”. Finally the “Alfa” will benefit from these studies. The “Victor” were more conventional, with a perfectly cylindrical hull, and no longer oval as on the November, a reduced kiosk, and a characteristic boss at the bow. They were studied in 1958, and very inspired by the American ANS in particular the USS Tullibee. The specifications included 4 TLTs and 8 torpedoes in reserve, a submerged speed of 30 knots, a more powerful sonar, an operational immersion capacity of 300 meters, all not exceeding 2000 tons.

They had to be fairly versatile, hunters of surface ships and attack task forces, hunt enemy ANS while protecting SSBNs, and escort convoys. They adopted a twin engine mounted side by side, of the same type as that of the Yankee and Delta, with a single turbine and propeller shaft, and had two small aileron thrusters for maneuvering. They had 7 compartments, and underwent some modifications in the 70s to remain new guided torpedoes, with the Kolos system. 15 units were built in Leningrad at a rate of one unit per year, until 1971. Traditionally, they were certainly fast, but noisy, a fault which was only resolved with the Victor IIIs. They also received the new SS-N-15 anti-ship missiles, which required the adaptation of their torpedo tubes, mounted moreover in an in-line configuration which left more room for the imposing sonar.

Victor I class underway

These 15 units served until 1990. From there, the retirements would begin. It should be noted that the K-314 suffered serious damage following the removal of one of its reactors during its major refit in 1985: The crane which handled it saw its cable give way, the reactor falling on the quay causing immediate overpressure which blew it up. There were officially 10 deaths in the instant, and another 50 later by varying degrees of radiation. He was struck from the Pacific Fleet lists. The Victor Is began to leave active service in 1991, and by 1996 they were all in reserve. The demolitions started in 2000.

The 7 units of the Victor II class (project 671RT) were in short only enlarged Victor I, redefined around the new encapsulated SS-N-16 missiles, requiring special tubes bored to 650 mm. They had a recharge, two in time, of war. Their 533mm torpedo tubes could launch MG 74 Korun decoys or implement the Shkval system. Their speed and handling were down, although the removal of their unsightly bow “hump” significantly improved hydrodynamics. These Victor IIIs, launched and completed in 1977 and 1978 for the last, were all operational in 1990. In 1994, on the other hand, 4 had been put in reserve to concentrate resources on the 3 others. Currently, they are all in the demolition phase.

The 26 units of the Victor III type were the last and final variation on this prolific class of “pure” SNA. It was the 671 RTM, M project for modernized, with a new sonar assembly, 4 encapsulated missile launcher tubes of 650 mm instead of 2, a new machine and a silent propulsion system. Larger, they also had a new computerized central management system, called “second captain”. A little later, the intelligence services highlighted the appearance of a new subclass, the 671 RTMK project with a new Viking navigation system apparently copied from that of the Norwegian Ula. They were bigger to house this system. One unit, the K-292 was used to test the SS-N-21. They could descend to 400 meters and were equipped with an anti-cavitation tandem propeller system. These units, the last of which was operational in 1991, were of course the spearhead of the Soviet ANS force in 1990. However, they were gradually retired. At present, there would be ten operational Victor IIIs.

Specifications VICTOR I
Displacement: 4,300t, 5,100t sub
Dimensions: 95 x 10 x 7m
Propulsion 1 propeller, 1 turbine, 2 NR 30,000 hp. 30 Knots
Armament 6 x 533 TTS (bow, 18 torpedoes/missiles SS-N-15).
Sensors: Radar Snoop Tray, Sonar Shark Teeth.
Crew: 94

Specifications VICTOR II
Displacement: 4,500t, 5,700t sub
Dimensions: 102 x 10 x 7 m
Propulsion: same but 28 Knots
Armament 4 c 533, 2 x 650 mm TTs (bow, 18 torpedoes/missiles SS-N-15).
Sensors: Radar Snoop Tray, Sonar Shark Teeth.
Crew: 100

Specifications VICTOR III
Displacement: 4,900t, 6,000t
Dimensions: 104 x 10 x 7m
Propulsion: same
Armament 4 x 533, 4 x 650 mm (bow, 20 torpedoes/missiles SS-N-15).
Sensors: Radar Snoop Tray, Sonar Skat KM.
Crew: 100

Charlie class I/II SSNG (1968)

Project 607A Skat, 670M Skat M: 12+6 submarines

The “Charlie” class nuclear missile attack submarines succeeded the “Echo”, with containers in silos very similar to those of the papa class SSBNs defined at the same time. Under the official name of Skat, 12 units entered service between 1968 and 1973. It was initially to be a nuclear submarine simple enough to be mass produced. But their reactors suffered from a few failures and their anti-ship missiles proved disappointing, due to the abandonment of the use of the initial P50 Ametysts, not ready on time. We fell back on adaptations of the old SS-N-2 “Styx”, the SS-N-7 “Starbright”.

In 1973, this series was followed by that of the “Charlie II”, 6 larger tonnage units. One of the “Charlie I” was rented in 1988 to the Indian fleet for 3 years, taking the name of Chakra, but the Indians returned it without renewing the lease: They had neither the right to access the silo room nor at the fire control post, for safety reasons. The Soviet Navy recovered it in such a bad condition that it was struck off the lists shortly after; Many “Charlie I” were thus withdrawn from service between 1992 and 1993. Two would have remained in service in 1994 in the Pacific fleet. Some are currently stranded for lack of funds to operate them, their maintenance leaving something to be desired, and the others have been demolished.

The “Charlie II” class nuclear missile attack submarines (project 670M, Skat M) succeeded the “Echo”, and were derived from the Charlie I. Their hull was significantly more spacious, rising to 103 meters. long for 400-500 tons more. Like the Charlie I’s, it was a smaller and less expensive version of the “Papa” prototype; unlike the Echo, their missiles were launched submerged, and they only had a single nuclear reactor coupled to a single turbine. Their limited speed did not allow them to follow American Task Forces; the missiles were guided by satellite.

The on-board SS-N-9s (SS-N-7 for Charlie I, improved version of SS-N-2 “Styx”) had a shorter range than the old SS-N-3 Echo, but their exposure time to a countermeasure or in-flight destruction was reduced accordingly. The submarine did not guide them and was less vulnerable, according to the principle of interceptors, the “fire and forget”. These missiles, however, had double their range (60 miles, 111 km). They also carried a mix of conventional or tactical nuclear-charged torpedoes and SS-N-15 Starfish short-range encapsulated missiles.

The “Charlie” series left the Admiralty dissatisfied and did not continue; in the end, it was decided to choose the solution of an offensive mass of quadruple missiles on a single carrier, and this was the 949 Antey project, better known under the code name “Oscar”. In 1985, the k314 suffered serious engine damage, and the K429 sank in 1983 off Petropavlovsk, was refloated and sank again alongside in 1985, was again refloated (and her captain imprisoned for gross negligence) but sentenced to become a training ship, permanently anchored. By 1990 the 6 Charlie IIs and 11 Charlie Is were operational, but by 1994 they had all been withdrawn from service. The demolitions began shortly after.

Specifications Charlie I
Displacement: 4,000t, 4,900t FL
Dimensions: 79 x 10 x 8 m
Propulsion: 1 turbine reactor, 15,000 hp. 24 knots, Dive max 600 m
Crew: 100
Armament: 4 x 533 mm bow, 2x 406 mm stern, 8 x SS-N 7 missiles.

Specifications Charlie II
Displacement: 4500t, 5400t FL
Dimensions: 103 x 10 x 8 m
Propulsion: same
Crew: same
Armament: 6 x 533 mm TTs bow, 8 SS-N-9 siren missiles, 12 torpedo launched missiles SS-N-15 starfish.

Papa class SSNG (1968)

papa class

The unique “Papa” of the 661 Anchar project was designed as the missile counterpart of the titanium-hulled “Alfa”. It had to be able to dive to more than 400 meters, be very manoeuvrable and go over 38 knots. Studies began in 1959, and this “second generation” ANS project was particularly long because all the systems envisaged were radically new: Very large titanium double hull, missile / torpedo combination, new Sonar system, navigation, batteries, air conditioning, new hydraulic system at very high pressure, and combine the two thrusters reducing the acoustic signature. The 10 long-range missiles were stored in single inclined ramps in the forward flanks of the hull.

In terms of pure speed, the “papa” (K-222) was indeed automatically in the Guinness World Records by reaching 44.7 knots in forced gear, which remains exceptional, and for the moment still holds ; But the maximum admissible speed, of 42 knots, was in practice reduced to 35 due to exceptionally strong vibrations occurring beyond this level: During the tests at very high speed, a kiosk door was released, three shutters and the buoy ejector hatches were deformed and came out of their hinges.

This simple fact, which meant limited equipment life and unacceptable noise when diving, added to complexity, cost and too long construction time (the K-222 was started in 1963 and completed in 1969, but its tests lasted another 2 years), led the office to issue a negative report on the continuation of the project … The K-222 has been stored since 1995 in Severodvinsk awaiting demolition, removed from the lists in 1991.

Displacement: 4,000t, 4,900t
Dimensions: 79 x 10 x 8m
Propulsion: 1 shaft turbine, NR 15,000 hp. 24 Knots, 600 m dive
Crew: 100
Armament: 4 x 533 mm bow, 2 x 406 mm stern, 8 x SS-N 7 missiles.

Alfa class SSN (1976)

Project 705 Lira: 7 submarines

The “Alfa” or “Alpha” class attack submarines (project 705 Lira) constitute a completely new concept of underwater interceptor intended to gain a significant advantage over NATO forces in matter in particular of speed and depth of diving, in particular starting from the idea emitted as of 1957 of a submarine able to catch up with the task forces sailing at 30 knots and to escape their escort. The Novembers were initially supposed to respond to this demand but experienced a series of tragedies following their poorly controlled technological advance. The Alfa were supposed to mark a new milestone with the technical advance acquired, in particular the study by Professor A. B. Petrov of the Malakhit design office. The latter proposed a revolutionary solution combining a lighter titanium inner shell coupled with an outer shell of reduced size and particularly worked, with a brand new fully automated experimental reactor to simplify the maintenance of these units.

The titanium shell was already a first challenge, being very expensive and complex to machine but much more resistant and light than steel. In addition, this reactor, effectively far ahead (with however the technology still simple and rudimentary at the time) on the standards of its time, used liquid lead for its cooling, and capable, while being very copact, of delivering 155 MW , which combined with the small size of the Alfa should give them the required speed. There were seven units built, whose official name is “Lira”. The first was launched in 1967 but entered service only in 1972. But this ship had a short career: The cooling system of its reactor left something to be desired, because this liquid lead froze. It was demolished in 1974. Modified, others were launched in 1974, 1976, 1978, 1980 and 1981. One of the examples, built in Severodvinsk and launched in 1977, was apparently a variant, called the Nato code name “Mike”. It suffered serious damage following a failure of its reactor, and began a 9-year overhaul, after which it received the new reactor pressurized by water.

The “Alfa”, despite their recurring engine trouble, indeed shone by their performance: Their top speed during testing was close to 46 knots (73 km / h!), An absolute record in the category, still unmatched. But in service, it rarely exceeded 42 knots. In addition, their maximum operational depth was 800 meters, while it was expected to be more than 1000 meters. At least two units received a more standard reactor than their initial system of two Lead-Bismuth reactors, cut with two turboelectric groups. Three had all-steel, not Titanium, shells. The first of these submarines, the K377, was withdrawn from service with the Northern Fleet (where they were all based) in 1974, the K463 in 1986 and scrapped in 1988, the others were withdrawn from service between 1993 and 1997 There are said to be four more currently in reserve.

Displacement: 2800t, 3680t FL
Dimensions: 81.4 x 9.5 x 7 m
Propulsion: 1 turbine, 2 reactors cooled by liquid metal, 45,000 hp. 43/45 knots sub. Dive 800 m max
Crew: 31
Armament: 6 x 533 mm TTs, 36 Mines/16 SS-N 15 missiles

Oscar I/II class SSGN (1979)

Project 949 Antey: 2+8

The SNA of the class “Oscar I” (project 949 Granit) and “Oscar II” (project 949A Bazalt) (project “Antey” according to other sources) are doubly famous: First by the fact that they are ( and undoubtedly will be for a long time) the largest attack submarines ever built (14,600 tons, the weight of a small aircraft carrier), but also by the much publicized (and controversial) tragedy of the tenth and last of the series, the Kursk.

It all started with the study by Rubin in Severodvinsk in the 1970s of a replacement for the Echo II class SNLEA (nuclear missile attack submarines, or SSGN). The backbone of this research is the last tactical nuclear-warhead anti-ship missile in development, the supersonic SS-N-19 Chelomey Granit (Mach 1.6), launched without surface, unlike those of the Echo. These missiles were also to be guided by satellite, but this system was not adopted and this role fell to the Oscar radars. The silos, inspired by those tested on the unique “Papa”, were in pairs, inclined at 40 ° between the inner shell and the outer shell. This system has the lack of a recessed habitability, but the advantage of better sound insulation and greater survivability in the event of impact of a conventional torpedo.

The Oscars are slow to dive and not very manoeuvrable, but fast when diving (30 knots). Their arsenal of 24 anti-ship cruise missiles, with a range of 550 km, with a 100 kt nuclear warhead. or classic 750 Kgs. make them unparalleled ANS in the world, always designed in response to the United States, as “aircraft carrier killers”. The Oscar IIs have been lengthened by 10 meters, equipped with new electronics, and a better acoustic signature, in particular thanks to 7-blade propellers, causing less cavitation and making them more manoeuvrable. They also have a mix of 533 and 610 mm torpedoes to launch SS-N-15 Starfish and SS-N-16 Stallion encapsulated missiles (45 and 100 km range). Finally, the Oscar’s have in common with the “Typhoons” two small emergency evacuation capsules (for the whole crew) located behind the kiosk.

The 2 Oscar I, K208 and the K523, were launched in 1980 and 1982. The 11 (or 12?) Oscar II, in 1986, 87, 88, 90, and 92 and 97 for the last. There were therefore 4 in service in the Soviet Navy in 1990. Today these units are the spearhead of the Russian SNA launch-missiles and are all (except the Kursk, disappeared and the two Oscar I, put in reserve in 1996) in service in 2005. They have all been renamed. (The sources differ on the denominations, attributed in an obscure way by the Soviet command, but agree the construction of at least 10 units of the Oscar II class.). Fleet assignments also vary depending on the source, but the Oscar’s are mostly based in the Pacific and the rest in the Northern Fleet. Currently, 7 ANS are reported in the Pacific Fleet and 4 in the Arctic.

The Oscar I (K 252 and K206, Arkhangelsk and Murmansk according to some sources) were demolished by Sevmash in January 2004, dismantling financed by a European fund for the reduction of nuclear threats. As the maintenance of the Oscar IIs was poor, on January 26, 1998, one of these units, although practically new, suffered a serious internal accident due to a leak of liquid nitrogen and ammonia during a fuel test. routine. There were 5 addicts and one death. This would be the K-512 (Tomsk), accepted into service in 1997 despite many recurring problems of this type during testing. In September 1994, another got caught in the nets of the Spanish trawler Jose maria Pastor. He was stranded there for an hour before escaping. History says nothing about the reimbursement of the damage caused by his 16,000 tonnes in said net. An old Russian tradition of taking oneself for a bleak in order to better spy on capitalist fishing methods.

The Kursk tragedy:
But the most infamous anecdote about these units was probably that which occurred at the “Kursk”, K-141, which sank 100 nautical miles from Murmansk in the Arctic in the Barentz Sea. On August 12, 2000, he participated in one of those annual large-scale exercises in which every fleet is engaged, such as the Arctic fleet here. Drive the nail: The story does not officially say if one or more American ANS secretly participated as in the past to learn about Russian tactical methods. But factually, the Kursk sank very quickly (without sending a distress beacon), for reasons which have remained obscure; It did not carry nuclear weapons and its reactors presented no risk other than that of a fire a priori. One of the official hypotheses adopted which is currently used by the Russians, concerns a case of fatal collision with a “particularly massive underwater object”, according to expert results, including a piece of hull found not far away from the place of the shipwreck and not identified as part of the Kursk.

On the other hand, the Soviet command contradicted itself in a series of questionable hypotheses. President Vladimir Putin, entrenched in a silence of several days, moreover opposed any immediate interference by refusing the aid of the Westerners while there was still a hope of saving the submariners still alive remained on board. . for a week no help could be given to the survivors. In addition, the cruiser Peter the Great (ex-Kirov), instead of lashing towards the scene of the tragedy moved away at full steam.

On the 14th, two days after the disaster, a later denied dispatch noted that the Kolokol rescue submarine had supplied the Kursk with air and energy and that radio communication had been established with its commander Gennadi Lyachin. The reports were not very optimistic then on the chances of saving at least part of the crew: The weather conditions had deteriorated, the current too strong, the visibility zero, and the Kursk being submerged only to 170 meters of depth. Their best chance would have been the two “Indies” specializing in this role, but they were struck off the lists in 1995 to save budget. When the Norwegian team arrived at the scene and finally unlocked the rear airlock, it was only to find that the entire interior of the submarine was submerged. There were finally 118 victims.

One of these Russian hypotheses relates to an explosion of a mine dating from the Second World War … Hypothesis not very credible if it is seen the low probability of meeting any still functional after 60 years, and especially capable of causing such damage … In addition two other persistent hypotheses and clearly more credible, but rejected by the Russian command which tries to safeguard the credibility of its forces, report the explosion of a torpedo, or the impact of an ASM machine launched by the cruiser Pierre le Grand. Indeed, Norwegian seismologists have indeed recorded a mini-earthquake in the area of ​​the sinking, two tremors that could have been caused by the explosion of the hydrogen peroxide engine of one of these torpedoes, then of the entire stock, at two minute intervals, 1.5 and 3.5 on the Richter scale. The NATO countries are in favor of this hypothesis, which moreover suits the US Navy on which the suspicions still weigh, despite its denials. But she could well backfire on them. Indeed the Kursk was refloated by the Dutch (Mammoet) for investigation from August to October. It showed the huge opening that had been caused by an internal explosion.

According to the sensationalist thesis of Jean-Pierre Petit (to take with a massive pincer of salt), the koursk would have been “stamped” and torpedoed intentionally by a Los Angeles-class SNA, USS Toledo. The latter was indeed postponed for repairs to its bow in Norway, again this month of August. It is also said that the Kursk would have undergone modifications by the addition of a new tube intended for the launching of new generation torpedoes, thermodynamic and capable of spinning at 200 knots and more. That one of them would have exploded and that to protect this secret, there was the blackout and the refusal of any interference, until the witnesses of the tragedy disappear. There is also question of a deliberate torpedoing of the Kursk by this mystery SNA, would the latter have replied with very little coolness to the opening of the Kursk tubes for testing? There is also talk of a deliberate torpedoing to avoid the sale of this torpedo to the Chinese. We finally talk about a mutiny (an officer fished out with a bullet in the head), and three strange drowned, a Chinese general and two Arab clients.

The hypothesis of Jean-Michel Carré (film broadcast on Fr3 in 2003), on which Petit’s article is based, remains the most romantic of all: The Kursk was to demonstrate its new torpedoes special at very high speed to foreign observers (and customers for the Russian navy which in great need of them), and would have been approached deliberately by not one but two American ANS, and torpedoed “hull against hull”. The confusion that would have followed would have allowed the affair to be jointly covered up in the White House and the Kremlin. This incident would have been as serious, if not more, than the affair of the rockets in Cuba in 1962 … Finally, the escape pods and the two emergency exits must have been blocked at the same time, which remains a mystery. We still do not know moreover which portion of the crew had survived following these two explosions, although the men of the technical team of the reactors took refuge in the only sealed compartment at the rear.

There is also another hypothesis which reports a firing error of Peter the great. It was the latter who was closest to the Kursk and could it be that, in accordance with naval exercises, he fired an ASM missile that had become uncontrollable? Was the Kursk deliberately targeted and should it oppose its countermeasure equipment or the strength of its double-hull? It seems more than doubtful that such a risk is taken with a modern and expensive submersible. But Peter the Great was perhaps unaware of the presence of the Kursk, supposed to “surprise” her. Peter the Great therefore carried out real shooting exercises just like the Kursk. We now know that the Kursk was in periscope immersion (18 meters from the surface) when the first explosion occurred in the torpedo compartment.

This, already strong, – less than a ton of TNT – succeeded in causing a large breach in the double hull, sufficient for the first compartments to fill up and cause the submarine to “fall” to the bottom, this which would explain the second recorded impact, much more violent, undoubtedly resulting from the explosion of the torpedoes loaded in the tubes when its bow struck the bottom. It was this second explosion which opened the entire front of the Kursk and completed filling it in record time. As for the origin of the first explosion … It is also possible that the Kursk was struck by its own high speed torpedo. One thing is certain: These Kursk exercises were very important and no less than 11 observer officers were on the list of people embarked on the day of the tragedy.

A testimony collected in the pocket of the uniform of Lieutenant (Navy) Dmitry Kolesnikov, one of the drowned: “13.15. The crew members of compartments 6, 7 and 8 went into compartment 9. We are here 23 people . We made this decision following the accident. Nobody can get out of the submarine “, and further:” 13, 5 … I write in the dark … “.

(see for example the article from the diplomatic world See also:

Specifications (OSCAR I)
Displacement: 12,500t, 14,600t FL
Dimensions: 143 x 18.2 x 9 m
Propulsion: 2 NR, 2 turbines, 90,000 hp. 30-33 Knots
Crew: 130
Armament: 24 SS-N-19, 2 x 533, 4 x 650 mm TTs (bow 24 torpedoes or missiles).
Sensors: Rim Hat Antennas, sonar

Specifications (OSCAR II)
Displacement: 13,900t, 18,300t FL
Dimensions: 154 x 18.2 x 9m
Propulsion: 2 turbines, 1 RN 30,000 hp. 30 Knots.
Crew: 136
Armament: 24 SS-N-19, 2 x 533, 4 x 650 mm TTs (bow 24 torpedoes/miss)
Sensors: Rim Hat Antenna

Sierra class SSN (1983)

Project 945A, 945B Barrakuda: 4 submarines

The “Sierra” were defined at the same time as the Akula, to take over from the “November” and support the “Victor”. The 945 Barrakuda project was in line with the Victor IIIs. The NATO intelligence services spoke for a time of a “Victor IV”. They had a new very fluid hull entirely in titanium, like that of the Alfa, giving them a depth of more than 1000 meters, a rare thing for a military submarine. They had the same sonar system as the Victor IIIs while adopting the new, particularly reliable and silent Arktika reactor. They had a non-acoustic, environmental listening system, antennas attached behind the kiosk. The size of the stern sonar, forming a sphere, moved the torpedo tubes on either side.

They could carry 40 vectors (torpedoes with conventional and nuclear charges, Granat ASM / AN encapsulated cruise missiles, or mines), had a sonic countermeasure system and a hull coating made up of kinds of “shark scales “, forming a perfect anechoic blanket. Better than the last American “Los Angeles”, they also had an escape pod (for four men) located in the center of their booth.

A building of the Sierra I class. Img Wikipedia DPI There were a total of four units, all built in Gorky: The Sierra I, named Barrakuda and Kondor, entered service in 1983 and 1985, and the two Sierra II, K-239 and 276, in 1989 and 1992. (three therefore in service in 1990). These Sierra IIs, project 945B, were 5 meters longer, their kiosk extended by 6 meters, and widened to accommodate the masts and periscopes on the port side, and two rescue capsules on the starboard side. The Russian Defense Ministry will later report the finally canceled construction of three other units: The TsKb 112 Lazurit office, in charge of its construction, was rewarded with this cancellation according to the cost ratio of the Sierra, significantly more expensive than the Akula in steel. The latter were preferred and the series ended. The Four Sierra are not currently in service: The K239 (Sierra II) collided with a Los Angeles type ANS, the USS Baton Rouge in February 1992 near Kildin Island (off the peninsula de Kola) and had to return to his base, then to Severodvinsk for long repairs. The lack of funds condemned to the reserve the first two Sierra seems it, but the two Sierra II are currently operational.

Displacement: 7100t, 7900t
Dimensions: 107 x 12 x 8.8 m
Propulsion: 1 shaft turbine, 1 RN, 43,000 hp. 18/35 Knots
Crew: 60
Armament: 2 x 533, 4 x 650 mm (bow 40 torpedoes/missiles).
Sensors: Arktika-M sonar.

Akula class SSN (1983)

Project 971 Bars: 16 submarines

The “Akula” class attack submarines succeed the 1983-85 “Sierra”. Their real name is “Bars” (bear), that of the first unit of this class, and “Akula” stands for “shark” and are believed to respond to American Los Angeles. The different units of the first series are nine in number, including the Pantera, Volk ‘, Leopard, Tigr, Rys’, Vepr’, Yaguar and Drakon. The series continued with a total of 13 units. The eighth and ninth were completed in 1996 and 1997. All these units are the spearhead of the Russian SNA fleet, inspired by revolutionaries “Alfa” but considered as reliable versions, with even reduced acoustics:

These boats constitute also an economic progress compared to “Sierra” because their hull is out of steel, for the large series. They are also heavier (1,600 tonnes more), and more spacious. Their noise level at low speed is known to be lower than the Los Angeles of the last generation. They were intended to implement the new encapsulated sea-to-sea missiles of the SS-N 21 type, and were unofficially equipped with torpedoes whose sound mimicked the signature of submarines, which could mislead an opposing submarine and put his reaction to sleep. All these units were transferred to the Pacific Fleet, based in Vladivostok. Soviet authorities in 1992 announced their intention to demolish the six additional units in the program.


Displacement: 7500t, 9100t
Dimensions: 115 x 14 x 10.4m
Propulsion: 1 turbine, 650B reactor, 7-blade propeller, 43,000 hp. 20/35 Knots, Dive 900 m max
Crew: 65
Armament: 4 x 533 mm, 4 x 650 mm TTs or 12 SS-N 21 missiles

Soviet nuclear ballistic submarines

Hotel I/II class (1958)

K-19, 33, 55, 40, 16, 145, 149, 179 (8)

Hotel II class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN).

The 8 “Hotel” built in 1958-64, (project 658), seemed to be inspired by the “Golf” with their missile silos behind the kiosk, but they were made on the same hull as the “November” class SNAs. They were therefore the first Soviet SSBNs, but not the first SSBNs in the world: The first of the Georges Washington came out on the wire, that same year 1958. But these Hotel had not resolved the system of silos in the hull, and were strongly inspired by American units with their following “Yankees”. We can therefore consider “Hotel” as a Transition class.

Having the same hull and the same thrusters – and reactors – as the “November”, the “Hotel” quickly had a sinister reputation among the Russian sailors: The K-19, seeded, was even long called “Hiroshima”. She was indeed the victim of a reactor accident on June 4, 1961, which cost the lives of ten sailors, and unlucky, in 1969 stamped the USS Gato in the White Sea, then another ship in 1972, losing 29 men. Also called “widowmaker” because of his reputation (fatal accidents during its construction, accidents during tests, baptismal bottle not broken at launch …), he justified a film in 2002 (K19, the “trap of depth”).

The “Hotel” had SS-N-5 missiles fired underwater and two 406mm rear defensive tubes; they were significantly faster than the “Golf”. There was a single variant-test, a “Hotel III”, which tested the SS-N-8 with a hull raised to 130 meters and a displacement of 6500 tons underwater. At the end of the SALT agreement, this ship was decommissioned, and in 1989, all the others. Two became communication relay ships, the others being scrapped in the 1990s.

author illustration

Displacement: 5000t, 6000t FL
Dimensions: 115 x 9 x 7 m
Propulsion: 2 shaft 1 RN, 30,000 hp. 20/25 Knots, Dive 400 m max
Crew: 72
Armament: 3 miss. SSN-5, 6 TLT 533 mm (bow) and 2 TLT 406 mm stern, 16 torpedoes.

Golf class (1959)

B-36, 40-42, 45, 61, 91, 92, 110, 118, 121, 125, 142, 153, 156. (24 boats)

An aerial starboard bow view of a Soviet Golf II class ballistic missile submarine underway.

These unique examples (but not among the Russians) of strategic submarines launching ballistic missiles with conventional propulsion (diesel-electric), had made it possible to give the Russians a head start in nuclear deterrence: The American SSBNs will not be operational than in 1969, almost 10 years later. By the 1950s, a number of conventional attack submarines had been converted for this purpose. The Golf series was based on the work carried out with the small series of Whiskey, and especially Zulu converts. No less than 25 Golf type units were designed on hulls derived from those of the Zulu, but much larger. Their main features were their long kiosk fitted out for three silos for SS-N-4s (and initially R11 Scud). The series will begin with the Golf I, firing their missiles on the surface, then the 18 Golf II (including units converted after the fact), able to fire them submerged. They were built in Severodvinsk and Komsomolsk. There was also a single Golf III, to test the SS-N-8 at longer range, a Golf IV, for the SS-N-6, and a Golf V, for the SS-N-20 in 1978.

The Golfs (project 628 and derivatives 629A -Golf II -, 601, 605, 629R, 629I) also underwent transformations for tests in transmission relay ships, missile guidance, minelayers. They had good autonomy (70 days at sea) but were slow and noisy. They formed a very profitable test bench for future Hotel and SSBNs in the Soviet Navy. Launched in 1958-62, they were used until the 80’s and 90’s, but many had been converted to serve as a test bed, and 14 under the name “Golf II” were converted to R21 missiles in 1966-72. The first to retire did so in 1987, and quickly all the others, with the exception of the three transmission Golfs (NATO SSQ), which were struck off the lists in 1995. An additional Golf was completed in China.

Chinese Golf class

One of the Golfs, the K-102, was the first in the world to launch a ballistic missile underwater, in 1962, and another, the K-129 was lost in the Central Pacific on April 11, 1968 and warranted special interest from the CIA. The Glomar Explorer, a huge rescue ship built by the Hugues Company in order (officially) to collect polymetallic nodules along oceanic faults, was dispatched in the greatest secrecy to the scene in order to bring the submarine back from the abyss, but which only rose from 6700 meters deep in its front section, containing, in addition to 8 drowned sailors disfigured by the pressure, two nuclear torpedoes and interesting indications on the sonars of this period. But the reassembly operation, which was known to the Soviets, who did not attempt anything, mainly aimed at the central section of the submarine, comprising, in addition to the missiles, confidential information, such as firing codes, decryption of messages, of paramount importance. On this top secret “Operation Jennifer”.


Displacement: 2500t, 2900t FL
Dimensions: 99 x 8 x 6.6 m
Propulsion: 3 shafts 3 DE, 6000 hp. 20/12 Knots Diving 300 m max
Crew: 72
Armament: 3 x SSN-4, 10 x 533 mm TT, 6 bow, 4 stern, 16 torpedoes.

Yankee class SSBN (1966)

Project 667A – 32 ballistic submarines

The “Yankee” class SSBNs (project 667A) were the first modern SSBNs in the Soviet Union. Resulting from the long experience gleaned with the “Hotel” and “Golf”, they had a battery of missiles in silos carried in 16 tubes behind the kiosk, and arranged in a characteristic “bump” which will be the hallmark of SSBNs. following, the “Delta”. A configuration similar to that of contemporary SSBNs of the Georges Washington then Lafayette class. The majority were built in Severodvinsk, and others in Komsomolsk under the respective project names of Navaga and Nalim. Finally, they had a new “cigar” type shell, offering minimal water resistance.

It was the Rubin firm, which in 1962-1963 designed these units, under the successive authority of Kassatsiyer then Kovalev. The novelty consisted of these ballistic missiles in vertical tubes in pairs embedded in the hull and fired submerged at shallow depth, unlike the Hotel and Golf. These missiles were to be Bazalt, but the 668 project was not ready in time and we had to fall back provisionally in 1959 on the SS-N-3 which could not be launched submerged. These are the SS-N-6 which were chosen, after a brief study for the transport of 12 SS-N-5 in inclined tubes. These missiles were integrated into the pressurized double hull and therefore directly accessible by diving technicians. This nuclear capacity was doubled by 4 tubes of 533 mm of attack and 2 of 406 mm of defense, all in the stern and the guidance consisted of several antennas and two radars.

Automation had reached a considerable level, with a central computer controlling the firing parameters and the pre-launch. They also had a satellite tracking system. Their VM-4 reactor was similar to that of the Victor and Charlie I. It could generate 72 megawatts and its core had a lifespan of 5 years (although changed every 3 years in practice). 34 units will be built in total, the last (K430) being launched in 1972. They will form the basis of the Soviet SSBNs to come, namely the Delta series until recent years.

The “Yankee” received for 4 of them a redesign in 1984, for a new type called “Yankee notch”. The Yankees had indeed following the SALT agreements phasing out the Yankees from 1980, and the 667AT Grusha project consisted of allowing them to implement the new SS-N-21 anti-ship missiles, at the rate of 40 distributed in their segmented tubes. Their kiosk was therefore enlarged to accommodate the new dedicated radar-buoy. They were operational in 1988 and remained so until 1994 (K446 of the Pacific Fleet).

The K140, victim of a serious reactor accident in 1968 in the Kara Sea, served from 1982 to 1988 as a test platform for solid fuel SS-NX-24 or P31 fired from 50 m from depth (667AM Yankee II project). In 1984, another unit, the K403 was rebuilt, (called “Yankee Pod”) and served as a test bed for a sonar and two towed antennas. Finally in 1990, the K411, “Yankee stretch”, was lengthened to 160 meters to serve as mother ship for S and PL type rescue submarines or to supply AS type research submarines. It should be noted that the K219 suffered a missile launching accident in 1973, and another of the same kind caused its final loss in 1986. The Yankees were gradually withdrawn from service: As early as 1980 as an SSBN, they were withdrawn. of active service in part and kept in reserve and some rebuilt to test systems (above). There remained 12 operational (6 in the Northern Fleet and 6 in the Pacific) as SSBNs in 1991, but by 1987, they had ceased their patrols along the American coasts.

Author’s rendition of the type

Displacement: 8,000t, 9,600t FL
Dimensions: 130 x 12 x 8.8m
Propulsion: 1 NR, 2 turbines, 6 boilers, 50,000 hp. 27 Knots max.
Crew: 120
Armament: 16 SSN-6, 4 TLT 533, 2 406 mm (bow 12 + 8 torpedoes).
Sensors: Radar Snoop Tray, Shark Teeth.

Delta I class SSBN (1972)

Project 667B Murena: 18 boats

The “Delta I” class SSBNs were the first of this long series, identifiable by their high double silo boss protruding behind the kiosk. Designed by the famous Rubin design office, they were derived directly from the “Yankees”, with the same extended hull, the same kiosk and the same equipment, but carrying 12 missiles at longer range. The purpose of these missiles was to allow these units to stay on the side of sonar barriers erected by NATO and to remain on operational alert in “strongholds” protected by the rest of the Soviet fleet. The project officially was called 667B Murena, simple version derived from the 667A “Yankee”. It was also the first Soviet SSBN to benefit from a computer-based automated control and firing system, once data was entered manually.

These SSBNs were 18 in number, by far the most important Delta class. They were divided equally between the Pacific Fleet and the Northern Fleet – (9 and 9). It would seem that in 1977 the K-171 was the victim of a reactor accident, but the sources are not all positive. They were all in service by 1990, and in 1994, withdrawals from service began. At the end of the early START II agreement, in 1997 it was expected that all units would be withdrawn from service. They are currently kept in reserve, but their dilapidated state would prevent them from returning to sea in the event of conflict. At the moment, there is talk of a wave of demolitions, which has started and continues. Eventually (2008), thanks to the international funds allocated, they should all have been properly recycled.

Displacement: 9,000t, 11,750t FL sub
Dimensions: 140 x 12 x 8.7m
Propulsion: 2 shaft turbines, 1 NR, 50,000 hp, 25 Knots sub
Crew: 120
Armament: 12 SSN-8, 4 x 533 mm TTs (bow 12 torpedoes), 2 x 406 mm TTs (Bow, 6 torpedoes).
Radar: Sensors Snoop Tray, Sonar Shark Teeth

Delta II class SSBN (1975)

Project 667 BD Murena-M: 4 submarines

A Delta II. Note the very elongated hull at the back

Appeared in 1973, alongside the Delta I, the “Delta II” class SSBNs were much larger and heavier, in order to be able to carry four additional missiles. The official name assigned by Rubin for the project was 667BD (D for “lying down” in Russian), Murena-M. Only 4 buildings were built. They actually tested the realization of the following Delta IIIs which automatically carried 16 SSN-18 missiles. The hull was also improved in terms of insulation and acoustic signature. They were all four based in the Northern Fleet, in Yagyelnaya Bay. Built in Severodvinsk, they used the new Rubikon sonar. They were all operational in 1990, but after START I, they were all withdrawn from service before 2000, and are currently being demolished.

Displacement: 10,000t, 12,750t FL
Dimensions: 155 x 12 x 8.8m
Propulsion: 2 shafts turbines, 1 NR, 50,000 hp. 25 Knots
Crew: 126
Armament: 16 SSN-8, 4 x 533 mm TTs (bow 12 torpedoes), 2 x 406 mm TTs (Bow, 6 torpedoes).
Sensors: Radar Snoop Tray, Sonar Rubikon

Delta III class SSBN (1976)

Project 667 BDR Kalmar: 14 submarines

Starboard quarter view of a Soviet Delta III Class strategic missile submarine. (Soviet Military Power, 1983, Page 16)

The Delta IIIs are basically an improved version of the Delta IIs, carrying new SS-N-18 missiles with much longer range and multiple warheads (from 3 to 7 MIRVs), with a system allowing them to fire more than 4 missiles in one. only salvo. Their weapon system was managed by an Almaz BDR platform computer and had the new Tobol M2 inertial system and the Bumblebee hydroacoustic locator system allowing them to navigate their way through NATO sonobuoy barriers. Named project 677 BDR Kalmar and designed by the Rubin design office, these 14 units were built in Severodvinsk between 1974 and 1982.

They were notably able to dive to 580 meters in emergency, the operational depth remaining at 350 meters. These 14 steel monsters (at the time the Redoutable Français moved 8,900 tonnes and the older Lafayettes 8,500 tonnes.) Were based in the North and Pacific Fleet, broken down at the rate of 5 and 9 units for each. Since the START I agreements signed in 1991, a single Delta III was retired in 1994, but 13 remained operational in 2000. From the K44 Ryazan, the custom to give a name to one of these SSBNs in sponsorship exchange is spreading as a solution to the lack of fleet funds. In 2004, only 7 remained in service.

Displacement: 10,500t, 13,250t FL
Dimensions: 155 x 12 x 8.8m
Propulsion: 2 shaft turbines, 1 NR, 50,000 hp. and 25 Knots
Crew: 126
Armament: 16 SSN-18, 4 x 533 mm TTs (bow 12 torpedoes), 2 x 406 mm TTs (Bow, 6 torpedoes).
Sensors: Radar Snoop Tray, Sonar Rubikon

Delta IV class SSBN (1985)

Project 667 BDRM Delfin: 7 submarines

The “Delta IV” class SSBNs were the last of this prolific series with its 43 units since 1973, the spearhead of the maritime component of Soviet nuclear deterrence. They represented the ultimate result with a certain resemblance to the Delta III, in particular with their characteristic “bump” with silos. In addition, they had a new Skat-2 sonar, and three antennas are on board (including one flank, one stern and one towed), including the MK200 for guiding the 533 mm self-defense torpedoes. The bow was reworked and looked like Oscar’s.

Last but not least, they implemented the new SS-N-23 vectors with multiple heads (4 Mirv of 100 kt each). The first of these large units built in Severodvinsk (13,500 tonnes fully loaded – the weight of a large heavy cruiser – against 11,750 on the Delta I but also 164 meters against 140), was docked in 1984, launched in 1985 and completed in 1985. It was followed by six others. The K117, K18 and K407 were not yet in service in 1990. (They were in 1990, 91 and 92). The K114 and the K64, 84 and 51 were active. The launch of the K51 was celebrated as it should be because it was the thousandth Russian submarine. 5 other units were started on the same model but were scratched and demolished before launch in 1991. The official name of this class in the USSR was “Delfin”.

With a stern shape modified in the Oscar style, and all the electronics and sensors from the SNA Victor III. On December 7, 1989, a missile firing exercise in the White Sea turned into a tragedy: One of the K89 devices failed to take off and exploded in its silo. The submarine survived this serious damage but 30 men were killed. In March 1993, the old game of cat and mouse played between Russian and American submarines degenerated: One of these units was “buffered” with full force by the USS Grayling in March 1993.

It is possible that it ‘and one of those “games” or a mistake that also caused the destruction of the Kursk. (See “Oscar”). The Delta IVs currently in service are in the name of 5: The K64 was scrapped (after 16 years of service), the K51 was put in reserve for modernization in 1993, and has not been released since. As for the K84, its general condition is so dire for lack of maintenance that it is only kept active on paper.

Displacement: 11 800t, 13 500t FL
Dimensions: 164 x 12 x 8.7m
Propulsion: 2 shaft turbines, 1 NR, 70,000 hp. and 25 Knots
Crew: 130
Armament: 16 SSN-23, 6 x 533 mm TTs (bow 18 torpedoes).
Sensors: Radar Snoop Tray, Sonar Rubikon

Typhoon class SSBN (1980)

Project 941 Akula: 6 submarines

The “Typhoon” class SSBNs were the last of the Cold War era Leviathans. They are arguably the biggest, most famous and most powerful submarines in the world. They alone embody all the disproportionate ambition of the USSR to face a giant like the USA. They are also the first and last submarines designed for a post-nuclear strategic purpose. In the scenario defined by the Kremlin, an American nuclear strike by surprise would have destroyed all the major land firing facilities and strategic ports, destroying any response capacity a priori. A priori only, because enormous black cigars of 20,000 tons would await the end of the nuclear winter, well sheltered under the ice of the North Cape, placed at the bottom of the water, to emerge and strike, and thus guarantee the final Soviet response.

As a result, Typhoons are designed to stay a year at sea. Their habitability is extraordinary, and as such, they have extravagant facilities for any other submarine, such as a sauna, a swimming pool, a large padded living room with stylish woodwork and furniture and even an aviary. The stock of living was sufficient without rationing for the three daily meals of the 150 crew members for more than a year.

The submarine renewed the air thanks to a long snorkel tube, piercing the polar ice thanks to its huge reinforced kiosk. Among the many specificities of its design are a double titanium/steel hull, which gives it a considerable width according to the catamaran principle, the two reactors being housed in each hull, as well as the wells for the new SS-N- missiles. 20 (R39) with multiple vectors (up to 10 MIRVs of 200 KT each, that of Hiroshima was 70 KT, which represents for each Typhoon 200 heads, or 571 times Hiroshima …). They have 8,300 km of range.

Moreover, these units studied by Rubin under the official name of project 941 Akula (“Shark”), became known to Westerners in 1974, following a personal indiscretion of Leonid Brezhnev to President Ford, threatening to launch his “typhoons” (Tayfun , the first official Russian name for this project) if the US persisted with the Trident. The project was in fact approved as early as 1972. Its acoustic signature was particularly careful and much lower than that of its antecedents. Likewise its maneuverability was excellent, and it had a new computerized data processing system. It also had the ability to launch anti-ship missiles thanks to its enlarged tubes. 6 units were built in Severodvinsk, operational between 1981 and 1989. They were split as usual between the Pacific and the Northern fleets. This submarine made such an impression on Westerners that the intelligence services claimed to have seen two other units under construction, which was true, the first never being completed (likely commissioning 1991).

Rumors during the Reagan and Bush era swelled about a new derivative of this class, a hypothetical Project 941 D “Typhoon II”. The American writer Tom Clancy made a long and rich novel brought to the screen in 1992 (“Red October”). Ultimately, the end of the cold war and the implementation of START I and II signed their programmed death sentence: They had a lifespan of 20 to 30 years but with revisions and a large refit every 7-8 years. The Russian lack of resources from 1991 was to condemn them to inaction.

In 1997, 2 units were retired early due to lack of maintenance. The others were to follow this path, but at least two are maintained in activity, in particular to embark the new missiles SS-N-28 Bars. The Russians are particularly proud of it, and rightly so, as the “typhoons” (a name now also adopted by the Russians), accumulate records and have almost become a “tourist attraction” in Arkhangelsk. There is a very high probability that one of them will be kept as a museum, and in the future, as a witness to the Cold War.

Displacement: 28,500t, 25,000t FL
Dimensions: 171.5 x 22.8 x 12.2m
Propulsion: 2 shaft turbines, 1 NR, 90,000 hp. 25/27 Knots
Crew: 150
Armament: 20 SSN-20, 2 x 533 mm, 4 x 650 mm TTs (bow, 36 torpedoes and SS-N-15 or 16 missiles).

Prototypes & auxiliaries

(Work in progress)

Mike class SSN (1983)

Losos class (midget SSK) (1985)

Severodvisk SSK (1996)

Bravo class (1970)

India class (1978)

Lima class (1979)

Uniform class (1982)

X-Ray (1985)

Project 10831 (1985)

Paltus (1985)

Beluga (1985)

Soviet Submarines armament

Soviet Submarines electronics

Read more

Romeo class submarines (Project 633 - 1957)
Cold War Soviet Destroyers

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