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Alfa class

Nuclear-powered attack submarine

Alfa class submarine

The Alfa class boats are the fastest attack submarines ever built

Entered service 1971
Crew 31 men
Diving depth (operational) 350 m
Diving depth (maximum) 750 m
Sea endurance 50 days (stores)
Dimensions and displacement
Length 81 m
Beam 9.5 m
Draught 8 m
Surfaced displacement 2 800 tons
Submerged displacement 3 680 tons
Propulsion and speed
Surfaced speed 20 knots
Submerged speed 42 knots
Nuclear reactors 1 x 155 MW
Steam turbines 2 x 40 000 hp
Torpedoes 6 x 533-mm torpedo tubes for conventional or nuclear torpedoes
Other up to 36 mines in place of torpedoes


   The second Soviet titanium-hulled submarine design, the Project 705 Lira, known in the West as the Alfa class, came to light in December 1971, when the first unit was commissioned. Six more followed in 1972-81.

   The Alfa class was the world's fastest and deepest diving submarines as of their time. An extensive automation allowed to reduce crew to only 30 men. These advanced submarines had their crews completed from officers and warrant-officers only. It also featured an advanced low drag configuration and was extremely maneuverable. The Alfa class submarines were significantly smaller than contemporary attack submarines.

   A single reactor and turbine plant drive the boat at the phenomenal 42 knots under water. Reactor's power could be rapidly increased, as well as submarines speed. However what was not realized at the time was that there was a serious flaw in the lead-bismuth system of the Alfa's 40 000 hp reactor cooling system. The plant was very unreliable, and the cost led to the Lira/Alfa being nicknamed the 'Golden Fish'.

   It is worth mentioning that Alfas had sophisticated crew rescue system. It provided safe exit for entire crew from maximum depth.

   When British and American submariners first encountered the Alfa they were astounded. The result that NATO navies allocated massive R&D funding to the development of deep-running torpedoes.

   By this time all Alfa class boats have been decommissioned. The last boat was decommissioned in 1996.


Name Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
K-64 1968 1969 1971


K-123 1967 1976 1977 decommissioned
K-316 1969 1974 1978 decommissioned
K-432 1967 1977 1978 decommissioned
K-373 1972 1978 1979 decommissioned
K-493 1972 1980 1981 decommissioned
K-463 1975 1981 1981 decommissioned


Video of the Alfa class nuclear-powered attack submarine

Alfa class submarine

Alfa class submarine

Alfa class submarine

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