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Typhoon class

Ballistic missile submarine

Typhoon class submarine

The Typhoon class submarines are the largest undersea vessels ever built

 
 
Country of origin Soviet Union
Entered service 1981
Crew 150-175 men
Diving depth (operational) 400 m
Sea endurance 120 days
Dimensions and displacement
Length 170 - 172 m
Beam 23 - 23.3 m
Draught 11 - 11.5 m
Surfaced displacement 23 200 - 24 500 tons
Submerged displacement 33 800 - 48 000 tons
Propulsion and speed
Surfaced speed 12 - 16 knots
Submerged speed 25 - 27 knots
Nuclear reactors 2 x 190 MW
Steam turbines 2 x 37.3 MW
Armament
Missiles 20 x R-39 (SS-N-20 Sturgeon) SLBMs
Torpedoes 2 x 650-mm and 4 x 533-mm torpedo tubes

 

   The Project 941 Akula boats, known in the West as Typhoon class, are the largest undersea vessels ever built. The Western name became that popular, that even Russians refer these boats as the Typhoon class. These submarines are based on a double hull design that comprises two separate pressure hulls joined by a single outer covering to give increased protection against anti-submarine weapons.

   The class was built specifically for operations with the Soviet Northern Fleet in the Arctic ice pack. The reinforced sail, advanced stern fin with horizontal hydroplane fitted aft of the screws and retractable bow hydroplanes allow the submarine to break easily through spots of thin ice within the Arctic ice shelf. Under the ice these boats are much harder to track and to engage.

   The first unit was laid down in 1976 at Severodvinsk and commissioned in 1980, achieving operational status in 1981. To arm the Typhoon, development of a fifth-generation submarine-launched ballistic missile, the R-39 Rif (Western reporting name SS-N-20 Sturgeon), began in 1973. A total of 6 Typhoon class vessels were commissioned between 1981-89, entering service to form part of the 1st Flotilla of Atomic Submarines, within the Western Theatre of the Northern Fleet, and based at Nyerpicha. Construction of a 7th vessel began in 1986, but was never completed. Eventually in 1990 this 7th unfinished submarine was scrapped.

   The R-39 allowed the submarine to fire the weapon from within the Arctic Circle and still hit a target anywhere within the continental US. A single missile could carry up to 10 warheads. Each submarine carried 20 of these intercontinental ballistic missiles.

   The Typhoons, were originally planned to be retrofitted with the improved R-39M Grom (Western reporting name SS-N-28) missiles. However these improved missiles had a number of successive testing failures and their development was stopped.

   Three boats were decommissioned between 1996 and 1998. These submarines were scrapped between 2005 and 2009.

   In 2002 only two boats remained in active service in order to test the R-39M or the new Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missiles, contravening the Co-operative Threat Reduction Program.

   In 2003 the Dmitry Donskoy was refitted as a test platform to carry the new Bulava missiles. One launcher of the new missile system was fitted. This submarine performed a number of tests. In 2005 it successfully launched the Bulava missile from submerged position while on the move.

   The Severstal and Arkhangelsk boats are in reserve since 2004 and 2006 respectively. There were two main reasons for that - lack of ballistic missiles and funding problems. By that time production of R-39 missiles was stopped and existing missiles were gradually destroyed due to START I and START II nuclear weapons reduction treaties. The R-39 missile was officially decommissioned in 2004. Also it costs nearly twice to maintain a single Typhoon class submarine, comparing with a smaller but nearly as capable Delta IV class submarine, or the new Borei class submarine. Russian Navy planned to restore and refit with new missiles Severstal and Arkhangelsk boats and bring them back to service. However it could not be done due to funding problems. Also it costs the same amount to restore one Typhoon class submarine and to build two new Borei class submarines. In 2013 it was announced that these two boats are due to be decommissioned and scrapped in 2018-2020.

   As of 2017 only one boat, the Dmitry Donskoy, remains operational. However its status is unclear. This boats is already significantly exceeding its planned service life of 25 years. It is planned to remain in service until 2019 as a platform for testing new weapons and sonars. Most likely that this last boat will be scrapped after the year 2019. The Typhoon class is being replaced with new Borei class submarines.

 

Name Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
Dmitry Donskoy (TK-208) 1976 1980 1981

active, in service

(TK-202) 1987 1982 1983

decommissioned in 1996, scrapped

Simbirsk (TK-12) 1980 1983 1984

decommissioned in 1998, scrapped

(TK-13) 1982 1985 1985

decommissioned in 1997, scrapped

Arkhangelsk (TK-17) 1983 1986 1987

in reserve since 2006

Severstal (TK-20) 1985 1988 1989 in reserve since 2004
(TK-210) 1986 1990 -

never completed, scrapped

 

 

Video of the Typhoon class ballistic missile submarine

 

 
Typhoon class submarine

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Typhoon class submarine

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Typhoon class submarine

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Typhoon class submarine

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Typhoon class submarine

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Typhoon class submarine

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Typhoon class submarine

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Typhoon class submarine

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Personal appeal from Andrius Genys

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