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Akula class

Nuclear-powered attack submarine

Akula class submarine

The Akula class marked a significant improvement in Soviet submarine design

 
 
Country of origin Soviet Union
Entered service 1986
Crew 62 men
Diving depth (operational) ~ 250 m
Diving depth (maximum) 450 m
Dimensions and displacement
Length 111.7 m
Beam 13.5 m
Draught 9.6 m
Surfaced displacement 7 500 tons
Submerged displacement 9 100 tons
Propulsion and speed
Surfaced speed 20 knots
Submerged speed 35 knots
Nuclear reactors 1 x 190 MW
Steam turbines 1 x 32 MW
Armament
Torpedoes and missiles 4 x 650 mm and 4 x 533 mm torpedo tubes for up to 40 torpedoes or missiles
Other up to 42 mines in place of torpedoes

 

   The steel-hulled submarines of the Project 971 Schuka-B, designated by the West as Akula class were easier and cheaper to built than the Sierras, and are essentially successors to the prolific Victor class. Today, they make up about half of Russia's dwindling fleet of nuclear-powered attack submarines. Though in 2019 only 2 of these boats were in active service. Another 7 were being repaired and were inactive.

   A total of 20 Akula class boats were laid down, though some of them were never completed. The first seven boats (designated in the West as the Akula I class) were the Puma, Delfin, Kashalot, Bars, Kit, Pantera and Narval. Five more (the Volk, Morzh, Leopard, Tigr and Drakon are classified as the Project 971U or Improved Akula class. The Vepr was built to further improved Project 971M (or Akula II class). Three additional boats the Belgograd and Kuguar launched in the late 1990s as Akula II class boats. At least two more were projected but were not built. Boat Nepra began sea trials in 2008. In 2011 this boat was leased to India until 2020. It was commissioned with the Indian Navy in 2012 as INS Chakra. It is worth noting that many of these boats were renamed over time.

   The design was approved in the early 1970s but modified in 1978-80 to carry the Granat (Western reporting name SS-N-21 or Sampson) land attack cruise missiles. The Akula marked a significant improvement in Soviet submarine design as it is far quieter than the Victor and earlier SSNs. Furthermore it was far quitter than Western countries expected. The use of commercially available Western technology to reduce noise levels played an important role in this eroding a long-held NATO advantage in the underwater Cold War. Sensors were also much improved, the use of digital technology enabling them to detect targets at three times the range possible in a Victor.

   The Akulas sport a massive tear-drop shaped pod on the after fin: this houses the Skat-3 VLF passive towed array. There is an escape pod built into the fin. The Improved Akula and Akula II boats are fitted with six additional 533 mm external torpedo tubes: as these cannot be reloaded from within the pressure hull, it is considered likely they are fitted with the Tsakra (SS-N-15 Starfish) anti-submarine missile. Additionally, the Akula II boats are credited with an increased operational diving depth.

   Since 1986 boats were built to improved Project 971U standard (Western reporting name Improved Akula class).

   The Vepr and Gepard boats of the improved Project 971M (Western reporting name Akula II class) employ additional quieting measures. These became the first Russian submarines that were quieter than improved Los Angeles class, latest US attack submarines of that time.

   Russian advances in sound quieting were considerable concern to the West. The US Navy had enjoyed technological edge over the Soviets from 1945 until the mid-1980s. However in the late 1980s Soviets were catching up. In response the US Navy launched extremely advanced Seawolf class submarines.

   Four Akula I boats were decommissioned off in the late 1990s and were eventually scrapped. Surviving boats are divided between the Northern and Pacific Fleets.

   In the future the older Akula class boats will be replaced by the new Graney class nuclear-powered attack submarines. A couple of these submarines are being built for the Russian Navy.

 

Name Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
K-284 Akula (ex-Puma) 1983 1984 1984

decommissioned, scrapped in 2004

K-480 Ak Bars (ex-Bars) 1985 1988 1988

decommissioned, scrapped

K-263 Barnaul (ex-Delfin) 1986 1986 1987

decommissioned, to be scrapped

K-322 Kashalot 1986 1987 1988

inactive, in repairs

K-317 Pantera 1986 1990 1990

active, in service

K-461 Volk 1987 1991 1991

inactive, being repaired and refitted

K-391 Bratsk (ex-Kit) 1988 1989 1989

inactive, in repairs

K-328 Leopard 1988 1992 1992

inactive, in repairs

K-331 Magadan (ex-Narval) 1989 1990 1990

inactive, in repairs

K-154 Tigr 1989 1993 1993

active, in service. Built to improved project

? 1990 - -

never completed, cancelled in 1992

K-157 Vepr 1990 1994 1995

inactive, being repaired

K-419 Kuzbass (ex-Morzh) 1991 1992 1992

active, in service

K-331 Gepard 1991 1999 2001

active, in service. Built to improved project

? 1991 - -

never completed, cancelled in 1992

K-337 Kuguar 1992 - -

never completed, cancelled

K-295 Samara (ex-Drakon) 1993 1994 1995

inactive, in repairs

K-152 Nepra 1993 2006 2009

leased to India in 2011

K-333 Rys' 1993 - -

never completed, cancelled

Irbis 1994 - -

never completed

 

 

 

 
Akula class submarine

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Akula class submarine

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Akula class submarine

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Akula class submarine

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Akula class submarine

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Akula class submarine

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Akula class submarine

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