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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

629 GOLF

Along with initiating development of the first experimental ballistic missile submarine under Project V-611, the governmental order of 26 January 1954 provided for the development of a diesel-powered ballistic missile submarine. On May 1954 the headquarters of the Navy assigned OKB-16 the task of developing the Golf submarines. The development of the Golf I submarine and its corresponding launch system D-2 was authorized on 11 January 1956. In March 1956 the complete technical design of the submarine was submitted to the Navy shipbuilding headquarters.

Originally the new submarine was designed to carry the R-11FM missiles, which had a range of 250 km, and only 150 km when carrying a nuclear warhead. American antisubmarine defense precluded using such a short-range missile to carry out effective strikes against targets at any meaningful distance from the coastline. As the development of the submarine encountered significant delays, it was nevertheless decided to equip the first three submarines with R-11FM missiles.

The basic design of the Golf submarine is based on the 641 Foxtrot, and the electromechanical installation for a surface and underwater navigation, the hydroacoustic system, the radar facilities and the radio communication systems were incorporated without change. The 629 Golf has a cylindrical pressure hull divided into eight compartments, with three missile tubes located in the fourth compartment.

The large fin of the submarine contains the missiles that are stored in vertical containers directly behind the sail. The missiles are fired by raising the launch platform to the edge of the tube. Launches are conducted on the surface at a speed of up to 15 knots. The battle management system records the current flight coordinates automatically, considerably reducing the time necessary for pre-launch preparation. The pre-launch procedures are conducted underwater and take approximately one hour. Another four minutes was needed after the submarine surfaced, and a total of 12 minutes elapsed until all three missiles were fired.

In comparison with the AV-611 submarine the 629 had several advantages. It was outfitted with an additional missile and their range was four times greater. By employing stronger steel for the pressure hull, the maximum navigable depth was increased. The range of sailing was increased both for the surface and the underwater mode and special five-bladed fixed-pitch propellers were developed to reduce the noise.

In January 1959, the USSR decided to sell the construction and design plans of the 629 SSBN to the People's Republic of China. After the relations between the USSR and China deteriorated, Soviet specialists were mostly withdrawn in August 1960, though the documentation and equipment for the project remained in China.

The construction of submarines of the project 629 was begun in 1957 at Severodvinsk and Komsomol Na Amur. Less than one year later the submarines were launched and at the end of 1958 trial runs were carried out and the vessels were moored. By 1960 seven 629 submarines had been launched, five of which were incorporated into the Northern fleet and two into the Pacific fleet. In 1961 another five submarines entered the Northern fleet and one entered the Pacific fleet. In 1962 the last two boats arrived at the Pacific fleet. A total of 23 submarines were built: 16 in Severodvinsk and 7 in Komsomol Na Amur.

Only since October 1961, the Soviet submarine fleet had come a new missile complex D-2 and R-13 missile. While preserving the basic features of D-1 (single-stage design and liquid fuels missile, air start) he had significantly improved impact strength (three missiles instead of two), and above all, almost 4 times extended firing range (600 km to 160 t-FM with a nuclear warhead with 1 MT). In 1963 in the history of the Soviet submarine fleet occurred a "revolution" - a PL project 629 adopted a military complexes of D-4 missiles R-21 with underwater start and ranges (with a nuclear warhead 0.8-1 MT) up to 1400 km.

This event can be considered one of the most important in "nuclear history" of the USSR and Russia. It is essentially marked the birth of marine components "nuclear triad." This was highlighted and substantially increase its strength to the 1958-1962 factory, 402 and 199 was built (excluding prototypes) twenty-three PL series of fourteen 629, later refurbished systems D-4 with underwater start (changed weekly). With this fleet already had to be considered seriously.

Design of the PL series 629 proved to be very good - even much later in the era of nuclear missile carriers, they were used to address some of the operational objectives of the navy and finally were taken out of service in 1990. Unfortunately, they open a grim list lost Soviet submarines with nuclear weapons.

The 629 SSBNs of the Northern fleet were organized in the 16th Division that was based in the Olyenya port. This division formed part of the 12th Squadron, which was headquartered in Yagyelnoy.

In May 1962 the Soviet government approved a plan for the deployment of a Group of Soviet Forces to Cuba, which in October 1962 precipitated the Cuban Missile Crisis]. Initially the plan called for the deployment of a squadron of submarines, comprising the 18th Division of missile submarines of the Project 629 class [NATO Golf or G-class], consisting of 7 submarines each with 3 R-13 [SS-N-4] missiles with range of 540 km. This element of the plan was in fact not implemented. In September 1968 two 629A submarines were transferred from the Northern to the Pacific fleet and another four from October 1971 till November 1974. At the end of the 1970s the 16th Division, consisting of six 629A submarines, was transferred from the Northern to the Baltic fleet.

The 629 submarines that served in the 29th submarine division of the Pacific Fleet were first based on Kamchatka and later on in the Pavlovsk bay. In the middle of the 1970s seven 629A submarines were still in service in the Pacific Fleet.

In 1989 four 629A submarines still served in the Baltic and two in the Pacific Fleet. In 1990 however, all submarines were decommissioned.


  • Golf III - Between 1969-1974 the "K-118" was outfitted with 6 launchers to carry out tests of the R-29 (SS-N-8) ballistic missiles. Its' displacement was increased to 4000 tons and the updated submarine received the designation 601.
  • Golf IV - Between 1969 and 1973 the "K-102" submarine was converted under the Project 605 in order to conduct tests of the R-27K (SS-NX-13) ballistic missiles. It was lengthened in 18,3 meters and outfitted with four launchers.
  • Golf V - In 1976 one submarine ("K-153") was outfitted with a launcher to carry out tests of the R-39 missile. The submarine received the new designation Project 619.
  • Golf SSQ - Between 1973 and 1979 the submarines "K-61", "B-42" and "K-107" were converted in Vladivostok under the Project 629R into a command post, with the missile and torpedo tubes removed.

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