During the Cold War the Typhoon submarines prowled the waters of the North Atlantic. These submarines do not have to submerge or go to sea to launch their long-range missiles. They are able to do so tied up at their docks. The Typhoon is the world's largest submarine and was one of the most feared weapons of the Cold War. Each submarine is capable of carrying twenty long-range ballistic missiles with up to 200 nuclear warheads that were once aimed at the United States.
NATO apparently derived the name 'Typhoon' from a 1974 speech by Leonid Brezhnev which mentioned a new SSBN called the "Tayfun". In fact, the Russian name for the class is "Akula" -- "Shark" -- which should not be confused with NATO's "Akula" SSN (which the Russians designate as "Bars").
The design of the Typhoon submarine is multi-hulled and bears resemblance to a catamaran. The submarine has two separate pressure hulls with a diameter of 7.2 m each, five inner habitable hulls and 19 compartments. The pressure hulls are arranged parallel to each other and symmetrical to a centerplane. The missile compartment is arranged in the upper part of the bow between the pressure hulls. Both hulls and all compartments are connected by transitions. The pressure hulls, the centerplane and the torpedo compartment are made of titanium and the outer light hull is made of steel. A protected module, comprising the main control room and electronic equipment compartment, is arranged behind the missile silos above the main hulls in a centerplane under the guard of retractable devices.
The submarine's design includes features to enable it to both travel under ice and for ice-breaking. It has an advanced stern fin with horizontal hydroplane fitted after the screws. The nose horizontal hydroplanes are in the bow section and are retractable into the hull. The retractable systems include two periscopes (one for the commander and one for general use), radio sextant, radar, radio communications, navigation and direction-finder masts. They are housed within the sail guard. The sail and sail guard have a reinforced rounded cover for ice-breaking.
The submarine is equipped with the D-19 launch system with 20 solid-fuel propellant R-39 missiles which have a range of up to 10,000 km. They are arranged in silos in two rows in front of the sail between the main hulls. The Typhoon has an automated torpedo and missile loading system including 6 torpedo tubes with calibres of 650 and 533 mm.
The main machinery consists of two reactors each and two steam turbines of 190 MW that provide a maximum speed of 25-27 knots. Compared to the first and second generation of SSBNs the Typhoon enjoys far greater maneuverability Despite of its larger displacement the Typhoons are less noisy than their predecessors. To reduce the acoustic signature a two-spool system of rubber-cord pneumatic shock-absorption is employed as well as a block layout of gears and equipment, a new sound isolation and andrihydroacoustic coating.
The Typhoons are equipped with the "Slope" hydroacoustic system that consists of four hydroacoustic stations. The "Slope" system allows to track 10-12 vessels simultaneously. It also employs two floating antenna buoys to receive radio messages, target designation data and satellite navigation signals at great depth and under an ice cover.
The development of the 941 heavy strategic submarine was authorized in December 1972, and on 19 December 1973 the governmental officially issued the order to design and build the 941 ballistic missile submarine. The developer was the Leningrad design bureau which is now the Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering "Rubin". After intensive testing the heavy ballistic missile submarine 941-"TK-208" was commissioned in September 1980 and introduced into the Northern fleet on 12 December 1981. Between 1981 and 1989 six Typhoon submarines entered service. They formed part of the 1st flotilla of atomic submarines based in the Western Theater of the Northern fleet based at Nyerpichya. A seventh vessel was begun but never finished.
The Typhoon submarines were initially intended to be retrofitted with a replacement of the D-19 launch system with an advanced system, and the new SS-N-28 Bark missile. The lead unit of this class, the TK-208 Dmitry Donskoi, had been in overhaul since 1992 with the intent of receiving these modifications. The Navy CinC Kuroedov had personally ordered arming the subs with the new missile Bark, created by Miasskoe KB named after Makeeva. The new missile was 2cm thicker and the launchers of Dmitry Donskoi had to be remade, which cost RUB10b. The SS-N-28 Bark was already in the test stage, when the Navy refused from the missile in favor of the new designer, the Moscow Teplotechnika Institute. The institute was engaged in ground based Topol missiles and actively lobbied by the Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. The navy decided to remake Dmitry Donskoi for the new missile Bulava. The missile is being developed and the most optimistic forecasts commission it in 2005-2007 at the earliest. RUB6.5b was already spent on Bulava.
In 1997 two Typhoon submarines were decommissioned. The operational lifetime of these submarines is estimated to be 20-30 years, though in order to operate a ship for this period requires that a major overhaul be performed every 7-8 years. Otherwise, a submarine's service life shrinks to 10-15 years. At that time Navy officials claimed that it was possible to extend operations of the Typhoons until 2005-2007.
The Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program was scheduled in 1999 to dismantle 25 Delta-class, as many as five Typhoon-class, and one Yankee-class ballistic missile submarines capable of launching over 400 missiles with over 1,700 warheads, by the year 2003. In 1999 Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen approved the contract to begin dismantlement of the first Typhoon nuclear submarine. If and when all of these submarines are dismantled, 1,200 nuclear weapons will be removed from operational systems.
As of June 2000 the Russian Navy claimed that it operates 26 strategic nuclear submarines carrying 2,272 nuclear warheads on 440 ballistic missiles. This force was said to consist of 5 Typhoon class submarines, 7 Delta-IV class submarines, and 13 Delta-III class submarines [which only adds up to 25, not 26 submarines]. Not all of these submarines are presently seaworthy. According to one published report as of 1999 only a single Typhoon remained operational [probably TK-20], and most estimates would suggest that no more than three boats were in service by early 2000.
In January 2000 it was reported that three of six Russian Typhoon-class submarines would remain in active operation to test the new Bark-class strategic missiles, contrary to both the plans of the Co-operative Threat Reduction program and reports that Bark-class missiles had been cancelled due to design failures. The Russian Navy reportedly believed that 12 strategic nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles represent the minimum necessary force structure. According to media reports a classified presidential decree of 04 March 2000 established this force goal for the period through 2010.
In May 2002 the Northern Fleet commander stated that three out of six Akula submarines were to be scrapped, though two of the Akula nuclear submarines of the Russian Northern Fleet had been repaired since 2001. In early May 2002 the first of the two modernized Typhoon subs was ready to re-enter Russian Navy's inventory. The visit of Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov to the military industrial complex enterprises located in Severodvinsk, which manufacture nuclear submarines, concluded at the end of June 2002. Defense Minister Ivanov took part in launching of the Project 941 Typhoon (according to NATO classification). This submarine was being repaired for over 12 years. Ivanov also organized consultations at Sevmashpredpriyatie (the Typhoon was repaired there).
The Dmitriy Donskoy (TK 208) was re-launched in mid-October 2002 from the Sevmashpredpriyatiye shipyard in Severodvinsk after a decade in refit. The first of this class, Dmitriy Donskoy may be the only one to remain in service. It was brought back into operation in 2003 as a test bed for the new Bulava missile. It is, unclear when, if ever, it would be operationally deployed with the new missile, which is in a very early stages of development. In July 2003 it was reported that the nuclear reactors of Dmitriy Donskoy had been loaded in Severodvinsk. Sevmash was going on with repairing and upgrading the Dmitriy Donskoy. According to the company's PR department, the nuclear fuel was loaded successfully. According to the specialist in charge, Evgeny Slobodyan. this operation had not been done by the shipyard for over ten years.
In November 2003 it was reported that Sevmash had completed the preparations for docking the 712 Typhoon sub. The 712 sub was said to have replaced the 711 sub Dmitry Donskoi, which was left the dock for sailing tests. In January 2004 Sevmash started dismantling the series 941 Akula sub K-712, financed by the US under the Cooperative Threat Reduction program.
In January 2003, it became apparent that Russia would not be decommissioning ballistic missile submarines, especially the Typhoon class, as quickly as previously projected. In FY 2004 dismantlement work continued on one Typhoon SSBN at SevMash Production Association. One additional Typhoon SSBN was placed on contract for dismantlement at SevMash Production Association.
As of early 2004 Arhangelsk was said to have many technical problems and no missiles. Dmitry Donskoi remained "under repair" since 1991. In July, 2002 it was reported that the sub was put into operation, but in fact it was still waiting for new missiles in the slipway. TK-12 was decommissioned in 1996, however, as of 2004 it was still berthed near Zapadnaya Litsa. Nonetheless, in 2001 TK-12 got new name, Simbirsk, and a sponsor, the city of Ulyanovsk. By 2004 the three remaining project 941 (Akula) subs assigned to the 19th division of the Northern Fleet were still armed with the D-19 missiles. By 2004 almost all these missiles had been utilized by launching. One sub [Severstal] still had 10 missiles, half the full load, but in the near future they will be launched and destroyed. This type of missiles is not in the production any more.
On 17 February 2004 President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation embarked on the Arkhangelsk SSBN. This was Putin's second voyage aboard a submarine. In April 2000 the then president-elect Vladimir Putin took part in the North fleet's Barents Sea exercise. The Arkhangelsk was repaired at the Sev-Mash-Predpriyatiye ship-yard during 2002, with the North fleet subsequently receiving her. The submarine was placed in a dock, with ship-yard workers upgrading her systems and equipment, with repairs lasting for 12 months.
On 24 May 2004 it was reported that Adm. Gennady Suchkov, the head of the Northern Fleet, said that navy chief Adm. Vladimir Kuroyedov had ordered the navy to decommission the remaining three Typhoon-class submarines. He said that his requests for for modernizing the missiles had been rejected, and that the Severstal carried only 10 missiles, while the other two are unarmed. Putin suspended Suchkov after the August 2003 sinking of a decommissioned nuclear submarine. A military court convicted him in early May 2004 for negligence in the deaths of nine of the submarine's 10 crew and gave him a four-year suspended prison sentence.
In FY 2005 dismantlement of two Typhoon SSBNs by Federal State Unitary Enterprise Production Association Sevmash continued. Dismantlement of one Typhoon SSBN was completed in FY 2006. As of mid-2006 the fleet included three Project 941 ballistic missile submarines, the Dmitry Donskoi is a test pad for the Bulava missile, the Severstal was under renovation, and the Arkhangelsk had no missiles. As of December 2006 SSBN Typhoon-class 713 was being prepared for dismantlement with an estimated completion date of December 2007. The contract with Sevmash required a cost analysis report including the amount of proceeds generated from the sale of its scrap.
On 30 September 2011 the daily Izvestia newspaper reported that the three remaining Typhoon class submarines that remain in service in Russia's Northern Fleet will be cut up and turned into scrap metal by 2014.
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