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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Project 941 Akula / TYPHOON

During the Cold War the Typhoon submarines prowled the waters of the North Atlantic. These submarines did not have to submerge or go to sea to launch their long-range missiles. They were able to do so tied up at their docks. The Typhoon was 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").

This submarine starred in Tom Clancy’s novel The Hunt for Red October, that told the story of a vessel of the Soviet navy, under the old communist regime, that tried to defect to the West. The screen adaptation of the Tom Clancy thriller (Paramount, 1990), starred Alec Baldwin as a U.S. intelligence agent tracking the maiden voyage of the new, secret Soviet submarine Red October. Sean Connery is the Soviet sub commander, who is up to something. Oscar winner for sound effects editing.

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 was being developed and the most optimistic forecasts commission it in 2005-2007 at the earliest. RUB6.5b was already spent on Bulava.

As of June 2000 the Russian Navy claimed that it operated 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.




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