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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Project 941 Akula / TYPHOON - Fate

In 1997 two Typhoon submarines were decommissioned. The operational lifetime of these submarines was 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 [of the six] 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.

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.

By mid-2009 two Typhoon class submarines, the Arkhangelsk and the Severstal, remained in reserve at a naval base in Severodvinsk in north Russia, but they are not fitted with missiles and needed further repairs. At that time it was suggested they would be modernized to carry new-generation sea-based cruise missiles to match the U.S. Ohio-class submarines.

The Typhoon class strategic nuclear-powered submarines will remain in service with the Navy until 2019, the Navy commander said on 07 May 2010. Three of the six vessels built are still in use. "They [the Typhoon class subs] will remain in operation until 2019. They have good modernization potential," Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky said. The Dmitry Donskoy submarine had been modernized as a test platform for Russia's new Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile. Two reserve vessels, the Arkhangelsk and the Severstal, were then awaiting overhaul at a naval base in Severodvinsk in northern Russia.

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.

A high-ranking source in the Russian Defense Ministry denied rumors of a planned scrapping of Typhoon class strategic submarines in the near future. "The Defense Ministry has not made such a decision. The submarines remain in service with the Navy," the official told RIA Novosti on 30 September 2011. Several media sources reported recently that the Russian military had decided to scrap the world's largest nuclear-powered subs by 2014. Two reserve vessels, the Arkhangelsk and the Severstal, are awaiting overhaul at a naval base in Severodvinsk in northern Russia. "The problem is that they do not have the arsenal of R-39 [SS-N-20 Sturgeon] submarine-launched ballistic missiles anymore, as the production of these missiles in Ukraine stopped in 1991," the source said.

Russia will decommission and scrap two of the largest submarines in the world by 2018, a defense industry source told RIA Novosti on 21 May 2013. The Severstal and the Arkhangelsk, both Project 841 (Typhoon-class) ballistic-missile submarines, based at Severodvinsk on the White Sea, will be withdrawn from the Navy by the end of this year and will begin to be dismantled. “This process is to be completed before 2018-2020 at the latest,” the source said, adding the boats are outdated and it is too costly to modernize them.

As of July 2015 the Russian fleet three of the six originally constructed Akula subs: the TK-17 Arkhangelsk, the TK-20 Severstal and the TK-208 Dmitry Donskoi, which, thanks to modernization work carried out from 1996 to 2002, is the most contemporary modification of the Akula.

Modernization consisted of converting the nuclear-powered vessel to a towing submarine for experiments with the new Bulava ballistic missile, which was developed for the Project 955 Borei strategic missile carriers in the absence of launch apparatus from which experimental missiles could be fired. Despite the fact that experiments with the Bulava missile were complete, the Dmitry Donskoi continued its service in the 18th submarine division of the Northern Fleet, based at the White Sea city of Severodvinsk. The vessel's crew constantly carried out tests at sea and the submarine is currently being prepared for meeting military objectives in the open sea.

According to the 2014 plans of the Russian Fleet, the submarine will remain in use until 2022, though it is possible that it will then be modernized and continue its service.

Russia announced 12 March 2016 a decision to disarm the nuclear missile system of its Typhoon-class Arkhangelsk submarine – the world's largest – in accordance with the New START treaty between Moscow and Washington. Russia's Zvezdochka shipyard in the northern city of Severodvinsk declared its plan to disarm the missile system on the huge submarine. "We will remove the covers of the submarine's missile launchers and seal them, thus making it impossible to use the vessel's missile weapons," read the press statement. "We are not talking yet about dismantling the submarine itself. The tender for this procedure has not yet been announced."

According to the data released by the Russian nuclear agency Rosatom, the disarmament effort is estimated to cost nearly 400,000 US dollars. The New START treaty, devised to reduce American and Russian nuclear stockpiles, came into force in 2011. It replaced the previous 1991 agreement, introducing lower ceilings for the numbers of warheads and delivery systems deployed.

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Page last modified: 16-05-2019 18:42:12 ZULU