Project 941 Akula / TYPHOON - Program
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".
For the construction of nuclear submarines at the Northern Machine-Building Enterprise, a new workshop was built specially - the largest covered boathouse in the world. The first submarine of the project 941, which received the designation TK-208, was laid down at the shipyard of the shipbuilding enterprise in 1976 and launched on September 27, 1980. The ship was commissioned in late 1981. In total, six 941 submarines were built at Sevmash.
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 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.
By the beginning of the 2000s, the missiles of the P-39 complex had expired warranty period - solid rocket fuel tends to decompose with time and becomes unsuitable. The submarine cruiser TK-17 “Arkhangelsk” of project 941 accomplished the last combat duty from October 2004 to January 2005. As of February 2008, the 18th division of submarines, which previously included all the submarines of the project 941, was reduced. The division included TK-17 “Arkhangelsk” and TK-20 “Severstal”, as well as the “Dmitry Donskoy” TK-208 re-equipped for test purposes. The latter was overhauled and upgraded under the 941UM project in 1990–2002 and since December 2003 has been used as part of the test program of the new Bulava SLBM.
The strategic submarine missile cruiser "Dmitry Donskoy" of project 941 (code "Akula") can be withdrawn from the Russian Navy not earlier than in five years. This was reported to TASS on 14 Janaury 2021 by a source in power structures in northern Russia. "For 2021, combat training activities are planned with the cruiser. The decommissioning of the missile carrier is a question of at least five years," the agency's source said.
Earlier, the head of Sevmash, Mikhail Budnichenko, said in an interview with the factory magazine Zavod about the signing in 2020 of a contract for the construction of two more strategic missile carriers of Project 955A (code - Borey-A), one of which will be named Dmitry Donskoy. According to a TASS source, the construction cycle of such boats from the moment of laying takes 7-8 years. Until recently, the Dmitry Donskoy was considered the largest submarine in the world. Now such is the Belgorod special-purpose nuclear submarine, which is carrying nuclear super torpedoes Poseidon, which is undergoing tests.
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