Ballistic Missile Submarine units
The strategic naval forces, which in 1996 comprised forty-five nuclear submarines and 13,000 personnel, are operationally subordinate to the Ministry of Defense and logistically supported by the fleets in whose ports they are based. Submarines were the most important forces in the Soviet Naval Forces. In 1989 the Soviet Union had the largest number of ballistic missile submarines in the world. Most of the sixty-two ballistic missile submarines could launch their nuclear-armed missiles against intercontinental targets from Soviet home waters. The deployment of mobile land-based ICBMs in the late 1980s, however, could reduce the importance of ballistic missile submarines as the Soviet Union's most survivable strategic force.
Soviet attack submarines have had an antisubmarine warfare (ASW) mission. In wartime the attack submarine force--203 boats in 1989--would attempt to destroy the enemy's ballistic missile and attack submarines. Since 1973 the Soviet Union deployed ten different attack submarine classes, including five new types since 1980. In 1989 the Soviet Union also had sixty-six guided missile submarines for striking the enemy's land targets, surface combatant groups, and supply convoys.
The organizational structure of any Navy is obscure [compared to land or air forces], and it cannot be surprising that the organizational structure associated with Soviet and Russian strategic submarines is particularly obscure.
The Golf [Project 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 the late 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.
It appears that the two Hotel I [Project 658] submarines that were launched in 1960 were sent to the Western Theater and formed a brigade together with November-class [Project 627A] nuclear powered attack submarines. From this brigade in January 1961 a Flotilla consisting of two Divisions was organized which included all the Hotel missile-submarines. In March 1964 the Division was transferred to Gadzhiyevo base as part of the 12th Squadron, which subsequently became the Northern Fleet 3rd Flotilla. By the late 1960s the division began to fill with new 667A Yankee I submarines, and in late 1970 one Hotel II submarine was transferred to the 18th division at Gremihu.
In 1967 the first Yankee [Project 667A] ballistic submarines to form part of the Northern fleet were incorporated into the 31st Division of Strategic Submarines, which was based in the port of Sayda. At the end of the 60s the 19th Division of Strategic Submarines was also equipped with 667A submarines. Both Divisions formed part of the structure of the 12th Squadron, which in December 1969 was transformed into the 3rd Flotilla of Submarines. Two Divisions of Yankee submarines of the Pacific fleet -- the 8th and 25th- - were based at Kamchatka. In the middle of the 1970s a unit of Yankee SSBNs was transferred to Pavlovsk.
In 1973 the first Delta I [Project 667B] submarine was incorporated into a division of strategic submarines of the Northern fleet based at Yagyelnaya bay. The formation of the 41st Division of Strategic Submarines consisting of Delta I submarines was completed the same year. In 1974 the Division was incorporated into the 11th Flotilla of submarines. The Delta I submarines which belonged to the Pacific fleet form the 25th Division of Strategic Submarines and were based on Kamchatka. In the early 1990s the submarines were transferred to the Pavlovsk base in Primorye.
The four Delta II submarines that entered service between 1973 and 1975 formed part of the 3rd flotilla of submarines of the Northern fleet based in the Yagyelnaya bay. The Delta III submarines which served in the Northern fleet formed a division and were based in the port of Sayda in the Yagyelnaya bay and in the Olyenya port. In the early 90s the ballistic missile submarines were transferred to Yagyelnaya. The Delta III that served in the Pacific Fleet formed a division of SSBNs which was based on Kamchatka. Initially all the Delta IV submarines were based with the Northern Fleet at Olenya. All the submarines of this class serve in the 3rd Flotilla of Strategic Submarines of the Northern fleet, which relocated to Yagyelnaya.
Between 1981 and 1989 six Typhoon submarines entered service, forming part of the 1st Flotilla of Atomic submarines based in the Western Theater of the Northern fleet based at Nyerpichya. At the time of her sinking, the SSGN K-141 Kursk was assigned to the 7th SSGN Division of 1st Submarine Flotilla of the Northern Fleet, based at Vidiayevo settlement in Ura-guba bay.
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