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Russia To Dismantle World's Biggest Subs

Russia To Dismantle World's Biggest Subs 29.09.2011
Text: Lenta.Ru
Photo: Project 941 Akula submarine. korabley.net
Russian defense ministry decided to write off all Project 941 Akula nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines till 2014, writes Izvestiya referring to a source in defense ministry. The reason for decommission of the world's largest submarines are restrictions imposed on Russia by Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-3) and successful trials of new Project 955 Borei submarines. All written-off Akula-class subs will be dismantled.

The START-3 was signed by Russia and the US in spring 2010. The document limits number of deployed nuclear weapons at the level of 1,550 warheads for each party. Up to 1,100 warheads can be placed on already built Borei-class submarines (SSBN Yury Dolgoruky passes trials, SSBN Alexander Nevsky was launched late in 2010) and Project 667BDRM Delfin submarines. The rest 400 warheads will be at disposal of long-range aviation and Strategic Missile Force.

Another reason for decommission of Akulas is adoption of Borei-class subs coming late in 2011. New submarines need a crew 1.5 times smaller than Project 941 subs do. Besides, maintenance of Boreis is significantly cheaper. Another advantage of Project 955 subs is smaller size which makes their detection harder.

However, written-off submarines could be used for non-strategic needs; for instance, carry cruise missiles or other conventional arms, conduct scientific researches or cargo transportations. Experts of JSC Sevmash which built Project 941 Akula say those subs can be refitted into underwater LNG tankers or cargo carriers used in any season. Nonetheless, defense ministry has no plans for Akula conversion saying refitting works would cost tens of billions.

Akula-class submarines were built in the USSR since 1976 till 1989. Each of them is equipped with 20 tubes for R-39 and R-39U ballistic missiles. In total, each submarine may carry up to 200 warheads. Presently, Russian Navy operates three Akula-class submarines Ц SSBN Dmitry Donskoy used as test platform for new ballistic missile Bulava, SSBN Arkhangelsk, and SSBN Severstal (two latter ones are in reserve).

Earlier on, Rubin design bureau which is Akula developer offered to use Project 941 subs for transportation of commercial cargoes including oil or coal. However, the bureau renounced that idea later having affirmed it was inexpedient. JSC Norilsk Nickel was involved in the under-ice coal transportation project.

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