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Perspectives and requirements of the development of the Russian submarine fleet in today’s environment

1. Abbreviations and terms
2. Tasks and objectives
3. Basing system and deployment of the submarine fleet
4. Vessel contingent
5. FAQ

1. Abbreviations and terms


The first Soviet nuclear submarine, SSN of Project 627.

AIP – Air-independent propulsion;
ASH – Auxiliary ships and harbors of the Navy;
ASIPR – At-sea to in-port ratio;
ASM – Anti-shipping missile;
ASW – Antisubmarine warfare;
BBBG – Battleship battle group;
BR – Booster rocket;
CS – Combat service;
CSG – Carrier strike group;
GM – Guided missile;
HAS – Hydro-acoustic system;
ICBM – Intercontinental ballistic missile;
LRCM – Long-range cruise missile (range over 3000 km);
MAD – Magnetic anomaly detector;
MIC – Military-industrial committee at the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union;
NS – Nuclear submarine;
MIRV – Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle;
NR – Nuclear reactor;
NW – Nuclear warhead;
SAM – Surface-to-air missile;
SLBM – Sea-launched ballistic missile;
SNF – Strategic nuclear forces;
SRAM – Short-range attack missile;
SSK – Diesel-electric submarine boat*;
Note: The traditional designation is used. Most of the newest non-nuclear submarines are no longer strictly-speaking diesel-electric, but modern powertrains onboard non-nuclear submarines are too broad a topic to be discussed here.
TO – Theater of operations;
TR – Technical requirements;
TT – Torpedo tube.

State-of-the-art submarine – less than 10 years old.
Modern submarine – 10-20 years old.
Older submarine – 20-30 years old.
Old submarine – over 30 years old.

It should also be noted that most submarines built since the mid-60’s have a high potential to be modernized, which allows them to be kept to modern standards by replacing equipment and armament systems.

NS CLASSIFICATION: SSN – Attack submarine (Hunter-killer);
SSGN – Multipurpose GM submarine (Hunter-striker);
Note: Presently the boundary between the SSN and SSGN is largely blurred, since the great majority of non-strategic boats are armed with both torpedoes and GMs. The distinction is drawn along the following lines: An SSN is armed only with torpedo tubes, which can be used to fire both torpedoes and GMs, and is intended primarily for engaging enemy submarines. An SSGN is equipped with, in addition to torpedo tubes, 8-12 GM launch systems, and is designed for operations against submarines as well as surface and coastal targets. A “PLARK” is a uniquely Soviet invention, being a boat specialized in destroying ships, and being equipped with, as a primary armament, multiple (up to 24) supersonic, long-range ASMs.
PLARK (SSGN) – An NS specialized as an ASM carrier (not built in the West, where this is classified as a Hunter-striker, SSGN);
SSBN – Ballistic missile nuclear submarine, used in the USSR/Russian Federation to designate Western missile carriers and the first nuclear missile carriers of Soviet construction;
RPKSN (SSBN) – Strategic missile submarine cruiser (a specifically Soviet/Russian term used to designate modern SSBNs of Soviet manufacture – Project 667A and later – designated in the West as SSBN).

2. Tasks and objectives


SSBN of Project 667BDR.

Surveying today’s environment, one can assert that the tasks and goals of the submarine fleet of the Russian Navy are practically the same as those faced by the Navy of the USSR. Considering the steady growth of the probable adversary's capabilities in the last decade, one can even say that the challenge is now greater. What, specifically, are the tasks and goals of today's submarine fleet? For convenience they can be separated into two sets: first – the tasks of peacetime; second – the additional ones during wartime. The tasks are listed in order of descending priority.

FIRST SET:
Securing national sovereignty, freedom and independence of the Russian Federation, and the protection of the homeland from aggression by means of maintenance of combat services in standing readiness to deliver a retaliatory/counter-, and, given the order, a preventative massive nuclear-missile strike on the aggressor’s soil. The task emerging from the above is the deployment of SSBNs in combat service to the patrol and transit regions.

The tracking of SSBNs of the probable adversary’s Navy in its combat patrol and transit regions, with readiness to destroy said SSBNs, with the aim of preventing or weakening a nuclear-missile attack on the territory of the Russian Federation.

The tracking of multipurpose, SLCM-carrying submarines of the probable adversary’s Navy in patrol regions, in readiness to destroy the submarines, with the aim of preventing or weakening an SLCM attack on the territory of the Russian Federation.

The tracking of CSGs and BBBGs of the probable adversary’s Navy in patrol regions and in transit to such regions, in readiness to deliver an attack on the CSGs (BBBGs), with the aim of preventing or weakening an air- or missile strike on the territory of the Russian Federation.

Antisubmarine defense of BBBGs of the Russian Navy in patrol regions and in transit to these regions.

Conducting reconnaissance missions by means of analysis of the basing system and the routes to patrol zones taken by the probable adversary's Naval forces, collection of hydro-acoustic information on the submarine and surface ships of the probable adversary, collection of intelligence on the basing regions, and others.

Combat patrol in regions adjacent to the territorial waters of the probable adversary, with readiness to deliver an SLCM attack on targets within its territory. “Display of interests” by means of conducting declared sorties in combat service to conflict regions of the world's oceans.

The meeting of challenges in local conflicts involving the Russian Federation (isolation of the TO, delivering GM attacks on targets within enemy territory, etc.).

SECOND SET:

3. Basing system and deployment of the submarine fleet

Basing system – the set of port structures, communication systems and auxiliary vessels that maintain the contingent of vessels and crew in combat readiness and the requisite at-sea to in-port ratio (this is the ratio of vessels that are simultaneously in CS to the total number in operation). Deployment system – the set of bases that provide the most rapid deployment of forces to a TO and between TOs. Currently the basing system of the Russian Navy’s submarine fleet takes the following form:

Main bases of the oceanic fleets: Bases of the northern Kola Peninsula for the Northern Fleet, southern Primorye and eastern Kamchatka for the Pacific Ocean Fleet.
Main bases of the sea fleets: Baltiysk for the Baltic Fleet, Sevastopol for the Black Sea Fleet.
Maintenance bases of the oceanic fleets: Severomorsk and Severodvinsk for the Northern Fleet, Bolshoy Kamen and Vladivostok for the Pacific Ocean Fleet.
Maintenance bases of the sea fleets: St. Petersburg for the Baltic Fleet, Novorissiysk for the Black Sea Fleet.

The present basing system, which was originally created to support Naval operations of the USSR, even in a reduced form provides maintenance for the contingent of ships and allows for an ASIPR of 0.5, with the possibility, if necessary, to raise it to 0.75 (the normal ASIPR of the USSR Navy was 0.3, with a maximum of 0.6). Presently the basing system requires a relatively modest investment of resources to maintain it in working order, due to the longevity of a great majority of its component elements. For instance, if the life expectancy of a combat surface ship or submarine from commissioning to decommissioning is currently 30 years on average, the life expectancy of an auxiliary ship is over 50 years, and sometimes much more; for example, the SS Kommuna of the Black Sea Fleet was built in the dockyards of the Putilovsky plant in St. Petersburg in 1913, and is still in service today. Another example: the French Navy aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is undergoing a planned docking at the 65-thousand-tonne floating dock Normandie in Saint-Nazaire, which was built at the end of 1930's to provide maintenance for new French battleships.

One can also point out that the crisis of underutilization of vessel-repair plants specializing in submarines, which took shape in the mid-90's, threatening the loss of qualified repairmen, has been overcome.

From 1997 to the present day, the plants receive a sufficient volume of work in vessel repair. For instance, in the North this time period saw the overhaul of all SSBNs existing in the Northern Fleet of Projects 667BDR and BDRM (8 boats), two SSBNs of Project 941, eight SSNs of Projects 971 and 945, and others. Repairs were also conducted there on over 20 SSKs for the Russian, Iranian and Indian Navies.

Thus, one can state that the submarine basing system of the Russian Navy is presently meeting its objectives. However, it has one serious shortcoming: the significant reduction in dispersal bases is making our boats single-use in case of war – after returning from patrol duty they will not be able to leave on another tour of duty, since, in the absence of dispersal bases, the main base, if under attack, will either not be able to support boat sorties at all, or the rate, and consequently the ASIPR, will fall to unacceptably low levels.

Unfortunately, the deployment system presents a bleaker picture. The movement of forces and resources of the Russian Navy is significantly handicapped. For instance, for operations in the Mediterranean Sea, due to the absence of permanent bases there, boats of the Northern Fleet have to be sailed around Europe, wasting 10-12 days just on transit to the patrol region. The situation in this theater is mitigated by the presence of the Tartus Naval Base (Syria), which provides temporary accommodation for the NS division.

A more serious situation arose in the critically important Indian Ocean TO, transit to which takes submarines of the Pacific Ocean Fleet at least two weeks, and even more considering that boats leaving from Vladivostok incur the risk of being tracked (which in wartime conditions means being destroyed) while passing the Tsushima Strait, which is why the main NS base of the Pacific Ocean Fleet is Kamchatka.

In light of this, the relinquishment of the Kamran base in Vietnam, which was cutting the travel distance in half, was simply criminal. It was a mistake.

The same should be said in regard to the reduction in deployment of supply ships, which allowed the rapid organization of mobile bases in neutral water shallows. This system, borrowed from Japan, which actively used mobile bases during World War II, was quite effective – the Fifth active squadron of the USSR Navy maintained up to 90% of its combat units on mobile bases between 1967 and 1979 (until the acquisition of bases in Syria), comprising up to 25 surface ships and 20 submarines.

Moreover, today our NSs are no longer able to use bases in Cuba and Yemen, which allowed the execution of crew rotations in crucial regions (eastern seaboard of the USA and the Arabian Sea) without the boats having to return to the main base, which doubled the patrol tour times for a single submarine.

The final stroke is the fact that the USSR had two prepared crews for EACH commissioned NS, whereas currently there are two crews only for SSBNs and SSGNs.

Thus, providing a rapid mobilization of forces in a critical TO is currently much more difficult for our Navy than it was for the USSR Navy.

How can the shortcomings of the basing and deployment systems be addressed? (The measures are listed by rapidity of implementation – first are those accomplished most easily and quickly.)

Staffing all battle NSs with two combat crews. Strengthening strategic reconnaissance and improving the quality of military planning, in order to avoid mistakes in determining the most critical region at a given time, and, as a result, mistakes in deployment of forces.

Raising the ASIPR during peacetime, in order to maximize the number of boats in CS, reducing the time necessary to build up forces in the CS region.

Reactivating dispersion bases, providing them with material support.

Constructing new submarines for the Russian Navy with greater cruising speeds, which would allow for quicker mobilization of forces; arming these and other boats in service with long-range missile systems, allowing the implementation of firepower maneuvers.

Recreating the system of mobile bases. Equipping at least four (two for each of the oceanic fleets) mobile ASH groups, comprising: 1 70,000-tonne super LASH-carrier ship of the RO-RO type (main base/depot/helicopter pad), 1 36,000-tonne comprehensive-supply vessel, 2-3 25,000-tonne high-speed container carriers reequipped for storage/loading of ammunition, 2-3 25,000-tonne high-speed tankers, 1 medical vessel with 300-500 cots (to serve as a hospital/recovery center), 1 submarine floating base, 1 20,000-tonne floating dock.

The group must also include a storage vessel for radioactive waste - replicating all Soviet practices, including the disposal of the radioactive coolant directly into the ocean, is not at all necessary. Clarifying at the highest levels the necessity of a permanent Russian Naval presence in the critical regions of the oceans, reactivating submarine and surface ship Russian Naval bases in distant foreign regions.

4. Vessel contingent*


The backbone of non-nuclear submarine forces of the Russian Navy, a boat of Project 877 on the Severomorsk roadstead.

Note: The first year is the year a joint resolution is issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Council of Ministers of the USSR, declaring the development of a project according to TR, the resolution having been approved by the MIC; the second year is the beginning of construction of the lead vessel of the submitted project (Note: For submarines of the 4th generation, the second year is the year the project is submitted. Construction on the lead vessels would begin four to five years after completion of design work).


NS of Project 885 (probable profile).

Presently (mid-2003), the Russian submarine fleet comprises 49 nuclear and 31 diesel submarines, being the world's largest in number of vessels. The fleet consists of: fifteen SSBNs (3 of Project 941, 7 of Project 667BDRM, 5 of Project 667BDR), 8 SSGNs (of Project 949A), 26 SSNs (14 of Project 971, 8 of Project 671RTM and RTMK, 3 of Project 945, 1 of Project 667AT), 31 SSKs (2 of Project 677, 23 of Project 877, 6 of Project 641B). The fleet has a reserve (operational, 1st and 2nd categories) of over 40 NSs of various types, and around 30 SSKs. Current trends lead one to expect the active contingent of submarines to grow to include 65 NSs and 32 SSKs by the year 2010, and a reduction of the reserve (on account of decommissioning boats of 1st and most of 2nd generation into retirement and demolition).


The most powerful nuclear missile-carrier on the planet, SSBN of Project 941.

Currently under construction for the Russian Navy are 7 SSNs of Project 971 (completion between 70% and 10%), 6 SSNs of Project 885 (95% to 5%), 1 SSGN of Project 949A (80%), 1 SSGN of Project 949AM (30%), 1 SSBN of Project 941 (80%), 4 SSBNs of Project 955 (95% to 10%).


"Killer" of aircraft carriers, SSGN of Project 949.

Also under construction are three SSKs of Project 677 (75% to 50%). According to existing information, four more SSKs of Project 677 are expected to be laid down.

Completion of the submarines currently on the assembly skids will in effect bring to an end the last Soviet shipbuilding program, which framed, in accordance with the resolutions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Council of Ministers of the USSR, the development of NS projects of the 3rd generation: SSBNs of Projects 941 (developed in 1974-77), 667BDRM (1975-81), SSGNs of Project 949 (1974-78), SSNs of Projects 685 (1975-78), 945 (1976-82), 971 (1977-81) and SSKs of Project 877 (1972-76), and 4th generation: SSBNs of Project 955 (1986-91), SSNs of Project 885 (1983-92), SSKs of Project 677 (1984-92).

Presently there is information on work being done on a Project of a new SSBN, SSGN and SSN, begun in 1997-98, and slated to complete in 2005-07 with the commencement of construction of the lead vessels of the 5th (1st post-Soviet) generation. The combat characteristics and TR of these vessels are confidential, but one can always speculate on the matter:

The new SSBN.
Based on Project 955 (Rubin Central Design Bureau), with the following characteristics:
Double-hulled, single-shaft, twin-reactor NS.
Submerged displacement – 17-20,000 tonnes.
Length – 175-180 m.
Width – 14-14.5 m.
Draft – 10-11 m.
Top submerged velocity – 29-31 knots.
Diving depth – 600 m.
Armament – 16 ICBMs with MIRV, warhead yield – 100-150 kilotonnes, 7 warheads per missile, for a total of 112 warheads per SSBN.
6 TTs of 533mm caliber.
Combat payload – 24 torpedoes, rocket-torpedoes, decoy targets.
Crew – 100 persons.


Presumable appearance of SSBNs of Project 955 under construction.

These and the following vessels should come into operation in 2010-2020.

SSN of Project APL-V (Rubin Central Design Bureau or Malakhit Special Design Bureau of Engineering), with the following approximate characteristics:
Double-hulled, twin-shaft, twin-reactor NS, possibly with a titanium hull.
Submerged displacement – 17-18,000 tonnes.
Length – 150-160 m.
Width – 15-16 m.
Draft – 9-9.5 m.
Top submerged velocity – 40-43 knots.
Diving depth – 700-800 m.
Armament – 24 multifunction vertical launch tubes.
Combat payload depends on the given task and loadable ammunition – between 24 and 96 units (between 1 and 4 units per tube). The combat payload may include: small-caliber ballistic missiles with single-block warheads, SRAMs and ASMs of various classes, submarine-launch supersonic GMs and SAMs, anti-missile defense components for use in TOs or for national anti-missile defense, mini robotic submarines, light BRs for special launch of low-orbit reconnaissance satellites, etc.
Four TTs of 650 mm caliber. Four TTs of 533 mm caliber. Ammunition – 50-60 torpedoes, missile torpedoes, GMs, decoy targets, special-purpose devices.
Crew – 45-50 persons, reduced on account of a high level of automatization.

SSN of Project N-APL (Malakhit), with the following approximate characteristics:
Double-hulled, single-shaft, single-reactor NS.
Submerged displacement – 10-11,000 tonnes.
Length – 110-115 m.
Width – 13-14 m.
Draft – 9-9.5 m.
Top submerged velocity – 33-35 knots.
Diving depth – 500-600 m.
Armament:
4 TTs of 650 mm caliber.
4 TTs of 533 mm caliber.
Combat payload – 40-45 torpedoes, missile torpedoes, GMs, sea mines, decoys targets, special-purpose devices.
Crew – 35-40 persons.


The quietest submarine on the planet, SSN of Project 971.

For the construction of new submarines, Russia possesses a broad base of experience garnered over a century of design work, construction, and the use of submarine forces, a strong industrial base – 4 shipyards capable of submarine construction, manufacturers providing submarine equipment and arms, staffing of scientists, engineers, workers, and seamen, trained in the design, construction, testing and maintenance of submarines of any design and level of complexity.

The validity of this statement is demonstrated by the fact that, after a long hiatus in the mid-90’s, Russian ship repairmen managed to complete the mentioned SSBN overhaul program precisely on schedule.

The construction of new submarines should make wide use of the promising developments in the arsenal of the Russian shipbuilders – compact single-block nuclear reactors, pump-type thrusters that provide high speeds with low noise levels, non-nuclear closed-cycle power systems, new multifunction HASs, high-speed torpedoes, etc.

Such a repertory of submarine forces would guarantee Russia the top rank in the world in number of submarines. In number of NSs, Russia would share the top spot with the US, which has yet to make specific plans for the development of its submarine forces over the next two decades.


American Ohio-class SSBN.

Most likely, by the year 2010, the US Navy contingent will include: 12-14 Ohio-class SSBNs with TRIDENT II D 5 missiles of 1981-97 construction, 10-16 Virginia-class SSNs, the first of which will be commissioned in 2004 to replace earlier Los Angeles I-class SSNs, 3 more powerful but also significantly more expensive Seawolf-class SSNs of 1998-2001 construction, 22 Los Angeles II-class SSNs of 1985-96 construction. It is also possible it will include 4-6 Ohio-class NSs reequipped to carry SLCMs, and 10-15 Los Angeles I-class SSNs of 1976-85 construction, 5-10 of which would be reequipped for various special purposes. According to the latest intelligence (end of 2002 – middle of 2003), there is a possibility, for the first time after a 50-year hiatus, of construction of an SSK series, analogous to the one that the US is proposing to build for Taiwan.

The British Royal Navy, by 2010, will comprise 4 Vanguard-class SSBNs of 1993-99 construction, 5 Astute-class SSNs of 2005-2010 construction to replace Swiftsure-class SSNs, 7 Trafalgar-class SSNs. There are no SSKs in Her Majesty’s Navy, and construction of such is not being planned, although discussions on the topic have been renewed in the Admiralty after a new Swedish SSK in training in the Mediterranean Sea won a training battle against the SSN Trenchant of the Royal Navy and the SSN Columbus of the US Navy.

The French Navy, by 2010, will list 4 Le Triomphant-class SSBNs of 1997-2007 construction, replacing L’Inflexible-class SSBNs, 2-3 Barracuda-class SSNs, up to six of which are planned to be constructed in 2005-13 to replace Rubis/Amethyste-class SSNs, of which 3-4 will remain by 2010. The last two SSKs, Agosta-class, are being decommissioned in 2003, and the construction of new SSKs is not planned, but is being discussed.

The People’s Republic of China’s Navy will comprise, by 2010, 2 094-class SSBNs, four of which are slated for construction in 2005-2015 to replace the single Xia-class SSBN, four of six 093-class SSNs, slated for construction in 2006-2012 to replace the Han-class SSNs. It is possible that the construction of new SSNs will be accelerated, or the quantity raised, but it is doubtful that their total number will exceed six units by 2010. It is believed that the new Chinese NSs will be significantly superior to the Han-class NSs, and that their overall level of technology will correspond to that of the American Sturgeon-class SSNs and Soviet 671- and 671RT-class SSNs, with a noise level on par with more modern SSNs of Project 671RTM and Los Angeles I. The Chinese non-nuclear submarine base will comprise, by 2010, SSKs of Project 877EKM of Russian construction and the analogous licensed Chinese version. Older SSKs of Song- and Ming-classes will also remain. The overall number of SSKs in the Chinese Navy will be around 40.

The developing Navies of Japan, India and Brazil should also be mentioned.

Japan’s fleet contingent includes 19 SSKs – three state-of-the-art, sixteen modern, and a new large SSK series is being planned, which would replace vessels of 1983-89 construction (Yuushio-class). The public press also mentions a possible domestic construction of a NS. It should be noted that there are no technological obstacles to prevent the construction of a Japanese NS, and the Pacific Ocean TO is ideal for NSs. On the other hand, Japan’s construction of a NS would mean an even more serious provocation for the US than would the construction of an aircraft carrier. One or several (up to three) Japanese aircraft carriers could be included into joint Japan-US operational plans for putting pressure on the shores of adversary nations, which in Southeast Asia are numerous, whereas a NS automatically implies the Japanese armed forces having ambitions in the open seas and as far as the other side of the ocean, since the current Japanese SSKs are quite sufficient to apply pressure on coastal targets and shipping traffic in the Japanese, Okhotsk, Yellow and East China Seas.

The Indian Navy lists thirteen modern and three older SSKs. Plans of the Navy command include acquiring, by 2010, a fleet of 20 modern SSKs consisting of submarines of Russian and Germano-Indian construction, as well as the first two or three of the planned five NSs. The first Indian NS, of Project ATV, will be commissioned by the fleet in 2006. The Project is in fact an improved version of the Soviet SSGNs of Project 670, one of which (K-43, of 1967 construction) was leased by the Indian armed forces during 1988-92.

The Brazilian armed forces currently do not have a strong submarine fleet – it consists of five SSKs, four of which are modern, but there are plans for the construction of a series of five NSs of Ticuna class. Judging by the known characteristics, the design will be a variation on the American Sturgeon SSN. However, it is expected that the first Brazilian NS will be commissioned into service no earlier than 2010.

The general development of submarine forces at the turn of the 21st century has the following characteristics:
  • The renewal of quantitative growth of submarine fleets, after a reduction during the 80’s and 90’s.
  • Geographic expansion of submarine construction, including nuclear, and cooperation in construction (Sweden-Norway-Australia, Germany-Italy-Greece, Spain-Chile, Germany-India, Russia-India, Russia-China, and others).
  • A radical growth in the combat capabilities of non-nuclear submarines, comparable only to the leap that occurred during World War II.
  • The equipping of most commissioned submarines with GMs and ASMs.
  • The levelling and stanardization of non-nuclear submarine characterstics of the last generation, the creation of a “single profile” of submarines, similar to what happened with civilian airliners in the 70’s-80’s.

Note: The following circumstance should be noted: Projects of boats of the fourth generation were created in the USSR ten years before the US and Great Britain, and fifteen years before France, which is only now completing work on the Barracuda. But the breakup of the USSR postponed the commissioning of boats of the new generation by the same ten years, with the result that our Navy will receive boats of the new generation concurrently with enemy fleets.

The final shaping, in Russia, the US and Great Britain, of the characteristics of the new NSs of the fourth generation (1st generation – 1950-mid 60’s, 2nd generation – end of the 60’s-end of the 70’s, 3rd generation – beginning of the 80’s-end of the 90’s), the beginning of serial construction of NSs of the new generation for the Navies of Russia, the US and Great Britain, and the modernization of NSs of the last generation. The fourth NS generation has the following distinguishing properties: equipment of the NS with integrated combat control systems (ICCS), which combine in one system the multifunctional digital HAS and torpedo (missile) control stations.

The installation on submarines of extended hull antennas for the HAS and MAD, allowing to “listen” for the adversary and detect their magnetic field with the entire hull, the increase in the power output of the HAS. The result of this is a sharp advance (several-fold in comparison to the third, and an order of magnitude above the first and second generations) in amount of information on the tactical situation available to the NS command. The initial equipment of all new NSs with guided missiles, the growth in the range of available weaponry. The equipment of NSs with pump-type thrusters, a sharp (by a factor of two or three) drop in the noise levels of NSs at cruising speeds (15-25 knots). The equipment of boats with NRs of a new generation, with an increased active lifespan of up to 15-20 years. These measures allowed the preservation, and even an increase in the combat ability gap between NSs and their non-nuclear counterparts, especially in such measures as cruising-speed duration, firepower, sensor informativeness (on account of far superior available power), and a series of other characteristics.

4.1. Vessel repertory development during the current decade

Changes in the fleet contingent that took place in 2000-2003: 2 SSBNs (667B), 1 SSGN (Kursk) decommissioned. Commissioned: 2 SSNs of Project 971, 1 SSK of Project 677.

In 2004-6, the following are expected to be commissioned: 3 SSBNs (1 of Project 941, 2 of Project 955), 2 SSGNs (1 of Project 949A, 1 of Project 949AM), 6 SSNs (4 of Project 971, 2 of Project 885), 3 SSKs (Project 677).

Three SSKs of Project 641B are expected to be decommissioned.

The expected contingent of the submarine fleet by the end of 2006:

18 SSBNs (4 of Project 941, 7 of Project 667BDRM, 5 of Project 667BDR, 2 of Project 955) 10 SSGNs (Projects 949A and AM) 32 SSNs (18 of Project 971, 8 of Project 671RTMK, 3 of Project 945, 1 of Project 667AT, 2 of Project 885) 31 SSKs (23 of Project 877, 5 of Project 677, 3 of Project 641B)

Outlook for 2007-10:

Commissioned:

2 SSBNs of Project 955
7 SSNs: 4 of Project 885, 3 of Project 971 (end of the series), possibly radically modernized.
4 SSKs of Project 677

Decommissioned:

2 SSBNs of Project 677BDR
2 SSNs of Project 671RTMK
3 SSKs of Project 641B

Total for the 10 years (prediction):

Commissioned:

5 SSBNs (1 of Project 941, 4 of Project 955)
2 SSGNs of Projects 949A, AM
15 SSNs (9 of Project 971, 6 of Project 885)
8 SSKs of Project 677

Decommissioned:

4 SSBNs (2 of 667B, 2 of 667BDR)
1 SSGN (949A)
2 SSNs (671RTMK)
6 SSKs (641B)

Expected fleet contingent:

18 SSBNs (4 of Project 941, 7 of Project 667BDRM, 3 of Project 667BDR, 4 of Project 955) with 288 programmable-control SLBMs
10 SSGNs (9 of Project 949A, 1 of Project 949AM)
37 SSNs (21 of Project 971, 6 of Project 885, 6 of Project 671RTMK, 3 of Project 945, 1 of Project 667AT)
32 SSKs (23 of Project 877, 9 of Project 677)

In total: 97 submarines, 65 of them nuclear.

Presumably, 20 of the 32 SSKs will be listed in the Black Sea and Baltic Fleets, divided equally. The remaining 12 SSKs will be divided among the Northern and Pacific Ocean Fleets at a 4:8 ratio.

The Northern Fleet will include 37 NSs:

12 SSBNs (4 of Project 941, 4 of Project 667BDRM, 4 of Project 955)
4 SSGNs (Projects 949A, AM)
21 SSNs (13 of Projects 971, 2 of Project 885, 2 of Project 671RTMK, 3 of Project 945, 1 of Project 667AT)

The Pacific Ocean Fleet will include 28 NSs:

6 SSBNs (3 of Project 667BDRM, 3 of Project 667BDR)
6 SSGNs (Project 949A)
16 SSNs (8 of Project 971, 4 of Project 885, 4 of Project 671RTMK)

Staffing and organizational structure of the nuclear submarine fleet:

Northern Fleet: One SSBN squadron – two divisions.
One SSGN division.
Two SSN squadrons – four divisions, one brigade. One division with 2 671RTMK SSNs and 4 971 SSNs, one division with 3 945 SSNs and 3 971 SSNs, one division with 6 971 SSNs. Brigade with 1 667AT SSN and 2 885 SSNs.

Pacific Ocean Fleet: One SSBN division.
One SSGN division.
SSN squadron – two divisions, one brigade. Each division with 2 885 SSNs and 4 971 SSNs, brigade with 4 671RTMK SSNs.

Fleet reserve:

By 2010, the reserve forces will have retired for good the remaining boats of the 1st and most of the 2nd generations – SSNs of Projects 627A (8 units of 1954-63), 671 (8 units of 1966-74), 705K (5 units of 1969-81), 671RT (4 units of 1970-78), SSGNs of Projects 675 (MKV, 6 units of 1961-67), 670 (4 units of 1966-72), SSKs of Projects 641 (12 units of 1957-82) and part of 641B (6 units of 1972-82). In total, 25 SSNs, 10 SSGNs and 18 SSKs.

The 2nd category reserve (3-month readiness) will comprise: 8 SSNs of Project 671RTM (1976-85), 6 SSGNs of Project 670M (1973-80), 2 SSGNs of Project 949 (1978-82), 6 SSKs of Project 641B (1970-82). In total, 8 SSNs, 8 SSGNs, 6 SSKs.

The 1st category reserve (21-day readiness) will comprise: 8 SSNs of Project 671RTM (1976-85), 8 SSNs of Project 671RTMK (1984-92), 3 SSNs of Project 945 (1982-93), 8 SSKs of Project 877 (1976-1997). In total, 19 SSNs and 8 SSKs.

The operational Navy reserve (boats of combat-ready projects, used in conducting various experiments and testing of new types of weaponry) will comprise: 2 SSNs of Project 971 (1983-2008), 2 SSNs of Project 667AT (SSBNs of 1964-72, refitted to launch the Granat SLCM in 1982-91), 4 SSGNs of Project 667M (SSBNs of 1964-1972, refitted to carry Meteorit LRCMs in 1991 (1 unit) and 1999-2002 (3 units)), 1 SSK of Project 636 (1996). In total, 4 SSNs, 4 SSGNs, 1 SSK.

The total over all reserve categories is: 31 SSNs, 12 SSGNs, 15 SSKs.

Now, armed with the given figures, it remains to answer the question: will the Russian Navy submarine fleet be up to the task of fulfilling its responsibilties by the year 2010?

The answer to this question looks like the this: The entire range of tasks currently before the submarine fleet, in addition to those it faced during the years of the USSR, could not be accomplished.

Choices will have to be made, based on the absolute priority of the first three tasks – consistent readiness to deliver a nuclear strike, defense of SSBNs, interception of enemy SSBNs.

Based on the normal ASIPR of 0.5, for which 9 SSBNs will be constantly present at sea, their defense will require: in the Northern Fleet: 6 SSBNs in CS under the polar ice cap, with 2 SSNs in the convoy, and at least 4 SSNs defending the “bastion,” in position in the Faroe-Iceland passage (3) and Denmark Strait (1). Accounting for the given (rather high) ASIPR, to fulfill the remaining tasks the Northern Fleet can spare 5-6 SSNs more, and two-three more can be added for a buildup of forces during an escalation (only service NSs are considered, without reserves of any category, which could be mobilized during crises, such as the Caribbean or the Near-East of 1973 and 1982 (1st category and operational reserves), or during the mobilization of fleet forces on the threshhold of war (2nd category reserves)).

Thus, in a regular, peacetime environment, after providing cover for their missile carriers, the Northern Fleet is left with 6 SSNs, which will be required to focus on the third main task: the hunt for US SSBNs based in Norfolk and patrolling in the area of Newfoundland. Considering the standard American ASIPR of 0.6, they will have to track three or four SSBNs simultaneously. One SSN for each SSBN is not enough for this, and to guarantee a high hit probability, all six “free” boats will have to be present in the region.

French and English SSBNs, patrolling the Bay of Biscay and south of Iceland, remain unaccounted for in such a scenario, and their continuous surveillance falls to the long-range antisubmarine aviation and surface vessels, with all the deficiencies of such methods. With the impossibility of providing fighter jet cover for every Tu-142 or Il-38 or large ASW ship, such a patrolling scenario becomes a question of “Who’s quicker?” - whether the antisubmarine craft gets the boat first, or a fighter (guided missile) gets the antisubmarine craft.

If a crisis develops, the fleet can provide an ASIPR of 0.7-0.75, allowing the deployment to the TO of three-four more SSNs, which, however, would still not be enough to provide surveillance of every enemy SSBN. This could be accomplished, as well as providing the means to address the other tasks, by mobilizing boats of the operational and 1st category reserves to the TO, but this would signify a very serious escalation of the situation, risking an eruption. The only circumstance that somewhat ameliorates the situation is the fact that due to the absense of a NS reserve and a very high ASIPR during peacetime, the number of enemy boats out at sea is practically invariant.

SSGNs of the Northern Fleet, under an ASIPR of 0.5, could accomplish the 5th task, providing simultaneous surveillance of two enemy CSGs (BBBGs), with a buildup of forces – of three, and with mobilization of the operational and 1st category reserves – of four-five.

The situation with the Pacific Ocean Fleet is both better and worse. Worse, due to the extremely wide spacing of the basing sytem. Better, because SSBNs of the Pacific Ocean Fleet patrol the Okhotsk Sea, safely isolated from the passage of enemy submarines, and they could be defended there with the use of small antisubmarine ships and helicopters. Thus, SSNs of the Pacific Ocean Fleet are free from addressing the first two tasks. The Pacific Ocean Fleet reliably fulfills the third task by the patrolling of six “Hunters,” reinforced Tu-142's, in Kodiak Bay, thus leaving two (and in case of escalation, four) SSNs to address other tasks. SSGNs of the Pacific Ocean Fleet will provide surveillance of three enemy CSGs (BBBGs), with a buildup of forces – of four-five, and with mobilization of the operational and 1st category reserves – of six-seven.

As in the case of the Northern Fleet, the Pacific Ocean Fleet can extend the range of accomplished tasks with the mobilization of the reserves.

Diesel submarines of both fleets will, in peacetime, defend the waters from submarine intrusions of Norway and Canada (Northern Fleet), South Korea and Japan (Pacific Ocean Fleet), which is in fact their current responsibility. The isolated forces of the Baltic and Black Sea Fleets are concerned with their own TOs.

Thus, we are forced to conclude that neither the planned contingent (65 NSs and 32 SSKs), nor, especially, the current contingent (49 NSs and 31 SSKs) of the Navy can address the tasks before the submarine fleet. The fleet leadership may feel somewhat more at ease with the mobilization of the 1st category and operational reserves, but to accomplish all the tasks of PEACETIME, allowing for an escalation of forces during a crisis, the submarine fleet must rely on the mobilization of boats of 2nd category reserves.

The main deficit of our submarine fleet will be, in the next ten years, in SSGNs and multipurpose NSs. Ironically, the current and planned rates of commissioning submarines are quite high - 22 NSs over ten years, which is the most of any other nation in the world. The rate of commissioning SSKs, however, does not meet the fleet’s needs – to do this, at least 16 SSKs must be commissioned over 10 years. The reason for the NS deficit lies in the politics of the 90’s, when 5-15 year old, combat-ready boats were decommissioned into reserves, and in the drop in rates of commissioning new boats during the nineties.

With the current situation, the Russian Navy will only be able to feel confident with 70 SSNs in service, and taking into account the cessation of SSGN construction, at least 80. The number of SSKs should be determined in the following manner: Black Sea Fleet: at least the total of the quantities of Romanian and Bulgarian submarines, as well as the Black Sea portion of the Turkish Navy, that is, 8-10 submarines; Northern Fleet: at least the total of the quantities of Norway's and Canada's submarines - 12-16 submarines; Pacific Ocean Fleet: at least 0.5 of the total of Japan's and South Korea's submarines (the rest will be covered by the submarine fleet of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) – so at least 12 boats. Considering the fact that China’s political development is impossible to determine at this point, this number must be increased by at least 50%, to make 18-20 SSKs. Thus, the Russian Navy should include at least 42-58 SSKs. These numbers do not take into account the possible construction of SSKs in the US, Great Britain and France, nor the Mediterranean Sea patrolling of SSKs that is necessary to secure the interests of the Russian Federation.

Surveying our program of submarine vessel construction (especially nuclear), we can state that currently the fleet command and the higest ranks of government leadership are pursuing a politics of creating relatively few submarines (compared to the range of tasks at hand), each of which should have combat characteristics superior to those of the analogous, by designation, boats of the adversary: not one NS under construction costs less than a billion dollars, each Project lists one-two, and often, a whole range of record-breaking characteristics.

It would appear that in this circumstance we are committing the same error made by Germany and Japan in World War II, when it became clear that the tactical and technical characteristics of combat technologies are secondary in importance to their plurality.

The unique combat properties of the Japanese Yamato-class battleships did not save them from destruction by massed air strikes, nor would it save them in a battleship engagement with an enemy outnumbering them five-to-one. The same could be said of German ships, which, to make matters worse, didn't have obvious advantages in combat characteristics (except for the Bismarck and the Tirpitz) over their opponents, and especially of German tanks and airplanes.

The Me-262 was a state-of-the-art and practically invincible fighter plane, but there were very few of them. The last models of the Focke-Wulf were brilliant, but there were even fewer of these. The King Tiger could destroy any enemy tank in a duel, but they were in critically short supply, and while the newest heavy armored battalion of the Wehrmacht slowly gained notoriety, adding page after page into the grave history of the Panzerwaffe, massive tank formations of the adversary breached the frontlines in places where no Tigers were present.

The same is being repeated right now with our submarine fleet. Our boats are flawless, they have the greatest diving depth and speed, can carry more torpedoes, are equipped with the most powerful weapon systems, such as the 650-mm torpedoes, self-propelled sea-floor mines, Shkval underwater missiles, Meteorit and Granit guided missiles. They are equipped with powerful HASs, allowing them to detect very quiet American boats even in the Arctic, under the polar ice cap, in conditions of constant rumbling of billions of tons of crumbling and cracking ice, advanced equipment that allows for a significantly reduced crew and higher level of automatization, but there is just not enough of them. The right course of action, in my opinion, would be repeating for the third time the Soviet solution to this problem. The first time was during the end of the forties to the fifties.


SSK of Project 613.

Facing the problem of “many targets, few boats,” the Soviet Union builds a series of two hundred fifteen midsize SSKs of Project 613. They did not possess outstanding characteristics, although they excelled in their powerful armament and advanced equipment, but mainly, in the ease and low cost of their construction and operation.

Advanced weaponry was also not forgotten – this became submarine Project 611, and the completed German boats of the XXI series. Twenty years later, when atomic submarine fleets developed, the situation repeated itself at a higher level – the nuclear submarine fleet of the USSR Navy could not match the joint submarine forces of NATO – there were not enough boats.

At this point, the USSR unveils Project 671. Forty-eight boats of this Project in 14 variations were commissioned over 25 years – between 1967 and 1992. “Superboats” – high-speed Liras, deep-water Marses, ultra-quiet Barses – set records for speed, depth, duration of stealth enemy surveillance, and were prepared to carry out special tasks, collecting pennants of the Guard, Orders and honorable titles along the way.


Thunder of the 80's, SSN of Project 671RTM.

But these were not the main forces. The main forces were the Yershes and the Schukas. They were feared and respected. Their NATO code of "V" for "VICTOR" was not a random choice, considering that in the early 70’s many letters were still open to be taken. Even more telling was the designation unofficially given to these types of boats by ENGLISH sailors – “Black Prince.” The nickname spread, and stuck even more firmly than the code. It was the Victors that formed the backbone of Soviet submarine prowess. Simple and cheap – with a cost of around 50 million rubles and manufacture time of 11-15 months, and some submarines, 8-9 months, but exceptionally “sharp-toothed,” maneuverable and autonomous, they became the “sentries” posted at all sea-route junctions, a role previously filled by SSKs of Project 613. Places previously patrolled by a flock of 10-11 Whiskeys, were now guarded by 2-3 Victors, carrying out their responsibilities. With the raised combat characteristics, the number of boats in a given location could be diminished, but the main principle of covering all critical zones remained. The Victors were everywhere and nowhere at the same time – by western Greenland and in Drake Passage, by Pearl Harbor and in the Arabian Sea, in central Atlantic Ocean and in the “Roaring Forties.” Precisely this kind of measure is needed today – the creation of a large-scale, speedy construction of boats that are easy to assimilate

Note: A very important characteristic. To compare, it can be said that the assimilation of NSs of Project 971, replete with ultramodern equipment, and the adaptation of all of the systems takes the fleet between two (the Vepr) and four (the lead Bars) years, with a record of fifteen months (the Volk). During a boat's assimilation, a limited range of tasks is carried out, and no distant sorties made. For boats of Project 671 this period is between four months and a year, and some boats became autonomous after only two weeks from raising the flag. Even more noteworthy is the fact that during the entire period of the Victors’ operation, from November of 1967 until today, there has not been a single case of loss of life or radioactive exposure of crew aboard these boats. Nor were there any accidents due to technical issues. This is especially important in light of the fact that all of our other projects of any scale unfortunately took their toll - in victims of exposure, asphyxiation, fires, poisoning… Such is the price of might, and should also not be forgotten.

and cheap to operate. Project 671 bears exceptional hydrodynamic properties, and, possibly, it makes sense to revive it, beginning construction on a “VICTOR-IV," with new armament and equipment. Naturally, we could not afford the construction of fifty such boats, but twenty, commissioned over 8-10 years, in addition to the boats being constructed and in the works, would provide significant relief, allowing, together with reserve submarines, to fill the narrow gaps and accomplish the most important of the fleet’s tasks with the requisite numbers. Besides, new equipment, by raising the boats’ capabilities, will allow using just one combat unit in places that previously required the deployment of two. But mainly, we will have the ability, as before, to control key spots in the oceans. It would also be wise to ramp up the program of diesel boat construction. An order of magnitude cheaper, they will provide relief for the nuclear boats, offloading the responsibility for coastal tasks, which now at times have to be carried out by the Pacific Ocean and Northern Fleets with the method of "shooting sparrows from a cannon." It should also be noted that such activation of submarine fleet construction would bear economic effects due to the job creation and the stimulus to manufacturing of new technologies, as well as many other reasons. We have yet to fully appreciate that real, economically measurable profit that was brought to the USSR by its now forever unsurpassable NS construction program – 250 units, more than the rest of the world. This profit existed, and it wasn’t slight. The establishment of titanium metallurgy, a significant part of “TochMash,” advanced petroleum chemistry, the development of science, both fundamental and applied in a series of directions – from geography to microbiology, the assimilation of previously unadapted territories of the Far North, where civilization spread from Naval bases, the discovery of fish flocks and natural resource deposits on patrol routes – the list goes on.

5. FAQ

Q. WHAT ERA ARE YOU LIVING IN? THE COLD WAR IS LONG OVER. WHO ARE YOU FIGHTING?

A. In the present. In the same time when between two and five US CSGs are constantly patrolling the Faroe-Iceland passage. Probably against terrorists in St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Karelia and the Kola Peninsula.

In the same time when the US is building ballistic missile defense systems, placing the main elements in Alaska and in Norway. Apparently, they’re scared of Iran.

In the same time when NATO in Europe, excluding France, Spain, Italy and Portugal, has over seven hundred thousand people in arms in forty divisions. And another half a million in twenty-plus divisions in the Middle East. And a total of six thousand war planes in Europe and the Middle East. Also, apparently, aimed at Iran with its four hundred planes.

In total, the US and its allies have over eight million persons in arms, over 11,000 warplanes, over forty thousand tanks, over three hundred surface ships and over 150 submarines in Eurasia, a total that exceeds (with the exception of the number of submarines) the capabilities of all Eurasian nations – NOT US allies. Never in postwar history has the NATO+allies bloc (Greater NATO) possessed such strength.

Never has it grown at such a rate – the military capacity of Greater NATO, on account of the addition of new members to the NATO bloc, a renewed expansion of the armed forces of old NATO members and other US allies, and the transfer (return) of American military elements to Eurasia, over the last five years has grown by 25% in manpower, 30% in number of warplanes, twofold in the number of tanks, 20% in the number of surface ships, by a third in the number of submarines.

Even the Warsaw Pact, at the peak of the Cold War, possessed a strength that only approximated in quantitative measure that which NATO and its allies possess now, post-Cold War. At the height of its power, the armed forces of the Warsaw Pact had a significantly greater number of submarines (over three hundred), a significantly inferior number of mobilized troops (fewer than five million), and an equal number of warplanes, tanks and surface ships. And let’s not forget that the Warsaw Pact’s power was limited to Eurasia, while the forces of NATO and its allies have a significant portion concentrated in Eurasia, but it is just a portion.

Q. AREN’T YOU BEING A LITTLE GREEDY? WHERE DO WE GET THE MONEY FOR ALL THESE MISSILE-CARRIERS AND HUNTERS?

A. Who said it’s only for them? Also, for aircraft-carrying and missile cruisers, destroyers and large ASW ships, frigates and escort ships, small missile boats and small ASW ships, large amphibious ships and transports, minesweepers and minelayers, cable-layers and torpedo-interceptors, medical ships and floating docks, tankers and supply vessels, missile-loaders and radioactive-waste storage vessels, and others... not to mention all the little things, like missiles, intercontinental and guided, strategic and frontline bombers, interceptor jets and the reclaiming of aerial superiority, MRL systems and SPGs, tanks and APCs, air-defense and antitank missile systems, firing ranges, barracks, scientific research institutes for military microbiology and experimental physics... all these are indeed trifles – fuelling one patrol boat is 1.5 times more expensive than fuelling a tank division, and I won’t even mention cruisers to spare you.


Note the size of the boat of Project 971. This is by far not the largest of Russian boats. Their construction is very expensive, but we will not survive without them.

The Navy is the most expensive branch of the armed forces. Of course, we can give it up. Abandon all of it. Leave a dozen ships and a couple dozen submarines, and settle for that. But when the first series of Tomahawks comes in and tears down Moscow’s bridges, don’t say we didn't warn you.

It won’t happen?

Are you POSITIVE?

That’s like being sure that a man standing in front of you, with a gun pointed at you, having several times made clear his willingness to kill you, won’t pull the trigger.

Q. AS IF WE HAVEN’T THREATENED TO KILL ANYONE OURSELVES.

A. We have. And we will. And we have built, and will continue building that which can carry out such threats. As we have done for over a thousand years now. Let’s hope we can last another thousand. Because there is no alternative - he who cannot kill gets killed first. And there have not been any exceptions to this rule in world politics. Each nation either procures its own “destructive power,” or finds an ally that takes it under its own wing and destroys the opposition itself, or it gets erased from the face of the earth.

Q. OK, FINE. BUT WHY SO MUCH? WHY DO WE NEED OVER A HUNDRED SUBMARINES, WHEN THE US THINKS THEY WILL BE FINE WITH FIFTY, SHOULD WE JUST SPEND ON SEVENTY?

A. Because we are alone. And the US has: Great Britain, Germany, Canada, Italy, Turkey, Norway… in other words, NATO. And also Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea. And all of them do their part. There are no Americans in the Sea of Japan, but the Japanese and South Koreans are there. In the Baltic – the Danish, Germans and Poles. In the Black Sea - Turks, Bulgarians and Romanians. And there is no difference, whether a Harpoon launches from the Toledo at the Ustinov, or from the Izumo at the Varyag, or from a U-212 at an oil plant in the Baltic – it will land and deliver its 225 kg of explosives. Of course, we could knock down the Harpoon. But if there are, say, 12 at once, 2-3 just might get through. It's better to sink the carrier in advance. Or at least to get on its tail. Because we are alone – as in the North, as in the Baltic, and the Black Sea, and the Pacific Ocean, and by our own shores, and five thousand miles from them, while we need to be everywhere, because modern marine weapons are truly global, and, for instance, US submarines patrolling the Indian Ocean carry Tomahawks with NWs aimed at the positions of the 201st division, at Khorugh, at Baikonur, at Emba, at Sary Shagan, at Derbent. And because in order to at one point intercept these boats before they launch missiles, we need to have a number of submarines that is at least comparable to that of our opponents. And since we don’t have any allies other than our Army and our Fleet, we are going to help them – the allies that we have. They are the only ones that have never betrayed Russia.

Q. WHY DON’T WE NEED MORE SSBNS?

A. Because 18 is enough. Eighty launchers of RSM-52's on Typhoons, and 208 launchers for RSM-54-55’s on all the others will provide 2256 warheads in one volley. No conceivable missile defense system can, in the foreseeable future, save the Americans, and if the land-based SNF retain even a portion of their capacity, even two missile defense systems won’t be enough. Eighteen SSBNs will be able to guarantee the nation’s security, and at the same time will be able to secure their own escort.

Q. WILL YOU TALK ABOUT THE SURFACE FLEET?

A. We’ll have to think about it. Too little verifiable information is available, and working only on the basis of logical calculations is dangerous. One thing can be said, though: while the submarine fleet, with low vessel numbers, at least has construction plans, the surface fleet has neither numbers, nor, alas, any substantial construction.

Appendix: NATO code names for Russian submarine Projects.

A - ALFA - Projects 705 and 705K, Lira, SSN, 7 boats.

Note: The numbers are of completed boats. The number 8+2 means that the series has produced 8 boats with 2 under construction. In years, such as 1969-81, the first year is the when construction on the lead vessel begins, the second year is when the final vessel is commissioned into the fleet.


SSN of Project 705K. Soviet boats took the top and second spots in running speed.

B - BRAVO – Project 690, Kefal, training SSK, 4 boats, 1967-70.
C - ÑHARLIE I – Project 670, Skat, SSGN, 11 boats, 1966-72. CHARLIE II – Project 670M, Skat-M, SSGN, 6 boats, 1973-80.
D - DELTA I – Project 667B, Murena, SSBN, 18 boats, 1971-77. DELTA II – Project 667BD, Murena-M, SSBN, 4 boats, 1973-75. DELTA III – Project 667BDR, Kalmar, SSGN, 14 boats, 1975-81. DELTA IV – Project 667BDRM, Delfin, SSBN, 12 boats, 1981-92.
E - ECHO I – Project 659, surface-launch SSGN, 5 boat, 1957-62. ECHO II – Project 675, surface-launch SSGN, 29 boat, 1961-67, and the same boats built under Projects 675M and 675MKV.
F - FOXTROT – Project 641, SSK, 24 boats, plus 16 for export, 1957-82.
G - GOLF – Project 629, SSK with surface-launch ballistic missiles, 23 boats, 1958-62. GOLF II, III, IV, V – the same boats refitted for testing new types of SLBMs.
H - HOTEL – Project 658, surface-launch SSBN, 8 boats, 1958-64. HOTEL II, III – modernized versions, altered for submarine-launch and swapping of missiles.
I - INDIA – Project 940, Lenok, rescue SSK, 2 boats, 1974-79.
J - JULIETT – Project 651, SSK with surface-launch ASMs, 16 boats, 1960-68.
K - KILO – Projects 877 and 636, Paltus, a.k.a. Varshavyanka, SSK, 33 plus 1 boats (and 22 for export), 1976-97.
L - LIMA – Project 1840, experimental SSK for hydro-acoustic research, 1978-1979.
M - MIKE – Project 685, Plavnik, SSN, 1 boat, 1978-83 (Komsomolets).
N - NOVEMBER – Projects 627 and 627A, Kit, SSN, 1 and 12 boats, 1954-63, Project 645, 1958-63, 1 experimental SSN with a liquid-metal-cooled reactor.
O - OSCAR I – Project 949, Granit, SSGN, 2 boats, 1978-82. OSCAR II – Projects 949A, Antey, SSGN, 9+1 boats, 1980-2004, and 949AM, Antey-M, SSGN, 0+1 boat, 2001-06.
P - PAPA – Project 661, Anchar, experimental high-speed SSGN, 1 boat, 1962-69.


The fastest submarine in the world - the Soviet SSGN of Project 661.

Q - QUEBEC – Project 665, a series of missile SSKs with surface-launch ASMs, rebuilt from SSKs of Project 613, 6 boats, 1958-62.
R - ROMEO – Project 633, export SSK, 22 boats, 1959-62.
S - SIERRA I – Project 945, Mars, SSN, 2 boats, 1982-88. SIERRA II – Project 945A, SSN, 4 boats, 1987-93.
T - TANGO – Project 641B, Som, SSK, 19 boats, 1970-82.
U - UNIFORM – Project 1910, experimental unarmed NS, designed for deep-sea NS equipment testing, 2 boats, 1982-87.
V - VICTOR I – Project 671, Yersh, SSN, 15 boats, 1966-74. VICTOR II – Project 671RT, SSN, 7 boats, 1970-78. VICTOR III – Projects 671RTM (1976-85) and 671RTMK (1984-92), Schuka, 14 and 12 boats.
W - WHISKY – Project 613, SSK, 215 boats, of these about forty for export, 1949-57.
X - X-RAY – Projects 1851 and 10831, deep-sea, special-designation mini-NSs, 2 boats, 1984-87.
Y - YANKEE I – Project 667A, Navaga, SSBN, 33 boats, 1964-72. YANKEE II – Project 667AB, Navaga-M, refitted 667A SSBN, 1 boat, 1975. YANKEE-NOTCH – Project 667AT, refitted 667A SSN, 7 boats, 1982-91. YANKEE-STRETCH – Project 09780, Akson, refitted 667A NS for hydro-acoustic reconnaissance, 1 boat, 1989. YANKEE-POD – Project ?????, refitted 667A NS frogman carrier, 1 boat, 1990. YANKEE-ANDROMEDA – Project 667M, Andromeda, refitted 667A SSGN, 3 boats, 1991 and 1999-2000.
Z - ZULU – Project 611, Buki, SSK, 28 boats, 1948-55.

Boats not given an alphabetical code:

AKULA – Project 971, Schuka-B, a.k.a. Bars, SSN, 16+7 boats, 1983-2008.
AMUR – Project 677, Lada, SSK, 2+3 (+4 planned), 1997-20??.
BELUGA – Project 1710, Makrel, test SSK for developing high-speed hull profiles, 1 boat, 1985-89.
GRANAY – Project 885, Yasen (a.k.a. Severodvinsk), SSN, 0+6 boats, 1996-2010.
KONUNG – Project 955, Borei (a.k.a. Yury Dolgoruky), SSBN, 0+4 boats, 1995-2010.
TYPHOON – Project 941, Akula, SSBN, 6+1 boats, 1981-90; 1991-2005.

Boats not given a code name:

Projects 615 and A615, submarines with AIP systems, 31 boats, 1953-62.
Project 865, Piran’ya, small submarines-frogman carriers, 2 boats, 1984-90.

Literature

1. Oruzhiye Rossii (Russia’s Weapons). Catalog. Volume III. “Korabli i vooruzheniye Voyenno-morskogo flota” (“Vessels and armaments of the Navy”). M., AOZT "Voyenny Parad", 1997.
2. V. Danilin. “Mnogotselevye APL VMS SShA v XXI veke" (“Multipurpose nuclear submarines of the US Navy”). Morskoy sbornik (Marine Digest), ¹ 12, 1999, pp. 66-68.
3. Yu. I. Akeksandrov, A. N. Gusev. Boevye korabli mira na rubezhe XX-XXI vekov (Warships of the World at the Turn of the 21st Century), Part 1 - Submarines. Reference. St. Petersburg, 2000.
4. Jane’s Fighting Ships. 1999-2000.
5. Jane’s Underwater Warfare Systems. 1999-2000.
6. Combat fleets of the World. The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapons Systems. 1997-1998. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis. Maryland, USA, 1998.

Source: armor.kiev.ua, author: I. Kramnik, attorney
Translation: Rusnavy.com