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07 Feb 2023

Russia Decommissions World's Largest Submarine

Russia Decommissions World's Largest Submarine
Originally posted on Naval News

The news was initially reported by RIA Novosti agency as early as last August, citing a source in the military-industrial complex, but it was soon denied by Maltsev.

The Dmitry Donskoy was the first strategic nuclear-powered submarine of the Project 941 Akula (NATO code name: Typhoon), and also the longest remaining in service. This was due to its conversion into a test unit for the Bulava-M ballistic missile system with R-30 SLBM designed for the new-generation SSBNs of the project 995/995A Borey.

Dmitry Donskoy will await disposal at the naval base in Severodvinsk along with two other submarines of the project – Arkhangelsk and Severstal. The two nuclear reactors will be removed first, followed by the rest of the nuclear installation, then the steel structure will be scrapped. For now, no date has been given for the SSBN’s dismantling.

Dmitry Donskoy Typhoon class SSBN

Typhoon-class SSBN “Dmitry Donskoy” in the Great Belt on his way to Kronstadt. Flyvevåbnet / Royal Danish Air Force Picture.

The TK-208 SSBN (official Russian designation: nuclear heavy submarine cruiser of strategic-purpose) was the prototype of a series of six units of the project 941 Akula (shark). The design of the vessel was developed by the “Rubin” Design Bureau in Leningrad under the leadership of Sergey N. Kovalev.

SSBNs of the project 941 have gathered a lot of interest since their inception. They were caused mainly by their unmatched size, which became the reason for an entry in the “Guinness Book of Records”, as well as by the external shape that gave rise to conjecture about the construction of the interior – long remaining a mystery. Typhoon-class structure consisted of two parallel main pressure hulls and separate modules arranged above them: command, torpedo and stern. A set of 20 missile launchers was deployed between the main hulls – without penetrating them. The whole construction is surrounded by a hydrodynamic outer hull. This arrangement made them the largest submarines ever built. The TK-208 measured 170.0×23.3 meters and displaced 48,000 tons submerged, more than most WWII battleships!

The keel of TK-208 was laid on July 17, 1976. The submarine was launched on September 29, 1980, and entered service on December 29, 1981. Five more submarines of this class were built. The seventh was not completed for financial and political reasons – both related to the collapse of the Soviet empire. In 2002, Dmitry Donskoy underwent the project 941UM modernization, after which it participated in tests of the Bulava missile system.

Politicians and high-ranking military officers of the USSR and Russia, including Gorbachev and Putin, liked to show up on the Typhoons. In 2017, Dmitry Donskoy, along with the heavy cruiser Petr Velikiy, project 11442, went from the Northern Fleet to the Baltic to take part in the central celebration of the Fleet Parade in Kronstadt. Its voyage was observed by NATO forces and caused a great – and justified – sensation.

Typhoon, one of the many manifestations of Soviet gigantomania, eventually made history. Today, the world’s largest submarine is the BS-329 Belgorod, a special purpose unit, a carrier of 2M39 Poseidon nuclear torpedoes.

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