Typhoon-class submarine

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Typhoon class
Typhoon class
Typhoon-class submarine underway
Class overview
Name: Akula (Акула) (NATO: Typhoon)
Builders: Rubin Design Bureau
Preceded by: Delta class submarine
Succeeded by: Borei class submarine
In commission: December 12, 1981
Planned: 8
Completed: 6
Cancelled: 2
Active: 1
Retired: 2
Scrapped: 3
General characteristics
Type: Ballistic missile submarine
  • 23,200–24,500 t (22,830–24,110 long tons) surfaced
  • 33,800–48,000 t (33,270–47,240 long tons) submerged
Length: 175 m (574 ft 2 in)
Beam: 23 m (75 ft 6 in)
Draught: 12 m (39 ft 4 in)
  • 2 × OK-650 pressurized-water nuclear reactors, 190 MWt each
  • 2 × VV-type steam turbines, 37 MW (49,600 hp) each
  • 2 shafts with 7-bladed shrouded screws
  • 22.22 knots (41.15 km/h; 25.57 mph) surfaced
  • 27 knots (50 km/h; 31 mph) submerged
Endurance: 120+ days submerged[1]
Test depth: 400 m (1,300 ft)
Complement: 160[1]
Notes: Ships in class include: TK-208[3] TK-202 TK-12[4] TK-13 TK-17[5] TK-20[6] TK-210

The Project 941 or Akula, Russian "Акула" ("Shark") class submarine (NATO reporting name: Typhoon) is a type of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine deployed by the Soviet Navy in the 1980s. With a submerged displacement of 48,000 tonnes,[1] the Typhoons are the largest class of submarine ever built,[7] large enough to accommodate decent living facilities for the crew when submerged for months on end.[8] The source of the NATO reporting name remains unclear, although it is often claimed to be related to the use of the word "typhoon" ("тайфун") by Leonid Brezhnev in a 1974 speech while describing a new type of nuclear ballistic missile submarine, as a reaction to the US Navy Ohio-class submarines.[9]

The Russian Navy canceled its Typhoon modernization program in March 2012, stating that modernizing one Typhoon would be as expensive as building two new Borei-class submarines.[10] With the announcement that Russia has eliminated the last SS-N-20 Sturgeon SLBMs in September 2012, the remaining Typhoons have reached the end of service.[11]


Besides their missile armament, the Typhoon class features six torpedo tubes; all of which are designed to handle RPK-2 (SS-N-15) missiles or Type 53 torpedoes. A Typhoon-class submarine can stay submerged for periods up to 120 days[1] in normal conditions, and potentially more if deemed necessary (e.g., in the case of a nuclear war). Their primary weapons system is composed of 20 R-39 (NATO: SS-N-20) ballistic missiles (SLBM) with a maximum of 10 MIRV nuclear warheads each. Technically, Typhoons were able to deploy their long-range nuclear missiles while moored at their docks.[12]

Typhoon-class submarines feature multiple pressure hulls, similar to the WW2 Japanese I-400 STo Sen Toku Class Submarine, that simplify internal design while making the vessel much wider than a normal submarine. In the main body of the sub, two long pressure hulls lie parallel with a third, smaller pressure hull above them (which protrudes just below the sail), and two other pressure hulls for torpedoes and steering gear. This also greatly increases their survivability—even if one pressure hull is breached, the crew members in the other are safe and there is less potential for flooding.

Line drawing showing the starboard side of the Project 941 (Akula) Soviet ballistic missile submarine. The vessel's waterline is marked in white.


A Typhoon class submarine on the surface in 1985.

The Typhoon class was developed under Project 941 as the Russian Akula class (Акула), meaning shark. It is sometimes confused with other submarines, as Akula is the name NATO uses to designate the Russian Project 971 Shchuka-B (Щука-Б) class attack submarines. The project was developed with the objective to match the SLBM armament of Ohio-class submarines, capable of carrying 192 nuclear warheads, 100 kt each. However, at the time, state-of-the-art Soviet SLBMs were substantially larger and heavier than their American counterparts (the R-39 is more than two times heavier than the Trident I; it remains the heaviest SLBM to have been in service worldwide). The submarine had to be scaled accordingly.[citation needed]

Six Typhoon-class submarines were built. Originally, the submarines were designated by hull numbers only. Names were later assigned to the four vessels retained by the Russian Navy, which were sponsored by either a city or company. The construction order for an additional vessel (hull number TK-210) was canceled and never completed. Only the first of these submarines to be constructed, the Dmitriy Donskoy, is still in active service with the Russian Navy, serving as a test platform for the Bulava (SS-NX-32) missile. The Arkhangelsk (TK-17) and Severstal (TK-20) remain in reserve, not currently active with the Russian fleet. All the R-39 missiles have been retired. The Typhoons were slated to be replaced by the Borei class starting in 2010–11.

In late December 2008, a senior Navy official announced that the two Typhoon-class submarines, the TK-17 and TK-20, that are in reserve would not be rearmed with the new Bulava SLBM missile system. They could however be modified to carry cruise missiles or to lay mines, or could be used in special operations.[13] In late June 2009, the Navy Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy told reporters that the two submarines would be reserved for possible future repairs and modernization.[14] In May 2010, the Navy Commander-in-Chief reported that Russia's Typhoon-class submarines would remain in service with the Navy until 2019.[15] In September 2011, the Russian defense ministry decided to write off all Project 941 Akula nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines until 2014. The reasons for decommissioning the Typhoon class vessels are the restrictions imposed on Russia by the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and successful trials of new Borei-class submarine.[16]

Despite being a replacement for many types of submarines, the Borei class submarines are slightly smaller than the Typhoon class in terms of length (170 m as opposed to 175 m) and crew (107 people as opposed to 160). These changes were in part designed to reduce the cost to build and maintain the submarines. In addition, the United States and Canada provided 80% of funds for scrapping the older Typhoon class submarines, making it much more economical to build a new submarine.[17] However, according to other sources at the Russian defence ministry, no such decision has been made; in that case, the submarines would remain with the Russian Navy.,[18] Submarines TK-17 Arhangelsk and TK-20 Severstal will not be modernized as platforms for cruise missiles, but they will be kept in service with their previous armament, R-39 missiles.

In 2013, the State-Run RIA Novosti news has announced that the Navy will scrap two Typhoons beginning in 2018. They will be the TK-17 and TK-20.[19]


Typhoon-based cargo vessel

The Submarine Cargo Vessel is a proposed idea by the Rubin Design Bureau where a Typhoon has its missile launchers removed and replaced with cargo holds. The projected cargo capacity of this configuration is 15,000 tonnes (15,000 long tons).


# Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
TK-208[3] Dmitriy Donskoy June 30, 1976 September 27, 1980 December 29, 1981[1] In service. Upgraded to project 941UM for use of Bulava missiles(1 launcher)[20]
TK-202 April 22, 1978 September 23, 1982 December 28, 1983[1] Withdrawn from active service in June 1999, scrapped with the financial support of the U.S.
TK-12,Simbirsk April 19, 1980 December 17, 1983 December 26, 1984[1] Withdrawn from active service in 1996, scrapped 2006–2008
TK-13 February 23, 1982 April 30, 1985 December 26, 1985[1] Withdrawn from active service in 1997, scrapped 2007–2009[21]
TK-17[5] Arkhangelsk August 9, 1983 December 12, 1986 December 15, 1987[1] Decommissioned in 2006[11] Still in reserve with the Northern Fleet.
TK-20[6] Severstal August 27, 1985 April 11, 1988 December 19, 1989[1] Decommissioned in 2004[11] Still in reserve with the Northern Fleet.
TK-210 1986 1990 (scrapped on the ways)[1]

834 TK 208 Dmitriy Donskoy


  • 10 February 1982: Entered 18th division (Zapadnaya Litsa), NOR.
  • December 1982: Transferred from Severodvinsk to Zapadnaya Litsa.
  • 1983-1984: Tests of D-19 missile complex. Commanders: A.V.Olkhovikov (1980–1984).
  • 3 December 1986: Entered Navy Board of the Winners of the Socialist Competition.
  • 18 January 1987: Entered MoD Board of Glory.
  • 20 September 1989 – 1991: Repairs and refit at Sevmash to Project 941U. 1991 refit cancelled.
  • 1996: Returned to 941U refit.
  • 2002: Named Dmitriy Donskoy.
  • 26 June 2002: End of refit.
  • 30 June 2002: Start of testing.
  • 26 July 2002: Entered sea trials, Re-entered fleet, without missile system.
  • December 2003: Sea trials; refitted to carry a new Bulava missile system. New missile system expected to be operational by 2005.
  • 9 October 2005: Successfully launched SS-NX-30 Bulava SLBM from surface.
  • 21 December 2005: Successfully launched SS-NX-30 Bulava SLBM from submerged position on move.
  • 7 September 2006: Test launch of the Bulava missile failed after several minutes in flight due to the problems in the flight control system. The missile fell into the sea about a minute after the launch. The sub was not affected and was returning to Severodvinsk base submerged. Later reports blamed the engine of the first stage for the failure.
  • 25 October 2006: Test launch of the Bulava-M missile in the White Sea failed some 200 seconds after liftoff due to the apparent failure of the flight control system.
  • 28 August 2008: Underwent successful testing at the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk, Arkhangelsk Oblast. More than 170 men worked with the Dmitriy Donskoy, 100 of them employed at the Sevmash plant and 70 at other companies.

830 TK 17 Arkhangelsk


  • 19 February 1988: Entered 18th division (Zapadnaya Litsa) NOR.
  • 8 January–9 November 2002: Refit at Sevmash.
  • In July 2002, crew petitioned Main Navy Headquarters to adopt the name Arkhangel'sk (renamed on 18 November 2002).
  • Commander: 2002-2003 V.Volkov.
  • 17 February 2004: Took part in military exercises with President Vladimir Putin aboard.
  • In reserve from 2004, will be brought back to service in 2012 according to the Russian navy web-site flot.com.
  • Will be scrapped in 2018.[19]

TK 20 Severstal


  • 28 February 1990: Entered 18th division (Zapadnaya Litsa), NOR.
  • 25 August 1996: Successfully launched SLBM
  • November 1996: Successfully launched SLBM from North Pole.
  • 24 July 1999: Took part in parade on Navy Day in Severomorsk, NOR.
  • November–December 1999 – distant cruise.
  • 2001: named to Severstal.
  • June 2001–December 2002: Repairs at Sevmash.
  • Commander: A. Bogachev (2001).
  • In reserve from 2004, will be brought back to service in 2012 according to the Russian navy website flot.com.
  • Will be scrapped in 2018–2020.[19]

Satellite photos

Satellite image of a Typhoon-class Submarine Severodvinsk. Declassified in 2012
  • Two side-by-side (TK-20 and TK-17) at Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
  • TK-208 in active service as of 2 September 2015 (Deployed in Syria) [22] at Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found. (note the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, undergoing refurbishment for delivery to the Indian Navy as INS Vikramaditya, a few metres north and east of this submarine.) These pictures are pre 2002 which is when TK-208 received its last refurbishment

Interior photos

In 2009 a blogger posted dozens of photos of the interior of a Typhoon submarine at Nerpichya Naval Base,[23] perhaps TK-12 or TK-13 based on the state of decay, claiming the photos were taken in 2004.[24] That pair of aging submarines were decommissioned several years prior, in 1996 and 1997.

Notable appearances in media

Typhoon-class submarine, covered with ice

Probably the best-known fictional Typhoon-class submarine was the stealth equipped Red October, the subject of the Tom Clancy novel The Hunt for Red October and its 1990 movie adaptation, starring Sean Connery as the fictional Captain Marko Ramius.

In 2008 National Geographic released a documentary about the scrapping of one of the Typhoons in the series "Break It Down".[25] This ship is TK-13, which was scrapped over the time period 2007–2009.

See also


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Podvodnye Lodki, Yu.V. Apalkov, Sankt Peterburg, 2002, ISBN 5-8172-0069-4
  2. Only 20 torpedoes and/or AShMs can be loaded.
  3. 3.0 3.1 TK-208 received the name Dmitri Donskoi.
  4. TK-12 received the name Simbirsk in 2001.
  5. 5.0 5.1 TK-17 received the name Arkhangelsk on 18 November 2002.
  6. 6.0 6.1 TK-20 received the name Severstal.
  7. "Submarine Milestones - Largest Subs". National Geographic. 1981-12-12. Retrieved 2011-08-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Waller D.C. (March 2001). "Essay - The Hunt for Big Red" (PDF). Wake Forest Magazine. 48 (3): 28–31. Retrieved 13 October 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Bulletin of the atomic scientists. Atomic Scientists of Chicago. 57 (2001): 21. Missing or empty |title= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Russian Navy Abandons Akula Modernization Project". Russian Navy. 2012-07-03. Retrieved 2012-09-26. External link in |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 "Russia, USA Liquidated Entire Class of Ballistic Missiles". Russian Navy. 2012-09-17. Retrieved 2012-09-26. External link in |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "941 TYPHOON - Russian and Soviet Nuclear Forces". Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 2011-08-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Russia to hold more test launches of Bulava ICBM in 2009". RIA Novosti. 16 December 2008. Retrieved 2011-08-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Олег Ласточкин (26 June 2009). "Стратегические АПЛ "Тайфун" останутся в боевом составе ВМФ РФ | Оборона и безопасность". RIA Novosti. Retrieved 2011-08-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Russia set to keep Typhoon class nuclear subs until 2019". RIA Novosti. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 2011-08-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Russia To Dismantle World's Biggest Subs". http://rusnavy.com/. Retrieved 2011-09-29. External link in |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Russia's gigantic Typhoon submarines to be scrapped". Pravda. 29 September 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "No plans to retire Typhoon class subs soon – Russian military". RIA Novosti. 2011-09-30. Retrieved 2012-07-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 "Russia to Scrap World's Biggest Nuclear Subs". RIA Novosti. 2013-05-21. Retrieved 2013-08-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "25.02.10 "Булаву" впервые испытают на АПЛ проекта "Борей" - Военный паритет". Militaryparitet.com. Retrieved 2012-07-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Text: Trude Pettersen (2009-06-04). "One sub out, another one in". BarentsObserver. Retrieved 2011-08-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. http://www.ibtimes.co.in/syria-1000-iranian-marines-join-russian-troops-jablah-base-fight-syrian-rebels-says-report-646283
  23. http://wikimapia.org/917172/Nerpichya-Naval-Base
  24. "ru_submarine: тип 941 акула она же typhoon: самая большая лодка в мире". Ru-submarine.livejournal.com. Retrieved 2013-08-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "Break It Down - Nuclear Submarine". National Geographic. Retrieved 2010-08-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links