Typhoon nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines were built at the Severodvinsk Shipyard. Credit: Bellona Foundation.
The Typhoon-class submarine has an endurance of 120 days. Credit: Rept0n1x.
The Typhoon-class submarine can operate even in Artic waters. Credit: Edward L. Cooper.

The Typhoon class (Project 941 Akula class) nuclear-powered ballistic missile (SSBN) submarines were constructed at the Severodvinsk Shipyard, on the White Sea near Archangel.

The first of the six members of the class to be commissioned was Dmitry Donskoy (TK 208) in 1981, followed by TK 202 in 1983, Simbirsk (TK 12) in 1984, TK 13 in 1985, Arkhangelsk (TK 17) in 1987 and Severstal (TK 20) in 1989. The submarines were stationed with the Russian Northern Fleet at Litsa Guba.

Dmitry Donskoy was relaunched following a refit to Project 941UM in 2002 and is being used as a trials ship. The submarine was transitioned from the Northern Fleet to the Baltic to participate in the Main Naval Parade, which was held in Kronstadt in 2017.

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Arkhangelsk and Severstal were decommissioned in 2006 and 2004 respectively and are placed on reserve. TK 12 and TK 13 were decommissioned and scrapped.

With assistance from the US, through the cooperative threat reduction programme, TK 202 had its nuclear fuel removed by US-funded processing facilities and converted into forms suitable for long-term storage or reuse. The UK agreed to take part in the dismantling of Russia’s decommissioned nuclear submarines.

SSBN Typhoon class design

The Typhoon class submarine is of multi-hulled design, with five inner hulls situated inside a superstructure of the two parallel main hulls. The superstructure is coated with sound-absorbent tiles. There are 19 compartments including a strengthened module, which houses the main control room and electronic equipment compartment which is above the main hulls behind the missile launch tubes.

The submarine’s design includes features for travelling under ice and ice-breaking. It has an advanced stern fin with horizontal hydroplane fitted after the screws. The nose horizontal hydroplanes are in the bow section and are retractable into the hull.

The retractable systems include two periscopes (one for the commander and one for general use), radio sextant, radar, radio communications, navigation and direction-finder masts.

They are housed within the sail guard. The sail and sail guard have a reinforced rounded cover for ice-breaking.

Maximum diving depth is 400m. Speed is 12k when surfaced and 25k when submerged. Typhoon is capable of spending 120 days at sea.

SSBN Typhoon class missiles

The submarine carries 20 RSM-52 intercontinental, three-stage solid-propellant ballistic missiles. The two rows of missile launch tubes are situated in front of the sail between the main hulls.

Each missile consists of ten independently targetable multiple re-entry vehicles (MIRV’s), each with a 100kt nuclear warhead. Guidance is inertial with stellar reference updating. Range is 8,300km with accuracy (CEP) of 500m. The missile weighs 84,000kg at launch and was designed by the Makayev Design Bureau. It has the NATO designation of SS-N-20 Sturgeon.

In September and December 2005, the Dmitry Donskoy carried out successful flight tests of a new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, the SS-N-30 Bulava, being developed for the Russian Navy.

Bulava is reported to have a range of more than 8,000km and to be able to carry a 550k nuclear warhead. It is based on the land-launched Topol missile (SS-27). Bulava is to arm the Russian Navy’s new Borey class submarines from 2008 and may be retrofitted to the Typhoon class.

SSBN Typhoon class torpedoes

Typhoon has four 630mm torpedo tubes and two 533mm torpedo tubes with a total of 22 anti-submarine missiles and torpedoes of varying types. The torpedo room is in the upper part of the bow between the hulls. The torpedo tubes can also be used to deploy mines.

SSBN Typhoon class systems

The sonar is an active / passive search and attack type with the sonar mounted on the hull under the torpedo room. The submarine is fitted with I/J-band surface target detection radar.

Countermeasures include ESM (electronic support measures), radar warning system and direction-finding system.

The submarine has both radio and satellite communications systems. It is fitted with two floating antenna buoys to receive radio signals, target designation data and satellite navigation signals, at depth and under ice cover.

SSBN Typhoon class propulsion

The submarine main machinery consists of two nuclear water reactors and two turbo gear assemblies comprising steam turbine and gearbox. One reactor and one turbo gear assembly are fitted in each main hull.

Each nuclear water reactor produces 190MW. These drive two 50,000hp steam turbines and four 3,200kW turbogenerators. Two 800kW diesel generators serve as standby propulsion units and are coupled to the shaft line. The two propellers are seven-blade, fixed-pitch shrouded. The built-in thrusters on the bow and stern are two telescopic turning screw rudders and are powered by a 750kW motor.