The Typhoon class submarine is the biggest submarine in the world.

As the United States deployed the Ohio class submarines equipped with nuclear missiles, the Soviet Union began to develop heavy underwater cruisers superior to the Ohio class.

Typhoon Class Submarine

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In fact, the official name for the Typhoon class submarine is the Project 941 or the Shark class submarine. It is thought that the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev deliberately used the name “Typhoon” during his speech in order to confuse the enemy.

Why is it labeled as “heavy”? The displacement of the Shark class submarines was approximately twice as much as that of any other submarine classes. Exactly how big is it? As a comparison, the Shark displacement is larger than the displacement of some aircraft carriers!

Characteristics of a new heavy class submarine

Typhoon Class Submarine

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The submarine height was equal to that of a nine-storey building and its length was roughly the same as the length of two football fields combined.

The Typhoon was capable of carrying at least 20 nuclear warheads, which could be launched almost simultaneously.

The Soviet submarines carried more missiles than its old U.S. counterpart equipped with 16 missiles but less than its modernized version armed with 24 missiles.

Despite being so large, the Typhoon class submarine was built with the help of advanced technology and had the lowest noise level in the Soviet undersea fleet at that time.

Its outer hull comprised of two major pressure hulls, called catamaran, and three smaller modules, with ballast tanks being located between them.

Independent nuclear propulsion plants and missile compartments set beyond the hulls boosted submarine survivability, made its repair and modernization much easier.

Typhoon Class Submarine

Фотобанк Лори

The bulk of the submarine hull was made of titanium alloys.

While surfacing, the submarine tower cutwater was enabled to break through thin ice.

The nuclear-powered submarine had long sea endurance (more than two months of submerged operation).

The Typhoon accommodated decent living facilities for the crew, including a swimming pool, a gym, a sauna and even a nature corner.

Built submarines

Did the Soviet Union really need this heavy guided missile cruiser? More likely no than yes. These submarines were built as major players in the arms race as if the Soviets were trying to tell the Americans “you are not the only one who can produce such weaponry”. In fact, these Soviet nuclear-armed submarines controlled the world ocean and constantly operated in U.S. waters.

Typhoon Class Submarine

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The period from 1981 to 1989 saw the production of six world-biggest Typhoon class submarines.

The future of the Typhoon class

At the turn of the last century the Typhoon class submarines began to be scrapped.

Officially the scrap page program was fulfilled in the framework of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-3) and was funded by the United States.

Typhoon Class Submarine

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The dissolution of the Soviet Union and its production ties caused the fall of the corresponding systems supplying submarines with necessary equipment. As the number of unreliable parts within the submarine hardware was steadily growing, the threat of inevitable catastrophe became a reality. The Russian marines recognized this danger.

Even the maintenance of submarines in non-critical condition turned to be highly expensive.

The modernization of the world-biggest submarine would have cost twice as much as the production of two (!) up-to-date nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed Borei class submarines (the 4th noiseless generation). Besides, there were simply no nuclear weapons for the Typhoon class submarines since the production of the Typhoon-oriented nuclear missiles had been ceased.

The future of these submarines was doomed.

Nowadays the “Dmitry Donskoi” submarine is the only heavy underwater cruiser left in operation. It is used as the base for weapons test and trial-ground for other cutting-edge military systems.

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