Russia launched the world’s longest special mission submarine today, the Belgorod, designed to support a variety of military missions, including carrying the Poseidon long-range strategic nuclear torpedo.
The super submarine is far larger than anything operated by any other naval force, including the U.S. Navy submarines. The six hundred foot long submarine displaces more water than a World War I battleship and can dive to a depth of 1,700 feet.
The submarine was launched on April 23rd, at the Sevmash shipyards in Russia, with Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly watching via satellite.
Officially known as Project-09852, the submarine was originally an Oscar II-class cruise missile submarine that the Russian government ran of funds to complete. The submarine hull sat unfinished until Moscow decided to complete it as a special mission submarine.
The hull was lengthened to approximately 184 meters (604 feet) and the ship’s displacement ballooned to 30,000 tons submerged–more than 50% greater than the U.S. Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines.
The result of an unfinished hull the Belgorod is a one-off, and there will not be another one like it.
The nuclear-powered Belgorod is neither an attack submarine nor a ballistic missile sub. A special mission submarine, Belgorod will be a mother-ship to other undersea vessels.
The sub can carry a payload on its back, behind the sail, or a Losharik class mini-submarine that attaches and detaches to the bottom of the hull.
The modifications are likely to be extensive, and may include some latest technology, but underneath she is still an earlier generation of submarine, and likely to be less stealthy than the latest generation.
Russia has generally been more successful than the USA at protecting her latest submarines from unwanted cameras. For Russia’s latest boats we are still guessing many details.
The key to their working however is their covert deployment, something Belgorod was practically built to do. Another mission is conducting covert operations with the Losharik midget submarines.
Belgorod is meant for is the covert placement of the Harmony submarine detection network.
A nuclear-powered underwater detection system, Harmony could help alert Russian forces of enemy submarines transiting through key areas.
The 230 foot long, nuclear-powered Losharik is equipped with robotic arms and capable of diving to 1,000 meters (3,280 feet)
The massive submarine will also be able to carry the Harpsichord-2P-PM autonomous underwater vehicle, transporting it to an operating area and then use its sonar to map the ocean floor or find man-made objects.
Although built to conduct underwater espionage, by far the most sinister mission for Belgorod is as launch vehicle for the Poseidon nuclear torpedo system.
Poseidon is a very large torpedo, 65 feet long and 6.5 feet in diameter, with a range of thousands of miles and a top speed of 60 knots. Belgorod will carry up to six Poseidon torpedoes.
Poseidon is believed to carry a 2 megaton thermonuclear warhead and is designed to go around U.S. missile defenses to strike coastal targets, including ports and cities.
Popular Mechanics / ABC Flash Point News 2019.