World’s longest nuclear submarine handed over to the Russian Navy
An official press statement posted by the Sevmash submarine yard on Friday says the “Belgorod” (K-239) is a “research submarine”. In fact, the vessel is built to carry one of the craziest weapons of mass destruction mankind ever has seen: The Poseidon, an autonomous, nuclear-powered underwater drone that can deliver its nuclear payloads from deep under, at distances like crossing the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans.
Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Nikolai Evmenov, said:”.. this is a significant day for us” as ”… advanced achievements of science and the latest construction technologies were applied.”
“The submarine “Belgorod” opens up new opportunities for Russia in conducting various studies, allows conducting diverse scientific expeditions and rescue operations in the most remote areas of the World Ocean,” the Admiral stated.
Highlighting the research- and scientific work that now can be conducted by the Russian Navy in the world oceans, the statement also adds that the submarine can be used for search- and rescue operations in deep waters as it carries autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles.
Nothing in the statement mentions the Poseidon drone weapon purpose.
With the U.S. developing an anti-ballistic missile defense system, Russia started to develop a deep-diving response capability. The Poseidon is a 24-meter-long torpedo-shaped vehicle with an estimated range of 10,000 km and can travel at speeds of 100 knots down to a maximum depth of 1,000 meters. It is powered by a small nuclear reactor and could be armed with a megaton nuclear warhead.
The submarine is likely to carry six Poseidon drones. The submarine also serves as a mother vessel for a deep-diving midget nuclear-powered submarine, like the infamous Losharik, a mini-submarine that got the world’s attention in July 2019 when its batteries caught fire and all 14 officers on board died.
The “Belgorod” is built on a prolonged hull of what was originally meant to be an Oscar-II class multi-purpose submarine, a sister vessel to the ill-fated “Kursk” submarine that sank in the Barents Sea during a naval exercise in August 2000. The hull of the submarine was laid down in 1992, but it was first twenty years later, in 2012, that the Defense Ministry decided to use the hull to construct this giant special purpose vessel.
With a hull prolonged by 29 meters to 184-meters, the one-of-a-kind vessel is longer than the world’s largest submarine, the Soviet-built Typhoon-class.
No public statement is made on where “Belgorod” will be based for the period it will be in experimental operation with the Northern Fleet; Severodvinsk where the Poseidon drone development is headed, or at the Olenya Bay on the Kola Peninsula where the other special-purpose submarines of GUGI, Russia’s Main Directorate for Deep Sea Research, are based.