A Balance of Doom – Ballistic Missile Submarines in 2022

K-549 KnyazVladimir 2019. Credit: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:HoteitH&redlink=1 [modified]

This post totals up the number of currently operational ballistic missile submarines and their submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) tubes.* These boats are mostly equipped with nuclear-armed missiles with Multiple Independently targetable Reentry Vehicle (MIRV). Missile boats or “boomers” are a premier strategic deterrence – as opposed to land-based stationary missile sites, they are difficult to target in any first strike and so present a potent retaliatory threat. Follow the links to see other submarines.

NATO Allies – 464 MIRV SLBM tubes:

United States Navy – 14X24 Ohio class SSBN LOA 560′ / 170.7 m TDISP 18,750 tons submerged

Royal Navy – 4X16 Vanguard class SSBN LOA 492′ / 150 m TDISP 15,900 tons

French Navy – 4X16 Triomphant Class SSBN LOA 453′ / 138.1 m TDISP 14,350 tons submerged

Russia – 192 MIRV SLBM tubes:

5X16 Borei Class / Project 955 SSBN LOA 557′ / 169.8 m TDISP 24,000 tons submerged

6X16 Delta IV Classes / Project 667BDRM Delfin 1X16 Delta III / Project 667BDR Calmar SSBN LOA 520′ / 158.5 m TDISP 18,200 tons submerged

China – 72 MIRV SLBM tubes:

6X12 Type 094 / 094A (NATO: Jin class) SSBN LOA 443’/ 135 m TDISP 11,ooo tons submerged

India – 24 SLBM tubes

2X12 Arihant class SSBN LOA 364′ / 110.9 m TDISP 6,000 tons. Currently armed with short or intermediate-range missiles that do not break down into MIRVs.

North Korea 1 or 2 short-ranged SLBM tubes

1X1 OR 1X2 Simpo / Gorae class SSB (Ballistic missile conventionally powered submarine) (1 active) LOA ca. 225′ / 68.6 m TDISP 1,600 tons submerged (estimate). SLBM missiles, based on observed tests are short-ranged and do not break down into MIRVs.

*At any given time, several of these boats will be undergoing dockyard work. This list does not include submarines reported to be test beds, such as the last Russian Typhoon class, Dmitriy Donskoy, or the Chinese Type 032/Qing class.

The Yankee Boomer with the nose job!

There have been many unusual Soviet submarine modifications, and the modified Yankee class “Big Nose” Project 09780 Akson-2 was one of them!

Kazan ca. 1996-2000. Credit: АО «Центр судоремонта „Звёздочка“», Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons

K-403 began life as a Project 667A “boomer” SSBN Nuclear-powered Ballistic Missile Submarine, which received the NATO designation “Yankee class”. These were the first Russian missile boats with a conventional layout of missile tubes behind the sail – 16 SS-N-6 SLBMs. They were roughly contemporary to the USN “Forty-one for Freedom” classes, and, as Russian boats go, they looked downright normal – very similar to their Polaris-armed adversaries serving in the USN and Royal Navy.

K-219, another Yankee class boat, on the surface, after having been damaged by a missile propellant fire October 1986. Out of a class of 34 boats, this was the only loss. NARA: 330-CFD-DN-ST-87-00760

K-403 Kazan was commissioned in 1971, and would be modified several times. The website RussianShips.Info gives a summary of these modifications. During the early 1980s, K-403 was modified to a Project 667AK Akson or NATO “Yankee Pod” configuration, with the missile compartment removed and a towed sonar housing atop the rudder, which looked like what wound up installed on Oscar II class SSGNs. A decade later came the Project 09780 Akson-2 “Big Nose” conversion – a distinctive swollen bow section to house the large Irtysh spherical sonar prototype. At some point, K-403 was fully disarmed, with the bow torpedo tubes also removed.

Identification of K-403 based on wikipedia article on Yankee Class, which lists this boat as dismantled in the nearby drydock, in 2010. This boat was in multiple Severodvinsk captures 2004-2010.

The Kazan then served as the test-bed for the Irtysh/Amfora sonar system. THe trials must have been successful, as the system is fitted to current Project 885M (NATO Yasen-M) Nuclear Cruise Missile/Attack boats. K-403 was reportedly decommissioned around 2004 and scrapped at Severodvinsk in 2010. K-403 and K-411 (another oddity-a heavily modified, stretched mothership) were the last of the Yankees known to exist.

Soviet / Russian Subs Spotted on the Surface!

Shipsearcher staff have been busy looking into the inlets around Murmansk and Vladivostok for large Russian submarines. We’ve found some nice satellite captures of boats to share in a new page on Russian submarines.

Oscar II Pacific Fleet 2018 test

Oscar II class submarine, showing the wide breadth, 1994 NARA: 330-CFD-DN-SN-96-00408

Many, like the enormous Typhoon Class of Hunt for Red October fame, are resurrected dinosaurs of the Cold War, while some are new and terrifying breeds.Typhoon TK208 Sevmash 2018

Featured in the page are nuclear boats that have been the subject of media speculation, such as the World’s longest submarine, the special mission heavily modified Oscar II class Belgorod, and the Losharik deep submergence mini-sub. These are some of the biggest and scariest subs active today. We hope you enjoy these views, just remember, in Soviet Russia, submarine submerges YOU!!