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The Deadliest Submarine the USSR Ever Built

The Deadliest Submarine the USSR Ever Built

Stealthy and absolutely deadly, submarines
are a navy’s worst nightmare…and the world has seen some very large submarines. But which is the biggest submarine ever built? Join us as we go back to the end of the Cold
War to investigate, in this episode of The Infographics Show, the largest submarine ever
built. As part of the nuclear triad, submarines represent
one of three nuclear deterrent forces for a modern nation, the first two being land-based
ICBMs and nuclear-capable bombers. Their ability to cruise the world’s oceans
undetected, and- if nuclear-powered- stay submerged for months, makes them the most
survivable element of the nuclear triad, almost completely immune to a pre-emptive first strike. Thus, it’s no surprise that both the Soviet
Union and the United States invested heavily into their underwater forces. Getting wind in the early 70s of the United
States’ plans to build a new fleet of ballistic missile subs, specifically the Ohio class,
Soviet military planners began drawing up their own plans for an even more formidable
nuclear missile submarine of their own. With the US’s advantages in anti-submarine
warfare and more advanced submarine technology, the Soviets decided that it would be best
to build a sub that could operate relatively close to home where it could be protected
by friendly air and naval power. Thus plans were laid down to build a sub that
could operate under the Arctic Circle- still within range of other Soviet military assets-
and break through the ice to deliver its nuclear payload. Yet this presented several challenges, as
the sub itself would need to be robust enough to break through thick winter ice, and would
need extra ballast in order to float the added mass. Being so far from the continental US, the
missiles this sub would carry would also need to be larger than average to accommodate for
the extra stages and fuel to reach targets as far south as New Orleans from the frigid
north pole. Thus the Akula, or Typhoon-class was born. An absolute monster of a submarine, the Akula
featured reinforced double hulls that could punch through several feet of solid ice, and
huge ballast tanks to allow it to raise and lower its heavy bulk through the water. At 564 feet (172 meters), the Akulas were
only four feet longer than the American Ohio-class, but with a beam of seventy-four feet versus
the Ohio’s forty-two feet, each Akula was nearly twice as wide as their American counterparts! The massive bulk of the Akula class displaced
a whopping forty-eight thousand tons, or almost half of the United States’ modern USS Gerald
R. Ford Supercarrier, the largest warship ever built. Each Akula needed all of that extra space
in order to fit the massive R-39s, or as NATO designated them, the Sturgeon ballistic missiles. At a whopping 84 tons, each 53 foot (16 meter)
long missile carried up to ten independently targetable warheads with a variable yield
of 100-200 kilotons each. With each Akula-class sub carrying twenty
of these missiles, it gave them a warhead count of 200 versus the Ohio-class’s 192. In just one volley of ten missiles, a single
Akula submarine could strike at 100 targets, delivering a nuclear blast to each four to
six times larger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Though ultimately the Soviet Union ended up
building just six Akulas, these submarines alone could have devastated every single major
American city with bombs left over. With the Americans building 18 Ohio class
subs of their own, if they had partnered with their Akula rivals for a global strike, these
24 submarines working together could have brought the entirety of the world to nuclear
ruin, delivering 4,656 nuclear bombs, or between 400,000 to 900,000 kilotons of explosives. Like most nuclear subs, an Akula could technically
stay submerged for decades, needing to refuel only once every twenty years or so. Yet the needs of a human crew make this impossible,
thus limited by food supplies, an Akula sub could stay under the waves for up to 120 days. By comparison, their Ohio counterparts with
a smaller larder have a maximum endurance of 90 days before needing resupply. Depth was another area Soviet subs exceeded
their American counterparts in, and while this is still a classified figure, it is well
known that Soviet subs on average could dive 100-200 meters deeper than American subs. Yet while they may have been able to dive
deeper, and the Akula could have stayed out at sea for longer, Soviet subs were notoriously
noisy and relatively easy for their American counterparts to identify, with one American
sonar tech describing an Akula sub as sounding “like two metal trash cans being dragged
through the water”. While it was noisier than its American counterparts,
it would certainly have been a far more comfortable ship to serve aboard. On any American sub, space is an absolute
premium, and a luxury rarely afforded to the crew. Yet the massive Akulas afforded their crews
many luxuries absolutely unheard of in the American navy, to include arcade games, a
small pool, solarium, sauna, gym, and common area complete with various plants to help
the crew relieve stress. While American submariners often engage in
‘hot bunking’, with one crewman sleeping for 12 hours and then giving his bed to another
sailor for the next 12 hours, their Russian counterparts were enjoying hot saunas and
refreshing dips in a temperature regulated pool. Most people would have never heard of the
Akula class however, had it not been for Tom Clancy’s first novel, The Hunt for Red October. In the novel, a disillusioned Soviet captain
attempted to defect to the United States, bringing with them his modified Akula-class
sub, the Red October. Yet the fictional Red October was less famous
amongst elite Soviet military circles than a real Akula-class sub that nearly created
a global nuclear disaster. Only recently unclassified, TK-17, one of
the first Akula subs built, was ordered out to sea on September of 1991, with the goal
of test-firing one of its nuclear ballistic missiles. With the Soviet Union on the brink of collapse,
the test firing of the monster nuclear missile was meant to signal to the world that the
Soviet Union was still powerful and a force to be reckoned with. Yet what followed would mirror the reality
of the USSR’s political situation… A test missile with inert warheads was loaded
onto the TK-17, and the sub made for Arctic waters with the goal of firing the missile
so as to impact on Russia’s missile range on the Chukotka Peninsula. On September 27th, 1991, the sub moved into
launch depth and prepared to fire; yet, instead of boosting clear of the sub and towards the
surface, the missile experienced a catastrophic failure of its first stage rocket motor and
exploded in its launch tube. With the silo door blown completely off, the
launch compartment began to flood, threatening to sink the submarine. Captain Igor Ghriskov reacted immediately,
ordering the crew to blow the sub’s ballast tanks and thus send the boat speeding to the
surface. Once above the waves however, the crew discovered
that the test missile’s solid fuel propellant had scattered across the upper surface of
the sub’s missile farm, threatening to explode the 19 live nuclear missiles just inches underneath
the hull. Despite the crippling damage already sustained,
and not knowing if he would be able to resurface the submarine, Captain Ghriskov ordered his
crew to dive in an attempt to starve the fire of oxygen. Luckily for them, his plan succeeded, and
the sub, along with her 180 nuclear warheads, returned to port safely. Kept secret for over two decades, Captain
Ghriskov never received a medal or other commendation for his extraordinarily brave actions. His quick thinking and willingness to sacrifice
himself and his crew prevented what could have become the worst ecological disaster
in human history. Unfortunately, Soviet technical expertise
did not always match Soviet ambitions, but as the largest submarine ever built, the Akula
was an undersea leviathan, and several of its class remain in service. It’s deployment in the early 80s took Western
military observers by surprise, as they had not expected the USSR to have the ability
to build and launch such an ambitious vessel for another decade. With enough firepower to destroy a small country,
each Akula still in service remains a formidable deterrent to anyone who would threaten Russia
with their own nuclear weapons. So, would you ever serve aboard a submarine? Know anyone who has? Let us know more about it in the comments. Also, be sure to watch our other video called
the Smallest Aircraft Carrier In The World. Thanks for watching, and as always, don’t
forget to like, share and subscribe. See you next time!

Reader Comments

  1. What about the question – would you ever serve aboard a submarine? Know anyone who has? What was it like?

  2. Do you even know this topic? So, this infographic is supposed to be about the SSBN Akula (NATO designation "Typhoon")? But the pictures you've found depicts the SSN Shchuka-B (NATO designation "Akula").

  3. I can only imagine how sad American submariners are, imagining Russians enjoying arcade games, a dip in a temperature regulated pool, maybe a relaxing time in a sauna, and not to mention, personal space and there own beds. Poor Americans, they don’t even get there own beds.

  4. You got the image of the submarine in question confused up. What you're using in the video is what NATO classified as the Akula-class, while you're talking about what NATO classified as the Typhoon-class. While doing reasearch on submarines, maybe you should stick with NATO classification in order to avoid confusion?

  5. I was a navy sonar tech on the uss fox cg-33, They wanted me to go on a submarine seeing as i got perfect scores in every catagory but when i found out about the hot racking and only 1 shower for over 80 guys i was told i would get one shower a week if i was lucky, i just couldn't imagine what the smell of my bunk would be, let alone if anything ever happened i want to be able to jump off the ship not try to hold my breath for a few hours.I had no problem hunting subs from a surface ship,it was the hardest job i ever had and this video is right about how bad and loud the soviet subs were they just didnt have the money at the time most of the surface ships we saw they all had rust marks all over, I also got to learn of all the close calls and accidents that are never told to the public, So to answer your question no way! I still would not serve on a sub even now! Besides when they come back after a deployment they are just weird! All of them! not sure if it's not seeing the sun for 6 months or what ever! The surface fleet always said the submariners are a very odd group but very glad we have them!

  6. The russions just made a more deadly one it also has poison which kills anyone who touches the see within about 100 yards. Also a spike in front to put holes in ships and boats.

  7. In modern day the U.S and Russia has the same level of strength in militarty but once the Soviet Union reunite the U.S will look nothing like an ant to the rat

  8. New Orleans? Yeah, that definitely makes sense. Let's nuke all jazz clubs, French quarters and cajun gator restaurants ))))

  9. Nice job causing major confusion on the Typhoon/Akula. You should ONLY refer to it by it's NATO reporting name – Typhoon. The Russians call it Akulal. Here's the confusion; NATO also designated a different type of Soviet submarine as the Akula Class. So when you keep referring to the Typhoon as an Akula – you are confusing people. Because what the Russians call an Akula is not what NATO calls an Akula. Quit using the word "Akula" and only use "Typhoon".

  10. Why don't these subs carry a mini-sub so u can send that out to bring back more food if needed? Seems like a huge oversight, but I guess we all know if a WW3 breaks out it's the end of the world, at this point it's just lining billionaire pockets.

  11. 5:44 but not even that submarine was famous as the one that was just going to start a nuclear war on October 27th, 1962.

  12. Sabaton: makes a music for the most powerful battleship

    later in 2038 maybe

    Sabaton: Makes a music for the AKULA SUB

  13. Could you have maybe used a diagram of an actual Akula/Typhoon? Might be better for your video if you did.

  14. You highlighted just Russia and said the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union is more then just Russia, your suppose to be an education show so you should educate, highlight all the countries part of the Soviet Union not just Russia..

  15. This is now outdated.
    Belgorod is the new biggest submarine ever.
    It can carry 6 Poseidon (Status-6) nuclear powered unmanned underwater drone with warhead yield od 200 Megaton.
    With the combined power of 1.2 Gigaton (1200 Megaton).
    PS: Largest bomb ever detonated was Tsar bomb (58 Megaton) (It was designed to be 100 Megaton, but it was scaled down to 58 because of fear).

  16. Russia’s largest submarine built was the “Typhoon” example featured in hunt for red October, the “akula” class is a smaller version single reactor compare to the Typhoons dual reactor

  17. As a submarine vet i just wanted to correct something. This sub is the typhoon not akula class. Akula class or Type 6 subs were fast attack (hunter killers) and half the size. The sub you are talking about is the Type 7 or Typhoon class. At least thats how we classified them in US naval Intel.

  18. How about a stealthy nuclear sub with AI crew inside with icbm's? Something that can stay submerged for years

  19. what sorcery is this? I just watched the hunt for red october, finished only a few seconds ago. Opened youtube and this video is in my recommendations!

  20. The Akula and Typhoon are 2 different submarines. One has a single shaft, the other has two. One is a hunter-killer, like the Los Angeles and Seawolf classes, the other is a massive ballistic missile submarine (see Hunt for Red October movie). (Edit: The NATO designations are the ones I mentioned. I guess Typhoon's Russian name was Akula, so a bit confusing)

  21. Just to be clear USSR submarines have killed more people than most US subs are even capable of – usually by sinking themselves and taking their crews with them.

  22. America: high tech weapons
    Russia: deadly weapons

    America: robust defense

    Russia: robust offensive capabilities.

    America: A high tech soldier

    Russia: A deadly brave heart warriors.

    # imagine if Russia has 2/3 of the US defense budget. ( It would have out matched , USA, EU and India or USA ,China and India )

  23. bud the best subs are from Sweden, Norway and Nederlands they are stealthy make no noise and are not nuclear, they won not for nothing multiple war games where they destroyed full USA and nato feeds.

  24. I play World of Tanks Blitz, I suggest you play it!!

    Edit, I known infamous Typhoon class Russian subs are HUUUGE!

  25. No 12 hrs of sleep, Field day clean ups dirlls . 6hrs on duty 6 off . If you were not drilling or cleaning . Have gone 72hrs with out sleep once.

  26. You know that the US is basically Russias neighbour, right? Why are you drawing a line across the whole globe instead of just across the pacific ocean?

  27. The USA adopted much of the technology that was actually patented in Russia….such as the famous F22 and F35.Also Usa still trying to get its hands on a supercavitating torpedoes

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