01 February 2010

A Submarine Tour

This isn't what I was originally going to post about tonight, but I ran across this link to a big pile of pictures. It looks like someone got a tour of a true Cold War icon-a Soviet/Russian Navy Typhoon class nuclear missile submarine! I don't think it's Krasniy Oktyabr', though.

For those of you who remember the Cold War, the Typhoon class, or Akula (shark) class as it was known in Soviet service (and not to be confused with the class codenamed Akula by NATO) was a triple-hulled submarine-two pressure hulls side by side surrounded by the outer hull. It carried 20 ballistic missiles (more than enough to lay waste to any country), torpedoes, cruise missiles, and surface-to-air missiles. They were at one time the most feared weapon system in the Soviet arsenal.

Probably many of you have seen the movie The Hunt For Red October, based on Tom Clancy's book. The Typhoon was shown as a high-tech machine with enough lights and panels to outfit the starship Enterprise-very advanced.

I've toured a real Soviet submarine-an old Juliet class, 484, in Providence, Rhode Island (before the museum owners let the sub founder in a storm-idiots!). I've also been on numerous US fleet subs from the WWII era, many of which were updated and in service into the 1970s. To be honest, I wouldn't have sailed across the Mississippi River in that old Juliet. There was a lot of rough-looking metalwork on that sub, and electronics straight out of the 1940s. The American subs always have a 'finished' look as far as welds, piping, electrics, and overall layout.

As you 'tour' the Typhoon, you'll notice that whoever was on board had access to almost all of the ship except the crew's quarters-and right in the reactor room. You'll probably also note that the people at Paramount used a LOT of artistic license when designing their version of the Soviet submarine, because this ship looks nothing like what they thought it might.

Again, the electronics are simple, robust, and probably equivalent to an American boomer sub of the '40 For Freedom' built in the early 1960s. There are places where the exterior and interior are being attacked by rust and corrosion. The anechoic tile (the linoleum looking 'squares' on the outer hull) has gouges and pieces missing. The crews' head needs a scrub as it looks like something from a student sharehouse. The lathe in the ships' machine shop appears to be well used. Some of the paintwork looks like it was done by a blind man with a rag mop. Note also the exercise room, lounge, and tiny swimming pool.

The boat appears to have some sort of 'caretaker' crew on board him (Russian ships are always referred to in the masculine), but he doesn't appear to be ready to undertake any sort of major sea voyage, and certainly not a combat patrol. A submarine commander in any Western navy wouldn't let his or her vessel deteriorate so in peacetime, especially in port.

All that said, the Typhoon is still an impressive piece of machinery. It is a shame this vessel isn't in better condition. It would be fantastic if one of these giants could be kept as a museum ship. The Soviet Navy sent their crews out in some terrible deathtraps-the early Hotels, Echos, and Novembers weren't called 'Widowmakers' for no reason-but they were some brave men on both sides to go to sea in submarines.

Anyway, you can get to the pictures here:


yankeedog out.


  1. Nice post YD, loved those photos.
    One would hope that at least one of these beauties is fixed up for proper display somewhere...

  2. There's some pics in there that Naval Intelligence would have killed for-about 25 or so years ago.

    I was surprised by the crudity of some of the layout and machanical gear.