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Akula class submarine

Akula class submarine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Submarine Vepr by Ilya Kurganov crop.jpg
Class overview
Name: Akula
Operators: Soviet Navy Ensign Soviet Navy
Russian Navy Ensign Russian Navy
Indian Naval Ensign Indian Navy
Preceded by: Operational precedessor: Victor class
By sequence of construction: Sierra class
Succeeded by: Yasen class
Cost: est. $1.55 billion (1995 dollars)
In service: 1984
Planned: 21[1]
Completed: 15
Cancelled: 2
Active: 9 (8 In Russia, 1 In India)
Laid up: 1
Retired: 5
General characteristics
Type: nuclear-powered attack submarine
Displacement: surfaced:
8,140 tons Akula I and Akula I Improved
8,470–8,4500 tons Akula II and III
12,770 tons Akula I and Akula I Improved
13,400–13,800 tons Akula II and III
Length: 110.3 m for Akula I and Akula I Improved
113.3 m for Akula II and Akula III
Beam: 13.6 m
Draught: 9.7 m
Propulsion: one 190 MW OK-650B/OK-650M pressurized water nuclear reactor
1 OK-7 steam turbine 43,000 hp (32 MW)
2 OK-2 Turbogenerators producing 2,000 kW
1 seven-bladed propeller
2 OK-300 retractable electric propulsors for low-speed and quiet maneuvering at 5 knots (6 km/h)
Speed: 10 knots surfaced
28 knots submerged[2]
Endurance: 100 days[1]
Test depth: 480 m test depth for Akula I and Akula I Improved
520 m for Akula II and III
600 m maximum operating depth[3]
Complement: 73[4]
Sensors and
processing systems:
MGK-540 active/passive suite
Flank arrays
Pelamida towed array sonar
MG-70 mine detection sonar
Electronic warfare
and decoys:
Bukhta ESM/ECM
*MG-74 Korund noise simulation decoys (fired from external tubes)
MT-70 Sonar intercept receiver
Nikhrom-M IFF
Armament: 4 × 533mm torpedo tubes (28 torpedoes) and 4 × 650mm torpedo tubes (12 torpedoes) (K-152 Nerpa has 8 × 533mm torpedo tubes) 40 torpedoes total
1–3 × SA-N-10 Igla-M Surface-to-air missile launcher fired from sail (surface use only)
Notes: Chiblis Surface Search radar
Medvyedista-945 Navigation system
Molniya-M Satellite communications
MGK-80 Underwater communications
Tsunami, Kiparis, Anis, Sintez and Kora Communications antennas
Paravan Towed VLF Antenna
Vspletsk Combat direction system
Project 971 Щука-Б (Shchuka-B, 'Shchuka' meaning pike, NATO reporting name "Akula"), is a nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) first deployed by the Soviet Navy in 1986. There are four sub-classes or flights of Shchuka, consisting of the original seven "Akula I" submarines which were commissioned between 1984 and 1990, six "Improved Akula" submarines commissioned between 1991 and 2009, one "Akula II" submarine commissioned in 1995 and one Akula III commissioned in 2001.[citation needed] The Russians call all of the submarines Schuka-B, regardless of modifications.[5]
The name Akula (Акула meaning "shark" in Russian) is the Soviet designation of the ballistic missile submarine class designated by NATO as the Typhoon class submarine. It was used as the NATO designation because the first of class was K-284 Akula.



[edit] Background & History

Akula class SSN with descriptions

Side view of the sub

Akula class variants
The Akula incorporates a double hull system composed of an inner pressure hull and an outer "light" hull. This allows more freedom in the design of the exterior hull shape, resulting submarine with more reserve buoyancy compared to its western analogs. This design requires more power than single-hull submarines because of the greater wetted surface area, which increases drag.
The distinctive "bulb" or "can" seen on top of the Akula's rudder houses its towed sonar array, when retracted. Most Akulas have the SOCKS[citation needed] hydrodynamic sensors, which detect changes in temperature and salinity. They are located on the leading edge of the sail, on the outer hull casing in front of the sail and on the bottom of the hull forward of the sail. All Akulas have two T-shaped doors on the aft bottom of the hull, on either side[citation needed]. These are where the OK-300 auxiliary propulsion devises are located, which can propel the submarine at up to 5 knots (9.3 km/h).[citation needed]
All Akulas are armed with four 533 mm torpedo tubes which can use Type 53 torpedoes or the SS-N-15 Starfish missile, and four 650 mm torpedo tubes which can use Type 65 torpedoes or the SS-N-16 Stallion missile. These torpedo tubes are arranged in two rows of four tubes each. Improved Akulas, Akula IIs have an additional six 533 mm torpedo tubes mounted externally, capable of launching possibly up to 6 decoys each[citation needed]. The external tubes are mounted outside the pressure hull in one row, above the torpedo tubes, and can only be reloaded in port or with the assistance of a submarine tender. The 650 mm tubes can be fitted with liners to use the 533 mm weaponry. The submarine is also able to use its torpedo tubes to deploy mines.
It is the quietest Russian nuclear attack submarine in service; Russian sources claim that the noise radiated by the Akula-II class is comparable to that of the American Los Angeles class levels.

[edit] Current status

As with many Soviet/Russian craft, information on the status of the Akula Class submarines is sparse, at best. Information provided by sources varies widely.

[edit] Akula-I submarines (project 971)

Of the seven original Akula-I submarines, only three are known to still be in service. These boats are equipped with MGK-500 Skat sonar system (with NATO reporting name Shark Gill). The lead boat of the class, K-284 'Akula' was decommissioned in 2001, apparently to help save money in the cash-strapped Russian Navy. K-322 'Kashalot' and K-480 'Bars' [Currently Ak Bars] are in reserve. K-480 'Bars' was put into reserve in 1998,[1] and is being dismantled in February 2010.[6] 'Pantera' returned to service in January 2008 after a comprehensive overhaul.[7] All were retrofitted with the SOCKS hydrodynamic sensors except Volk. All submarines before K-391 Bratsk have reactor coolant scoops that are similar to the ones of the Typhoon class SSBNs, long and tubular. Bratsk and subsequent submarines have reactor coolant scoops similar to the ones on the Oscar IIs, short and (the Typhoon, Akula and Oscar classes use the similar OK-650 reactor).

[edit] Akula-I Improved submarines (project 971 and 971I)

The six Akulas of this class are all thought to be in service. They are quieter than the original MGK-500 Skat sonar system on Akula-I is upgraded to the MGK-501 Skat-MS. Sources also disagree as to whether construction of this class has been suspended, or if there are a further two units planned. Improved Akula-I Hulls: K-328 Leopard, K-461 Volk, K-154 Tigr, K-419 Kuzbass, K-295 Samara and K-152 Nerpa. These submarines are much quieter than early Akula class submarines and all have the SOCKS hydrodynamic sensors except Leopard.[8] The Akula-I Improved submarines have 6 533 mm decoy launching tubes, as do subsequent submarines. They have a different arrangement of limber holes on the outer hull than Akula Is. Nerpa and Iribis (not completed have a different rescue chamber in the sail.[citation needed] I can be distinguished by the large dome on the top surface.

[edit] Akula-II submarines (project 971U)

K-157 Vepr is the only completed Akula II[citation needed]. The Akula II is several meters longer and displaces about 700 tons (submerged displacement) more than the Akula I. The added space was used for additional quieting measures. The MGK-501 Skat sonar system on Akula-I is replaced to a new MGK-540 Skat-3 sonar system, which is claimed by its designers to be in the same class of American AN/BQQ-5/6, but is probably not as good. Also, the Akula II also has nothing like the American BSY-1 ASW integrated combat system. K-157 Vepr became the first Soviet submarine that was quieter than the latest U.S. attack submarines of that time, which was the Improved Los Angeles class (SSN 751 and later).[9] Two of these submarines were used to build the Borei class SSBNs.

[edit] Akula-III[citation needed] submarines (project 971M)

K-335 Gepard is the only completed Akula III (see table for others). It is longer and has a larger displacement compared to the Akula II. Also, it has an enlarged sail and a different towed-array dispenser on the vertical fin. Again, more noise reduction methods were employed. The Gepard is the most advanced Russian submarine before the submarines of the Severodvinsk and Borei classes are commissioned. One of this class was used to complete the Borei SSBNs.
The Soviet advances in sound quieting were of considerable concern to the West, for acoustics was long considered the most significant advantage in U.S. submarine technology compared to the Soviets.
In 1983–1984 the Japanese firm Toshiba sold sophisticated, nine axis milling equipment to the Soviets along with the computer control systems, which were developed by Norwegian firm Kongsberg Vaapenfabrik. U.S Navy officials and Congressmen announced that this technology enabled the Soviet submarine builders to produce more accurate and quieter propellers.[10] This is probably only partially true, given that the propellers for these submarines were designed long before the milling machines became available. Refinements in the reduction gear system and active noise cancellation systems are the primary reason the Akulas are quiet.[citation needed]
The command and control methods and also weapons for this later variant were centralised, with a high degree of automation, similar to the Project 705 Alfa SSN. This automation reduced crew numbers.[citation needed]

Akula class submarine underway
Due to the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, production of all Akulas slowed.
The 1999–2000 edition of Jane's Fighting Ships incorrectly listed the first Akula-II as Viper (the actual name is "Vepr", "wild boar" in Russian), commissioned November 25, 1995, Gepard (Cheetah), launched 1999 and commissioned December 5, 2001, and Nerpa, laid down in 1993[1] began sea trials in October, 2008 and was expected to be commissioned and leased to the Indian Navy as INS Chakra in late 2009.[11] Nerpa will be delivered to the Indian Navy by the end of 2011.

[edit] Units

Akula class—significant dates
# Project Name NATO Shipyard Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
K-284 971 Akula Akula I Amur Shipyard, Komsomolsk 6 November 1983 16 June 1984 30 December 1984 Pacific Fleet. 2001 removed from service[12]
K-263 971 Delfin Akula I Amur Shipyard, Komsomolsk 9 May 1985 28 May 1986 30 December 1987 Pacific Fleet, removed from active service, status unclear[12]
K-322 971 Kashalot Akula I Amur Shipyard, Komsomolsk 5 September 1986 18 July 1987 30 December 1988 Pacific Fleet, removed from active service, status unclear[12]
K-480 971 Ak Bars Akula I SEVMASH, Severodvinsk 22 February 1985 16 March 1988 31 December 1988 Northern Fleet. Removed from service 1998.[12] Scrapping since February 2010.[6]
K-391 971 Bratsk Akula I Amur Shipyard, Komsomolsk 23 February 1988 14 April 1989 29 December 1989 Pacific Fleet, removed from active service, status unclear[12]
K-317 971 Pantera Akula I SEVMASH, Severodvinsk 6 November 1986 21 May 1990 30 December 1990 Northern Fleet[12]
K-331 971 Magadan (ex Narval) Akula I Amur Shipyard, Komsomolsk 28 December 1989 23 June 1990 31 December 1990 Pacific Fleet[12]
K-461 971 Volk Akula I Improved SEVMASH, Severodvinsk 14 November 1987 11 June 1991 29 December 1991 Northern Fleet[12]
K-328 971 Leopard Akula I Improved SEVMASH, Severodvinsk 26 October 1988 28 June 1992 15 December 1992 Northern Fleet[12]
K-419 971 Kuzbass Akula I Improved Amur Shipyard, Komsomolsk 28 July 1991 18 May 1992 31 December 1992 Pacific Fleet[5]
K-154 971 Tigr Akula I Improved SEVMASH, Severodvinsk 10 September 1989 26 June 1993 29 December 1993 Northern Fleet[12]
K-295 971 Samara Akula I Improved Amur Shipyard, Komsomolsk 7 November 1993 5 August 1994 28 July 1995 Pacific Fleet[12]
K-157 971 Vepr' Akula II SEVMASH, Severodvinsk 13 July 1990 10 December 1994 25 November 1995 Northern Fleet[12]
K-335 971 M Gepard Akula II SEVMASH, Severodvinsk 23 September 1991 17 September 1999 5 December 2001 Northern Fleet[12]
K-337 971U Kuguar Akula II SEVMASH, Severodvinsk 18 August 1992 x x Not completed. Hull used for Yuri Dolgorukiy SSBN[12] (project 955 Borei)
K-333 971U Rys' Akula II SEVMASH, Severodvinsk 31 August 1993 x x Not completed. Hull used for Aleksander Nvesky SSBN[12] (project 955 Borei)
K-152 971I/09719 Nerpa Akula I Improved Amur Shipyard, Komsomolsk 1993 4 July 2006 28 December 2009 Pacific Fleet has been leased out to India from the end 2011 to 2020.[13]
K-xxx 971M not named Akula II SEVMASH, Severodvinsk 1992 x x Not Completed. Hull used for Vladimir Monomakh SSBN[12] (project 955 Borei)
K-xxx 971I/09719 Iribis Akula I Improved Amur Shipyard, Komsomolsk 1994 x x Construction halted at 60% completion
K-xxx 971M not named Akula II Amur Shipyard, Komsomolsk 1990 x x Sold for scrap[12]
K-xxx 971M not named Akula II Amur Shipyard, Komsomolsk 1991 x x Sold for scrap[12]

[edit] Lease to India

Three hundred Indian Navy personnel are being trained in Russia for the operation of the Akula I Improved submarine Nerpa. India has finalized a deal with Russia, in which at the end of the lease of these submarines, it has an option to buy them. The submarine will be named INS Chakra as was the previous India-leased Soviet Charlie-I SSGN.[14]
Whereas the Russian Navy's Akula-II could be equipped with 28 nuclear-capable cruise missiles with a striking range of 3,000 km (1,620 nmi; 1,864 mi), the Indian version was reportedly expected to be armed with the 300 km (162 nmi; 186 mi)-range 3M-54 Klub nuclear-capable missiles..[15] Missiles with ranges greater than 300 km (162 nmi; 186 mi) cannot be exported due to arms control restrictions, since Russia is a signatory to the MTCR treaty.

[edit] Nerpa 2008 accident

On 27 October 2008, it was reported that K-152 Nerpa of the Russian Pacific Fleet had begun her sea trials in the Sea of Japan before handover under a lease agreement to the Indian Navy.[11] On 8 November 2008, while conducting one of these trials, an accidental activation of the freon-based fire-extinguishing system took place in the fore section of the vessel. Within seconds the freon gas had displaced all breathable air from the compartment. As a result, 20 people (17 civilians and 3 seamen)[16][17] were killed by asphyxiation. Dozens of others suffered freon-related injuries and were evacuated to an unknown port in Primorsky Krai.[18] This was the worst accident in the Russian navy since the loss of the submarine K-141 Kursk in 2000. The submarine itself did not sustain any serious damage and there was no release of radiation.[19]
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