Russian Navy takes delivery of the ‘doomsday’ submarine, and it’s the world’s largest
Could this mark a return to the Cold War Era in the seas?
By Ameya Paleja
Sevmash Shipyard, Russia’s largest shipbuilder, has confirmed that it has delivered the Belgorod, the world’s largest submarine, to the Russian Navy, CNN reported. While Russia and the shipbuilder claim that the submarine will be used for research purposes, experts warn that the real purpose of the vessel is espionage and launching nuclear weapons, making it the ‘doomsday’ submarine.
Russia has had a clear edge regarding staking claim to the next level of warfare. Last year, the country reported having launched hypersonic missiles when the U.S. trials were still going through a series of failures. Around the same time, Russia also revealed that its unmanned combat drone had entered the prototype stage and, later in the year, was preparing for its first flight.
While a new and large submarine may not sound like a massive leap forward, the Belgorod’s talking point is not just its size but what it can pack on the inside.
What makes Belgorod so special?
The design of the Belgorod is based on the Oscar II-class submarines that Russia uses for guided-missile submarines. At 608 feet (184 m), the Belgorod dwarfs the U.S. Navy’s Ohio-class submarines that are about 569 feet (171 m) long. Floated in 2019, the Belgorod was expected to be delivered by 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed the trials and testing, and the delivery happened only earlier this month.
Images of the submarine released to the media have always displayed the screws but the forward section of the vessel remains a mystery, UNSI News reported. Experts believe the largest submarine in the world has been specifically designed to carry the largest torpedo in the world, the Poseidon.
Information about the weapon is largely under wraps, but Poseidon is expected to be 20-30 times the size of a conventional torpedo and possess the capability to sneak past coastal defenses by traveling along the sea floor for hundreds of miles.
Worse still, the Poseidon, which is currently under design, is expected to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, to “inundate U.S. coastal cities with radioactive tsunamis” CNN quoted Christopher A. Ford when he was the assistant secretary of state for international security and non-proliferation in 2020. The ‘doomsday’ submarine Belgorod could end up carrying six or even up to eight such torpedos when they are ready in 2027.
The Cold War in the seas?
It is expected that Belgorod is the first of the four submarines Russia is building, each of which will be capable of carrying the Poseidon torpedos. While other countries may not build larger submarines to match the ‘doomsday’ submarine and its kind, they will definitely work to counter them, leading to a game of cat and mouse when the U.S. and Royal Navy join hands to hunt down the Russian submarines.
This could see a new Cold War in the Arctic, North Atlantic, and North Pacific, where Russia plans to deploy these large submarines. The submarine will be crewed by the Russian Navy but is expected to operate under the GUGI, the Main Directorate of the Deep-Sea Research organization.
Russia, however, has said that it plans to use the Belgorod, which is also expected to be equipped with midget submarines and submersibles for “scientific expeditions and rescue operations in the most remote areas of the world ocean,” CNN said in its report.
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