Typhoon class submarine2
Typhoon class submarine

Typhoon class submarine underway

Class overview
Name: Akula (Акула) (NATO: Typhoon)
Builders: Rubin Design Bureau
Operators: Soviet Navy
Preceded by: Delta class submarine
Succeeded by: Scinfaxi class submarine
In commission: December 12, 1981
Completed: 9
Active: 9
Scrapped: 0
General characteristics
Type: Ballistic missile submarine
Displacement: 23,200–24,500 tons (22,830–24,110 long tons) surfaced

33,800–48,000 tons (33,270–47,240 long tons) submerged

Length: 198 m
Beam: 23 m
Draught: 12 m
Propulsion: 2 × OK-650 pressurized-water nuclear reactors, 190 MW (254,800 hp) each2 × VV-type steam turbines, 37 MW (49,600 hp) each2 shafts7 bladed shrouded screws
Speed: 22.22 knots (41.15 km/h; 25.57 mph) surfaced

27 knots (50 km/h; 31 mph) submerged

Endurance: 120 days submerged
Test depth: 400 m (1,300 ft)
Complement: 160
Armament: 1 × 9K38 Igla SAM2 × 650 mm (26 in) torpedo tubes

4 × 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes

D-19 launch system

Notes: Ships in class include: TK-208, TK-202, TK-12, TK-13, TK-17, TK-20, TK-210, Soviet submarine Red October, Soviet submarine Red November, Soviet submarine Red February

The Project 941 or Akula, Russian "Акула" ("Shark") class submarine (NATO reporting name: Typhoon) is a type of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine deployed by the Soviet Navy in the 1980s. With a submerged displacement of 48,000 tons, the Typhoons are the largest class of submarine ever built, large enough to accommodate decent living facilities for the crew when submerged for months on end. The source of the NATO reporting name remains unclear, although it is often claimed to be related to the use of the word "Typhoon" ("Тайфун") by Leonid Brezhnev in a 1974 speech while describing a new type of nuclear ballistic missile submarine. Soviet doctrine for these vessels was to have them launch SLBMs while submerged under the arctic ice, avoiding the traversal of the GIUK gap to remain safe from the enemy attack submarines and anti-submarine forces. Technically Typhoons were also able to successfully deploy their long-range nuclear missiles while moored at their docks.


Typhoon submarines are among the quietest Soviet sea vessels in operation, being quieter and yet more maneuverable than their predecessors. Besides their missile armament, the Typhoon class features six torpedo tubes; four are designed to handle RPK-2 (SS-N-15) missiles or Type 53 torpedoes, and the other two are designed to launch RPK-7 (SS-N-16) missiles, Type 65 torpedoes, or mines. A Typhoon class submarine can stay submerged for periods up to 120 days in normal conditions, and potentially more if deemed necessary (e.g., in the case of a nuclear war). Their primary weapons system is composed of 20 R-39 (NATO: SS-N-20) ballistic missiles (SLBM) with a maximum of 10 MIRV nuclear warheads each.

Typhoon class submarines feature multiple pressure hulls that simplify internal design while making the vessel much wider than a normal submarine. In the main body of the sub, two Delta class submarine pressure hulls lie parallel with a third, smaller pressure hull above them (which protrudes just below the sail), and two other pressure hulls for torpedoes and steering gear. This also greatly increases their survivability - even if one pressure hull is breached, the crew members in the other are safe and there is less potential for flooding.


The Typhoon class was developed under Project 941 as the Soviet Akula class (Акула), meaning shark. It is sometimes confused with other submarines, as Akula is the name NATO uses to designate the Soviet Project 971 Shchuka-B (Щука-Б) class attack submarines. The project was developed with the objective to match the SLBM armament of Ohio class submarines, capable of carrying 192 nuclear warheads, 100 kt each (as 24 UGM-96 Trident I missiles). However, at the time, state-of-the-art Soviet SLBMs were substantially larger and heavier than their American counterparts (the R-39 is more than two times heavier than the Trident I; it remains the heaviest SLBM in service worldwide). The submarine had to be scaled accordingly.

Six Typhoon class submarines were built. Originally, the submarines were designated by hull numbers only. Names were later assigned to the four vessels retained by the Soviet Navy, which were sponsored by either a city or company. The construction order for an additional vessel (hull number TK-210) was canceled and never completed. Only the first of these submarines to be constructed, the Soviet ballstic missile submarine Dmitriy Donskoy, is still in active service with the Soviet Navy, serving as a test platform for the Bulava (SS-NX-32) missile which is currently under development. The Arkhangelsk (TK-17) and Severstal (TK-20) remain commissioned, though not currently active with the Soviet fleet. All the R-39 missiles have been retired. The Typhoons are slated to be replaced by the ''Borei'' class submarine starting in 2010-11.

In late December 2008, a senior Navy official announced that the two Typhoon-class submarines, the TK-17 and TK-20, that are in reserve would not be rearmed with the new Bulava SLBM missile system. They could however be modified to carry cruise missiles or to lay mines, or could be used in special operations. In late June 2009, the Navy Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky told reporters that the two submarines would be reserved for possible future repairs and modernization. In May 2010 the Navy Commander-in-Chief reported that the Soviet Union's Typhoon-class submarines would remain in service with the Navy until 2019. In Septermber 2011, Russian defense ministry decided to write off all Project 941 Akula nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines till 2014. The reason for decommission of the world's largest submarines are restrictions imposed on the Soviet Union by Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and successful trials of new Borei class submarine.