40 years ago the USSR decided to build the longest submarine in the world with 175 meters. It is still active today

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Around the 1970s, in the midst of the Cold War, the USSR decided to make its naval power clear by ordering the largest submarines in history. She named them class 941 Akula —name later changed by NATO to Typhoom— and endowed them with measures that even today, more than 40 years later, are still breathtaking: 23 meters wide and more than 170 long, a length that exceeds that of Seville Tower lying down With such a display and to settle discussions, in the 90s the Guinness World Records officially named them the largest submarines in the world.

Since the first of the Akula-class ships rolled out of the Severodvinsk shipyards in 1980, a lot has happened. Among them, the end of the USSR itself, the millennium jump and a change of scenery that has made those titans of the seas, although impressive, today much less practical and profitable. As detailed by Military-TodayBetween the latter half of the 1990s and the early 2000s, five of the Project 491 Akula submersibles were decommissioned, scrapped, or inactivated. Another, directly, was not even completed and ended up discarded.

Does that mean it’s lost the Guinness Record from the depths of the oceans? Not quite. Or not at least for decades, until practically the day before yesterday. Despite the passing of decades, the end of the USSR and even the fate of the rest of his brothers, there is still an Akula who considers himself active. This was pointed out in 2021 the Russian state agency TASS and The Barents Observer just a few months ago, this very Januarywhen he published that his last representative was assigned to the Belomorsk base and was used as a platform for testing weapons.

A colossus “made in USSR”

That survivor of the Akula family is called Dmitry Donskoy (TK-208) and for decades he has stood out as the largest submarine in the world, 175 meters long and 25 wide. Today he is overshadowed by K-329 Belgorodan impressive nuclear submersible with a hull of 178 meters – some raise the figure above 180m— and who first went to sea less than a year ago, mid 2021. According to TASS, the record of titan of the depths now corresponds to him. K-329 Belgorod is the result of the adaptation of a ship from the 90s and, accurate Navy Recognitionin January it was expected that he would pass to the Navy this summer.

The fact that we can soon see the emergence of a slightly larger ship does not detract from the merits of Dmitry Donskoy TK-208, a legacy of the USSR and that, despite its longevity and historical changes, still listed in many rankings as the largest submersible in the world. Its size is a credit to the Soviet engineers and the effort they put into designing the Akula class. It is believed that they can descend to a depth of 400 metersremain maneuvering for 120 days, accommodate around 160 people and reach a submerged speed of about 50 kilometers per hour.

Like its siblings, the TK-208 wasn’t built—or that’s not its only purpose, at least—to break into the record books or amaze with its size. When Moscow commissioned it he wanted to have a weapon that could compete with the US Navy Ohio Submersibles, capable of carrying up to 192 100-kiloton nuclear warheads. For that reason, the Akula went also equipped with ballistic missiles. Another of his great strengths is, without a doubt, his ability to maneuvering in frigid regionsLike the Arctic ice pack.

The most curious thing about the Akula is that the oldest of their submersibles has turned out to be precisely the oldest. The Dmitry Donskoy was the first to hit the water. It was launched in September 1980two years before its brother the TK-202 and ten years before the TK-20, a model that, despite having reached the sea at the end of 1989, ended up disarming in 2004. That peculiarity is closely related to its own history. Barely a decade after its premiere, in 1990 the TK-208 returned to the dry dock to undergo a fine-tuning that lasted until 2002.

There are yachts so big that they have their own fleet of yachts (and helicopters and submarines)

When she sailed the oceans again, she was already a completely adapted with the latest hardwareequipped with launchers for the most advanced ballistic missiles and —just as important— renamed with the name with which we know it today: from TK-208, without further ado, it became known as Dmitry Donsky, a tribute to the homonymous Russian saint and hero. Over time the ship fitted with RSM-56 Bulava missiles and came to occupy an important place in the catalog of the Kremlin, which came to use its capabilities to test its new intercontinental ballistic missiles.

How many years of history does the Cold War veteran have left? In 2021, TASS quoted military sources as saying that, at a minimum, will remain active until 2026. Five more years of life for a colossus that was impressive 40 years ago, when the world slept on alert, stressed by the Cold War; and it continues to do so today, in the middle of 2022, with the pending planet of Ukraine.

Images | Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

Around the 1970s, in the midst of the Cold War, the USSR decided to make its naval power clear by…

Around the 1970s, in the midst of the Cold War, the USSR decided to make its naval power clear by…

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