Russia’s new special mission submarine, K-329 ‘Belgorod’ built to carry the nuclear powered and nuclear weapon-tipped Poseidon drones, has commenced its sea trials.
On June 25, this submarine of Project 09852 began the manufacturer’s sea trials in the White Sea, government-owned TASS reported citing sources.
State trials of Belgorod will begin once the manufacturer’s trials are completed.
There was no confirmation of the Belgorod’s trials from the Russian MoD. Even the normally active Russian media was silent on the topic.
K-329 Belgorod strategic submarine is attached to the Oscar II class (NATO designation. It was launched in April 2019 and its active commissioning is expected around the end of the year 2021.
With a hull estimated to be 178 meters, longer than the Typhoon submarines of the Cold War, ”Belgorod” is the longest submarine ever built anywhere in the world, and the largest in tonnage built at the Sevmash yard since the last Typhoon submarine was commissioned in 1989.
As per Western media reports, Belgorod will combine two seemingly contradictory roles. The first is as a host submarine (read ‘mothership’) for deep diving nuclear powered midget submarines. These are capable of working on cables and other objects on the sea floor. The concern in NATO is that these could include the undersea internet cables connecting Western countries. This is termed a ‘special mission’ in navy parlance (which is full of euphemisms for covert activities).
The second role is one of nuclear strike and deterrence. For this, the vessel will be armed with six ‘2м39′ Poseidon torpedoes. These are a whole new category of weapon not fielded by any another navy. They have been described as ‘Intercontinental Nuclear-Powered Nuclear-Armed Autonomous Torpedoes’. At over 20 meters (65 feet) long they are in effect they are giant underwater drones with practically unlimited range and a nuclear warhead. And their expected performance (around 70 knots and 1,000 meters depth) mean that they cannot be countered with existing weapons.
The Poseidon drones are meant to give an edge to Russia in terms of their ability to carry out limited nuclear strikes thousands of miles from launch.