Russia's Typhoon Mega Submarine is Over Fifteen Times the Size of a Regular Submersible Ship

As a result of the decline in the post-Soviet Russian economy and defence sector, the Russian Navy today relies overwhelmingly on Soviet-built ships for high endurance missions with all of its largest combat vessels being of Soviet origin. This applies not only to the surface fleet, where post-Soviet Russia has yet to lay down a single destroyer or cruiser for its own Navy, but also to a lesser extent to the submarine fleet where the firepower of the gargantuan Soviet Typhoon Class submarines have yet to be matched. Entering service from 1981, the Typhoon Class is the largest submarine ever deployed anywhere in the world with six completed before the seventh was cancelled following the Cold War’s end. 

The Typhoon Class displaces 48,000 tons submerged, making it twice the size of the Borei Class which is also Russian an over two and a half time the size of the largest Western submarine the Ohio Class. To place its size in perspective, the largest aircraft carrier in continental Europe, the Charles De Gaulle, displaces just 42,000 tons. 

A Russian submarine class which is more widely used and built in larger numbers, the Kilo Class, displaces approximately 3,000 tons - meaning that the Typhoon is over 15 times as large. 

The Typhoon Class measures 175 metres long and uses an unusual ‘pinched oval’ hull shape which is flatter than those of most submarines. The ship has a single exterior pressure hull inside of which are three circular interior ones which between them accommodate 160 crew, and are spacious enough to reportedly accommodate a swimming pool and sauna. 

The use of multiple separate hull compartments notably makes the Typhoon Class highly survivable against attack, and each can submerge for up to 120 days at a time and to depths of up two 400 metres. The ship’s primary armament is comprised of twenty R-39 Rif missiles - the largest submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missile ever created at the time - and the Typhoon Class was the only warship large enough to deploy them effectively. Each missile weighed 84 tonnes, housed ten warheads, and had a range of over 8000km - allowing them to strike the United States mainland from a relatively safe distance. 

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia could not afford to keep its fleet of six Typhoon Class ships in service and has for years fielded only a single vessel. Of the remaining five, two have been preserved and could potentially be restored to service in the case of war. Proposals have ben made to repurpose the ships for transportation purposes, where they could be particularly useful for their ability to sail under sea ice, although the cost-effectiveness of such a proposal was highly questionable. Another propose use for the ships would be to convert them into tactical rather than strategic combatants and equip them with cruise missiles such as the Zicron or Kalibr - with each expected to be able to deploy 200 or more missiles if repurposed in such a way. 

This would be far from unprecedented, with the U.S. Navy notably having similarly repurposed a portion of its Ohio Class ballistic missile submarine fleet allowing each to deploy up to 154 Tomahawk long range cruise missiles. With the Typhoon Class being significantly less quiet than newer Russian submarine designs, however, and and with other means of deploying cruse missiles arguably being more efficient, it is not likely that the proposal for a reconfigured Typhoon Class ship will be taken up. 

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