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Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies at MIPT

Submarines and Current Arms Control Challenges

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Updated August 18, 2003

Since 1992, our attention was continuously focused on problems of Russian sea based strategic forces, studying an impact of detectability of missile submarines on strategic stability, history of nuclear powered submarine development and problems of nuclear submarine disposal. This page contains the list of publications of the Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies on these issues and abstracts of the papers.

We thank W.Alton Jones Foundation for support of our Center's research projects.

Sea Based Strategic Forces

Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces

This chapter of the book covers the naval strategic forces, presenting the history of the development, design and production of submarines and submarine-based nuclear SLBMs; organization of submarine units at the Northern and Pacific fleets' naval bases; and high-sea patrolling procedures. The chapter also includes technical data on all Soviet/Russian submarines from the first diesel-powered V-67 of the AV-611 (Zulu IV 1/2) project of 1956, up to the two-nuclear-reactors 667 BDRM (Delta IV) armed with 4 to 10 MIRVed warheads 16 R-29RM missiles, the last of which entered service in 1990.

The paper analyzes the degrading state of affairs in Russia's sea based strategic forces. Though more than 1.5 years passed since the paper was published in 1996, the indicated tendencies remain to prevail. The headlines of the report  presented at the INESAP  Conference "Beyond the NPT: A Nuclear-Weapon Free World", held in Muelhime, Germany in November, 1994.

Detectability of Submarines.

The paper discusses the prospects of START II implementation by Russia; priorities, that should be given in developing Russia's strategic forces; the role of the sea based leg of the nuclear triad, capabilities of a potential adversary to detect, trail and preventively destroy Russian strategic submarines; basic principles of communication with Russian submarines; effectiveness of the sea based strategic forces compared to the deployed on land.

The author devoted most of his paper to the technical analysis of detectability of submarines. Estimates of SSBN generated noise levels as depending of submarine speed are made. Statistical evaluation of detection ranges of "Los Angeles" class submarines against Russian SSBNs in their patrolling areas is presented.

Navy News & Undersea Technology has published a review of the Center's paper.

The author argues against a biassed and  widely spread perception in Russia, that Russian SSBNs are vulnerable to U.S. antisubmarine capabilities. Estimates of maximum ranges at which a U.S. SSN can detect a Russian SSBN are given. It is interesting, that the presented data were frequently quoted in official naval publications, in particular, in "Three Centuries of the Russian Navy 1696-1996" /Ed. by Adm. I.V. Kasatonov, 1996 (v.3, p. 397). The paper presents estimates of detection ranges against Russian SSBNs in different environments such as ocean, shallow and Arctic seas. In this article, estimates are made, based on information available in the open technical literature, on the upper limits of the ranges, at which Russian SSBNs can be detected by U.S. attack submarines. In particular, it is shown, that it is implausible, that U.S. attack submarines would be able to trail covertly Russian SSBNs on a day-to-day basis in their patrol areas in the Barents Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk and the Marginal Ice Zones of the Arctic, provided that Russia applies advanced submarine silencing technologies and that the strategic submarines are properly maintained and operated.

Submarine Collisions and Restrictions on Antisubmarine Operations

The incident provides with another example, that continuing covert activity of U.S. submarines in the vicinity of Russian naval bases is dangerous and such operations can lead to considerable environmental accidents.
See also the answers to frequently asked questions. In this section, the point is made, that restrictions on strategic defensive systems should take into account the area of antisubmarine warfare as well. The authors of the study propose some specific ideas, that could be considered  within the frames of  START-3 negotiations. The paper analyses the plausible reasons, which lead to a Russian (of "Sierra" class) and a U.S. ("Baton Rouge") submarines collision incident in February, 1992. The author comes to the conclusion, that most likely, the reason was very short detection range of submarines, because of that both submarines operated covertly and did not use other means of detection except passive acoustics. There are no reliable means available to submarines that would allow them to operate both covertly and safely in such a complex environment as shallow waters. The collision illustrates that covert operations of foreign submarines close to Russian naval bases can create dangerous situations that may result in undesirable outcomes.

Nuclear Powered Submarine Disposal

The main problems of nuclear submarine disposal in Russia are discussed. In particular, the conclusion is made, that establishing a governmental agency with the sole responsibility to coordinate disposal projects, distribute the scarce financing and control the spending is desperately needed in order to solve these problems. Differences in existing practices of nuclear powered submarine inactivation and disposal in the U.S.A. and Russia are considered. The current situation in the both countries is presented. Some aspects of the US submarine inactivation and disposal program are outlined and shown to be useful for implementation in Russia. The first priority tasks are formulated. The authors suggest, that the necessary financing should be provided to accomplish these tasks.

From the History of Nuclear Submarine Development

Comments in an answer to the publication in weekly "Sobesednik" (N 13, April 8, 1999). The magazine published an article, where the expert of our Center was misquoted. The author discusses the Yuri Kuznezov's (who is a prominent member of the LDPR faction in the State Duma) arguments on historical lessons of submarine operations against surface ships. The paper tells about the development of nuclear powered submarines and ships in the U.S., the U.S.S.R. and other countries from the beginning until these days. The missions and armament of the nuclear powered submarines are discussed. The data on submarine classes, chronology and numbers of built are presented.

Non-Proliferation of Critical Technologies

The headlines of the report presented at the INESAP  Conference "Beyond the NPT: A Nuclear-Weapon Free World", held in Muelhime, Germany in November, 1994. The conclusion is made that, restrictions should be established on access to technologies which are critical for the production of stealthy, highly capable submarines and submarine weapons. Preferably, this would be carried out via the creation of an international regime, similar to MTCR.

The page is maintained by Eugene Miasnikov
© Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies at MIPT, 1999-2003.