Defuelling of Alfa class subs suspended indefinitely

Publish date: October 23, 1997

Written by: Igor Kudrik

Defuelling of the remaining nuclear powered submarines of Alfa class is suspended indefinitely, due to the dry dock in the Alfas' original home base in Gremikha on the Kola Peninsula - the SD-10 - being in need of repairs, while no funding is available.

According to the official returns from the Technical Department of the Russian Navy in Moscow, dry dock SD-10 has been taken out of operation. During World War 2 this dock was blasted into the mountain from the seaward side in Gremikha. It was later rebuilt to accommodate refuelling activities of Project 705 – Alfa class submarines with liquid metal cooled reactors.

In 1995 the dry dock started to leak water inside. Several attempts to repair the facility failed. At last the Navy had to take the dock officially out of operation in 1997. The cost to repair the dock amounts to 5,5 million USD, which has not been provided so far. The situation is aggravated by the fact that the repairs can be conducted only 4 months a year due to the severe climate in the area.

There were seven submarines of Alfa class built in the Soviet Union. All of them are currently taken out of operation. In addition, one submarine of November class was outfitted with two liquid metal reactors. This submarine was dumped in the shallow waters on the eastern side of Novaya Zemlya. Two reactor cores from this submarine are also stored in Gremikha.

All in all, there are 6 liquid metal reactor cores in Gremikha’s storage facility. Two submarines of Alfa class and one reactor compartment (located in Saida-guba on the Kola Peninsula) still have fuel inside the reactors. These three objects were to be defuelled, although this operation now is postponed for an unspecified period of time.