First Typhoon may be decommissioned next year

Publish date: December 8, 1998

Written by: Thomas Nilsen

According to U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, dismantling of the first Typhoon class submarine will start next year with economical assistance from the American CTR program. But officials at the Russian navy say to Bellona Web that they don't have any information about such dismantling.

The Typhoon is the largest nuclear powered submarine ever built, and each of the six submarines in the class holds 200 nuclear warheads. The first Typhoon submarine was put into operation in 1981 and the last one nine years ago, in 1989. Four of the Typhoons were taken out of active service in 1997, and are today laid up at their home base Nerpichya.

Senator Lugar is co-author of the federal U.S. Co-operative Threat Reduction program (CTR), which has spent about $2.4 billion since 1992 to reduce stocks of Cold War weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union, including the decommissioning of strategical nuclear powered submarines.

Lugar visited Russia in November, and said to US media, after his return from the naval shipyards in Severodvinsk, that the first Typhoon submarine will be dismantled next year with economical and technical support from the U.S. Severodvinsk is the city where the Typhoon submarines were built. In addition to the naval yards in Severodvinsk, the Safonovo naval yard near Murmansk is the only one with a dry-dock big enough to hold the 170 metres long Typhoon submarines. Lugar says the U.S. will provide $400 million in assistance to the former Soviet Union to eliminate nuclear weapons in 1999.

The only problem with the statement from Senator Lugar is that nobody in the Russian navy are ready to confirm any up-coming Typhoon decommissioning next year.

"This information is absurd. We don’t have such information, where did you hear it?" said the officer on duty at the Russian navy’s press centre in Moscow in a comment to Bellona Web. According to the navy press centre, it’s correct that four of the six Typhoons no longer are in active service, but no decision has been made on what to do with them. The navy is presently considering re-equipping the Typhoons with new strategical missiles.