Delta III-class submarine

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Delta III class SSBN.svg
A Delta III-class submarine
Class overview
Name: Delta III class

Severnoye Mashinostroitelnoye Predpriyatie

Operators: Soviet Union, Russia
Preceded by: Delta II class
Succeeded by: Delta IV & Typhoon classes
Subclasses: Project 09786 special purpose submarine
Completed: 14
Active: 3
General characteristics [1][2]
Type: Submarine
  • Surfaced: 10,600 tons
  • Submerged: 13,700 tons
Length: 155 m (509 ft)
Beam: 11.7 m (38 ft)
Draught: 8.7 m (29 ft)
  • Operational: 320 m (1,050 ft)
  • Maximum: 400 m (1,300 ft)
Propulsion: Reactor system OK-700A (two VM-4S (2*90 MW) PWR) powering 2 steam turbines delivering 44,700 kW (59,900 shp) to 2 five-bladed fixed pitched shrouded propellers
  • Surfaced: 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)
  • Submerged: 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph)
Range: Unlimited, except by food supplies
Complement: 40 officers, 90 enlisted
  • 16 × RSM-50 R-29R "Vysota" missiles
  • 4 × bow 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes
  • 16 torpedoes (SET-65, SAET-60M, 53-65K, 53-65M)

The 667BDR Kaľmar (Squid) Delta III-class submarine is a large ballistic missile submarine operated by the Russian Navy. Like other previous Delta-class submarines, the Delta III class is a double-hulled design, with a thin low magnetic steel outer hull wrapped around a thicker inner pressure hull.


The technical description and requirements for a new ballistic missile submarine were published in 1972. Development of Project 667BDR was begun at the Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering[3] under the direction of main designer Sergeiy Nikiticz Kovalev (Сергей Никитич Ковалёв). The submarine was to be a successor to the project 667BD. The Delta III-class subs are significantly quieter and have a higher missile section for newer, longer-ranged missiles.

The hull is divided into ten waterproof sections. The first, third, and tenth sections are emergency sections with escape hatches and transverse struts added to increase pressure resistance. A new modular freon firefighting system was installed. A solarium and gymnasium were to be installed to improve living conditions.

The main propulsion system, OK-700A, consists of two pressurized water reactor VM-4S (2*90 MW) with two steam turbines giving 60,000 shaft horsepower (45,000 kW) to two five-bladed, fixed-pitch shrouded propellers with improved hydro-acoustic characteristics. Two back-up TG-3000 turbogenerators were also installed. Average period between refuelling and overhaul is about ten years.

The Delta III class are fitted with a new sonar system, the MGK-400 Rubikon (in submarine K-424, the older MGK-100 Kerch was installed), developed under the leadership of main designer S.M. Shelechov. The Rubikon can operate in infrasound frequencies, and contains automated systems for target classification. Its maximum range in ideal hydrologic conditions is about 200 km (120 mi). The Delta III class are equipped with a new battle management system, the Almaz-BDR (or MVU-JZBDR) torpedo fire control. For improved stealthiness, a new inertial navigation system, Tobol-M-1 (on newer ships Tobol-M-2), with higher accuracy, was installed. Tobol-M works with data from two observatories which are saved for two days, and also contains a hydro-acoustic navigational station (Shmeľ or "Bumblebee"), which allows the submarine to determine its position from hydro-acoustic buoys. The Delta III class includes the Molnija-M communications system, with satellite capabilities provided by the Tsunami subsystem.

In February 1973, State Rocket Center Makayev began development of a new two-stage liquid-fueled ballistic missile R-29R (3M40, RSM-50, SS-N-18). Improvements in the R-29R over the original R-29 include MIRVed capability and upgraded inertial navigation system with satellite-assisted navigation, giving the new missile greater accuracy (~900 m (3,000 ft)), increasing its damage potential against all types of military targets whether "soft" or "hard." Fire control for the R-29R is achieved through the D-9R ballistic missile system, which contains sixteen SLBM tubes, just like the preceding Project 667BD. The Delta III class most often carried 16 of the R-29R (height: 16.635 m (54.58 ft); diameter: 1.8 m (5.9 ft); starting weight: 36.3 tons) missiles each carrying 3 MIRVs (0.2 мт each) with a range of about 6,500 km (4,000 mi). They also can carry R-29RK with 7 (0.1 мт) MIRVs and range of about 6,500 km or R-29RL with single (0.45 мт) warhead and range of about 9,000 km (5,600 mi). Coupled with the R-29R's capabilities and the performance of the D-9R, the Russian Navy possesses, for the first time, the ability to launch any number of its missiles in a single salvo with shorter launch intervals.

The submarines have four 533mm bow torpedo tubes and carry sixteen torpedoes of types SET-65, SAET-60M, 53-65K, 53-65M, or any combination thereof.


The first ship of the class, K-424, was laid down on 30 January 1974 in Severnoye Mashinostroitelnoye Predpriyatie (Sevmash), Severodvinsk, as the last ship of the Delta II class. During construction the new D-9R missile system was integrated into the Delta II hull without any changes in other equipment. The ship was launched on 11 February 1976 and passed sea trials in November 1976. Then tests of the new missile system were started in the White and Barents Seas; 22 missiles were launched (four R-29PL, six R-29R, twelve R-29RK) and the missile system was commissioned in September 1978.

Most submarines served in the Pacific fleet at Rybachiy submarine base near Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Seven under-ice Arctic voyages and two along the Southern territories were completed to 1980. Under-ice voyages were very difficult. In some places the depth of the sea is less than 50 metres (160 ft) and the thickness of ice about 15 metres (49 ft). That gives only a few metres around the submarine. Such a voyage can be performed only by manual steering, which imposes a great burden on the crew and commander.

Two submarines served in the Northern Fleet at the Gazhiyevo submarine base and three at the Olenya submarine base. From the 1990s all the Northern Fleet subs were stationed at Gazhiyevo.

All Delta III-class submarines passed general overhaul refuelling and upgrade in Zvezdochka shipyard, Severodvinsk, or in Zvezda shipyard, Bolshoy Kamen, since 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed. An upgraded missile system, D-9R, with lightly modified R-29R missiles, was delivered from 1987 to 1990. On some ships the sonar station Avrora-1 was installed.

Most of the ships were decommissioned from 1995, when their next overhaul became due. Only the newest submarine, K-44 Ryazan, had a second general overhaul and refuelling during 2005–2007, which gives it a potential service life to 2017.

In 1994–2002 the submarine K-129 was rebuilt in Zvezdochka shipyard to be a special purpose submarine of Project 09786 (carrier of mini submarine) and renamed as BS-136 Orenburg.

On 30 September 2008, a Russian Navy spokesman reported that Ryazan had successfully completed a 30-day transit from a base in northern Russia under the Arctic ice cap to the Rybachiy submarine base, Kamchatka Peninsula. The Navy added that Ryazan would soon be assigned to regularly patrol the Pacific Ocean.[4] As of July 2008, six Delta III boats were active, of which two were believed to be in the process of decommissioning.[5]

Sections of pressure hull[edit]

  1. forward torpedo section
  2. battery and forward habitable section
  3. command and control section
  4. forward missile section
  5. rear missile section
  6. auxiliary mechanism and rear habitable section
  7. nuclear reactor section
  8. forward turbine section
  9. rear turbine section
  10. stern section


Delta III class — significant dates
# Shipyard Name Laid down Launched Commissioned Fleet Status
K-424 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk NA 30 January 1974 11 February 1976 30 December 1976 Northern Decommissioned 28 March 1995 for scrapping[6]
K-441 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk NA 7 May 1974 25 May 1976 31 October 1976 Pacific Decommissioned 28 March 1995 for scrapping[6]
K-449 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk NA 19 July 1974 29 July 1976 5 February 1977 Pacific in reserve from 1996,[6] decommissioned in 2001, scrapped 2008
K-455 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk NA 16 October 1974 16 August 1976 30 December 1976 Pacific in reserve from 1998–99,[6] probably decommissioned
K-490 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk NA 6 March 1975 27 January 1977 30 September 1977 Pacific in reserve from 1998–99,[6] probably decommissioned
K-487 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk NA 9 June 1975 4 April 1977 27 December 1977 Northern in reserve from 1998–99,[6] probably decommissioned
K-496 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Borisoglebsk 23 September 1975 13 August 1977 30 December 1977 Northern[6] decommissioned on 9 December 2008,[7] fuel discharged.[8]
K-506 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Zelenograd 29 December 1975 26 January 1978 30 November 1978 Pacific Removed from service in 2010, Decommissioned in June 2010
K-211 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy 19 August 1976 13 January 1979 28 September 1979 Pacific Removed from active service in Dec 2010, in reserve 2012 [9]
K-223 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Podolsk 19 February 1977 30 April 1979 27 November 1979 Pacific Active 2012 [10]
K-180 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk NA 27 December 1977 8 January 1980 25 September 1980 Pacific[6] In reserve from 2004, Scrapped in 2008 [11]
K-433 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Svyatoy Georgiy Pobedonosets 24 August 1978 20 June 1980 15 December 1980 Pacific Active 2012,[12] Successfully tested ballistic missile in Oct 2010.[13]
BS-136 (ex K-129) SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Orenburg 9 April 1979 15 April 1981 5 November 1981 Northern 1994–2002 – conversion to special purpose submarine Project 09786 (carrier of minisubmarine). Active as of 2008 [14]
K-44 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Ryazan 31 January 1980 19 January 1982 17 September 1982[15] Pacific Overhauled in 2007 and in 2012-2016. Active 2017[16][17]