Delta-class submarine

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A Delta IV-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine

The Delta class (Project 667B Murena, Project 667BD Murena-M, Project 667BDR Kalmar, Project 667BDRM Delfin) is a common name for a set of four types of submarines which formed the backbone of the Soviet and Russian strategic submarine fleet since their introduction in 1973. They carry nuclear ballistic missiles of the R-29 Vysota family, with the Delta I, Delta II, Delta III and Delta IV classes carrying the R-29 (NATO reporting name: SS-N-8 'Sawfly'), R-29D (SS-N-8 'Sawfly'), R-29R (SS-N-18 'Stingray') and R-29RM (SS-N-23 'Skiff') respectively. The Delta I class carried 12 missiles, while the Delta II class which are lengthened versions of the Delta I class carry 16 missiles. The Delta III and Delta IV classes carry 16 missiles with multiple warheads and have improved electronics and noise reduction.

The R-27 Zyb missile carried by the Project 667s of the late 1960s had a range of 2,500–3,000 km (1,553–1,864 mi), so the earlier submarines were forced to patrol close to the North American coast, whereas the Deltas could launch the over 7,700 km (4,785 mi)-range R-29s from the relative safety of the Arctic Ocean. In turn the Deltas were superseded by the larger Typhoon-class submarines. The early Deltas remained in service until the 1990s with treaties such as START I. High running costs and the retirement of the Typhoons' R-39 missiles meant that some Delta III-class submarines were reactivated in the 2000s (decade) to replace the Typhoons.

In December 2010 Pavel Podvig and estimated the strength of the Russian strategic submarine fleet at one Typhoon-class submarine (used to test the R-30 Bulava missile), four Delta III, six Delta IV class, and one Borei class.[1] They will ultimately be replaced by the new Borei-class submarines (also known as the Dolgorukiy class).


In the 1960s the Soviet Navy wanted new submarine-launched nuclear missiles that could threaten targets in North America without their launch platforms needing to pass the SOSUS sensors in the GIUK gap to be within range.[2]

Delta I (Project 667B Murena) 18 boats[edit]

Delta I class SSBN.svg
A Delta I-class submarine
Class overview
Name: Delta I class
Builders: Severodvinsk and Komsomolsk
Operators: Soviet Union
Preceded by: Yankee class
Succeeded by: Delta II class
Completed: 18
Retired: 18
General characteristics
  • Surfaced: 7,800 tons
  • Submerged: 10,000 tons
Length: 139 m (456 ft)
Beam: 12 m (39 ft 4 in)
Draught: 9 m (29 ft 6 in)
Propulsion: 2 pressurized water-cooled reactors powering 2 steam turbines driving 2 shafts and each developing 38.7 MW (51,900 shp)
  • Surfaced: 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
  • Submerged: 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph)
Range: Unlimited, except by food supplies
Complement: 120
  • D-9 launch tubes for 12 R-29 (SS-N-8 Sawfly) SLBMs
  • 4 × 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes
  • 2 × 400 mm (16 in) torpedo tubes

The Delta-class submarines could deploy on alert patrols in the marginal ice-seas of the Soviet Arctic littoral, including the Norwegian and Barents Seas. Consequently, unlike their predecessors, they no longer needed to pass through Western SOSUS sonar barriers to come within range of their targets. To improve the accuracy of the missiles, the Delta I-class submarines carry the Tobol-B navigation system and the Cyclone-B satellite navigation system.

After authorization of the development of the class in 1965, the first Delta I, K-279, was commissioned into the Soviet Northern Fleet on 22 December 1972. A total of 18 submarines of this class were built, and all served Soviet Navy, under the designation Project 667B Murena (eel).

In 1991, nine Delta I-class submarines were still in active service. Their decommissioning began in 1994, with removal of the missile compartments scheduled by 1997. All submarines of this class were taken out of service by 1998 and were scrapped by 2005.

Delta II (Project 667BD Murena-M) 4 boats[edit]

Delta II class SSBN.svg
A Delta II-class submarine
Class overview
Name: Delta II class
Builders: Severodvinsk
Operators: Soviet Union
Preceded by: Delta I class
Succeeded by: Delta III class
Completed: 4
Retired: 4
General characteristics
  • Surfaced: 9,350 tons
  • Submerged: 10,500 tons
Length: 155 m (508 ft 6 in)
Beam: 12 m (39 ft 4 in)
Draught: 9 m (29 ft 6 in)
Propulsion: 2 pressurized water-cooled reactors powering 2 steam turbines driving 2 shafts each developing 41 MW (55,000 shp)
  • Surfaced: 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
  • Submerged: 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph)
Range: Unlimited, except by food supplies
Complement: 130
  • D-9D launch tubes for 16 R-29D SLBMs
  • 4 × 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes
  • 2 × 400 mm (16 in) torpedo tubes

The Delta II-class submarine was a large ballistic missile submarine designed to remedy shortcomings in the Delta I-class submarine. The design was essentially the same, however the submarine was lengthened in the fourth and fifth compartments by 16 meters (52 ft) to allow the installation of four more missile tubes. The new type of Delta also received additional quieting measures including having the steam turbines mounted on shock absorbers, having all pipes and hydraulics separated from the hull through rubber insulation, and a special hydroacoustic coating being applied to the hull.[citation needed]

The NATO reporting name, Delta II indicates this submarine as a visually distinguishable new class. The Soviet designation, 667BD Murena-M indicates this submarine is an improved Delta I.

Only four submarines of this class were built, apparently in favor of building the following class, the Delta III, and all Delta IIs were out of service by 1996.

Delta III (Project 667BDR Kalmar) 14 boats[edit]

Delta III class SSBN.svg
A Delta III-class submarine
Class overview
Name: Delta III class
Builders: Severodvinsk
Operators: Soviet Union, Russia
Preceded by: Delta II class
Succeeded by: Typhoon class & Delta IV class
Completed: 14
Active: 1
General characteristics
  • Surfaced: 13,500 tons
  • Submerged: 18,200 tons
Length: 166 m (544 ft 7 in)
Beam: 12.3 m (40 ft 4 in)
Draught: 8.8 m (29 ft)
Propulsion: 2 pressurized water-cooled reactors 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: 135
  • 16 missiles
  • 4 × bow 533 mm (21.0 in) torpedo tubes

The 667BDR Kal'mar (Squid) Delta III-class submarine is a large ballistic missile submarine. Like the earlier 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. Development began in 1972 at the Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering.[citation needed] The submarine was the first that could launch any number of missiles in a single salvo, also the first submarine capable of carrying ballistic missiles with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles. The submarine carried 16 of the R-29R missiles each carrying 3 to 7 MIRVs, with a range of 6,500 to 8,000 km (4,000 to 5,000 mi), depending on the number of re-entry vehicles.

The Delta III class was also equipped with a new battle management system the Almaz-BDR for the fire control of torpedoes in deep-water, also a new inertial navigation system Tobol-M-1, and later the Tobol-M-2. A hydroacoustic navigational system called Shmeľ (Bumblebee) allows the submarine to determine its position from hydroacoustic buoys. Finally a new sonar system called Rubikon was fitted.[citation needed]

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 a base on the Kamchatka Peninsula. The Navy added that Ryazan will soon be assigned to regularly patrol the Pacific Ocean.[3] In July 2008, six Delta III-class boats were active, of which two were believed to be in the process of decommissioning.[citation needed]

K-433 Svyatoy Georgiy Pobedonosets was involved in a collision with a fishing vessel on 22 September 2011. The submarine did not sustain serious damage.[4]

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.[5] Disposed of in 1998[6]
K-441 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk NA 7 May 1974 25 May 1976 31 October 1976 Pacific Decommissioned 28 March 1995 for scrapping[5] Disposed of in 2000.[7]
K-449 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk NA 19 July 1974 29 July 1976 5 February 1977 Pacific In reserve from 1996,[5] decommissioned in 2001, scrapped before 2008
K-455 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk NA 16 October 1974 16 August 1976 30 December 1976 Pacific In reserve from 1998 to 1999.[5] Disposed of in 2002[8]
K-490 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk NA 6 March 1975 27 January 1977 30 September 1977 Pacific In reserve from 1998 to 1999,[5] Disposed of before 2008[9]
K-487 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk NA 9 June 1975 4 April 1977 27 December 1977 Northern In reserve from 1998 to 1999,[5] Disposed of in 1999–2011[10]
K-496 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Borisoglebsk 23 September 1975 13 August 1977 30 December 1977 Northern[5] Decommissioned on 9 December 2008,[11] fuel discharged.[12] Disposed of in 2010[13]
K-506 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Zelenograd 29 December 1975 26 January 1978 30 November 1978 Pacific Removed from service in 2010, to be decommissioned[14]
K-211 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy 19 August 1976 13 January 1979 28 September 1979 Pacific Retired in 2010[15]
K-223 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Podolsk 19 February 1977 30 April 1979 27 November 1979 Pacific Removed from active service in 2018[16]
K-180 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk NA 27 December 1977 8 January 1980 25 September 1980 Pacific[5] In reserve from 2004. Disposed of in 2008[17]
K-433 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Svyatoy Georgiy Pobedonosets 24 August 1978 20 June 1980 15 December 1980 Pacific Removed from active service in 2018[16]
BS-136 (ex K-129) SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Orenburg 9 April 1979 15 April 1981 5 November 1981 Northern 1994–2002 – conversion to support submarine project 09786 (carrier of minisubmarine). Active as of 2008.[18] Experimental boat
K-44 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Ryazan 31 January 1980 19 January 1982 17 September 1982[19] Pacific Overhauled in 2007 and in 2012–2016.[20] Active 2017[16][21][22]

Delta IV (Project 667BDRM Delfin) 7 boats[edit]

Delta IV class SSBN.svg
A Delta IV-class submarine
Class overview
Name: Delta IV class
Builders: Severodvinsk
Operators: Soviet Union, Russian Federation
Preceded by: Delta III & Typhoon classes
Succeeded by: Borei class
Completed: 7
Active: 6
General characteristics
Propulsion: 2 pressurized water-cooled reactors powering 2 steam turbines with two 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

Seven Delta IV-class submarines were built; all are still in service in the Russian Navy. The submarines, based at the Sayda Guba Naval Base, operate in the Northern Fleet. The Severodvinsk Shipyard built these vessels between 1981 and 1992. The last vessel was K-407 Novomoskovsk.

The design of the Delta IV class resembles that of the Delta III class and constitutes a double-hulled configuration with missile silos housed in the inner hull.

The submarine has an operational diving depth of 320 meters (1,050 ft), with a maximum depth of 400 meters (1,300 ft). The propulsion system allows speeds of 24 knots (44 km/h) submerged using two VM-4 pressure water reactors rated at 180 MW. It features two turbines of type GT3A-365 rated at 27.5 MW. The propulsion system drives two shafts with fixed-pitch propellers.[citation needed]

On 29 December 2011, a shipyard fire broke out in the drydock where a Delta IV-class vessel named Yekaterinburg was being serviced. It was reported that the fire managed to spread to the submarine, that all weapons were disembarked from the submarine and the nuclear reactor was shut down beforehand.[23][24][25]

Overall design[edit]

The submarine design is similar to that of Delta III class (Project 667 BDR). The submarine constitutes a double-hulled configuration with missile silos housed in the inner hull. The forward horizontal hydroplanes are arranged on the sail. They can rotate to the vertical for breaking through the ice cover. The propulsion system provides a speed of 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph) surfaced and 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph) submerged. The submarine carries supplies for an endurance of 80 days. The surface of the submarine has an acoustic coating to reduce the acoustic signature.[citation needed]

During the development of the 667BDRM SSBN several measures were included to reduce its noise level. The gears and equipment are located on a common base isolated from the pressure hull, and the power compartments are also isolated. The efficiency of the anti-hydroacoustic coatings of the light outer hull and inner pressure hulls have been increased. Newly designed propellers with improved hydroacoustic characteristics are employed.[citation needed]

See the Delta III class overview for specifications.


The Delta IV-class submarines employs the D-9RM launch system and carries 16 R-29RMU Sineva liquid-fueled missiles which each carry four independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs). Unlike previous modifications, the Delta IV-class submarine is able to fire missiles in any direction from a constant course in a circular sector. The underwater firing of the ballistic missiles can be conducted at a depth of 55 meters (180 ft) while cruising at a speed of 6–7 knots (11–13 km/h; 6.9–8.1 mph). All the missiles can be fired in a single salvo.

The 667BDRM Delphin submarines are equipped with the TRV-671 RTM missile-torpedo system that has four torpedo tubes with a calibre of 533 mm (21 in). Unlike the Delta III-class design, it is capable of using all types of torpedoes, antisubmarine torpedo-missiles and anti-hydroacoustic devices. The battle management system Omnibus-BDRM controls all combat activities, processing data and commanding the torpedo and missile-torpedo weapons. The Shlyuz navigation system provides for the improved accuracy of the missiles and is capable of stellar navigation at periscope depths. The navigational system also employs two floating antenna buoys to receive radio-messages, target destination data and satellite navigation signals at great depth. The submarine is also equipped with the Skat-VDRM hydroacoustic system.

The Delta IV-class submarines are strategic nuclear missile submarines designed to carry out strikes on military and industrial installations and naval bases. The submarine carries the RSM-5 Makeyev (NATO reporting name: SS-N-23 Skiff) submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). The RSM-54 is a three-stage liquid-propellant ballistic missile with a range of 8,300 km (5,200 mi). The warhead consists of four to ten multiple, independently targeted re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) each rated at 100 kilotonnes of TNT (420 TJ). The missile uses stellar inertial guidance to provide a circular error probable (CEP) of 500 m (1,600 ft). The CEP value is a measure of the accuracy of strike on the target and is the radius of the circle within which half the strikes will impact.

The submarine is also capable of launching the Novator SS-N-15 Starfish anti-ship missile or anti-ship torpedoes. Starfish is armed with a nuclear warhead and has a range of up to 45 km (28 mi). The submarine has four 533 mm torpedo tubes capable of launching all types of torpedoes, including anti-submarine torpedoes and anti-hydroacoustic devices. The system is fitted with a rapid reloading torpedo system. The submarine can carry up to 12 missiles or torpedoes. All torpedoes are accommodated in the bow section of the hull.

In 2011 K-84 Ekaterinburg successfully tested a new version of the SS-N-23 missile, reportedly designated R-29RMU2 Layner. The missile has improved survivability against anti-ballistic missiles.[26] Later on K-114 Tula conducted another successful launch.[27]


Initially all the Delta IV-class submarines were based with the Russian Northern Fleet at Olenya Bay. All the submarines of this class serve in 12th Squadron (the former 3rd flotilla) of strategic submarines of the Northern Fleet, which now located in Yagelnaya Bay.[28]


Delta IV class — significant dates
# Shipyard Name Laid down Launched Commissioned Fleet Status
K-51 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Verkhoturye 23 February 1981 7 March 1984 28 December 1984 Northern Active, overhaul 2010–12, overhaul completed, upgraded Sineva missiles installed[21]
K-84 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Ekaterinburg 17 February 1982 17 March 1985 30 December 1985 Northern Active, upgraded Sineva missiles installed,[21] overhaul 2011–14 (29 December 2011 a fire broke out while ship was drydocked and the vessel was partially submerged to control the flames; details still emerging.[25]) Re-commissioned in December 2014.[29]
BS-64 (ex K-64) SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Podmoskovye 18 December 1982 2 February 1986 23 December 1986 Northern Active, in 1999–2016 was in conversion to a Project 09787 special purpose platform.[30][31] Cut out all the missile silos.[32]
K-114 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Tula 22 February 1984 22 January 1987 30 October 1987 Northern In overhaul 2014–2017, returned to active duty in December 2017,[33][34] upgraded Sineva missiles installed[21]
K-117 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Bryansk 20 April 1985 8 February 1988 30 September 1988 Northern Active, overhaul 2002–08, overhaul complete, upgraded Sineva missiles installed[21]. Technical conditioning to extend service life by 3.5 years scheduled to commence post March 2018.[35]
K-18 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Karelia 7 February 1986 2 February 1989 10 October 1989 Northern Active, overhaul 2004–10, overhaul complete,[36] upgraded Sineva missiles installed[21]
K-407 SEVMASH, Severodvinsk Novomoskovsk 2 February 1987 28 February 1990 27 November 1990 Northern Active, overhaul 2008–2012, overhaul complete,[37][38] upgraded Sineva missiles installed[21]

Delta-class submarines in fiction[edit]

  • In the novel Ice by James Follett a Delta II-class submarine called Podorny is dispatched to the South Atlantic to search for a missing British submarine.[39]
  • In the pilot movie for seaQuest DSV a heavily modified Delta IV-class submarine was being operated by pirates, led by former seaQuest captain Marilyn Stark.
  • In the video game Crysis Warhead, the player character incorrectly identifies a cargo submarine as a Project 914 Delta IV class. The submarine in question has the missile bay removed and replaced with a large cargo bay.
  • In 24, Terrorists seize control of a Delta IV-class submarine in order to launch missiles on civilian targets; however, in reality, it is a U.S. Navy Los Angeles-class attack submarine.
  • A Delta III-class submarine appears in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, where it launches a nuclear missile on the United States.
  • A Delta III-class submarine called Firebird sets the stage for the action to the Doctor Who episode Cold War.
  • In Payne Harrison's novel Thunder of Erebus, the Soviet Confederation Navy secretly deploys three Delta IVs – Kharkov, Smolensk, and Magadan – to Antarctica in support of a Soviet invasion of the Ross Ice Shelf. Magadan is lost en route, but the two other subs render severe damage to the US fleet using special ballistic missiles that carry a cruise missile with a torpedo as its final payload.

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ "The Third Battle: Innovation in the U.S. Navy's Silent Cold War Struggle with Soviet Submarines". Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  3. ^ McClatchy-Tribune, "Russian Sub Ends 30-Day Voyage Under The Arctic", Houston Chronicle, 1 October 2008, p. 9.
  4. ^ "Russian Nuclear Sub Lightly Damaged in Collision". Defense News. 2011-09-22. Archived from the original on 2012-07-29. Retrieved 2011-12-27.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Korabli VMF SSSR, Vol. 1, Part 1, Yu. Apalkov, Sankt Peterburg, 2002, ISBN 5-8172-0069-4
  6. ^ "К-424 Проект 667БДР". 1980-08-20. Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  7. ^ "К-441 Проект 667БДР". Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  8. ^ "К-455 Проект 667БДР". Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  9. ^ "К-490 Проект 667БДР". 1979-07-24. Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  10. ^ "К-487 Проект 667БДР". 1981-01-18. Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  11. ^ "". Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  12. ^ 10.03.2010. "". Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  13. ^ "К-496, "Борисоглебск" Проект 667БДР". Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  14. ^ Зеленоград / Инфопортал Зеленограда / Новости / Атомную подлодку «Зеленоград» утилизируют. Retrieved on 2010-10-19.
  15. ^ "К-211, "Петропавловск-Камчатский" Проект 667БДР". Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  16. ^ a b c [1]. Retrieved on 2018-03-30.
  17. ^ "К-180 Проект 667БДР". Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  18. ^ К-129, КС-129, Оренбург Проект 667БДР. (2008-02-25). Retrieved on 2010-10-19.
  19. ^ Russian nuclear submarine makes 30-day trip under Arctic ice. Retrieved on 2010-10-19.
  20. ^ Project 667BDR submarines are staying? – Blog – Russian strategic nuclear forces. Retrieved on 2010-10-19.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g "Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-08-07.
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  23. ^ "Russia says nuclear submarine on fire in dock", News (report), Yahoo!, December 2011
  24. ^ "World", News, UK: The BBC, 29 December 2011
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  27. ^ Центр обновления (in Russian). RU: Severnyflot. Retrieved 2011-12-27.
  28. ^ Северный флот. Еженедельник "Коммерсантъ", №7 (761) (in Russian). 2008-02-25. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
  29. ^ "Ekaterinburg and Vladimir Monomakh join the fleet". 2014-12-19. Retrieved 2014-12-23.
  30. ^ й-64, ая-64 оПНЕЙР 667адпл (in Russian), RU: Deep Storm, retrieved 2010-10-19
  31. ^
  32. ^ "й-64, ая-64 оПНЕЙР 667адпл". Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  33. ^
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  35. ^ ""Звездочка" способна продлить срок службы АПЛ "Брянск" на 5 лет". ФлотПром (in Russian). Retrieved 2018-01-03.
  36. ^ "Karelia submarine returns to service", Russian strategic nuclear forces (Blog), Russian forces, January 2010, retrieved 19 October 2010
  37. ^ "News". Продолжаются ремонт и модернизация РПКСН "Новомосковск" (in Russian). Flot. 2010-11-19. Retrieved 2011-08-07.
  38. ^ "Repairs and upgrade of SSBN Novomoskovsk is in progress". Rus Navy. 2010-11-19. Retrieved 2011-08-07.
  39. ^ James Follett. Ice. Mandarin. 1989. ISBN 0-7493-0110-4
  • The Encyclopedia Of Warships, From World War 2 To The Present Day, By Robert Jackson.

External links[edit]