PRAVDA.Ru journalists went onboard Russia’s most powerful nuclear submarine
The might of the Russian navy is not often discussed these days. Political contacts and negotiations are definitely relevant. However, when Russia has something to boast of, this is completely different. Russia has been weakened a lot over the recent year. Yet, it is still capable of claiming to be one of the leading powers in the world. One reason can be found in the Russian city of Severodvinsk, the center of the Russian ship-building industry. This city is celebrated for the defense technology that was built on its docks.
Before we went on board the Typhoon submarine, there was a short message in the press about a successful missile launch from this nuclear submarine. “The nuclear submarine launched a ballistic missile from the target area of the White Sea. The missile hit the target with precision.”
The nuclear submarine missile cruiser TK-20 is the sixth (the last) of the Typhoon series that were built on Sevmash Enterprise in Severodvinsk. The TK-20 Typhoon submarine was returning from the White Sea. A group of PRAVDA.Ru journalists was the only group of web-reporters that was allowed to go onboard the sub in the city of Severodvinsk.
The commander of the submarine, V. Ovcharsky, gave us a tour of the submarine from one compartment to another. During the tour, Ovcharsky told us about the crew and the captain of the sub. Captain A. Bogachev was born in the town of Podolsk, the Moscow region. In 1979, he graduated from the naval school and became a submariner. Captain Bogachev has been the captain of the Typhoon sub for nine years already. He is decorated with several government orders, including the Order of Courage. Fifty-one Typhoon submariners are decorated with various orders, actually. Commander Ovcharsky said that the submariners were decorated for accomplishing dangerous and risky tasks.
Captain Bogachev said that the launching of missiles proved the capacity of both the crew and the submarine. “The crew prepared for that launch. We have conducted a lot of training, and now we are happy with the results.”
Several submarines of the 18th division of missile cruisers carried out several utilization cycles of missile weapons. They fired missiles from all shafts. The missiles were stored for 17 or 18 years before they were fired. Everything went according to plan. The cost of the exercise was 200 million rubles. However, the dismantling of the missiles would have cost much more. Missiles are launched from the White Sea testing area, because it is easier to control their’ movements from there. However, it is possible to fire missiles from any place in the world, even from the North Pole.
The Typhoon’s crew is rather young, but it has steady traditions already. There are several people in the crew that used to serve on the very first Typhoon submarine. There are also specialists in the crew, people hardly be found anywhere in the navy.
The officers of the submarine believe that the so-called static period is finally coming to its end. The situation with the Russian Navy was extremely difficult several years ago. Experienced submariners did not care about their benefits and high wages. A lot of them retired into the reserve, and no one wanted to serve on submarines. It was very hard to get a crew to travel in the beginning of the 1990s. The command would take people from different divisions, making something like a mixture.
Now the situation is different. People want to work on subs, and they ask to become crew members. The moral and the psychological atmosphere of the navy is changing. Being a submariner is becoming honorable again. Men do not want to lose their places in their crews, and they do their best to stay there as long as possible. It is not really about the high wages. No one actually needs a former submariner in the field of public services.
Of course, the compartments of the Typhoon are rather narrow and compact in comparison with surface nuclear cruisers. However, the Typhoon’s compartments seem to be very large in comparison with other submarines. The crew’s rest area is like a club with lots of conveniences. There is a gym, a sauna, and even a pool there. We saw some submariners swimming there, having good time at work.
Russian strategic nuclear forces carried out an attack on a virtual enemy on October 12, right on the threshold of the 306 anniversary of the Russian Navy. The difference between the missiles launches from the submarines in the Barents Sea and from the Plesetsk range was only three minutes. Four strategic missile carriers (Tu-160 and Tu-95 MC) also launched their missiles to hit the virtual enemy.
Russian marines hate it when people who have never been in the military continue to say that the Russian Navy is dead. This is a lie. The Russian Navy is 306 years old, and it’s ‘live and kicking!
Vitaly Bratkov Vladimir Berbenets Andrey Mikhailov Alexander Shaurov
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov