The “Belgorod” is a “research submarine,” per an official press release that was published on Friday by the Sevmash submarine yard. It is built to be able to carry the Poseidon, a nuclear-powered, autonomous underwater drone that is capable of delivering nuclear payloads from deep under, at distances like say crossing the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans. It is one of the most powerful weapons meant for mass destruction.
Admiral Nikolai Evmenov, the Russian navy’s commander-in-chief, declared it to be a momentous day for the country.
The Belgorod offers Russia the prospects for undertaking several studies, empowers it to carry out scientific excursions, and allows it to take part in rescue operations in the most distant areas of the World Ocean, per the Admiral.
Before starting to use it in the Pacific Fleet, Poseidon drones are going to be thoroughly tried out on the Northern Fleet.
The statement also notes that since the submarine boasts autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles, it may be more useful in deep-water search and rescue missions, highlighting the scientific research work that Russia’s Navy can conduct in the oceans.
The main aim of the Poseidon drone weapon is, however, not clearly outlined in the statement.
Russia started building a deep-diving response feature as the US started developing an anti-ballistic missile defense mechanism. A torpedo-shaped ship that is about 24 meters in length, the Poseidon has about 10,000 km of range and is also expected to sail at about 100 knots to a depth of about 1,000 meters. It is operated by a nuclear reactor and may be loaded with a megaton nuclear warhead.
About six Poseidon drones are likely on board the submarine. A nuclear-powered submarine and deep-diving midget, like the Losharik, which made it to the headlines in 2019 when its batteries reportedly caught on fire, killing 14 personnel who were on board, is housed within the submarine.
The “Belgorod” submarine is reportedly a sister ship to “Kursk”, the submarine that tragically drowned in the Barents Sea when it was on a naval exercise in 2000, was built on the extended hull of a vessel initially meant to be launched as an Oscar-II class multipurpose submarine. The hull of the submarine was set down initially in 1992, but it was not till 2012 that the country’s Defense Ministry made a decision to repurpose the hull and build an enormous, one-of-its kind special-purpose vessel.
The Belgorod is reportedly longer than even the largest submarine in the world, the Typhoon-class submarine that was created by the Soviet Union. Sea testing kicked off last summer in the White Sea after it was launched in April 2019.
References: The Barents Observer, Bharat Shakti, Opera News, IDRW
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