‘Doomsday’ Submarine Delivered to Russian Navy Capable of Launching Nuclear Torpedoes

The Belgorod (K-329) is a modified version of the Oscar II-class of nuclear submarine. The vessel pictured is the Tomsk (K-150), which was commissioned in December 1996. (Photo Credit: Mil.ru / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 4.0)

The Russian Navy has commissioned a modified version of the Soviet-produced Oscar II-class guided-cruise missile submarine. Dubbed by many as an advanced “doomsday” vessel, it’s capable of launching the Poseidon nuclear torpedo, which is armed with a warhead of up to 100 megatons.

Drawing of the Belgorod (K-329) nuclear submarine
Drawing of the Belgorod (K-329) submarine. (Photo Credit: Bairuilong / Wikimedia CC BY-SA 4.0)

The submarine was constructed by Sevmash Shipyard, in the port city of Severodvinsk. Built under Project 09852 and designated the K-329 Belgorod, the vessel is the longest in the world and weighs around 30,000 tons. It was designed to accommodate six Poseidon nuclear torpedoes, which have an unlimited range.

Construction of the Belgorod was completed in 2019, with the vessel floated out of the shipyard later that year. After undergoing sea trials under the secretive Main Directorate of Undersea Research, the submarine was delivered to the Russian Navy‘s Northern Fleet headquarters on July 8, 2022, according to Russian state-owned news agency, TASS.

The Main Directorate of Undersea Research, known as Glavnoye Upravleniye Glubokovodnykh Issledovaniy (GUGI) in Russia, operates from a remote base on the Kola Peninsula in the Barents Sea. The Belgorod has joined the program as part of its 29th Submarine Division.

According to a statement from Russian Navy Chief Adm. Nikolai Anatolyevich Yevmenov, the vessel was built for research and rescue purposes:

“The Belgorod submarine opens up new opportunities for Russia in conducting various research, allows conducting diverse scientific expeditions and rescue operations in the most remote areas of the world ocean. The ship is designed to solve diverse scientific problems, conduct search and rescue operations, and can also be used as a carrier of rescue deep-sea and autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles.”

Despite these claims, Western powers fear the Belgorod could be used to sabotage undersea cables. Concerns over nuclear war have also come up, following repeated threats from Russian officials over opposition to the Russo-Ukrainian War.

2M39 Status-6 Oceanic Multipurpose System "Poseidon" nuclear torpedo on display in a factory
2M39 Status-6 Oceanic Multipurpose System “Poseidon” nuclear torpedo. (Photo Credit: Russian DoD / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 4.0)

As aforementioned, the submarine was built to carry the 80-foot Poseidon nuclear torpedo, which is officially known as the 2M39 Status-6 Oceanic Multipurpose System. Considered both a torpedo and unmanned vehicle, the Poseidon can be launched against enemy shorelines, destroying coastal cities both with a blast and through the creation of large tidal waves.

The torpedo, which was first revealed in 2015, also has the ability to devastate coastal areas through “radioactive contamination, rendering them unusable for military, economic or other activity for a long time,” according to a translation of a Russian presentation captured on video by the BBC.

It’s for this reason that the Belgorod has been touted as a “doomsday” vessel.

Boats sailing around Sevmash Shipyard
Ships sail around Sevmash Shipyard, July 2009. (Photo Credit: ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO / AFP / Getty Images)

More from us: Why Were Pigeons Onboard America’s First Aircraft Carrier?

Along with being equipped with Poseidon nuclear torpedos, the Belgorod will also serve as a mothership for crewed and unmanned undersea vessels.