Russian submarine launched torpedoes to pierce the Arctic ice

The nuclear submarine Knyaz Oleg launched torpedoes to break the ice and surfaced on a mission during a drill in the Arctic.

“During training in the Arctic Ocean, the submarine Knyaz Oleg launched a torpedo to cut a hole in the ice and surfaced for a combat training mission. The operation took place at a training ground in the South China Sea. Barents Sea,” the Northern Fleet of the Russian Navy said in a statement yesterday.

The crew of the Knyaz Oleg also practiced firing torpedoes in an anti-submarine exercise with the same fleet, to perfect their ability to hunt submarines.

Russian military expert Alexander Mozgovoy said that Russian submarines have repeatedly launched torpedoes to pierce the thick ice in the Arctic. “Submarines usually use buoyancy and load-bearing hulls to break the ice, but in some cases, this action causes hull damage and must be repaired when returning to port,” he said.

Russian submarine next to a hole in the Arctic ice in March 2021.  Photo: Maxar.

Russian submarine next to a hole in the Arctic ice in March 2021. Image: Max.

A satellite image released by Maxar at the end of March 2021 shows the Russian Navy’s Project 667BDRM submarine floating through the ice off the island of Alexandra Land during the Umka-2021 exercise. Next to the submarine is a large hole in the ice, about 25 meters in diameter, most likely created by torpedoes.

Experts say that the Russian submarine can launch unguided torpedoes in the position of nose to the surface, or fire wire-guided torpedoes to drive it to the surface of the ice, creating a large hole. The hole could help Russian submarines surface faster, safer to fire missiles.

Without the torpedo hole method, the Russian submarine would have to surface completely to break the ice, then open the launch tubes to fire the missile. This process is slower and makes the submarine vulnerable to enemy attack in the event of a conflict, even when it is operating in areas as far away as the Arctic.

The submarine Knyaz Vladimir goes to sea for testing in 2020. Photo: Ria Novosti.

The submarine Knyaz Vladimir went to sea for testing in 2020. Photo: Ria news.

Knyaz Oleg is Russia’s fifth Borei-class submarine, and the second of the upgraded Borei-A version. The vessel was built in 2014 and launched in mid-2020, is considered the most modern Russian submarine today. The submarine is 170 m long, 13.5 m wide, has a displacement of 24,000 tons, a maximum diving speed of 56 km/h and an unlimited range.

The main armament of the Borei-class submarine is 16 RSM-56 Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles, along with a variety of cruise missiles. Each Bulava missile carries 10 nuclear warheads and has a maximum range of over 9,000 km.

Vu Anh (Theo Star)

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