The world-ending Yuri Dolgoruky can deliver the firepower of 640 Hiroshimas in less than a minute.
One of Russia’s most powerful submarines ripple-fired four long-range nuclear-tipped missiles in a matter of seconds. The exercise this week was an important reminder of how Russia, the United States, and other nuclear powers test and maintain large numbers of nuclear weapons at sea.
From a submerged position in the White Sea, the ballistic missile submarine Yuri Dolgorukylaunched four Bulava missiles in just 15 seconds. According to a statement by the Russian Ministry of Defense, missiles were pointed east at Russia’s Kura missile testing range on the Kamchatka peninsula. The Ministry stated the launches were the first salvo of fire from the new Borei-class submarines.
The Yuri Dolgoruky is the first of the Borei-class. Building Dolgoruky began in 1996, but funding problems meant the submarine wasn’t completed until 2008, and the ship wasn’t formally inducted into the Russian Navy until 2014. The Borei-class sub is 525 feet long, displaces 21,000 tons underwater, and has a theoretically unlimited range thanks to nuclear propulsion. The new submarines are needed to replace Russia’s Cold War-era Delta-class missile submarines.
Each Borei has 16 missile launch silos located behind the sail loaded with Bulava submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Each Bulava carries six multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles (MIRVs) with a 100-kiloton yield, or about six times the explosive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. A single Borei can launch all of its missiles in a single minute, unleashing 640 times the destructive power of Hiroshima. The missiles have a range of 5,770 miles, meaning a submarine parked in the White Sea could hit any point in the United States with the exception of Hawaii.
The quick-launching process is useful in wartime, as the faster the submarine can unload its missiles, the more likely it is to get away undetected. The submarines are meant to return to port to rearm at a later date, although it is doubtful the submarines would have a port to return to after a nuclear exchange.
Russia recently announced it will field a fleet of 14 Borei submarines, including eleven improved subs known as Borei-A. Plans to build a line of even better submarines, Borei-B, were recently cancelled.
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