Alternative Cold War History 1994

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Soviet SSN/SSK

With well over 200 attack submarines, both nuclear and conventionally powered Soviet Navy has more than twice as many as the US Navy and roughly the same number as all of NATO combined. The key difference however is that some of the submarines serving in the Soviet fleet are old, very old – and therefore quite obsolete. At the other end of the spectrum there are a few examples that are ultra-modern, capable of challenging the latest western technologies; these however are quite few in number.


The 73 nuclear powered boats are classified by ‘generations’: All of 1st generation (late 1950’s, early 1960’s) boats are retired but most of the fleet, 48 boats are 2nd generation ‘Victor’ types with 11 ‘Sierra’ and ‘Alpha’ types making up the 3rd generation and 14 variations of the ‘Akula’ 4th generation in service. Additionally there are five ‘Yankee’ class SSNs converted from Ballistic Missile submarines (SSBN) remaining that are held in reserve and mothballed. The three main tasks of Soviet SSNs are to hunt NATO submarines, interdict NATO’s Strategic Lines of Communications (SLOC) and protect Soviet surface ships. The long endurance, relative stealth, lethal weapon load and independence make these boats very capable adversaries for these roles but also for information gathering, protecting Ballistic Missile submarines (SSBN) and harassing NATO task forces.

Victor ClassConsisting of three variations of the original design, the Project 671 Shchuka boats are capable but have aging technologies and some of the Victor I (15) hulls are approaching retirement age. All have the ability to launch Torpedoes and various forms of Anti-Submarine missiles as well as Surface to Air Missiles (SAM) to keep NATO patrol aircraft at bay. The Victor II (7) program was terminated early after it was discovered that they were easily trackable by US sonars. The Victor III (27) sub class has a retractable towed array passive sonar system. One variation from historical deployments has three additional Victor IIIs in the Northern Fleet, re-deployed from the Pacific in the months preceding hostilities.

Class Pennant Name Fleet Remarks
Victor I K-38 K-38 Pacific Project 671
K-69 K-69 Northern
K-147 K-147 Northern
K-53 K-53 Pacific
K-306 K-306 Northern
K-323 K-323 Northern
K-370 K-370 Northern
K-438 K-438 Northern
K-367 K-367 Northern
K-314 K-314 Northern Project 671V
K-398 K-398 Northern
K-454 K-454 Pacific Project 671V
K-462 K-462 Northern
K-469 K-469 Northern Project 671V
K-481 K-481 Northern
Victor II K-371 K-371 Northern Project 671RT
K-387 K-387 Northern Project 671RT
K-467 K-467 Northern Project 671RT
K-488 K-488 Northern Project 671RT
K-495 K-495 Northern Project 671RT
K-513 K-513 Northern Project 671RT
K-517 K-517 Northern Project 671RT
Victor III K-138 K-138 Northern Project 671RTMK
K-218 K-218 Northern Project 671RTM
K-242 Amur Pacific Project 671RTM
K-244 K-244 Northern Project 671RTM
K-247 K-247 Pacific Project 671RTM
K-251 K-251 Pacific Project 671RTM
K-254 K-254 Northern Project 671RTM
K-255 K-255 Northern Project 671RTM
K-264 K-264 Pacific Project 671RTM
K-292 K-292 Northern Project 671RTMK
K-298 K-298 Northern Project 671RTM
K-299 K-299 Northern Project 671RTM
K-305 K-305 Northern Project 671RTM
K-324 K-324 Northern Project 671RTM
K-355 K-355 Pacific Project 671RTM
K-358 Murmansky Northern Project 671RTM
K-360 K-360 Northern Project 671RTM
K-388 K-388 Northern Project 671RTMK
K-412 K-412 Northern Project 671RTM
K-414 K-414 Northern Project 671RTMK
K-448 K-448 Northern Project 671RTMK
K-492 K-492 Pacific Project 671RTM
K-502 K-502 Northern Project 671RTM
K-507 K-507 Pacific Project 671RTM
K-524 K-524 Northern Project 671RTM
K-527 K-527 Northern Project 671RTM

Victor I

Victor III

Alpha ClassWith the exception of the single Papa Class prototype, the Project 705 ‘Lira’ class, known as Alpha Class in the west, were the fastest class of submarines built. The radical design incorporated several innovative technologies including a Titanium hull and liquid metal cooled reactor, allowing for a small hull size, high speeds and deep diving depths. With a crew of only 30-40, a speed of over 40 Knots and a diving depth exceeding 400 Meters, these submarines sent shudders through NATO and caused revolutionary re-designs of torpedoes, sonars and other systems in an effort to counter this threat. In reality these boats were difficult to maintain and operate but the technology developments were used as a basis for the follow on Akula design. The lead boat in this class, K-64, had a major coolant leak in 1972 resulting in superheated liquid metal contacting cold surfaces and instantly freezing, causing significant internal damage which was too expensive to repair, after being broken up it became a training platform. Only six other boats were built

Class Pennant Name Fleet Remarks
Alpha K-123 K-123 Northern
K-316 K-316 Northern
K-432 K-432 Northern
K-373 K-373 Northern
K-493 K-493 Pacific
K-463 K-463 Pacific

Sierra ClassThe Project 945 Barrakuda, or Sierra class in the west was an evolutionary design of the Victor III with technologies trialed in the Alpha. The titanium hull allows for a deep diving depth (450M) and relatively small crew (60-70) at speeds of 35 Knots. These are very potent adversaries but are limited in numbers in three sub classes; two Sierra I; two Sierra II with improved sonars and other improvements; and a single Sierra III which historically was scrapped before completion but is in service for Northern Fury.

Class Pennant Name Fleet Remarks
Sierra I K-276 Kostroma Northern Project 945
K-239 Carp Pacific Project 945
Sierra II K-336 Pskov Northern Project 945A
K-534 Nizhniy Novgorod Northern Project 945A
Sierra III K-536 Mars Northern Project 945AB

Akula Class

This is the most modern Soviet SSN, its production surprised the west and its capabilities caused some significant concern. Designated as the Project 971 Shchuka-B or Bars, they are collectively referred to as the Akula in NATO. Naming is further confused as the Typhoon SSBN is called the ‘Akula’ by the Soviets. Northern Fury accelerates production of a couple boats by several months and the final hull, K-157 ‘Vepr’ by about a year. The seven Akula I boats are sometimes compared to the US Los Angeles class SSNs, while the six ‘Improved’ Akula are quieter yet and have better sonars. The Final boat, the Akula II ‘Vepr’ has been compared to the Improved Los Angeles class.

Class Pennant Name Fleet Remarks
Akula I K-317 Pantera Northern Project 971
K-480 Ak Bars Northern Project 971
K-331 Magadan Pacific Project 971
K-391 Bratsk Pacific Project 971
K-322 Kashalot Pacific Project 971
K-263 Delfin Pacific Project 971
K-284 Akula Pacific Project 971
Akula Impr K-154 Tigr Northern Project 971-I
K-328 Leopard Northern Project 971-I
K-461 Volk Northern Project 971-I
K-295 Samara Pacific Project 971-I
K-419 Kuzbass Pacific Project 971-I
K-152 Nerpa Pacific Project 971-I
Akula II K-157 Vepr Northern Project 971U


With 141 active and 54 in reserve, the Soviet Navy maintains – by far – the largest fleet of Diesel/Electric boats in the world. Following the Soviet penchant for keeping things beyond their time however, over half of the active boats should be retired, and those in reserve should probably be scrapped. Still, the 56 Kilo and Tango boats are very modern and capable, they alone represent a significant threat the NATO both on and under the waves.

Kilo Class

The Soviet Fleet operates a total of 38 of these very capable (Project 877) subs, a significant increase of the 24 they obtained historically. Most of the increase was achieved through curtailing foreign sales but also through slightly accelerating construction. The only exports authorized were to Algeria (2), Iran (2), Poland (1), Romania (1) and Syria (2 not historic), although many of these retained Soviet advisors. The boats destined for India (8 by 1994), and China (2) were not delivered or the transactions terminated in various ways. The net difference in exports by 1994 was 8. There were also four boats historically scrapped or not completed in 1994, and two with very slow construction, but in Northern Fury these were completed in time for the campaign. These are quiet, efficient boats able to use a variety of weapons and present a significant challenge to NATO forces who often call them the ‘Black Hole’ because they are so difficult to find.

Class Pennant Name Fleet Remarks
Kilo B-248 Northern
B-177 Black Sea
B-187 Pacific
B-190 Pacific
B-220 Baltic
B-224 Baltic
B-227 Vyborg Northern
B-229 Northern
B-260 Chita Pacific
B-345 Mogocha Pacific
B-354 Black Sea Divert from India
Imp Kilo B-394 Tadjkistana Baltic Divert from India
B-401 Novosibirsk Northern
B-402 Vologda Pacific
B-404 Pacific
B-405 Tyumensky Northern
B-425 Northern Divert from India
B-437 Yaroslavl` Pacific Divert from India
B-439 Northern
B-445 Svyatitel Pacific
B-459 Vladikavkaz Pacific
B-464 Ust`-Kamchatsk Northern
B-468 Northern
B-470 Northern Completed
B-471 Magnitogorsky Northern
B-494 Ust`-Bol`sheretck Northern
B-800 Vologodsky Northern
B-806 Dmitrov Northern
B-871 Alrosa Northern Pump Jet
B-880 Del'fin Northern Divert from India
B-903 Black Sea Divert from India
B-917 Pacific Divert from China
B-922 Pacific Divert from China
B-351 Northern Divert from India
B-944 Northern Divert from India
B-947 Northern Completed
B-955 Pacific Not Scrapped
B-960 Northern Not Scrapped

Tango Class

The 18 boats of the Project 641B (Tango) class were meant as an improvement on the previous Foxtrot class and indeed proved to be a significantly more capable submarine. Very quiet, able to remain submerged for more than a week before snorkeling to recharge its batteries and with a rubber sound absorbing coating these boats were hard to find. Coupled with improved armament, sonars, targeting systems and communications systems, the Tango class was very capable and caused NATO ASW forces great concern.

Class Pennant Name Fleet Remarks
Tango B-380 Gorkovsky Northern
B-30 Northern
B-97 Pacific
B-146 Kazakhstana Northern
B-215 Northern
B-225 Med
B-290 Northern
B-303 Black Sea
B-307 Northern
B-312 Med
B-319 Chuvashii Northern
B-443 Magnitogorsky Baltic
B-474 Northern
B-498 Northern
B-504 Novosibirsky Pacific
B-519 Northern
B-546 Northern
B-597 Northern

Foxtrot Class

Built from 1957 until 1983 the original 58 Project 641 boats were noisier than most contemporary submarines but capable of long distance sustained operations. They were also slow, averaging just 2-3 knots submerged, but could remain below the surface for almost 10 days, impressive for the era. Four have been scrapped or sunk and the 54 remaining submarines were obsolete by the late 1970’s, even though they were still building into 1983 and used to the year 2000.

Romeo Class

The Soviet Navy only operated 20 of the 133 boats of this class that were built. Originaly planning to deploy more than 50, they were canceled with advent of nuclear powered SSNs, but were still very useful in the export market. Representing the ultimate evolution of the Whiskey Class these were even more obsolete than the Foxtrot class by 1994.

Whiskey ClassDesigned in World War II and then influenced by captured German Type XXI U-Boats. Called Project 613, there were five major variants and an astounding 215 built in the Soviet Union by 1958. In addition to 21 built in China and 41 exported to various countries, the Soviets were still operating 45 in the 80s with 15 in reserve. Most were retired in 1990 but six were still active in 1994 as well as 54 in reserve. Many boats were converted over time to test various systems and some were converted into Guided Missile Submarines (SSG) but the six Whiskey Long Bin and seven Whiskey Twin Cylinder, as well as the four radar picket Whiskey Canvas Bag variants were all retired. All remaining boats were a relatively universal design with six torpedo tubes and although unlikely, some may have had one, two or 25mm anti-aircraft guns.

Northern Pacific Black Baltic Total
Foxtrot 22 18 6 8 54
Romeo 9 8 2 2 21
Whiskey 3 1 2 6
Whiskey 24 (Reserve) 16 (Reserve) 8 (Reserve) 6 (Reserve) 54 (Reserve)