Russia Releases Photos of its Submarine Fleet

Russia SubmarinesThe Russian Defense Ministry released photos of a cargo ship transporting two of its nuclear-powered attack submarines in a pretty stunning set of photos.

Russia is transporting the Bratsk and the Samara Akula II-class submarines from Kamchatka to Severodvinsk where both are set to receive massive modernization upgrades at the Zvezdochka shipyard. The submarines will be ferried by the Russian nuclear icebreaker fleet  along Russia’s frigid northern coast before it is set to arrive Sept. 20.

The release of the photos along with an update on the modernization of the Russian’s highly-secretive submarine fleet is what sticks out. RT was the first to publish the photos. 

The Bratsk was commissioned in 1989 and has since been assigned to the Pacific fleet. Samara is also assigned to the Pacific fleet. It is a bit younger, commissioned in 1995.

Russian Submarine 2Russian Submarine 3

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to He can be reached at
  • Andy

    I thought the russian still have problem with Bolova missiles….BLUFF.

    • bobbymike

      What does this article have to do with the Bulava SLBM?

      • Andy

        ok smart guys, what kind of nuclear misiiles do thier carry for this sub.???

        • Dave

          Uhh, they don’t? Doesn’t the article say they are attack submarines and not ballistic subs?

          The bulava would go on typhoon or borei class subs.

          • Andy

            uhh, this is come from wiki

            4 × 533mm torpedo tubes (28 torpedoes) and 4 × 650mm torpedo tubes (12 torpedoes). (K-152 Nerpa has 8 × 533mm torpedo tubes) 40 torpedoes total
            1–3 × SA-N-10 Igla-M Surface-to-air missile launcher fired from sail (surface use only)
            RK-55 Granat cruise missiles

          • Andy

            Warhead:200 kT nuclear (ground/submarine), 410 kg HE (submarine)

          • blight_qwerty

            Those aren’t Bulava’s. Submarine-launched cruise missiles are not ballistic missiles.

        • bill

          missile and their. Learn to spell first.

          • Andy

            and you are ?

        • John Jacobs

          Akula is a soviet era hunter killer type nuclear submarine designed to detect and destroy enemy ships and submarines while remaining undetected

    • julll

      it cuba nos bolivia jajaj

  • Lance

    The Akula is a modernized Alfa sub mad in the 80s for longer range and size than the old Alfas had. In many ways there less capable currently than a LA class sub. But be interesting to see how they will be after there fleet is modernized. Id still say its a deadly sub and put it over any none US or British attack sub in the world.

    • blight_qwerty

      The Akula is a more traditional sub than the Alfa. The Alfas had a very small crew, titanium construction and a reactor that cooled with molten lead.

      • ghostwhowalksnz

        Yes, it was lead-bismuth alloy. The other features were titanium construction, double hull, double reactor. With a top speed of 41 kts it could outdive then current US torpedoes. Ahead of its time

        • blight_asdf

          The Mig-25 of the seas.

          • Jack

            The SR 71 blackbird of the sea.. is better… because… Titanium…..

        • Atomic Walrus

          And it had the reliability issues to prove it. The Soviets were also trying to create a highly-automated sub that could operate with a small crew. The automated systems proved problematic, and the small crew couldn’t really cope with maintenance and troubleshooting (which is why Western navies typically have large crews.)

      • Lance

        I mistyped I meant the design had some improvements over the Alfa they replaced in the 80s. Yes they were BIGGER and that was a liked improvement for the crew.

        • blight_qwerty

          The Alfas were very much a niche submarine, and not intended for “general” use.

      • Jay

        They were very loud, as well. US and British submarine crews had no trouble tracking an Alfa.

    • Bruce

      Akula’s are nothing like Alfas. You’re thinking Victor IIIs.

      • Kristi

        Yes, exactly

    • RRBunn

      The Akula’s are very fast and very stealthy attack subs. But the rumor was they were noisy as well. Given the prop on the two boats pictured, my guess is that they will be updated with new tech that solves this problem. LA Class is on the way out and the VA class is on the way in.

  • scott

    Russian submarines of project 971 “Bratsk” and “Samara” and the Samara has a nice hole in the bow from a torpedo. credit EnglishRussia for my infomation August 28th Post.

  • frank

    Junk. Nothing more.

  • stephen russell

    Guess Russia has nothing to hide or Putin doesnt care or junk
    Odd theyve never done this in Cold War 1.

    • ghostwhowalksnz

      they too have had BRAC closures. They did have a similar method for moving subs constructed at Leningrad and Volga River yards. The completed hulls were moved via transporter boats on inland canals to the fitting out and testing at Severodvinsk

      • Dave

        I was on 1 of 23 submarine brought by barge down the Mississippi River during World War 2 from Manitowoc Wisconsin they were of course a lot smaller

    • @gverderamo

      Ever heard of the Bison bomber? They released pictures or something. I think they had it overfly an airshow or a parade or something. It sent American military planners and analysts spinning. Of course it later turned out that the Bison was a total failure at anything other than making the American military nervous.

    • Ethan

      Then get ready for Cold War 2

    • Ed

      Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that they’re about to be modernised? And, these aren’t the pics of the subs either, as far as I’m aware. In other words, at this point, there might not be much to hide.

  • ben wah

    thats funny… seems like the chicoms are transporting two similar subs as well to russia for maintenance.…

    • Craig

      If you carefully look at the pictures the subs and the lifting ship are Russian. The last two pictures are of a different lifting ship.

    • thetazva

      Nothing there about a sub…

  • Guest

    Hope they get stuck in the ice.

  • Flires

    Very impressive, Russia - old submarines being transported over the water…

    • ghostwhowalksnz

      Thats the same way the USS Cole was moved back to US for repair.
      Probably these boats hadnt been in commission for a while and extra money became available to modernise them.

      • Craig_EW1(SW)

        ..and the USS Stark…

  • mpower6428

    I love this Sub talk…. its a change of pace

  • Ivan

    lol, what if the Somali Pirates get a hold of these.

    • Dave

      Nuclear disaster in 3..2..1..

    • Pat

      Don’t think any of the pirates are nuclear trained.

  • Dick Cole

    I imagine the intelligence folks will be looking VERY closely at the views of the screws. Interesting that the Russians would allow photos showing the screws to be released to the world.

    • Dennis

      yes my thoughts exactly

    • Dylan

      I was also pretty shocked to see the screws were uncovered. I have to wonder if they just don’t care anymore because the secret’s already out. It is plausible to think that there has been more than one Akula II in drydock since the fall of the Soviet Union with its screw exposed for all the world to see.

      • Duke

        The only secret to the Ruskie screws is that they blueprinted ours.

        • Big D

          The screws will be updated

    • Ed

      Perhaps that’s simply because they may get new ones? Or, are these screws used in different subs too?

    • Robert Peavey

      The Russians were given the design of the screws thanks to Ames. There is no need to hide what is ours.

    • gord

      that’s cause they stole em from us…..

  • wes

    Remember, when seeing an Iceburg, above the surface of the water, that it is the tip of the iceburg, and that is all it takes to sink the Titanic. You will not see the most recent subs.


      Great metaphor for most things on this site. Everyone is playing armchair admiral from mostly public info. Cheers.

  • Frank896

    What exactly are the upgrades? Best guess? Why would they show the top secret props?
    Late 80’s tech.

    • vclass

      I was thinking the same thing, I’ve been building sub’s for the is for 10 years now and my self have never seen the prop. And Russia would just put theirs out there for everyone to see? These sub’s are junk. Not worth a over haul

      • Craig_EW1(SW)

        Intact hulls can be cheaper than building new ones. Junk they are not. Can they take on US latest? Maybe not, but plenty of other missions these two subs can do. Besides, we would have to go war with them to find out which sub is better. For that, we need a willing President. Until then, Pres Putin can use these subs as he pleases. Maybe even station them in Crimea.

        • Jay

          And how, exactly, would they get them to Crimea? Just asking…. And before you answer, you should know that I know a thing or two about a thing or two, and I laughed a little when I thought about theses subs being transported 2000 miles over land. You do realize that there are no Russian SSN’s in the Black Sea for a reason, right?

          • Craig_EW1(SW)

            Once repairs made, they use their own power to transit to Sevastopol, Crimea. (Hope you are still laughing…lol)

            I was unaware of when the Russians made a decision to not base submarines out of Sevastopol: Here:
            On December 3, 2009, First Vice Mayor of Sevastopol Vladimir Kazarin stated that Russia’s Black Sea Fleet could lose its combat capability, given a small number of ships and the absence of new ones.[38] Similar doubts had been stated by the Russian media. The Gazeta newspaper noted that, by 2015, the majority of the warships would no longer be fit for duty.[39]
            In April 2010, Russian Navy sources said that up to four frigates and four diesel-electric submarines will be added to the Black Sea Fleet by 2015.[40] In June 2010, Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky announced that Russia was reviewing plans for the naval modernization of the Black Sea Fleet. The plans include 15 new warships and submarines by 2020.[41][42] These vessels will partially replace the reported decommissioning of Kerch, Ochakov (decommissioned in 2011 and sunk as a blockship in 2014), several large support ships, and a diesel-electric submarine.…

            Here are some photos of the old Soviet Sub Base in Crimea. For smaller subs, but looks usable.
            So, why don’t they have subs in the Black Sea?

          • Craig_EW1(SW)

            whoops, here are the photos:…

          • Craig_EW1(SW)

            According to this article, Russia plans on increasing the number of diesel subs in the Black Sea.
            So they would not be so poor as to refit a SSN just for duty in the Black Sea. Better use of SSN’s is the open ocean.

            Another possibility, they might be prepping them for sale…… whom?

          • Craig_EW1(SW)


    • Atomic Walrus

      It’s curious, isn’t it? An operational submarine should be able to move itself. I’m guessing these ones have been inoperational for some time, and require some major overhauls before they can return to service. I’ve seen one submarine moved this way before - HMCS Chicoutimi after an on-board fire that left it incapacitated. All of the other Upholder-class subs bought by Canada transited to their new bases under their own power.

      As for the prop, it may simply be outdated and not worth concealing. That doesn’t really feel like it fits Putin’s KGB paranoia, though.

  • Erich

    Good grief they still are using propellers. Old school. We are using electromagnet impulse drives which make no sound and can propel a sub up to 70mph underwater.

    How bout them apples Ruskis?

    Good grief did I let a cat out of the bag or was it a giant shart!

    • Chas

      I thought that was “revealed” in The Hunt for Red October. And if we put credence in that story the Russians would have had the technology (magneto hydrodynamic propulsion) over 30 years ago. So did we “procure” it from them back then?

    • Merlinus

      It has been shown that the magnetic propulsion drive as in the “Hunt for red October” would prove to much noisier than a propeller drive.

    • alex

      US and Russia are not using MHD propulsion but both are using pump jet thrusters instead of exposed props on the newest subs.

    • Atomic Walrus

      Maybe you’re referring to the pumpjet propulsors used on newer British and American subs? They’re not magnetohydrodynamic, but the shroud does cut down noise significantly.

    • blight_qwerty

      Akulas are about 688/688i vintage. They are impressive subs in their own right but not exactly cutting edge.

      I’m guessing Yasen and Borei may go with propulsors, and that the ORP may go with one as well.

      • blight_qwerty…

        Take that back, Yasen will use propellors. Curious why they go with propulsors on the Borei. Perhaps the plan is to make their SSBN’s as quiet as possible?

  • John Miller

    Part of the Soviet strategy in war is to overwhelm the enemy with massive numbers of second line military (cannon fodder) in order to diminish the enemy and run them out of ammo and then send the elite troops to finish them off. This was done by the Chicoms in Korea. Many of their first attack troops had no weapons but would pick up dropped weapons as they charged our troops.

    • Craig_EW1(SW)

      Same with the Soviet counter-attack Dec 8th, 1941 with troops arriving from Siberia. Not enough rifles, but still they charged….

    • blight_qwerty

      Soviet military strategy had changed markedly post-WW2. They were fielding reasonably superior T-64’s in the ’60s that probably would’ve caused serious problems for an M-48. Even at Yom Kippur their exported tanks were pitted against Israeli upgraded Centurions and Shermans, and perhaps a tossup against M-48’s. After Nickel Grass they would’ve been using American line-grade equipment and not export grade.

      The Cold War Soviet army was not the under-equipped force found in WW2 movies. To the contrary it was reasonably mechanized, which required as much as 20% of the country’s GDP to be spent on the arms industry and a significant amount on importing corn from the United States and western Europe…an export we did not dare cut off lest a starving Soviet Union cross the line of departure into Germany. I imagine the Soviets knew that their dependence on western Europe for food meant that at best they could keep NATO out, since attack would not guarantee food supplies for the winter.

      • Craig_EW1(SW)

        There was a global climatic event 76-78 that hurt Soviet crop production. Same event was the last time CA saw a drought like it is experiencing today.

  • Jim W

    Putin wants US to know that he is modernizing and upgrading! Its like showing your weapons load to let someone know you mean business

    • Ctron

      Best for Russia would be to try and invest somewhere else , US Navy is much superior and way out of reach by Russia . Its only the Nuclear Deterrence that actually makes Russia , as for means of navy and Air Force they will get their ass handed to them in the first 24 hours not to mention the ground troopers

  • majr0d

    Recognizing another nation has a competent leader while ours does not doesn’t equate to wanting to be in that country. If your logic was accurate Democrats would be leaving the party in droves.

    Your sensitivity shows why the Pres got elected again despite his record. Party right or wrong is part of the nation’s ills.

  • rrobot14

    Perhaps they have some wicked stuff we haven’t seen and they’re showing us stuff that is in relative terms obsolete!

  • Mitch S.

    Using a Dutch company to move their subs
    Guess their European anti-boycott doesn’t apply to everything!
    (BTW IIRC Dockwise also moved the Cole)

  • James

    Ah, is there a reason they can’t get to their retrofit under their own power. LOL

    • Thomas L. Nielsen

      There probably is, Gospodin James.

      One reason could be if the reactors have been shut down. Starting them up just to transit to Severodvinsk would not be worth the bother, especially if the reactors, or parts of them, will have to be replaced.

      Or the subs have been in mothballs for so long that they are no longer 100% seaworthy - which could be one of the reasons for the planned upgrade.

      Regards & all,
      Thomas L. Nielsen

  • djsee4

    I bet Russians’ are so hungry for US chicken already. They did occupy 40% of our national chicken exports second only to Mexico. I wonder how much 40% of US chicken exports cost them since they can now put that money into subs.

    • blight_qwerty

      That would be private consumers spending their money on chicken. It’s not like they are going to go out and buy submarines with their dinner budget.

  • Bill K

    “Shark Week - Part 2”. These “Sharks (Akula) ” are more like beached whales. Maybe they’ll sell them.

  • James P. Dell

    No doubt the Russians realized that the US and other intelligence services would get pictures of the dated subs anyway. A good way to market them to others like India.

  • Guest

    I see no ducting to the subs, how would they cool reactors if they are still fueled, even if shutdown? If they are defueled, wouldn’t the access cuts remain open since they’ll need to be refueled once modernized?

    • Simon Roche

      Good question. I am curious to know the explanation.

  • Jack

    They can’t go by themselves????

  • Joe Biden

    They are being hauled on this garbage scow because they don’t run. Like most russian junk assembled by drunken heroin addicts, the lazy russian people are not smart enough to build anything that works.

  • Steve Conway

    Formidable boats in their time. But why would anyone refurbish 80s technology . Surly they are being hauled away for scrap.

  • haywood

    can’t be any worse than the 4 duds we have now………

  • kevinm

    how are they achieving decay heat removal while fully out of the water?

  • Mastro

    Not too impressive - no need to get alarmed.

    But the US Navy has lost a lot of anti-sub capability- even taking towed arrays off of many destroyers.

    We might need to spend some more bucks on that capability.

  • jeff

    Putins way of saying mine is bigger than yours.

  • Don

    Are they not boats themselves? The fact that they have to haul should tell you something!

  • mike anderson ETR1SN

    To read some of these posts you have to groan and try not to laugh. Hydro-pulse drives and 70 knot USA SSN’s. We used to hope our black/hole in the ocean was good enough because the Alphas went way deeper and way faster than anything we had and have now.
    Am glad they went belly-up and dry docked them. A hull is a hull these are solid titanium and can be converted to almost anything and the equipment can radically change the product. Laugh til they hit the ocean fool, then see what they have. What is scarey is the Russians actually repairing the Navy and adding to our problems at sea.

  • lacharterbuscompany

    There are several ways to react to being lost. One is to panic: this was usually Valentina’s first impulse. Another is to abandon yourself to lostness, to allow the fact that you’ve misplaced yourself to change the way you experience the world.