Delta III and Delta IV Class

Overview

Delta III and Delta IV Class

Nationality: Soviet Union

In 1976 NATO identified a larger Delta Class submarine. The Soviets had pioneered the use of submarines as missile launch platforms but the Yankee class boats of the late 1960s and early 1970s were comparatively short ranged. These were followed by the Delta class submarines. These early versions were now to be supplemented with an altogether larger vessel. The earlier Deltas had had a turtle back housing, aft of the sail, but the new Delta IIIs had a much larger housing. This accommodated the R-29R missiles (SS-N-18). The R-29R was the first Soviet SLBM fitted with multiple warheads.

All fourteen vessels of the Delta III class were built at Severodvinsk. During the Cold War all Delta IIIs were operational with the Northern Fleet based at Sayda or Olyenya. After the Cold War, in the early 1990s, they were transferred to the Pacific Fleet.

In September 1975 a further design modification programme began. Based on the Delta III, the Delta IV had an increased diameter pressure hull and a longer bow section. Between 1985 and 1990 seven of these larger boats were constructed at Severodvinsk. The Delta IV boats were designed and constructed as an insurance policy in case the Typhoon class submarines turned out to be failures.

It was expected that these new vessels would remain in service well into the 21st Century but with the end of the Cold War and the signing of START1 in 1991, many of these submarines have been withdrawn. In June 2000 the Russian Navy claimed to have five Typhoon Class, Seven Delta III and thirteen Delta IV boats in their inventory. It is reported that the Russians believe twelve SSBNs to be the minimum operational strength needed for security, so it is questionable just how many of the above listed vessels are seaworthy.

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