Yankee Class


Nationality: Soviet Union

This thirty-four strong class of nuclear submarines were the first modern boats built for the Soviet Navy. It is suggested that their design is based on the American ‘Benjamin Franklin’ and ‘Lafayette’ classes. It is alleged that the GRU (Soviet military intelligence) stole the plans for these vessels in the 1960s. The entire class was built between 1967 and 1974 at Severodvinsk and Komsomolsk.

There were four different ‘Yankee’ class boats. One vessel was converted into a Yankee II class when its original weaponry was replaced with twelve larger R-31 (SS-N-17 missiles). Another was converted to a Yankee Notch Class when its weaponry was changed for thirty-five RK-55 Granat (SS-N-21) cruise missiles. Finally, a single submarine was refitted with Meteorit-M (SS-N-24) supersonic cruise missiles. This took place in the early 1980s and the vessel was designated Yankee Sidecar by the NATO authorities.

Like a number of their American counterparts Yankee Class boats were subject to modification fallowing START 1 agreements. Ten of the class were de-activated as SSBNs and were converted into SSNs. This was achieved by the complete removal of the missiles section of the hull.

In the final years of the Cold War the Soviet Navy pulled back some of its Yankee class boats into sanctuary areas close to the Soviet mainland. These vessels were re-targeted against theatre nuclear sites.

The arrival of the Yankee class submarines presented the Western navies, and in particular the US and Royal Navies, with a major challenge. Previous Soviet boats had been relatively noisy and easy to track. The Yankee boats came close to the quiet running conditions of Western vessels and were altogether a much greater challenge for the anti-submarine forces of NATO.

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