Ships / Submarines / Project 971 Shchuka-B (Akula) class

Project 971 Shchuka-B (Akula) class

General Facts

  • TYPE
    Nuclear powered attack submarine

  • ORIGIN
    USSR

  • NICKNAMES
    Project 971 Shchuka-B (official Russian designation)
    Akula class (NATO reporting name)
    Bars class (name of lead ship)

  • DESIGNED
    Early 1970's to 1979

  • DESIGNER
    Malakhit Central Design Bureau

  • PRODUCTION
    1983 - 2009

  • PRODUCERS
    Russia
    USSR
    Shipyards:
    Amur shipyard in Komsomolsk
    Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk

  • QUANTITY
    7 Akula I / Project 971
    5 Akula I Improved / Project 971M
    3 Akula II / Project 971U

  • UNIT COST
    About $ 1.5 billion in 1995.

  • CHARACTERISTICS
    Much more silent than previous designs
    Powerful torpedo armament
    Limited crew requirement
    Long range anti-ship armament

Introduction

The Akula class is a nuclear powered attack submarine of Soviet origin. The name Akula is the NATO reporting name for what is called the Project 971 Shchuka-B submarine in Russia. The Akula class was developed in the early 1980's in response to the US Los Angeles class and is considered a quantum leap forward in Soviet submarine technology. The Akula class is the follow on to the Victor III and remains the most capable Russian attack submarine until the newer Yasen class is commissioned.

Layout

The Akula hull design has been inspired by the Sierra class. The layout is conventional with the armament carried in the bow, the command and crew compartments in the bow and below the conning tower and the propulsion system at the rear. The conning tower has an aerodynamic design and houses an escape pod for all its crewmembers. Noise reduction has been a key element in the design. The floors are suspended within the hull and anechoic tiles cover the external hull. The Akula is reported to be nearly as silent as the original US Los Angeles class. The improved Akula II has a longer hull to house noise cancelling equipment and is regarded slightly quieter than the improved Los Angeles class.

Firepower

The Akula is fitted with four 650mm and four 533mm torpedo tubes. When using liners 533mm weapons can also be launched from the 650 mm tubes. The torpedo tubes can also be used to launch the SS-N-21 cruise missiles with a range of 3.000 km or the SS-N-15 and SS-N-16 missiles for anti-submarine use at an extended range of up to 100 km. Usually a mix of 12 650mm weapons and 28 533mm weapons is carried. From the improved model onwards there are six externally loaded single shot torpedo 533mm tubes in the uppow bow.

Electronics

The conning tower houses a variety of periscopes and other sensors. Hull mounted sonar systems are located at the lower bow and front sides. The sonar capabilities have been subsequently upgraded over time with at least three types of sonar installed on various vessels. The large teardrop shaped bulb on the vertical stabilizer is a container for a passive towed array sonar.

Mobility

The Akula is fitted with a single 190 MW VM-5 pressurized water reactor that powers a single seven blade propeller. The maximum speed is 10 knots when surfaced and 28 knots under water. Two retractable propulsors are fitted for low speed silent maneuvering. The maximum operating depth is 480 m, although there are reports that the Akula II may in theory dive up to 600 m.

Users

The Akula class was produced for the Soviet navy. Of the 20 planned vessels 15 have been delivered and two additional hulls have been used for the Yasen class. All vessels that remained when the USSR collapsed ended up in the Russian navy and a reduced number remains in service. The latest Akula is used by the Russian navy to train Indian crews and may be leased to India in the future.

Variants

Akula class

From the mid 1980's to the 2000's a total of 15 Akulas have been produced. Due to subsequent improvements no Akula is completely identical to the other. Mainly the noise level differs per ship. Three subtypes of Akula are identified based on sonar, additional torpedo tubes and longer hull.

Project 971 / Akula I: The original seven Akulas are fitted with the MGK-500 Skat sonar system and only have the 8 fully functional torpedo tubes.
Project 971U / Akula I improved: Five Akulas have been built with six additional single shot 533mm torpedo tubes and the improved MGK-501 Skat-MS sonar system. The last vessel K-152 Nerpa which was in contruction for 20 years is also referred to as Project 971I and may feature some Akula II components.
Project 971A / Akula II: The last two hulls that were laid down have a slightly longer hull to house additional noise cancelling equipment. The sonar system used is the MGK-540 Skat-3. The Akula II models are also said to have an increased operating depth. Second Akula II is also referred to as Project 971M.

TypeAttack submarine
Crew80 max, 73 normal, 62 incl 31 officers minimum
Displacement7.500 t surfaced, 9.100 t submerged
Length110 m overall, 103 m at waterline
Width13.6 m
Draught10.4 m
Height?
Machinery1x VM-5 PWR, 190 MW
2x GT3A turbines, 47.600 hp
2x DG-300 diesel, 750 hp
2x auxilary motor, 1.006 hp
Propulsion1 shaft, 7 blade propeller
Speed10 kt, 28 - 33 kt submerged
RangeUnlimited, 80 to 100 days endurance
SensorsSurface search: Snoop Pair or Snoop Hat
Sonar: MGK-500 Skat (Shark Gill)
Sonar: MG-519? (Mouse Roar)
Sonar: MGK-540 Skat-3 towed array
Systems-
CountermeasuresESM: Rim Hat
Aircraft-
Cargo-
Remarks480 m diving depth
Weapons4x 533mm torpedo tube
4x 650mm torpedo tube

Usual mix:
28x 533mm torpedo/missile 12x 650mm torpedo/missile
Weapon1Type 53 torpedo, launched from 533mm tube
Weapon2Type 65 torpedo, launched from 650mm tube
Weapon3SS-N-21 Sampson cruise missile, launched from 533mm tube
Weapon4SS-N-15 Starfish ASW missile, launched from 533mm tube
Weapon5SS-N-16 Stallion ASW missile, launched from 650mm tube
Weapon6-
Weapon7-
Weapon8-
TypeAttack submarine
Crew80 max, 73 normal, 62 incl 31 officers minimum
Displacement7.500 t surfaced, 9.100 t submerged
Length110 m overall, 103 m at waterline
Width13.6 m
Draught10.4 m
Height?
Machinery1x VM-5 PWR, 190 MW
2x GT3A turbines, 47.600 hp
2x DG-300 diesel, 750 hp
2x auxilary motor, 1.006 hp
Propulsion1 shaft, 7 blade propeller
Speed10 kt, 30 kt submerged
RangeUnlimited, 80 to 100 days endurance
SensorsSurface search: Snoop Pair or Snoop Hat
Sonar: MGK-501 Skat-MS (Shark Gill)
Sonar: MG-519? (Mouse Roar)
Sonar: MGK-540 Skat-3 towed array
Systems-
CountermeasuresESM: Rim Hat
Aircraft-
Cargo-
Remarks480 m diving depth
Weapons4x 533mm torpedo tube
4x 650mm torpedo tube
6x 533mm external tube

Usual mix:
28x 533mm torpedo/missile 12x 650mm torpedo/missile
Weapon1Type 53 torpedo, launched from 533mm tube
Weapon2Type 65 torpedo, launched from 650mm tube
Weapon3SS-N-21 Sampson cruise missile, launched from 533mm tube
Weapon4SS-N-15 Starfish ASW missile, launched from 533mm tube
Weapon5SS-N-16 Stallion ASW missile, launched from 650mm tube
Weapon6-
Weapon7-
Weapon8-
TypeAttack submarine
Crew80 max, 73 normal, 62 incl 31 officers minimum
Displacement9.500 t submerged
Length114 m overall, 107 m at waterline
Width13.6 m
Draught10.4 m
Height?
Machinery1x VM-5 PWR, 190 MW
2x GT3A turbines, 47.600 hp
2x DG-300 diesel, 750 hp
2x auxilary motor, 1.006 hp
Propulsion1 shaft, 7 blade propeller
Speed10 kt, 33 kt submerged
RangeUnlimited, 80 to 100 days endurance
SensorsSurface search: Snoop Pair or Snoop Hat
Sonar: MGK-503 Skat-M (Shark Gill)
Sonar: MG-519? (Mouse Roar)
Sonar: MGK-540 Skat-3 towed array
Systems-
CountermeasuresESM: Rim Hat
Aircraft-
Cargo-
Remarks480 m diving depth
Weapons4x 533mm torpedo tube
4x 650mm torpedo tube
6x 533mm external tube

Usual mix:
28x 533mm torpedo/missile 12x 650mm torpedo/missile
Weapon1Type 53 torpedo, launched from 533mm tube
Weapon2Type 65 torpedo, launched from 650mm tube
Weapon3SS-N-21 Sampson cruise missile, launched from 533mm tube
Weapon4SS-N-15 Starfish ASW missile, launched from 533mm tube
Weapon5SS-N-16 Stallion ASW missile, launched from 650mm tube
Weapon6-
Weapon7-
Weapon8-

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