Opinion

‘Missing’ Russian Submarine with Doomsday Weaponry

A Russian submarine equipped with nuclear doomsday weaponry has left its arctic base and effectively “disappeared.” Russian stealth capabilty is well known intelligence circles, and the Belgorod submarine is one of the largest in the world. It carries the Poseidon torpedo, reportedly capable of creating a 1,600 ft nuclear tsunami that  spreads radioactivity across coastlines. Its missing status comes at a time of nuclear threats by Putin over the Ukraine conflict, although its actual deployment is unlikely, as the weapon may not be totally ready for use.

Despite speculation, we do not believe that Poseidon has been deployed. The system is not yet ready. But it does raise concerns for nuclear stability in the near future. It changes the shape of nuclear deterrence and will become one of Russia’s most feared weapons.

Poseidon is an ‘Intercontinental Nuclear-Powered Nuclear-Armed Autonomous Torpedo’. It is a giant torpedo which can hit coastal cities with devastating results. Compared to an intercontinental ballistic missile it is very slow, but possibly unstoppable.

Russia maintains that it can also be used as a tactical nuclear weapon against warships. High-value targets would include aircraft carriers. This is harder to rationalize than the second-strike nuclear deterrence role, but it is a constant theme. Ever since it was first revealed in November 2015, then known as Status-6. it has been described as a multirole system.

The weapon’s expected speed, around 70 knots, is fast enough to make it realistically uncatchable to existing torpedoes. And its operating depths, perhaps as deep as 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) puts it beyond reach. Western planners will have to develop new weapons to intercept it. And that will take considerable time and investment.  Naval News

Screenshot via Naval News

It is possible that this disappearance may be a test. The Belogrod left its arctic base, which prompted NATO to warn its members of the danger. Experts say that Putin is unlikely to use such a weapon in spite of his recent saber-rattling about doing so unless he is desperate and losing (which some experts say he is doing). Still, the fact that they have been working on the doomsday weaponry is concerning. The Belogrod is considered one of the largest submarines in the world – but without shields to protect the crew from deploying such a weapon, it would be a suicide mission. Experts are not covinced that such shields have yet been developed.

Russian submarines are well known for their ability to sneak up on the coastlines of nations without being detected.

“There have been times when Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines, armed with long-range cruise missiles, operated undetected for weeks close to U.S. shores.”
Rebekah Koffler, strategic Russian intelligence expert 

The Russian submarine with doomsday weaponry may be “missing” but it’s likely not far away from any coastline.

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Faye Higbee

Faye Higbee is the columnist manager for Uncle Sam's Misguided Children. She has been writing at Conservative Firing Line since 2013 as well. She is also a published author.

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