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Russian Navy

Project 945 Sierra class
Attack Submarine (Nuclear Powered)

Designed to engage surface task forces and launch cruise missiles at coastal facilities, the Sierra Project 945 class submarines represented the apex of Soviet attack submarine design. Project 945 was initiated in March 1972, under the direction of Chief designer N.E. Kvasha of TsKB-112 Lazurit. The new Sierra-class submarines were intended to be the primary Soviet attack submarine, incorporating a variety of new sensors, silencing equipment, command systems and countermeasures. The Sierra-class uses a single OK-650 pressurised water reactor, of the same model used in Project 971 (Akula) and on the Mike class submarine Komsomolets.

The Project 945 was generally comparable in performance to early Los Angeles class, though with an arguably superior non-acoustic detection system and integrated acoustic countermeasures system. They were apparently based on the design experience gained with the Project 685 Plavnik [Alfa], although a much larger torpedo room with capacity of up to 40 rounds was provided. Noise levels were reduced by Cluster Guard anechoic tiles on the outer hull.

The boat is outfitted with six 533 mm torpedo tubes capable of using a combination of Granat cruise missiles, torpedoes, antisubmarine missiles, and mines. As with the Alfa, the hull is constructed of titanium alloy, providing deep diving capability and the ability to avoid magnetic anomaly detection. The Sierra-I class had six major compartments: (1) the torpedo room, and battery, (2) crew quarters, officers mess and galley, (3) command center, computer complex, and diesel generators, (4) reactor, (5) main switchboard, pumps and geared turbines, (6) electric motors, steering gear and pumps. The double-hull reduces possible damage to the inner hullís compartments, and the outer hull is coated with anti-hydroacoustic materials making the Sierra more difficult to detect. A crew escape chamber is capable of bringing up the entire crew from a depth of 1,500 meters.

The Sierra-II was an improved and slightly version of the 'Sierra-I' class. The 945.A project (Sierra II) differs from the Sierra I in that the sonar capability of the Sierra II is better and has a reduced acoustic signature. It is five meters longer overall, with a larger blunt sail that is six meters longer than the Sierra I sail. The enlarged sail accommodates two rescue chambers, versus the single chamber on the Sierra-I. The increased hull size provided improved living quarters and quieting measures. It was also equipped with a new American-style spherical bow sonar. This filled the bow section, and the torpedo tubes were moved farther aft and angled out from the centerline. The torpedo room was modified to accomodate the S-10 Granat strategic cruise missile. In contrast to the six compartments on the Sierra-I, the Sierra-II had seven compartments: (1) the torpedo room, and battery, (2) crew quarters, officers mess and galley, (3) sonar room and command center, (4) computer complex, and diesel generators, (5) reactor, (6) main switchboard, pumps and geared turbines, (7) electric motors, steering gear and pumps.

The hulls were built at the factory Krasnoye Soromovo in Nizhny Novgorod and towed in dock via inland waterways to Severodvinsk where construction and testing were completed. By 1976 it had become evident that existing industrial infrastructure was inadequate to mass produce the expensive titanium hulls of this class, and that consequently production rates would not meet force level requirements. Consequently, the Akula attack submarine project using a steel hull was initiated. Construction of the Sierra class was halted in favor of the [probably] less expensive 'Akula' class.

Some analysts suggested that as many as 26 units of the Sierra II class may have been planned. It is generally accepted that one Project 945A Sierra-II unit was laid down [possibly with the name "Mars"] but cancelled prior to completion. This unit may have been the first of a further modified design, designated Project 945B Mars. According to some sources, three units of the Project 945B series were scrapped on the stocks.

Authoritative sources provide substantially conflicting information concerning the chronology of this class. More significantly, while some sources [ warships1.com , World Navies Today and USNI Military Database ] suggest that only two units of the Sierra-I class were built, other sources [Bellona and Russia's (USSR) Arms Catalog ] suggest that in fact four units were constructed, a claim which is bolstered by the apparently precise construction chronology for the units. One source of potential confusion is that no sources report pennant numbers for the Barracuda or Kondor, which would appear to reflect a confusion between the class name and the name of individual units. The chronology in Russia's (USSR) Arms Catalog evidently is partially derived from that of Bellona, which is suspect because of the discrepancy between the apparent "as of" date of the document and the reported dates of the chronology. Closer inspection reveals greater consistency in reported milestone dates than in the units or events to which these dates are attributed.

The Project 945 boats were deployed with the Red Banner Northern Fleet, and based in Ara Bay at the Vidyayevo Naval Base. On 11 February 1992, the K-239 Tula [ex-Karp] collided with the American submarine Baton Rouge just off Kildin Island near the Kola Coast. After the collision, the submarine returned to base, but it was later transferred to Zvezdochka Shipyard in Severodvinsk for upgrades, maintenance and repair. As of April 1995, K-239 was still at the shipyard in Severodvinsk.

K-276 Krab was decommissioned in 1997, after only seven years in service, due to a lack of funding for a needed overhaul. Most sources report that both Project 945A class submarines were decommissioned in 1997 as a result of high operating costs, though some sources suggest they may remain in service.


Designer: Gen. designer N.I.Kvasha (TsKB-112 Lazurit)
  • Krasnoye Sormovo, Zavod 112, Nizhniy Novgorod (ex-Gorkiy);
  • Sevmashpredpriyatiye, Severodvinsk
  • Displacement (tons): 5,200-7,200 tons surfaced
    6,800-10,100 tons submerged [Sierra I]
    10,400 tons submerged [Sierra II]
    Speed (kts): 18 knots surfaced
    35-36 knots submerged
    Operating Depth: 2,300 feet Maximum Safe Depth
    2,625 feet Never-Exceed Depth
    3,000 feet Crush depth
    Endurance 4,500 full power hours
    50 days stores endurance
    Dimensions (m): 107.0 meters long [Sierra I]
    110.5-112.7 meters long [Sierra II]
    11.2-12.3 meters beam
    8.5-9.5 meters draft (surfaced) [Sierra I]
    9.4 meters draft (surfaced) [Sierra II]
    Propulsion: 1 OK-650 190 MWt presurized-water nuclear reactor
    steam turbines 47-50,000 shp
    1 7 bladed propeller, titanium hull
    Crew: 59-61 [31 officers / 28-30 enlisted]
  • P-100 Oniks/SS-N-22 Sunburn anti-ship missiles,
  • 2 RPK-6 Vodopod/SS-N-16 Stallion rocket delivered nuclear depth charges
  • RPK-7 Vodopei/SS-N-16 Stallion rocket-delivered homing torpedoes
  • 1 Strela SAM SA-N-5/8 position
  • Torpedoes: 4 x 21" (533mm) bow mounted Torpedo Tubes [two internal and two external]
    w/BA-111 Shkval underwater rocket, SET-72, TEST-71M, USET-80 torpedoes
    4 x 25.6" (650mm) bow mounted Torpedo Tubes
    w/ Type 65-76 (650mm)
    42 mines in lieu of torpedoes
  • Chiblis Surface Search radar
  • Medvyedista-945 Navigation system
  • Molniya-M Satellite communications
  • Tsunami, Kiparis, Anis, Sintez and Kora Communications antennas
  • MGK-80 (?) Underwater communications
  • Paravan Towed VLF Antenna
  • Vspletsk Combat direction system
  • MGK-503 Skat suite,active/passive Sonar
  • Akula flank arrays Sonar
  • Pelamida towed array Sonar
  • MG-70 mine detection sonar
  • Bukhta ESM/ECM
  • 2 MG-74 Korund noise simulation decoys (torpedo-sized)
  • MT-70 Sonar intercept receiver
  • Nikhrom-M IFF
  • Class Listing

    #numberName Laid Down Launched Comm. Stricken
    Project 945 ("Barrakuda" type), NATO code "Sierra I"
    1K-239 TulaKS/SV NOR08/05/1982 07/29/1983 09/21/1984 1997(ex-Karp)
    02/11/1992 collided SSN-689
    1997 in reserve pending refuelling
    not expected to return to service
    2K-276 Krab KS/SV NOR04/**/1984 06/**/1986 06/**/1987 ?? 1997 in reserve
    Project 945A ("Kondor" type), NATO code "Sierra II"
    1K-534 PskovNN/SV NOR06/**/1988 05/**/1990 **/**/1992 (ex-Zubatka)
    2K-336 Nizhny NovgorodNN/SV NOR05/**/1990 06/**/1992 08/12/1993 (ex-Okun)
    hull NO. possibly K-239
    3K-123 MarsNN/SV 05/**/1989 07/**/1992 ? cancelled
    possibly 945B
    Project 945B ("Mars" type), NATO code "Sierra III?"
    NN/SV cancelled
    NN/SV cancelled

    Sierra I

    Sierra II

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