Russia's Navy has taken delivery of the world's longest submarine.
The submarine, known as the Belgorod, is over 608 feet long. It was turned over to the Russian Navy earlier this month, CNN reported.
While its creator claims it is a research vessel, others say that it is a platform for espionage or even nuclear weapons.
The Belgorod's design, according to experts, is a modified version of Russia's Oscar II class guided-missile submarines, made longer in order to eventually accommodate equipment for intelligence gathering and the world's first stealth torpedoes armed with nuclear weapons.
The Belgorod's success in adding these abilities to the Russian Navy could potentially set the stage for Russian and U.S. submarines tracking and hunting each other, as they did during the Cold War.
The submarine is expected to carry the Poseidon nuclear-capable torpedoes. These are being designed to be launched from hundreds of miles and to travel along the ocean floor in order to sneak past coastal defenses.
"This nuclear 'mega torpedo' is unique in the history of the world. Poseidon is a completely new category of weapon. It will reshape naval planning in both Russia and the West, leading to new requirements and new counter-weapons," according to American submarine expert H.I. Sutton.
Both Russian and U.S. officials have stated that the torpedoes are able to carry warheads of multiple megatons, which could cause radioactive waves and make much of the target coastline uninhabitable for decades. Christopher A. Ford, then assistant secretary of state for international security and non-proliferation, said in November 2020 that the torpedoes are designed to "inundate U.S. coastal cities with radioactive tsunamis." A Congressional Research Service (CRS) report earlier this year said that the Poseidons are meant as retaliatory weapons. The report added that the Belgorod can carry up to eight Poseidons.
According to Sutton, the Poseidon, expected to be 2 meters in diameter and more than 20 meters long, is "the largest torpedo ever developed," saying that the Poseidon's size is "30 times the size of a regular 'heavyweight' torpedo."
The CRS said it does not expect the Poseidons to be deployed until 2027.
Sutton stated that the Belgorod would also probably operate as an intelligence gathering platform, saying that the submarine "will be crewed by the Russian Navy but operated under GUGI, the secretive Main Directorate of Deep-Sea Research organization." It will also carry midget submarines and submersibles in order to "conduct covert special missions."
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