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Bellona Report nr. 2:96. Written by: Thomas Nilsen, Igor Kudrik and Alexandr Nikitin.

Project 705, 705 K (Lira) - Alfa Class

Drawing of 705, 705 K (Lira) - Alfa
Northern Fleet Pacific Fleet Total
In service 1 0 1
Inactive 6 0 6
Dismantled 2 0 2
Number 7

All of the Alfa submarines have been or are assigned to the Northern Fleet.

Technical Information

Length: 81.4 m Displacement: 2 310/3 120 tons
Beam: 9.5 m Maximum Depth: 750 m
Draught: 7.6 m Hull: Titanium Alloy
Speed: 41 knots Crew: 30

Compartments: 6

Only two compartments in the submarine are manned. All other operations are executed from the control room.

Reactor [249]

One liquid metal (lead bismuth) cooled reactor, model BM-40A/OK-550, generating 155 MWt. The mixture of lead and bismuth utilised in the reactor has a high boiling point (1.679°C ). Therefore, it is unnecessary to keep the reactor under pressure as is the case with water cooled reactors. Conversely, it is important to keep the reactors constantly heated so that the metal solution does not solidify, as it will if the temperature falls below 125°C. If the solution hardens, it will be impossible to restart the reactor, for the fuel assemblies will have been frozen in the solidified coolant. Near the piers where the submarines were moored, a special facility was constructed to deliver superheated steam to the vessels' reactors when the reactors were shut down. A smaller ship was also stationed at the pier to deliver steam from its steam plant to the Alfa submarines; however, this method of external heating proved to be unsatisfactory, and the submarine reactors consequently had to be kept running even while they were in harbour. The facilities completely broke down early in the 1980s, and since then, the reactors of all of the operational Alfa submarines were kept constantly running. This led to extra wear on the reactors and required that the vessels be constantly manned. Indeed, the difficulty of trying to externally heat the submarine reactors was one of the reasons that the Alfa class was taken out of service in the late 1980s. The reactors of the Alfa class submarines were never refuelled as were the pressurised water reactors of other types of submarines, for it was simply not technically possible to remove the fuel assemblies without the metal coolant solidifying in the process. The term "single use reactors" is therefore applied to the Alfa reactors. The reactors of the Alfa class submarines had an operational lifetime of 70 years altogether.

Nuclear Weapons

Fitted for 82-R (SS-N-15) torpedoes.

Naval Architects, Principal constructor:

SKB-193 (Malakhit), M.G. Rusanov and V.A. Romin, naval architects.

Construction Yard

Admiralty Yard in St. Petersburg and Severodvinsk.

Base

The Alfa class submarines were based at Bolshaya Lopatka in Zapadnaya Litsa. Three of the vessels are still there.

Comments

The Alfa class submarine was built for speed; hence it was of small consequence that it was noisy, for it could escape from any torpedoes fired at it. The Alfa submarines had an operation endurance of one month.

Individual Submarines

K-377,
(K-47), factory no. 900. (Commanding Officer: A.S. Pushkin) This submarine suffered a reactor accident in 1972 during sea trials. The metal coolant "froze" and it was therefore impossible to remove the reactor fuel. After this trial period, the submarine was dismantled. The reactor compartment (no. 140) was filled with furfurol and bitumen and placed on a barge for transport to the Kara Sea where it would be dumped. However, just as the barge holding the reactor was being towed out of Severodvinsk, word came from the Soviet Department of the Environment that the London Convention had just been signed and the reactor was not to be dumped at sea. Subsequently, the barge was instead towed to the island Yagry outside Zvezdochka Shipyard where it remains today. On December 21. 1994 it was decided to move the reactor-section to Gremikha, where it will be stored on shore.[250]
K-123,
factory no. 105. Built at Severodvinsk. Launched on December 26, 1977. The original reactor compartment was removed in 1982 following an accident, and a new one installed.[251] Liquid metal from the primary cooling circuit leaked out and contaminated the entire reactor compartment. It took eight years to change reactors, and the submarine was finally launched again in 1990. Recommissioned in 1991, it was scheduled for decommissioning over the course of 1995.[252]
K-432,
factory no. 106. This submarine is in the process of being dismantled at Sevmash Shipyard in Severodvinsk.[253] The reactor core was removed in Gremikha and is being stored there. The reactor compartment was scheduled to be towed to Sayda Bay over the course of 1995.[254]
K-463,
factory no. 915. Decommissioned at Sevmash Shipyard sometime after 1986. The fuel has been removed from the reactor and is being stored at Gremikha. In 1994, the reactor compartment was towed to Sayda Bay on the Kola Peninsula, and it is moored there today.[255] The compartment was filled with 20 tons of solid radioactive waste before it was cleaned and towed away from Severodvinsk.[256]
K-493,
factory no. 107. Laid up in Zapadnaya Litsa.[257] The reactor core was removed in Gremikha where it is now being stored. The submarine is scheduled to be towed to Severodvinsk to be dismantled at Sevmash Shipyard.[258]
K-373,
factory no. 910. Laid up in Zapadnaya Litsa; the reactor fuel has not been removed.
K-316,
factory no. 905. Work on dismantling this submarine started in the autumn of 1995 and is ongoing at Sevmash Shipyard in Severodvinsk.[259] The reactor core was removed at Gremikha where it is now being stored. The reactor compartment was scheduled to be towed to Sayda Bay over the course of 1995.

Foto Foto, 25 kb.


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Endnotes

[249] Atomnaya Energia, vol. 73, no. 1 - 1992 and vol. 76, no. 2 - 1994. Return
[250] Problems with decommisoning of nuclear submarines and protection of the environment i the arctic areas., page 29-30, Severodvinsk, March 15.-16. 1995. Return
[251] Mormul, N., Note, 1995. Return
[252] Jane's Fighting Ships 1995-96, 98th edition. Return
[253] Problems with decommisoning of nuclear submarines and protection of the environment i the arctic areas., page 29-30, Severodvinsk, March 15.-16. 1995. Return
[254] Visit in Sayda Bay, Spring 1995. Return
[255] Ibid. Return
[256] Severny Rabochy, November 18, 1994. Return
[257] Mormul, N., Note, 1995. Return
[258] Sjmakov, R. A., Lecture presented in the document Problems with decommisoning of nuclear submarines and protection of the environment i the arctic areas., Severodvinsk, March 15.-16. 1995. And Mormul, N., Note, 1995. Return
[259] Problems with decommisoning of nuclear submarines and protection of the environment i the arctic areas., page 29-30, Severodvinsk, March 15.-16. 1995. Return


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