SHIPS-IN-CLASS (20): Akula (K-284); Barnaul (K-263); Pantera (K-317); Chachalot (K-322); Magadan (K-331); Bratsk (K-391); Ak Bars (K-480); Volk (K-461); Tigr (K-154); Leopard (K-328); Kuzbass (K-419); Nerpa (K-152); Vepr (K-157); Samara (K-295); Ryys (K-333) (cancelled); Gepard (K-335); K-337 (cancelled)
The Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarines of the modern Russian Navy currently (2017) number ten boats from a Cold War-era plan that once called for strength to be twenty. The class is used by both the Russian (former Soviet) and Indian navies. The group was built from the period spanning 1983 until 1994 and commissioning occurred between 1984 and 2009. Five of the group were cancelled with the fall of the Soviet Empire in 1991.
The group has seen at least four different batch modernizations take place: Akula I, Improved Akula I, Akula II and Akula III. The Russian Navy designates the entire class as "Shchuka-B".
The lead ship of the class, Akula K-284, was laid down by Amur Shipyard on November 11th, 1983 while there was still an ongoing Cold War with the West. She was launched on June 27th, 1984 and commissioned into service with the Pacific Fleet on December 30th, 1984.
Akula displaced 8,40 tons surfaced and 12,770 tons submerged. She was given a length of 362 feet with a beam measuring 45 feet and a draught down to 32 feet. Power was from a single OK-650B pressurized water nuclear reactor giving the boat essentially unlimited operating ranges. Speeds when surfaced reached up to 10 knots and, more importantly, up to 35 knots when submerged. Onboard stores allowed the crew to remain at-sea for up to 100 days (officially). The crew complement numbered 73.
The boat's profile was consistent with Soviet submarine design of the period. The sail was well-contoured over the dorsal spine of the hull and of a low-profile design. It was seated at midships. The bow was well-rounded (housing the sonar sensors under the torpedo room) and the stern tapered to form the shroud for the drive shaft. The propeller unit extended a good distance aft of the cruciform plane arrangement at the tail. The vertical tail fin carried a teardrop-style housing for the towed sonar array. Radar, radio and radar-warning antennas were all fixed atop the conning tower.
The Akula carried several active and passive systems for detecting and tracking possible threats. A completed electronics warfare and decoy suite was also installed for self-preservation. Armament centered on 4 x 533mm and 4 x 650mm torpedo tubes with some forty total torpedo reloads available. Additionally, the submarine sailed with as many as three Igla-M Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) shoulder-launched systems to content with low-flying threats and short-to-medium ranges.
At the time of its introduction, the Akula and her sisters came as a surprise to observers in the West due to their cost and very advanced nature. K-284 was decommissioned form active service in 2001 to help shore up the Russian Navy budget heading into the new decade but some of her class maintains an active presence in the Russian Fleet (2017). These have been active in international waters since 2009 as far as is known.