SHIPS-IN-CLASS (8): K-19; K-33 / K-54; K-55; K-40; K-16; K-145; K-149; K-178
OPERATORS: Soviet Union (retired)
PROPULSION: 2 x Pressurized water nuclear reactor systems driving power to 2 x Shafts astern.
Detailing the development and operational history of the Hotel (class) / (Project 658) Nuclear-Powered Ballistic Missile Submarine.
Entry last updated on 12/10/2017.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
In the post-World War 2 period, the Soviet Union fought to keep pace with American submarine development and, in some cases, superseded what was being done halfway around the world. This resulted in the Soviet Navy fielding one of the most capable undersea fleets of the Cold War era which spanned from 1947 until 1991. One of the boat classes introduced during the period was the Hotel-class which was notable for its twin-nuclear power plant propulsion scheme and its missile-only armament fit. Eight boats were built to the standard and these were used to succeed the November-class units of 1959. They were, themselves, succeeded by the more capable Yankee-class which arrived in the late 1960s (in thirty-four examples).
In profile, the Hotel-class, on the whole, continued to carry the established form of earlier Soviet boats dating back to the pre-World War 2 period. The boats were given relatively blunt bows and forward-set sails with level deck lines. The rudder controls and propeller units were featured at their usual place aft. As with the earlier ballistic missile submarines of Soviet design, the vertical missile silos were featured as part of the sail, installed in its aft section. The boats were constructed at the Severodvinsk shipyard and entered service in or around 1960.
Internally there was a crew of 104. The propulsion scheme used 2 x Pressurized water reactors driving power to 2 x shafts. This provided the vessel with a surfaced speed of 18 knots and a submerged speed of 26 knots, making them quite fast in the latter spec. The armament system revolved around three missiles (vertical silos) that could launched when the submarine was submerged (though no deeper than 50 or so feet) and under way at speed.
Work on the Hotel-class commenced in late-1956 and the program fell under the "Project 658" name.
Three distinct batches of the Hotel-class were constructed, differing mainly in their armament fit. The Hotel I boats relied on the R-13 (SS-N-4) "Sark" missile series while the Hotel II boats were finished with support for the R-21 (SS-N-5) "Serb" missile series. The Hotel II batch were merely seven of the Hotel I boats reworked during 1961 to 1963 with the new D-4 launching system. One boat, K-145, was reworked during 1969 /1970 to the Hotel III standard in an effort to trial the R-29 missile family (six missiles to be carried in two 3-cell blocks). The hull was lengthened for the role and, in turn, displacement increased and the vessel proved slower than all her sisters - making headway at 22 knots when submerged.
As Cold War submarine designs went, the Hotel-class was influenced by an earlier Soviet effort - the aforementioned November-class. These were themselves notable in becoming the first Soviet submarines to operate strictly under nuclear power (as opposed to diesel-electric arrangements) and proved a grand evolution of the Soviet undersea fleet. Nuclear power allowed vessels to stay under water for longer periods, run quieter than their diesel-electric counterparts, and range out nearly indefinitely. This, coupled with a missile-only armament, made the Hotel-class a feared enemy capable of surfacing nearly anywhere in the world to launch its lethal payload if not detected first. The Hotel-class also benefitted from a proven - and improved - control scheme which made it more controllable (and quieter) under the sea.
All of the Hotel-class boats managed to see retirement, being decommissioned from 1987 into 1991. Lead ship K-19 was the first in active service when it joined the Soviet ranks on November 12th, 1960 and was the last to leave service in 1991. None of the lot were preserved and all were eventually sold for scrap.