The Russian Navy continues to develop how it intends to deploy its latest strategic weapon – a bus-sized torpedo with a nuclear warhead.
The Poseidon weapon, described in US Navy documents as an autonomous intercontinental nuclear-powered torpedo, will require new bases and facilities and new imagery, giving hints on where and how the Russian Navy could use the new weapons. .
Maxar satellite images taken earlier this month and provided to USNI News confirm that a special purpose vessel, Akademik Alexander, uses the installation. And the ship appears to have a Poseidon cartridge, or related substitute charge, on board.
The facility is located on the north bank of the North Dvina River, by the White Sea. Work on the new wharf began in 2018 and was largely completed in 2020. Akademik Alexander has been observed there in July and August. There is also a large building which was recently constructed next to the new wharf and may also be linked to Poseidon’s operations. This specific dock appears to be directly related to Poseidon’s testing activities, according to imagery.
Severodvinsk is where many of Russia’s most advanced submarines are built and is already closely associated with Poseidon. The specialized ships and submarines involved in the first tests were based there. The submarine Sarov (B-90) was launched in 2007 and appears to be specially designed for testing oversized torpedoes such as Poseidon. He’s based right along the river.
Poseidon represents a new category of strategic weapons and changes the shape of the nuclear threat. Although the specifications of the system are clouded by secrecy, guesswork, and misinformation, the new weapon is expected to work extremely deep and quickly, based on the design guesses.
The system will be carried by a fleet of new host submarines designed to line up the submarines. The first of them, K-329 Belgorod, is currently based directly across from the new pier. The submarine is undergo sea trials and is currently rigged for sonar calibration. A second submarine carrying Poseidon, Khabarovsk, is under construction nearby. Ultimately, four Poseidon submarines are expected to be built, with operational patrols starting in the coming years.
Observing facilities such as the new wharf will give a picture of the new capabilities of the Russian Navy. It also shows the enormous cost of the program, requiring new supporting infrastructure and a range of test vessels and submarines.