Submarines: Fastest Boat In the World Goes To The Breakers

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August 5, 2008: Russia is decommissioning and scraping its fastest submarine. The only ship of its class, the K-222 entered service in 1970, and was referred to by NATO as the Papa Class. This 5,200 nuclear boat had a record breaking top speed of 82 kilometers an hour. But it was very noisy at this speed, and uncomfortable for the crew as well, so not very useful as a combat boat. The K-222 did, however, serve as a test bed for two other classes of subs; the smaller (2,300 ton) Alfa class SSNs (attack boats), and the larger missile carrying boats. Because of their high cost (they had the same titanium hull as the K-222), only seven Alfa's were built in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The K-222 also carried ten anti-ship missiles, and this feature taught the Russians that silence, more than speed, was needed for these weapons to work in combat. The 4,3000 ton Charlie class appeared a few years before the K-222, but these only had a top speed of closer to 45 kilometers an hour.

The K-222 has been laid up for twenty years, after problems with its reactor proved too expensive to repair. Actually, the K-222 cost about twice what a Charlie class boat cost to operate, and was less effective as a "carrier killer" (a sub equipped with anti-ship missiles.) Thus there was no incentive to get the K-222 back into service. Thus, age finally caught up with the K-222, and it will be cut up for scrap.

 


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