This Sunken Russian Submarine Has Buried 'Nuclear Treasure' (Think Nuclear Weapons)

Robert Farley

Key point: For better or worse, the sub sank too deep for modern technology to be able to reach.

The Bay of Biscay is one of the world’s great submarine graveyards. In late World War II, British and American aircraft sank nearly seventy German U-boats in the Bay, which joined a handful of Allied and German subs sunk in the region during World War I. On April 12, 1970, a Soviet submarine found the same resting place. Unlike the others, however, K-8 was propelled by two nuclear reactors, and carried four torpedoes tipped by nuclear warheads.

The Novembers (627):

The November (Type 627) class was the Soviet Union’s first effort at developing nuclear attack submarines. The 627s were rough contemporaries of the Skate and Skipjack class attack boats of the U.S. Navy (USN), although they were somewhat larger and generally less well-arranged. Displacing 4750 tons submerged, the thirteen 627s could make thirty knots and carry twenty torpedoes (launched from eight forward tubes). Visually, the 627s resembled a larger version of the Foxtrot class diesel-electric subs; the Soviets would not adopt a teardrop hull until the later Victor class. The Novembers were renowned in the submarine community for their noise; louder than any contemporary nuclear sub, and even preceding diesel-electric designs.

The Novembers were initially designed with a strategic purpose in mind. The Soviets worked on a long-range nuclear armed torpedo (dubbed T-15), which could strike NATO naval bases from ranges of up to 40km. The torpedo was so large that each submarine could only carry a single weapon. However, increasingly effective Western anti-submarine technology quickly scotched the first mission. The Novembers were too loud to plausibly find their way into close enough proximity to a NATO port to ever actually fire a nuclear torpedo in wartime conditions.

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