Russia Scraps World's Largest Nuclear Submarine: Report

According to a report from Russian state media on Wednesday, the world's largest strategic nuclear ballistic missile submarine has been removed from the Russian naval fleet.

The state-run RIA Novosti news outlet, citing an unnamed Russian defense industry source, said the Dmitry Donskoy, a nuclear ballistic missile submarine that measures nearly 600 feet, has been decommissioned. "The submarine Dmitry Donskoy has been removed from the fleet and is to be scrapped," the source said.

The Typhoon-class submarine, the lead vessel of the Project 941 Akula class of ballistic missile submarines, has been in commission since 1980, the news outlet said.

The 600-foot Oscar II-class Belgorod nuclear submarine, which was commissioned earlier this month, will take Dmitry Donskoy's place as the largest submarine in the world, according to The Moscow Times.

 Russian submarine Dmitry Donskoy
The Russian Typhoon class submarine Dmitry Donskoy, which was once the world's largest in active service, has been decommissioned and removed from active service in the Russian Navy, according to a report from Russian state media. OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images

Naval analyst H I Sutton, citing Open Source Intelligence, said on June 26 that the Dmitry Donskoy was spotted on the surface of the White Sea.

"[Two] largest submarines in the world, Belgorod (K-239) and Dmitriy Donskoi (TK-208) (TYPHOON Class) caught on surface in White Sea," Sutton tweeted. "These subs are ginormous, much bigger than anything in the West, even the US Navy's Ohio Class."

It isn't clear why the two submarines were in the White Sea, close to Russia's northwestern coast.

In January 2021, a military insider source told Russia's state-run news agency TASS that the Russian Navy had no immediate plans to decommission Dmitry Donskoy.

"There are military training events planned for 2021 involving the cruiser. Decommissioning of the submarine is an issue of five years, at least," the source said.

The submarine had been due to be phased out over the coming decades by the new Borei class of nuclear-powered strategic submarines, according to a report from The National Interest.

Meanwhile, several unnamed sources in the shipbuilding industry and law enforcement agencies in the north of Russia offered conflicting information to TASS regarding the Dmitry Donskoy, following RIA Novosti's report.

A TASS source in the shipbuilding industry told the news agency that a decision on the future fate of the submarine would be made no earlier than December this year.

"Then the specialists will have to assess the technical condition of the ship and the stock of nuclear fuel," the source said.

"Recent reports about the withdrawal of Dmitry Donskoy from the Russian Navy do not correspond to reality. The ship is currently performing combat training tasks at sea, participating in combat training activities. It will remain in combat formation at least until the end of the year," another source told TASS.

Russian political scientist and military analyst Alexander Khramchikhin told Russian-language news outlet The Insider that vessels such as the Dmitry Donskoy are typically in commission for 20 to 30 years.

"The nuclear submarine 'Dmitry Donskoy' has long been used only as an experimental one. Naturally, it could not be used for military purposes in any way, except as a large-scale nuclear war," said Khramchikhin.

Military expert Alexei Sukonkin told NEWS.ru that the submarine is most likely past its shelf life.

Newsweek has reached out to Russian authorities for comment.