World’s 2nd Biggest Submarine – Is Russia Decommissioning Its Gigantic Dmitry Donskoy Nuclear Sub?

Dmitry Donskoy joined the Russian Navy in the 1980s and successfully served there for almost 20 years before being modernized in 2002 under project 941UM. The Dmitry Donskoy submarine was equipped with 20 Bulava ballistic missiles, enabling it to strike any enemy with a devastating blow. 

Dmitry Donskoy – One of the world’s largest nuclear ballistic missile submarine, an essential component of Russia’s naval force, was reported to be decommissioned, a Russian state media outlet claimed on July 20.

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The Dmitry Donskoy, a Typhoon-class submarine, is 175 meters long and has been a part of the Northern Fleet of the Russian Navy since 1980.

The state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited an unidentified source in the Russian defense industry as saying, “The submarine Dmitry Donskoy has been removed from the fleet and is to be scrapped.”

The Oscar II-class Belgorod nuclear submarine, which was commissioned earlier in July and measures 184 meters, will replace it as the largest submarine in the world, claimed the report.

The Belgorod and the Dmitry Donskoy were last seen together in the White Sea off the coast of northwest Russia, as previously reported by the EurAsian Times.

Experts at the time speculated that the Dmitry Donskoy was escorting the Belgorod during sea trials before the latter ship entered service. 

Russian submarine Dmitriy Donskoi (TK-208) - Wikipedia
Russian submarine Dmitriy Donskoi (TK-208) – Wikipedia

“The source recalled that the name “Dmitry Donskoy” has already been assigned to another strategic nuclear submarine of the Borey-A class, which was laid down last year at Sevmash,” RIA Novosti said.

Tass, another state-owned media outlet, disputed these reports, claiming that the Project 941 heavy nuclear submarine missile cruiser (TAPRKSN) “Dmitry Donskoy” (code “Akula”) is currently conducting combat training at sea. 

“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 events.

It will remain in combat formation at least until the end of the year,” the report said, citing one of the sources. A Tass source in the shipbuilding sector added that no decision could be made regarding the ship’s future before December 2022.

He added that the ship’s technical condition and the stock of nuclear fuel would then need to be evaluated by experts. However, the source did not completely rule out the possibility that this would allow the ship’s service life to be extended by several more years.

The Russian submarine “Dmitry Donskoy” joined the Navy in the 1980s and successfully served there for almost 20 years before being modernized in 2002 under project 941UM. The Dmitry Donskoy submarine was equipped with 20 Bulava ballistic missiles, enabling it to strike any enemy with a devastating blow. 


On September 27, 2005, the gigantic submarine fired its first Bulava missile. The missile was launched from the White Sea while the submarine had surfaced. Later, the crew attempted the first firing of a Bulava missile underwater.

In December 2005, they were successful in doing so, striking a target on the Kera Test Range. The Navy received a total of six units from project 941. The Northern Fleet in Zapadnaya Litsa housed all of the ships (Nerpichya Bay).

According to the reports, three of them have been disposed of so far with US funding. Two, “Arkhangelsk” and “Severstal,” have been removed from the fleet and are awaiting disposal. 

Nuke-Powered Subs Start Trials 

Meanwhile, another Russian Nuclear powered Submarine has started shipbuilder’s sea trials. Generalissimus Suvorov, the Project 955A (Borei-A) second serial-built nuclear-powered submarine cruiser, made its first deployment to the White Sea for shipbuilders’ sea trials, Tass reported on July 20. 

The tests will evaluate the submarine’s operational capabilities, seaworthiness, and uniformity to the designed properties.

The source cited by Tass explained that the cutting-edge nuclear-powered submarine would undergo state trials with actual checks of all of its armament systems after a variety of shipbuilders’ tests.

According to current plans, the Generalissimus Suvorov will be incorporated into the combat inventory of the Russian Navy until the end of 2022.

On December 26, 2014, the Generalissimus Suvorov, a strategic nuclear-powered submarine, was laid down at the Sevmash Shipyard (a division of United Shipbuilding Corporation) in northwest Russia. 

Launch ceremony for the “Generalissimo Suvorov” (Picture source: Sevmash Shipyard )

The submarine belongs to the fourth generation of nuclear-powered submarines constructed for the Russian Navy as part of the upgraded Borei-A Project. It is designed by the St. Petersburg-based Rubin Central Design Bureau of Marine Engineering.

The Project includes entirely new technical approaches, enhanced tools, reduced physical fields, improved security, and locally produced parts. The cutting-edge submarine cruiser will join and strengthen the nuclear-powered submarine force of the Russian Pacific Fleet.

On December 21, 2021, the Navy received the first serial-built missile-carrying submarine, Knyaz Oleg, under the project. The submarines of the Borei-A class are equipped with 533mm torpedo tubes and can carry 16 Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles. 

The Borei-A subs have better acoustic stealth, maneuvering, and deep-sea running capabilities than the base Borei series subs. It also has an upgraded armament control system.