Atomic Fleet

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Atomic Fleet


(military), all the military ships of various classes that use atomic plants as their main source of energy. The atomic submarine fleet is the main nuclear striking force of the Soviet and American navies. The creation of an atomic fleet was begun in the 1960’s when the first atomic submarines were built in the USA and USSR.

Soviet atomic submarines are all-purpose ships; they are capable of striking land targets and of battling with the submarine and surface forces of the enemy’s fleet. They are armed with ballistic and winged rockets, torpedoes, and other weapons with nuclear and nonnuclear warheads. In the American navy the main striking force consists of rocket submarines designed to strike important land objectives. Each submarine carries on board 16 Polaris ballistic missiles with a range of 2,000 to 4,600 km. In addition to these, the USA has atomic submarines armed with torpedoes and rocket torpedoes designed for combat with submarines and surface ships. Great Britain and France have also built atomic rocket and torpedo submarines. The construction of atomic surface ships has not yet become widespread because of their high cost and their as yet insufficiently proven superiority to ordinary ships in combat effectiveness. The American navy also includes several atomic surface ships of various classes—aircraft carriers, cruisers, and frigates.

Ships of the atomic fleet have a practically unlimited range and are virtually self-contained; they are capable of maintaining high speeds for a long period of time and can accomplish their mission in any region of the world’s oceans. This capability is demonstrated by the long cruises, some under the ice, of Soviet atomic submarines to the North Pole, and the successful accomplishment of a round-the-world cruise by a group of Soviet atomic submarines under the command of Rear Admiral A. I. Sorokin in 1966. The high maneuverability of atomic submarines allows them to make daily voyages of 1,000 km and more, to maintain a speed of over 30 knots (over 55 km per hour), and to submerge to a depth of 400 meters and more. All of this, in addition to their undetectable movements, ensures the military reliability of atomic submarines in the accomplishment of various military missions and the ability to remain for months in distant regions of the ocean in direct contact with the enemy, with nuclear weapons on board, and to successfully accomplish various missions of sea warfare.

Atomic surface ships have high maneuverability and up-to-date antiaircraft and antisubmarine defenses, but they are vulnerable targets for atomic rockets and rocket-carrying aircraft and submarines, since they are relatively easily detected by the enemy’s reconnaissance. Ships of the atomic fleet are capable of carrying out a nuclear missile attack against military-industrial, economic, and political centers and military force groupings; they provide sea transport and landing of troops on the enemy’s shores; they.can destroy ships and transport vessels at sea and at their bases; they provide protection for their own sea and ocean transport; and they support troops engaged in land operations in the war theater.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.