Russian Mystery Submarine Likely Deployment Vehicle for New Nuclear Torpedo / Status-6 (Статус-6), aka KANYON

Russian Mystery Submarine Likely Deployment Vehicle for New Nuclear Torpedo

Last month the Kremlin leaked its plan to develop the new Status-6 (or Kanyon) strategic weapon under the guise of a state controlled television feed accidentally catching a glimpse of the program overview.

The torpedo, according to the leaked details, is designed to “destroy important economic installations of the enemy in coastal areas and cause guaranteed devastating damage to the country’s territory by creating wide areas of radioactive contamination, rendering them unusable for military, economic or other activity for a long time,” according to a translation of the document by the BBC.

A rendering of the Status-6 nuclear torpedo used with permission. H I Sutton Image

A rendering of the Status-6 nuclear torpedo used with permission. H I Sutton Image

According to the leaked images, the Status-6 maybe as large as 80 feet long and powered by a nuclear reactor to give the torpedo a range of thousands of miles to deploy a warhead of up to 100 megatons.

The existence of the weapon also presents the best explanation yet to a mysterious submarine laid done last year in Russia’s Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk.

The Project 09851 nuclear submarine Khabarovsk has some similarities its new Borei-class of ballistic missile submarines but shorter and absent any ballistic missiles tubes.

Instead, according to study of the imagery by naval analyst H I Sutton, Khabarovsk is being custom built to field up to six of the Status-6 torpedoes.

Sutton determined the Khabarovsk design follows on a similar configuration found on the test submarine Sarov launched in 2007 that could also accommodate a torpedo the size of Status-6.

A comparison of the Sarov and Khabarovsk submarines used with permission. H I Sutton Image

A comparison of the Sarov and Khabarovsk submarines used with permission. H I Sutton Image

“The leaked graphic strongly hints toward the Khabarovsk having two side-by-side hulls in the bow,” wrote Sutton.

“The basic reason behind this arrangement is that the torpedoes have to fire forward, and are carried externally to the occupied pressure hulls.”

The configuration would create a first-of-its-kind strategic weapons platform purpose built to sidestep the growing effectiveness of American ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems.

Just before the reveal of Status-6 on state television, Russian president Vladimir Putin told military officials the U.S. ballistic missile defense Aegis Ashore installation in Romania and Poland were, “an attempt to undermine the existing parity in strategic nuclear weapons and essentially to upset the whole system of global and regional stability.”
While little about the Status-6 or the purpose Khabarovsk can be proved definitively at the moment — the attention the disclosure has generated does benefit the Russian military-industrial complex.

A briefing slide of the alleged Status-6 nuclear torpedo captured from Russian television via the BBC

“Ship, submarine and weapons exports remain a major source of income for the Russian economy and news of new advanced Russian mystery weapons and submarines, regardless of whether they ever enter production or not, helps enhance their reputation on the international arms market, and also contributes to a growing pride the Russian people feel regarding their defense forces,” Eric Wertheim — naval analyst and author of U.S. Naval Institute’s Combat Fleets of the World — told USNI News on Thursday.

Still, the emergence of the weapon has registered official concern from U.S. officials.

“We are concerned about [Status-6] as a threat to the United States, but if it turns into a system that is widely put into operational deployment,” Rose Gottemoeller, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, told the House on Tuesday.

“I think it is a troubling system.”

Original article:



Sarov in port. Note that this photo was doctored by the Russian authorities to hide details of her bow door

Construction of this submarine started in the final years of the Cold War but like so many other projects she was halted when the Soviet Union imploded. Somehow surviving the scrap merchants, the hull was mothballed and eventually restarted in the mid-2000s. Now christened the Sarov, the boat was eventually launched in 2007 and commissioned into the Russian Fleet in 2008.

As laid down, she was a Project 877 KILO Class diesel-electric attack submarine (SSK), but as finished she is a Project 20120 nuclear-electric sub. That propulsion arrangement is one of the things that makes her so unique and interesting, there isn’t even designation for it.

The above photographs clearly show the overhanging nose and bow doo . Note the lack of torpedo tubes.  Sarov submarine

One of the first misinformations on the internet is her size. Because she was based on a KILO Class submarine hull her length is generally quoted as 72m (236ft) long and 9.9m (32ft) wide. In fact she is nearer to 98m (322ft) long. This is immediately apparent from satellite imagery and from photographs of her tied up alongside a KILO Class boat. The extra length fits with the addition of the nuclear reactor section immediately aft of the sail. The sail itself is also much larger than on the KILO and now contains an escape capsule section like on recent Russian nuclear submarines.

The other curiosity is the forward section, which has a pronounced overbite just below the waterline. The receding chin seems to follow the same profile as the KILO class, with the upper section being an extension. There is no provision for torpedo tubes but the protruding nose features a large square cut hanger door where the torpedo tubes would ordinarily be. Below and this on the starboard (right) side of the bow is a small square-cut hatch with an externally opened handle suggesting a diver access. More noticeable, behind this along the waterline are large sponsons which may contain either lateral sonar arrays or some form of ballast tanks for the hanger section. It would be easy to speculate of course, but it does all add up to a very unique boat.

It has been suggested that she is used for espionage although there is no real evidence for this. The Russian Navy possesses multiple special spy submarines (X-RAY, UNIFORM and LOSHARIK Classes) so there is no real need for another and she spends most of her time in port in Severomorsk. A mystery submarine. By H I Sutton

Project 20120 SAROV submarine used to test the Status-6

Status-6 torpedo

The Status-6 (Статус-6), aka KANYON, has been described as an unmanned midget submarine, but it is better thought of as a massively-large nuclear powered and nuclear armed torpedo. It is ginormous: 1.6m (5.5ft) in diameter and about 24m (79ft) long. To put that into perspective, it is about 27 times the volume of a regular 533mm (21”) heavyweight torpedo.

Status-6 (Статус-6) KANYON mega-torpedo

Status-6 (Статус-6) aka KANYON nuclear powered and nuclear armed torpedo

The warhead is reported as a 100 megatons (which may be much too high!) nuclear device with a ‘dirty’ Cobalt shell in order to maximize the radioactive fallout. The payload is similar to the warheads used in ICBMs (Inter-continental Ballistic Missile) but only one is carried on the torpedo. It could therefore be compared to a city being hit by a single MIRV (Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicle) except that it explodes under the water. The effect is likely to be much more localized than an air-burst, but with greater local contamination spread by a radioactive ‘rain’. The explosion itself may be some way out of the target city due to geography and obstacle defenses but a shoreline city like New York would wiped out by a single hit. Performance variables:

Depth: The stated running depth of 1,000m is credible and places it below current countermeasures. The problem of building torpedoes and/or depth charges to hit it are not insurmountable but will take investment and renewed focus.

Speed: The claimed speed of 100 knots (185 kph) is incredibly fast for a torpedo. The leaked cutaway drawing shows that there is a nuclear reactor coupled with a steam turbine driving a propeller shaft so we know that it is not a rocket type weapon. At these speeds there would be vibration and stability problems for the designers to overcome. For the moment 100kt seems too fast but we will have to wait and see if the specifications become more realistic.

Range: The leaked document claims that the weapon can be launched from as far as 10,000 km (5,400 nm) away. Given its nuclear powerplant this seems credible. Even at an incredible 100kt, it would take 4 days to reach its target at maximum reach. Operationally we would expect ranges to be far shorter, but still undoubtedly an extremely long ranged weapon. It also seems likely that some of the distance would be accomplished under ice adding additional complexity both to navigation and to NATO countermeasures.


Length: 24m (79ft) (estimate)
Diameter: 1.6m (5.5ft)
Weight: TBC – heavy and negatively buoyant
Speed: Stated as 185 kph (100kt)
Endurance: 10,000 km (5200 nm) and ~100 hrs
Maximum Operating depth: 1,000m (3,000ft)
Crew: unmanned
Warhead: Nuclear with Cobalt shell. Payload to be confirmed but speculated to be as high as 100 megatons.
Powerplant: 1 x nuclear reactor driving a pumpjet.
Sensors: Long range internal guidance, possibly with external update/abort. Obstical avoidance sonar.

KHABAROVSK submarine

The main launching platform of KANYON is likely to be the new Project 09851KHABAROVSK (пр.09851 “Калитка-СМП” “Хабаровск”) submarine. This boat is similar to but smaller than the Project 955 ‘BOREI’ (пр.955 “Борей” – BOREI) SSBN with was as designed by the famous Rubin design bureau. Certain design features allow us to estimate the dimensions of the boat (see specs below). Working off a similar hull diameter to the BOERI we can estimate the submarine’s length as 120m versus 160m for the BOREI. This makes sense as the KHABAROVSK does not require the missile section behind the sail. And it is even possible that it shares many components and even hull sections with the SSBN. The stated displacement of 10,000 tons makes it massive, but is much lighter than the 13,000 ton BOREI.

Status-6 (Статус-6) KANYON mega-torpedo

The leaked graphic strongly hints toward the KHABAROVSK having two side-by-side hulls in the bow. This is a highly unusual arrangement but is actually not dissimilar to the Project 20120 SAROV submarine used to test the Status-6. The basic reason behind this arrangement is that the torpedoes have to fire forward, and are carried externally to the occupied pressure hulls. Therefore a stack of six massive torpedo tubes occupied the space where the forward pressure hull would ordinarily be, thus shifting occupied space into smaller hulls either side.

Status-6 (Статус-6) KANYON mega-torpedoStatus-6 (Статус-6) KANYON mega-torpedo

The regular 533mm (21”) and/or 650mm (25.5”) torpedo are most likely carried in the flank hulls although the question remains as to how they are reloaded. Alternatively they may be carried further aft in flank tubes angled outward to avoid the bulbous bow.

Project 09851 submarine specification

Displacement: 10,000 tons surfaced
Length: 120m (estimate, see analysis)
Diameter: 13m main hull, 16m across forward section (estimates, see analysis)
Speed: TBC but almost certainly over 20kt
Endurance: Unlimited. At least 60 days supplies
Maximum Operating depth: TBC – likely 400-500m
Crew: TBC
Powerplant: 1 x nuclear reactor (probably ОК-650В) driving a single pumpjet.
Armament: 6 x Status-6 nuclear torpedoes. Unspecified capability to launch regular torpedoes and decoys.

By H I Sutton

‘BOREI’ submarine

Project 09852 Belgorod


Project 09852 developed by JSC “CDB ME” Rubin “(St. Petersburg). As the base was taken missile submarine construction project 949A. Virtually fit ceremony on December 20 perezakladku produced on a brand new project 09852 SSGN K-329” Belgorod “made on the amended Project 949A. Constructions “Belgorod” began to SMEs in 1990 This boat was formally incorporated July 24, 1992, becoming the first ship of the modified draft 949A. In 2006, the construction of the “Belgorod” was dropped. At the time of cessation of work overall technology readiness was about 76%. Now “Belgorod” will complete the project 09852 as a huge nuclear submarine carrier uninhabited and manned submersibles. Customer — General Directorate of deep research of the Defense Ministry (head of department — Vice Admiral Burilichev AV)


H I Sutton

The right to establish mortgage board was presented CEO “Sevmash” and the Commander in Chief of the Navy. Viktor Chirkov noted the contribution of enterprises in the development of Russia’s nuclear fleet shipbuilders and wished success in the development of Russian nuclear shield. In turn Misha Budnichenko stressed that the company will make every effort in order to serve in the submarine continuation of many meth, had the highest reliability and enforce its tasks.


About 949A

Project nuclear submarines with cruise missiles designed LMPB “Ruby.” Management produces the main designer of PP Pustyntsevym After his death in August 1977 was appointed principal designer Baranova IL Project 949A — Development Project 949 with refreshed assembly and an additional compartment strong case. Initially, it was planned to build a huge series of 20 SSGN.

In the Navy Boats project received unofficial title of “Baton” — because of the shape of the hull and the impressive size.

The design of double-hulled. For the production of robust steel casing used an AK-33 (Development Research Institute “Prometheus”) with a width of 45-68 mm. Strong body was laid out in sections 10 having a cylindrical form of variable width in the middle and the bow of the submarine. End bulkheads strong case is made by casting, and had the following radii: Bow — 8 m aft — 6.5 m rocket launcher placed at an angle of 45 degrees to the horizon beyond a sound body. The design of the submarine is specially equipped to operate in the Arctic — have special reinforcement cutting and lightweight body.

Strong housing submarine is divided into 10 sections:
Bow torpedo;
The second to put the battery compartment and the central government;
3rd — radio room and battle stations;
4th — accommodation;
Fifth (additional storage) — auxiliary machinery and electrical equipment;
2nd — support mechanisms;
Seventh — reactor;
The eighth and ninth — Turbine, GTZA;
Tenth — propulsion motors.

Length of enclosure sliding devices is 29 meters. It posted a rescue bubble chamber capable of holding the entire crew of the submarine. Also in the fencing of the two devices is the TMSI employees for firing anti-sonar devices, and containers with anti-aircraft guided missiles for MANPADS “Igla-1”. Placed along the outer hull demagnetizing device. Light body covered protivogidroakusticheskim coating.

Length strong body submarines project 949A 10 meters longer than the strong body of submarines of Project 949. Dimensions rudders are also more than 949 project.

The propulsion installation Project 949A submarines is unified with the installation of Project 941 and Project 949 is quite similar. The unit has a block design with two-stage damping.

The structure of the propulsion system consisted of:
Two pressurized-water nuclear reactor OK-OK-650M.01 and 650M.02 capacity of 190 MW;
Two steam generating unit;
Two modular steam turbine installation “Azurite” with GTZA OK-9DM (capacity of each HP 49000-50000);
Two spare motor PG-106, Power 306 hp each (According to other sources 225 hp);
Two-shaft propulsion system, 6 double bladed fixed pitch propellers;
Two thrusters.

Power system:
Two turbo generators, power 3200 kW each;
Two emergency diesel generators DG-190/ASDG-800, power of 800 kW each;
Lead-acid battery — two groups of 152 pieces.

Options are hypothetical use of the boat carrier “Belgorod”:
According to the official version of the boat carrier will carry one or several inhabited deep-saving apparatus and several unmanned autonomous vehicles. Perhaps the latter will be located on the site of rocket launchers Project 949A. The second is hypothetical version — will be deep submarine nuclear plant type or types of project 10831 18510M proposed project. Perhaps, in this embodiment, housing door will be installed in a niche that will be installed facilities and docking worn AGS.

The second birth

Taktikotehnicheskie properties submarine “Belgorod” (according to the project 949AM)
Displacement above water — 14,700 tons;
Displacement underwater — 23,860 tons;
Great length — 154 m;
A large body width — 18.2 m;
Draught — 9.2 m;
Powerplant — 2 nuclear reactor OK-650V, 190 MW capacity each;
Surface speed — 15 knots;
Submerged speed — 33 knots;
Working depth, 420 m;
The greatest depth — 500 m;
Endurance — 120 days;

Google translated


H I Sutton

Harpsichord-2P-PM (Клавесин-2Р-ПМ) 


Belgorod will almost certainly field UUVs (AUVs in Russian parlance: Automamous Underwater Vehicles). These carry an array of sonars including side-scanning, and are abl to map the sea floor in great detail and locate items such as wreckage and sensor arrays.

The Belgorod will be equipped with the improved Harpsichord-2P-PM (Клавесин-2Р-ПМ) which can be housed in a wet hanger behind the sail, where the towed communication buoy is situated on the OSCAR-II:


Length – 6.5m
Diameter – 1m
Weight in air – about 3.700 kg
Range: – about 27 nm
Operating depth: 6,000m (according to Rubin. Some reports suggest ~2,000 m)



BS-136 Orenburg Project 667BDR

The nuclear-powered BS-136 Orenburg is designed for the transportation of deep-water stations to their operational zones. The smaller submarine station “swims” into this vessel, which then delivers it to the area where special operations need to be conducted. This vessel was developed based on a Project 667BDR (Delta-III) submarine.

In 2002, it was converted into Project 09786. During the conversion, the missile compartment was cut from the submarine, and replaced by a compartment for transporting atomic deep-water stations with a comfortable living section.

In 2012, this submarine was the mother ship of the ADS Project 10831 during the Arctic 2012 scientific expedition.

Authors Note:

It seems that there are 2 projects with a mother ship configuration submarine being used for the project is an unfinished submarine which had been stored submarine named “Belgorod” – is an unfinished nuclear submarine project 949A Oscar II classAt the end of July 2014, “Sevmash” was the nuclear-powered submarine, special purpose project 09,851 “Khabarovsk” of which little is known.  It is presumed that it is designed specifically for conducting sonar exploration. 

949A Oscar II class

And another project with a mother ship configuration  BS-136 “Orenburg” which many media doubt the mystery sub

Project 667BDR


The mystery sub is not the project 09,851 “Khabarovsk” but the “Orenburg”. However, there are confusion as the sources indicate that the Project 9851 “Khabarovsk” is the Oscar Class submarine former name “Belgorod” which was taken out from storage to and modified for project 9851 “Khabarovsk”.  Therefore, the subject submarine in the leaked document showing the bulge on the nose is still a mystery 

Status-6 (Статус-6) KANYON mega-torpedo

Updated Jan 16, 2019

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