The DEFCON Warning System™

Ongoing GeoIntel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.  DEFCON Level assessment issued for public notification.  Established 1984.

In the silent war down in the black abyss, Russia is now stronger than the US Navy

It took years of work, but the Russian navy’s secretive, highly specialised submarine AS-31 – nicknamed “Losharik” – is finally ready for sea trials, currently scheduled for next month.

Losharik’s return to front-line service, five years after the 200-foot submarine suffered an accidental fire that killed 14 of her crew, restores to full strength the Russian navy’s special force for so-called “seabed warfare.” Known as the Main Directorate of Deep-Sea Research, or under its Russian acronym GUGI, it’s the biggest such force in the world. 

The US Navy, meanwhile, is barely treading water – handing the Russian fleet a key undersea advantage.

Seabed warfare involves, as its name implies, any military or intelligence activities on the seafloor, potentially miles beneath the ocean surface. It’s one of the most closely-guarded aspects of modern warfare. We can only guess what navies are actually doing down in the pitch-black darkness of the cold seabed: tapping fiber-optic communications cables, perhaps, or maybe removing or sabotaging the enemy’s own taps. Other activities could include the emplacement of highly secret sensor networks, or operations against undersea energy infrastructure.

In any event, only the most sophisticated navies possess the means for conducting seabed warfare. And only one of them makes it a top priority: the Russian navy.

In addition to Losharik, the Russian navy operates three other deep-diving small submarines: Paltus, X-Ray and Kashalot. They all share certain design features: nuclear power, for one, but also extremely strong titanium hulls that can withstand the immense pressures found at 20,000 feet of depth. The Losharik’s pressure hull is believed to be made up of a line of titanium spheres, the shape which best resists pressure. The subs all have claw-like manipulator arms for tampering with objects on the seafloor. 

But these subs are on the small side; they aren’t suitable for long voyages. For that purpose, the Russians operate two “mothership” subs – modified nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines which can carry the smaller seafloor-warfare vessels across potentially thousands of miles of open ocean while remaining submerged and (the Russians hope) undetected.

Ongoing Geointel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.


© 2024 The DEFCON Warning System. Established 1984.

The DEFCON Warning System is a private intelligence organization which has monitored and assessed nuclear threats by national entities since 1984. It is not affiliated with any government agency and does not represent the alert status of any military branch. The public should make their own evaluations and not rely on the DEFCON Warning System for any strategic planning. At all times, citizens are urged to learn what steps to take in the event of a nuclear attack.