Sunday, August 28, 2005

A Lingering Question


I've been reading up on the old Soviet Union, and I've noticed a few things. In short order, the USSR basically put up the 'Change in Management' sign in 1989, and a few years later (particularly after the first Gulf War). Along the way there, however, the USSR had collected a lot of toys, the kind that totalitarian regimes like to get. Besides tanks and planes and lots and lots of guns, and naturally the world's largest collection of nuclear warheads, the Soviet Union put a lot of rubles into their navy. Subs, in particular. No less than six new classes of nuclear submarines were put into production during the 1980s, to say nothing of the twelve classes introduced in the 1970s.

The USSR basically did three things with its materials: They negotiated with the USA and England to get rid of the worst of their nuke stockpile, they tried to convert their industry to commercial use, and they sold a lot of the rest. The continuing attempt in particular to find a buyer for their first CTOL carrier, the Kuznetsov, is both funny and tragic. But I've hit a real wall trying to find out what happened to all their nuke subs.

This is more important than it might appear at first. While the more modern subs would be likely to stay in the navy, and the nuclear weapons would be removed, there's still the question about dozens of fast, agile submarines which could even now be in the service of North Korea, Iran, or half a dozen other countries.

I wonder who one asks to find out...

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