Russia has a project for a nuclear-propelled submarine, which would carry seismological equipment instead of missiles, an advanced research official said.
The vessel would be used to explore the Arctic’s mineral riches.
The project of the first-ever nuclear sub for civilian use was revealed by Viktor Litvinenko, head of a project group at the Advanced Research Fund, a state agency with close ties to the military.
“It would be a civilian nuclear submarine, but instead of missile launchers it would have tubes with a robotic submersible, which would conduct seismic prospecting, search for minerals,” he told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.
The preliminary specifications of the vessel as voiced by Litvinenko are 135.5 meters long, 14.4 meters wide, 12.6 knots submerged speed and a test depth of up to 400 meters, roughly equivalent to Borey-class submarines. The submarine would have a crew of 40 and be capable of diving on missions lasting up to 90 days, he added.
The project is currently in its early design stage, the official said.
Advanced navies use nuclear submarines for long missions that require them to spend months submerged. It allows them to hide from enemy reconnaissance and ensure that a retaliation nuclear strike would be delivered in case of a global nuclear war, thus deterring such a development.
No civilian submarines use nuclear power plants, but Russia famously has a fleet of nuclear-propelled icebreakers, which it uses in the Arctic region. While requiring significant investment and technological expertise, such ships do not require regular refuel like traditional vessels, allowing long autonomous missions in the region, famous for its unpredictable weather.