By Mark Nicol for The Mail on Sunday
Published: 22:57 BST, 20 April 2019 | Updated: 23:01 BST, 20 April 2019
Packed with nuclear firepower and capable of taking out an aircraft carrier or even an entire city, this is the latest devastating weapon in Vladimir Putin’s arsenal – the world’s longest submarine.
To be launched tomorrow by the Russian President, the 604ft Belgorod is expected to be equipped with up to six nuclear-armed torpedoes, each capable of carrying warheads with an explosive power of two megatons – equivalent to two million tons of TNT, or more than 130 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb.
Experts fear the 79ft-long torpedoes – dubbed Poseidon or Kanyon – could be detonated underwater to cause a radioactive tsunami and threaten coastal cities with waves up to 300ft high.
In what is regarded as a sinister development, the submarine’s commanders will report directly to President Putin rather than to the country’s naval top brass, making Belgorod more like a deep-sea intelligence agency than a conventional submarine [File photo]
And there may be no defence for the new British aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales – the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy – against the nuclear torpedoes, which have a top speed of 70 knots and a range of thousands of miles.
The Belgorod sets sail from Severodvinsk on Russia’s Arctic coastline tomorrow. It carries eight unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) which can operate miles below the waves to map the ocean floor using a sonar imaging system known as side-scanning, but may