There is now a greater danger that a potential “misunderstanding” could occur under the sea. Even as the Russian Navy has unveiled plans to create a new division of special submarines that could be armed with the Poseidon nuclear submarine drone, the Russian Ministry of Defense warned on Friday that it will not notify Washington of any tests of the platform. The new unit that could carry the drones will be formed in Kamchatka in the Russian Far East by the end of next year or in early 2025.
It is unclear if and when Russia might conduct tests of the Poseidon, but it apparently won’t provide advance notice.
“There are a series of agreements from the 1980s, mostly from the last century, which involve the exchange of notifications on launches of ICBMs and SLBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles), as well as on large-scale strategic exercises, large-scale exercises of strategic forces. Neither applies to this new promising system,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told reporters, per state media outlet Tass.
“In general, testing activities of this kind do not fall under any verification mechanisms and cannot be covered by them,” Ryabkov added.
First Tests This Summer?
There had also been reports that the first trials of the Poseidon nuclear-powered and nuclear-capable underwater drones were scheduled to occur in the coming months.
“Tests of the Poseidon itself are scheduled for this summer,” a source in the Russian defense industry told Sputnik on Thursday at the International Maritime Defense Show 2023 in the port town of Kronstadt near St. Petersburg. “The Poseidon reactor units themselves are ready: they have been trialed at the stands, tested, and their performance and safety have been confirmed. They are ready to work as intended.”
A City Killer?
It was in January that Russia had reportedly produced the first set of Poseidon nuclear-capable super torpedoes that are being developed for deployment on the K-329 Belgorod nuclear submarine, a special-purpose vessel that was built at the Sevmash Shipyard.
Russian President Vladimir Putin first announced the development of the Status-6 Poseidon (NATO reporting name “Kanyon”) in 2018, and he claimed it was a fundamentally new type of strategic nuclear weapon, confirming it would have its own nuclear power supply.
The Poseidon is essentially a cross between a torpedo and a drone and can be launched from a submarine – and is based on a concept developed during the Cold War where a nuclear-armed torpedo could be utilized to devastate a harbor or even the shore of the United States and other nations. As the torpedoes are nuclear-powered, they could have a nearly unlimited range and could operate at extreme depths at a speed many times that of any submarine or other torpedo, Reuters reported.
“They are very low noise, have high maneuverability and are practically indestructible for the enemy. There is no weapon that can counter them in the world today,” Putin suggested.
In addition to the destruction from the nuclear warhead, there have been reports that the Poseidon could be employed to create a tidal wave of radioactive seawater. Kremlin propagandists have even suggested it would be able to “wipe Britain off the map.”
There was speculation last year that a test of the Poseidon had failed, due to Western sanctions that have limited Moscow’s access to microprocessors and other advanced components.
However, it now appears that Russia hasn’t deep-sixed the program, and could be willing to test it without any advanced warning.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.