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temporary storage facilities—TSFA (Andreev Bay) and TSFG (Gremikha)—to reflect their current status.

Mass Decommissioning

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, severe reductions in defense spending left the Russian Federation Navy unable to maintain a large, active submarine fleet and its supporting infrastructure, including the coastal maintenance bases. Routine facility maintenance of coastal maintenance bases ceased. In 1994, only 35 percent of the funds earmarked for the Russian Northern Fleet were actually transferred.1 The lack of funds and the fact that many of the first- and second-generation nuclear submarines exceeded their service life led to mass decommissioning and the neglect of the supporting infrastructure, including the coastal maintenance bases. The large influx of spent nuclear fuel, radioactive waste, and toxic waste associated with decommissioning and dismantling nuclear submarines overwhelmed an already burdened system, resulting in severe problems of safe management of spent nuclear fuel, radioactive waste, and toxic waste.

Another factor in reducing the fleet size was the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which required the elimination of more than 40 ballistic submarines with more than 600 ballistic missile launchers.2 Although it increased the number of submarines to be dismantled, it had a positive effect because the United States funded the modernization of dismantlement facilities at a number of shipyards, including Zvezdochka in the northwest and in Russia’s Far East Region through the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. This program eliminated bottlenecks in spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste management and until recently paid for the dismantlement of the entire ballistic submarines. Now, funding is limited to removal of the launcher tubes and reactor compartments. The facilities provided through the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program are available for Russian “general purpose” (nonballistic nuclear submarines) dismantlement on a not-to-interfere basis.

As of February 2007, a total of 198 nuclear submarines were decommissioned and 148 were dismantled. In the Northern Fleet, 120 nuclear submarines were decommissioned and 97 are dismantled. Ten Northern Fleet submarines are in the process of being dismantled.3


Nikitin, A., I. Kudrik, and T. Nilsen. 1996. The Russian Northern Fleet: Sources of Radioactive Contamination. Bellona Foundation: Oslo, p. 15. Available online at


Federation of American Scientists:


Akhunov, V. 2007. Progress on Dismantlement of Nuclear Submarines under the Global Partnership International Cooperation. Presented at the Northern Dimensions Environmental Partnership-Nuclear Operating Committee/Contact Experts Group Workshop on Results of Strategic Master Plan, Phase 2, London, April 10, 2007. Available online at

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