The Project 651, known in the West by its NATO reporting name Juliett class, was a class of Soviet diesel-electric submarines armed with cruise missiles. They were designed in the late 1950s to provide the Soviet Navy with a nuclear strike capability against targets along the east coast of the United States and enemy combatants (aircraft carriers). The head of the design team was Abram Samuilovich Kassatsier. They carried four nuclear-capable cruise missiles with a range of ~300 miles, which could be launched while the submarine was surfaced and moving less than four knots (7 km/h). Once surfaced, the first missile could be launched in about five minutes; subsequent missiles would follow within about ten seconds each. Initially, the missiles were the inertially-guided P-5 (NATO reporting name SS-N-3 Shaddock). When submarine-launched ballistic missiles rendered the P-5s obsolescent, they were replaced with the P-6 (also NATO reporting name SS-N-3 Shaddock, though a very different missile) designed to attack aircraft carriers. A special 10 m2 target guidance radar was built into the forward edge of the sail structure, which opened by rotating. One boat was eventually fitted with the Kasatka satellite downlink for targeting information to support P-500 4K-80 "Bazalt" (SS-N-12 Sandbox) anti-ship cruise missiles.
The Juliett class had a low magnetic signature austenitic steel double hull, covered by two inch (50 mm) thick black tiles made of sound-absorbing hard rubber. They had exceptionally high reserve buoyancy, and were divided into eight watertight compartments:
Initial plans called for 35 submarines of this class. In fact only 16 were actually built, two - including the lead sub by the Baltic Shipyard, St. Petersburg and the rest by the Krasnoye Sormovo Shipyard in Nizhniy Novgorod. They were commissioned between 1963 and 1968, and served through the 1980s. The last one was decommissioned in 1994.
The nuclear-powered Project 629 Echo I class submarines and 675 Echo II class submarines, with six and eight missile launchers, respectively, were a larger, nuclear-powered version of the Juliett.
In the movies
The Juliett unit K-81 at the maritime museum in Providence, Rhode Island, was slightly stage modified and used to act as the Hotel II SSBN K-19 in the National Geographic movie "K-19 Widowmaker" starring Harrison Ford.
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