The Submarine At The End Of The World

Take a break for a moment and imagine the end of the world. You are at your favorite beach in a delightful American coastal town. You are with your family swimming and sunbathing under the sunny skies.

Far out in the ocean, a lone Russian Poseidon submarine prowls the depths. Deep inside the cold dark machine turbines are spinning in a deafening roar. Somewhere inside the boat is a computer quietly calculating its position and velocity. Then a signal is received from a distant satellite. In the span of only a few microseconds, the signal is deciphered and plotted. The computer confirms the position and then sends a firing signal, activating a neutron gun. In only a few nanoseconds, neutrons propagate to the center of the Plutonium sphere. At about the same time, another pulse arrives at a set of detonators; exploding them. The shock detonates explosives, and a wave of force squeezes down the sphere. Somewhere inside the dense imploding orb, a neutron collides with a Plutonium atom.


It begins trivial at first, then the reaction doubles and doubles again. In nanoseconds X-rays are pouring out of the pit. The intense radiation is eating away at the foam liner of the bomb, turning it into plasma.

Outside the weapon is still mostly intact, but not for much longer.

Inside the bomb the growing cloud of plasma is squeezing on the secondary, rapidly compressing it down to the density of the sun’s core. Deep Inside the secondary is another Plutonium bomb, and the intense pressures is pushing it to super criticality. In the ensuring heat and pressure rivaling the sun, the fusion fuel ignites.

Before The Poseidon can bulge or even move, the resulting fireball consumes the submarine. The immense explosion presses against the ocean, propelling billions of tons of water upward and outward.

Then your vacation is interrupted when a great wave washes over the beach. With its immense energy the swell rips away at any structure it encounters. With your last bit of strength you try to swim, but the fury of debri and radioactive water pull you under.

Is this story even plausible for the end of the world?

The Poseidon is a rumored new monster weapon of the Russian navy, and the largest torpedo ever built. A.K.A as KANYON by the CIA. Measuring sixty feet long, the six foot wide torpedo is itself nuclear powered. Launched from a specialized submarine, it is designed to cross entire oceans at up to 70 knots. In terrestrial terms that is 80 miles per hour. The weapon is fully autonomous and is speculated to carry a heavy one hundred megaton thermonuclear warhead. That is twice the firepower of the Tsar bomb exploded on October 30th 1961. However the researcher H Sutton believes that the bomb is only 2 megatons and salted to enhance radioactivity.

Tsar Bomb Detonation

While you drink your crisp beer, let’s imagine for a moment that tensions are high with Russia. We are right back to a situation like the Cuban Missile Crisis, and tomorrow is uncertain.

Why then are you vacationing on the beach?

High up in the Kremlin, the order is given to launch. Assuming that the weapon is deployed close to the Russian shore at Saint Petersburg, and is targeted for Washington DC. That is a distance of 3895 miles. Traveling at a speed of 80 miles per hour, the Poseidon would take two days to arrive at DC. Meanwhile the weapon would have to navigate currents, the listening posts of the SOSUS global sonar network, and American attack submarines.

But at a speed of 70 knots, the torpedo could still evade American attack submarines. It is deliberately engineered to outrun modern torpedoes and the best submarines in service today.

Should all the evasions be successful, the Poseidon arrives off the coast of Washington DC and detonates in deep water.

That however might not be cataclysmic. Water is a vastly different beast than the atmosphere. It is incompressible, and it carries a tremendous heat capacity.

Any explosion pressing against an incompressible fluid must expend tremendous pressure, and that pressure is subtracted from the growing bubble. But it is this expansion that also cools the bubble. Much of the immense heat of a nuclear event will also be lost to phase changes, as the water flashes into steam.

Department of Defense models predict that a nuclear explosion will be diminished to hot water in about six seconds and that no bubbles will reach the surface for bursts below 2000 feet.

There is also evidence that the continental shelf would muffle the tsunami wave down to that of a bad storm, but serious radioactive contamination is still a problem.

Sutton also said that the slow response of the weapon only makes it capable of retaliatory strikes, following the start of a conflict.

But it might be capable of persisting in the ocean for months, on account of its nuclear reactor. Sutton said that the Russians are investigating using the torpedo as a mine.

Throughout history governments have built absurdly impractical weapons. The pilots that dropped the Soviet Tsar bomb barely escaped the explosion, and the fallout could have contaminated the Soviet Union. The detonation of even a single Poseidon would poison vast stretches of ocean and hurl tsunamis at the attacker, because they have been known to cross entire oceans.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Dave Rauschenfels

Field Service Engineer with a passion for technology and entertaining readers.