Nuclear submarines are a powerful tool of modern warfare, but they also come with a great risk. Each submarine carries up to eight missiles, each of which can hold up to five nuclear bombs or warheads. This makes them incredibly destructive, and the HEU (highly enriched uranium) used in the warheads is one of the most dangerous materials on earth. This has led to the implementation of non-proliferation treaties to reduce its use.
Ingar Amundsen, head of international nuclear safety at the Norwegian Nuclear Safety and Radiation Authority, believes that it is only a matter of time before sunken submarines pollute the waters if left as they are. The noise generated by nuclear submarines is also a concern. The reactor, coolant pipes, turbines, and steam generation all create noise that can be detected by other vessels. This is why countries like the United States and the United Kingdom have a domestic nuclear energy industry, which provides a highly skilled workforce of nuclear engineers and physicists.
The loss of a nuclear submarine is not something any navy wants to experience, but if it does happen, the nuclear material on board is not as much of a risk to humans as it would be if it were lost on land or in the air. Nuclear propulsion allows submarines to stay underwater for longer periods of time without having to surface for air. The high cost of nuclear technology means that only a few military powers have deployed nuclear submarines. Russia recently published a draft decree to erect two Soviet nuclear submarines and four reactor compartments from the silty bottom of the Barents Sea in order to reduce the amount of radioactive material in the Arctic Ocean by 90%.
The two submarines contain one million curios of radiation, approximately a quarter of that released in the first month of the Fukushima disaster. The world's first nuclear submarine was made possible by the successful development of a nuclear propulsion plant by a group of scientists and engineers from the United States in the Naval Reactor Branch of the Bureau of Ships and the Atomic Energy Commission. Even if a submarine melts, there is very little chance that its nuclear material will leak out instantly. Donors are discussing Russia's request for help in financing this project.
Nuclear submarines have many advantages over conventional submarines, such as greater speed and maneuverability. However, they also come with great risks. The most recent nuclear subdisaster involved the Russian Kursk, which sank after a faulty welding of a torpedo caused an explosion that then detonated other torpedoes.