Project 877 Paltus
Project 636 Varshavyanka
Kilo class Diesel-Electric Torpedo Submarine

The Kilo Class (Project 877) submarine was designed for anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare in the protection of naval bases, coastal installations and sea lanes, and also for general reconnaissance and patrol missions. The Kilo is considered to be to be one of the quietest diesel submarines in the world. The submarine consists of six watertight compartments separated by transverse bulkheads in a pressurised double-hull. This design and the submarine's good reserve buoyancy lead to increased survivability if the submarine is holed, even with one compartment and two adjacent ballast tanks flooded. The foreplanes are positioned on the upper hull in front of the fin or sail. The command and control systems and fire control systems are located in the main control room which is sealed off from the other compartments.

The Russian fleet operates three variants of the Kilo 877: the basic 877; the 877K that has an improved fire-control system; and the 877M that has wire-guided torpedoes from two tubes. The Russian navy also operated five of the improved 636 version. These submarines were built at a rate of about two each year from 1982 through 1984, with the last four units for Russian service completed in the 1991-1994 timeframe. Even assuming a thirty year operational life, the remaining units would begin to be withdrawn from service around 2015 with all being withdrawn from service not too long after the year 2020.

The authoritative website reported pennant numbers for 11 Kilos that were subsequently exported to other countries, suggesting that these were commissioned into Russian service, however briefly, prior to export. This interpretation is further substantiated by the fact that does not list many other export Kilos, which makes sense, given the fact that this was a website about the Russian military, not the Russian shipbuilding industry. Thus, but the reconining of, a total of 33 Kilos were in Russian service at one time or another, though 11 were exported, leaving 22 for Russia.

The admission of ignorance is the beginning of wisdom. Not surprisingly, there are problems reconciling the various published sources on this program. Over time, open source understanding of the nomenclature for the various substypes of this class has become more granular, and more confused. At one time the Project 877 boats were believed to be designated as Graney by NATO, but now it is clear that this nomenclature is associated with the Project 885 boats. More recently the earlier Project 877 boats seem to be associated with the Varshavyanka nomenclature, while the later model Project 636 appear to be associated with the Paltus [Turbot] name. The problem is that other sources, equally authoritative, draw precisely the opposite association.

As of early 2000 as many as 14 units were believed to remain active, with an additional 7 in reserve, though specific identities were not known at that time. It was reliably reported that as of November 2006, 16 vessels were believed to be in active service with the Russian Navy, with eight more in reserve, for a total of 24 built for the Soviet Union and Russia [counting as Russian BN-529 Rossiya, the 636 display ship of Rosvoorouzhenie, yields 23 specific identifiable Russian hulls]. Another 29 vessels were thought to have been exported to China, India, Iran, Poland, Romania and Algeria. There are 19 specific identifiable Project 877E and Project 877EKM export boats, and 10 Project 636 export boats, for a total of 29. Algeria subsquently bought a pair of 636 boats, and Admiralty Shipyards in St. Petersburg, Russia, was to build a further six Kilo class diesel-electric submarines for delivery to Vietnam, the Russian business daily Kommersant reported on 27 April 2009.

As of 2008 the International Institute of Strategic Studies reported that a total of 15 Kilo-class submarines were in service, with another four held in reserve. Two were deployed in the Baltic, one in the Black Sea, six in the Pacific [which also held three in reserve], while the Northern fleet had six [with probably one in reserve]. As of 2011 the International Institute of Strategic Studies reported that a total of 15 Paltus [Kilo] class submarines were in service, with another four Varshavyanka on hand. As other types of vessels include reporting as to building, refit or reserve status, the implication is that a total of 19 boats are in service, but this seems implausible, and is certainly inconsistent with other reporting.

The Nuclear Threat Initiative reports a total of 13 Varshavyanka/Kilo SSKs in active service, while reports 15 active and 4 reserve 877 / 636 Kylo class boats. The 2011 IISS Military Balance also reports 15 active and 4 reserve boats, but places this as 15 Paltus and 4 Varshavyanka boats. The Nuclear Threat Initiative reports B-401 NOVOSIBIRSK, B-800 KALUGA, B-459 Vladikavkaz as active, while reports them as inactive, and a good many boats reported active by are missing from the NTI list of active boats. NTI reports that B-248, the first Kilo, placed in commission in 1982, remains in service, but this seems implausible.

While there is general agreement as to the number of the various different types launched, and broad agreement as to the current status of these boats generally, there are annoying issues with the identity of individual boats. Of course, this is the intent of the Soviet warship designation systems - unlike American hull numbers the Russian pendant numbers may be changed and re-assigned. The Russians decided to stick with fixed numbers, but there is no rhyme or reason to pendant numbers, and now we see that these submarines have two numbers, one with a B prefix, and the other without.

Thus numbers B-405, B-425, B-468, and B-470 have been reported at various times, but do not appear to be currently assigned, as is the case with B-880, associated with the currently unreported name Del'fin. The B-177 and B-871 pennant numbers have been reportedly associated with boats sold to China, but these numbers are well attested in subsequent Russian service. The numbers B-229 and B-354 have been associated with submarines of this class, but are very poorly attested.

Two authoritative sources, the Nuclear Threat Initiative and, appear to have transposed two pairs of boats. Both sources are in agreement as to the names, numbers and construction yards of all four boats, but they disagree as to which pair was built in the early 1980s and which dates from the late 1980s.

sourcenumberName Laid Down Launched Comm.
B-871 Alrosa 1983
B-806 Un-Named 1985
B-401 Novosibirsk 1988
B-402 Vologda 1988


The text of the workers' song "Varshavyanka" (Polish: Warszawianka; French: Varsovienne) is from Waclaw Swiecicki, the music goes back to a Polish freedom song. It is often referred to as the "most-sung Russian fight song." Varshavyanka ("Someone / a woman] from Warsaw") is a Russian patriotic and marching version of the famous polish revolutionary song from the late 19th century. This was a very important song during and after the October 1917 Revolution. Many such compositions became so popular that they are known by almost everyone in the post-Soviet countries. Such songs are usually called klassika - the classics.

Varshavyanka has been translated to many languages -- the German version is called "Warschawjanka", French version is called "La Varsovienne". In Spanish, a somewhat different version of the Varshavyanka titled "A las barricadas" [To the Barricades] was the anthem of the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist trade union Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT). In Greece, the Communist resistance fighters during the occupation period and during the 1941-44 civil war, a song called "anemi Thielle (winds and storms) sang the melody of the Varshavyanka uses.

There are two songs known as Warszawianka [meaning "from Warsaw"]. The patriotic song of 1831 was written by the French polonophile writer Casimir Delavigne, translated into Polish, and the music is by Karol Kurpinski. The Polish people know the first one, of 1831, by heart; it is sometimes regarded as the second Polish national anthem. The revolutionary song was written in 1879 by W. Swiecicki and sung to the Zouaves' March (1863). This one, internationally known especially through labor and communist parties, became famous in the Russian uprising of 1905. The title comes from the fact that, in the original version, Warszaw is referred to in the chorus ("Someone/a woman] from Warsaw"). The Russian begins "Vikhry vrazhdebnye voyut nad nami" ("Threatening whirlwinds blow above us"), thus the song is sometimes titled "Whirlwinds of Danger".

Project 877E / 877EKM Paltus

Project 877 export models, designated with an 'E' suffix, are generally similar though with some reduced features. As of early 1998 construction of the Project 877EKM submarines was nearly completed, with only one submarine left under construction in St.Petersburg for the Indian Navy. By that time Russia had exported 21 Project 877 and 636 submarines, including: India - 10, and China - 4, Iran - 3, Algeria - 2, Poland - 1, Romania - 1.

On 04 August 1993, Iran took delivery of a second Russian Kilo-class diesel submarine, and the third arrived 18 January 1996. Russia went ahead with the first two deliveries despite vigorous US protests. In response to Administration pressure and US sanctions legislation, Russia formally pledged in June 1995 not to enter any new arms contracts with Iran, although prior arms contracts could be implemented. By July 2005 the Zvezdochka shipbuilding plant in Severodvinsk (Arkhangelsk Region) was holding talks on a possible contract to overhaul and modernize three diesel-electric submarines belonging to the Iranian navy. Zvezdochka directors visited Iran in the second half of January 2005 and held talks on military and technical cooperation.

India took delivery of the first of the two additional Russian-built Kilo class submarines in January 1999. On 17 August 2000 the Sindhushastra began the two month voyage from St Petersburg to India. The 877EKM submarine was the last in a series of 10 submarines built at Russian shipyards for Indian customers. In August 2000 the Zvezdochka engineering enterprise at Severodvinsk started the work of servicing and modernizing the Indian series-877EKM submarine Sinduratna, the second Indian sub to have had a refit at Zvezdochka. In 1999 the Indian Navy took delivery of the Sinduvir, the first submarine to have been modernized at Severodvinsk. The Sinduratna was the second Indian submarine to be fitted with four ZM-54E1 missiles, with a range of 300 km. The missiles are part of the latest Klab-S anti-ship missile complex designed by the Novator bureau at Yekaterinburg.

Project 636 Varshavyanka

The Project 636 design is a generally improved development of the Project 877EKM Kilo class that represents an interim design between the standard 'Kilo' and the new Lada project. The Project 636 is actively promoted for the world market by the Rosvoorouzhenie state-owned company. This submarine has improved range, firepower, acoustic characteristics and reliability. Visually distinguished by a step on the aft casing, the length of the hull is extended by two frame spacings (2 x 600 mm). The additional length permitted increasing the power of diesel-generators and mounting them on improved shock-absorbing support, and reducing twofold the main propulsion shaft speed. Owing to these improvements, the submarine speed and sea endurance were increased, while the noise level was radically decreased. The low noise level of the submarine has been achieved with the selection of quiet machinery, vibration and noise isolation and a special anti-acoustic rubber coating applied on the outer hull surface.

The Project 636 is equipped with six 533 mm forward torpedo tubes situated in the nose of the submarine and carries eighteen torpedoes with six in the torpedo tubes and twelve stored on the racks. Alternatively the torpedo tubes can deploy mines. The submarine can carry 24 mines with two in each of the six tubes and twelve on the racks. Two torpedo tubes are designed for firing remote-controlled torpedoes with a very high accuracy. All torpedo tubes and their service systems provide effective firing from periscope to operational depths. The computer-controlled torpedo system is provided with a quick-loading device. It takes only 15 seconds to prepare stand-by torpedo tubes for firing: The first salvo is fired within two minutes and the second within five minutes.

In the spring of 1997, the first Project 636 submarine was launched, and China became the first customer for this submarine. The last of four export Kilo-class boats for China, the second improved model Project 636 unit, was launched on 17 June 1998 and departed the Baltic aboard a heavy-lift ship on 11 December 1998, bound for the submarine base at Ning-bo. China was said to be interested in purchasing several more 636 series submarines, one of which was at that time in an unfinished state at the Krasnoye Sormovo yard in Nizhniy Novgorod, while others may be built at the Admiralteyskiye Verfi [Admiralty Shipyards] in St Petersburg.

In early June 2002 China was negotiating with Russia to purchase eight more Kilo-class Project 636 submarines for $1.6 billion, scheduled for delivery over the following five years. The contract for the building of the submarines was under competition among the Admiralteiskiye Verfi shipbuilding enterprise (St. Petersburg), the works in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, the Krasnoye Sormovo enterprise (Nizhny Novgorod), and the Sevmash association (Severnaya Dvina). The first delivery was scheduled for 2005-07, and all eight submarines are scheduled to be delivered to the PLAN before 2010.

In January 2006 it was reported that the Indonesian navy's decision to buy Russian-made submarines had raised suspicions. A combat training exercise in the Sulawesi Sea in mid-December 2005 was a cause of concern for the navy. A submarine from an unidentified country slipped into Indonesian waters off the shore of North Sulawesi.

In June 2006 it was reported that Russia had agreed to build two Project 636 Varshavyanka-type type submarines for Algeria. On 29 June 2006 is was reported that the Admiralty Shipyards based in St. Petersburg will build two diesel-electric submarines of the Varshavyanka (Kilo) series for Algeria. The deal is worth nearly $200 million. The contract is part of bilateral military-technical cooperation accords with the total cost of about $7 billion.

On 29 June 2007 an official with Russia's state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport said Russia was in talks with Venezuela on the delivery of five diesel submarines for the Venezuelan navy. "We are negotiating a contract for the purchase of five Project 636 [Kilo-class] diesel submarines [for Venezuela]," said Innokenty Nalyotov, an aide to Rosoboronexport's general director. On 05 July 2007 it was reported that Rosoboronexport had the contract for the delivery of five diesel-powered submarines of the Varshavyanka series to Venezuela almost ready. "The order has been received and the contract is almost ready. It will be initialed by yearend," a defense industry source told Interfax- AVN on Thursday. Russia will deliver subs of the Varshavyanka series instead of Amur, he said. "Three submarines will be built in St. Petersburg, with another two in the Far East. The plants are preparing to start work," the source said.

Project 636-M / 636.3

The Russian Navy had problems developing the new Project 677 Lada diesel-electric submarines, whereas Project 877 Paltus (Kilo class) submarines continued to age rapidly. As a result, the Navy had to order upgraded Project 636-M (Kilo class) submarines once again. In August 2010, the keel of a lead Project 636-M submarine was laid for the Black Sea Fleet.

Project 636.3 diesel electric submarine Novorossiysk was laid down at Admiralteyskie Verfi shipyard (ST. Petersburg) 20 August 2010 at 12 pm. The sub will be delivered to the Navy in 2013; later on, other two submarines of the project will be laid down and in 2014 dispatched to south Russia, said Vladimir Aleksandrov, Director General of JSC Admiralteyskie Verfi. As for him, the submarine laid down represents one of the most successful series. It was designed by Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering and has no analogs.

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