Project 949 Granit / Oscar I
Project 949A Antey / Oscar II
The Oscar-class nuclear-powered cruise missile attack submarine, which displaces more than 18,000 tons when under water, is one of Russia's largest and most capable submarines. As with earlier cruise-missile submarine, the Oscar was designed primarily to attack American aircraft carrier battle groups.
As with other Russian submarines, the Oscar features a double hull -- and inner pressure hull and an outer hydrodynamic hull, with eight inches of rubber between them to muffle sounds. American submarines have a single pressure hull, with additional hydrodynamic fairings, such as the cap that encloses the bow sonar dome. The 3.5 meter separation between the inner and outter hulls on the Oscar provides significant reserve buoyancy, and improved survivability against conventional torpedoes.
These large submarines are said to be slow to dive and maneuver, though they are credited with a submerged speed of about 30 knots - sufficient to keep pace with their targets. The improved Oscar II is about 10 meters longer than the Oscar I, possibly making room for a quieter propulsion system, and feature upgraded electronic systems. The Oscar II is also characterized by a substantially enlarged fin, which should improve underwater manueverability, as well as the substitution of the Oscar-I's four-bladed propeller with a [presumably] quiter seven-blade propeller.
The Oscars are rather poorly characterized in the open literature, with substantial discrepancies in reported submerged displacement [the upper estimates are probably closer to the mark] and maximum submerged speed [reportedly classified intelligence estimates have tended upward over time.
The submarine is equipped with two dozen SS-N-19 missiles with a range of 550-kilometers -- three times as many anti-ship cruise missiles as earlier Charlie and Echo II class submarines. The missiles, which are launched while the submarine is submerged, are fired from tubes fixed at an angle of approximately 40 degrees. The tubes, arranged in two rows of twelve each, are covered by six hatches on each side of the sail, with each hatch covering a pair of tubes. The launchers are placed between the inner pressure hull and the outer hydrodynamic hull. The torpedo tubes fire both torpedoes and shorter range anti-ship missiles, and a combination of some two dozen weapons are carried.
The Project 949A submarines have a total of at least ten separate compartments, which can be sealed off from each other in the event of accidents. The compartments are numbered sequentially from fore to aft, with the two separate reactor compartments numbered V and V-bis [which is accounts for the fact that there are ten compartments, though the numbers only run through nine].
I - Torpedo room
II - Control Room
III - Combat stations and radio room
IV - Living Quarters
V and V-bis - Reactors
VI - propulsion engineering
VII - main propulsion turbines
VIII - main propulsion turbines
IX - electric motors
Access hatches are believed to be located in the 4th and 9th compartments. In common with the larger Typhoon-class ballistic missile submarine, the Oscar-class boats are reported to have an emergency crew escape capsule located in the sail.
In the 1980s the Rubin Design Bureau was responsible for developing a number of third generation nuclear submarines with cruise missiles, including Projects 949 ("Granit", "Oscar I") and 949A ("Antey", "Oscar II"). The Bureau took the lead in using naval cruise missiles, designing the first cruise missile nuclear submarine -- Project 659 ("Echo I"), then Project 675 ("Echo II") and related modifications.
In 1994 an Oscar submarine conducted operations off the East Coast of the United States. In July 1997 when the Oscar II submarine K-442 Chelyabinsk [aka Pskov] shadowed several US aircraft carriers off Washington state. The Tomsk transitted to the Pacific under ice after being commissioned on 28 February 1997, and arrived at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy on 24 September 1998. This brought the Pacific Fleet class inventory to seven, with four others in the Northern Fleet.
On 26 January 1998 a moored nuclear-powered Oscar II submarine suffered a cooling system accident. During routine tests aboard a cooling system pipe broke, releasing ammonia and nitrogen gas into the compartment. A total of 5 crew members were injured, one of whom, a Captain of the 3rd Rank, died two days later. The Oscar II submarine was reportedly the K-512 St.Georgy Pobeditel [formerly named Tomsk]. This eleventh unit of the 'Oscar II' SSGN class had been launched in July 1995 despite irregular materiel and component delivery problems.
In February 1999 an Oscar-class submarine was observed monitoring a NATO exercise off the coast of Norway. In August 1999 NATO sonar detected the presence in Western Atlantic waters of a Russian Oscar class submarine belonging to the northern fleet, based in the Arctic ports. In the mid-1999 an Oscar II-class submarine sailed from northern Russia to the Mediterranean, the first Russian SSGN patrol in the Mediterranean in a decade. It then sailed on to areas off the eastern United States. In early September 1999 the crew of the Jose Maria Pastor, a fishing trawler registered in Almeria [southeastern Spain] reportedly snagged an Oscar submarine in its nets. The incident occured some 27 miles (50 kilometers) from the Tarifa coast (Cadiz Province), and continued for over half an hour before the submarine broke free. Another Oscar II deployed from the Russian Far East, sailing to the area around Hawaii before arriving in waters off San Diego by October 1999. It reportedly spent a week following the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis and the amphibious landing ship Essex.
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