Find a Security Clearance Job!


Soviet and Russian Submarines

The Russians cliam that a native of the Pokrovskoye village near Moscow Yefim Nikonov was the first to create of a submarine vessel of the Russian fleet to attack enemy ships. In 1718 he filed in the name of Peter I a petition with the proposal to build a "secret vessel" that "will defeat ships with fire in a quiet sea". In 1721 the ship was tested in the presence of Peter I, after which the author was proposed to start construction of "a large secret vessel". But with the death of Peter I work on the Russian submarine stopped.

In 1834, at Alexander's foundry in St. Petersburg, according to a draft of a military engineer Schilder was built a submarine, which was for the first time equipped with optical and vent pipes. In 1866, designed by J. F. Alexandrovsky, was built a boat with a mechanical engine, that ran on compressed air. In 1880, S. K. Dzhewetski designed a construction of the first submarine with an electric motor.

In 1901, a scientist and a shipwright I. G. Bubnov, in collaboration with the captain of the first rank, M. N. Beklemishev and mechanical engineer I. S. Goryunov, drafted the first Russian military submarine "Dolphin", built in 1904 , at the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg. Fighting submarines were used for the first time in world history during the Russian-Japanese War. By the end of 1904 only in Vladivostok there were seven submarines of various designs which regularly went on duty and exploration of the Pacific Ocean. January 1 (14), 1905 they formed "a separate squad of destroyers" led by the commander of “Kasatka” submarine Lieutenant A. V. Plotto.

On 6 (19) March, 1906 the official classification of ships of the Imperial Russian Navy included a new class of ships – submarines, which were previously assigned to the destroyers. In 1912 the Baltic Shipyard laid down the first diesel submarine type "Bars". In 1915-1916 seven boats of this type made part of the Baltic Fleet.

Creation of the submarine fleet during the Soviet era began with the construction of six submarines type "Decembrist", included in the first program of military shipbuilding of 1926/27-1931/32. From 1933 to the fleets’ armory also started to add the submarines type "Sch" ("Shuka" (pike)), type "M" ("Malyutka" (baby)), type "C" and type "K" ("Kreiserskaya” (cruise)). During the period of 1930 to 1939 there were built more than 20 large, 80 medium, 60 small submarines and 20 submarine mine-layers for the USSR navy. By the beginning of the Great Patriotic War the Russian Navy possessed 212 submarines.

For two decades from the late 1940s the U.S. Navy contemplated a submarine threat in which, in wartime, Soviet submarines would transit through Western ASW barriers" en route to attack Allied convoys in the North Atlantic, and then return through those same barriers to rearm and refuel at their Arctic bases. These barriers - composed of maritime patrol aircraft and hunter-killer submarines guided or cued by the seafloor Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) - would sink Soviet submarines as they transited, both going to sea and returning to their bases.2 Also, when attacking Allied convoys, the Soviet submarines would be subjected to the ASW efforts of the convoy escorts.

In reality, by the mid-1950s the Soviets had discarded any intention of waging an anti-shipping campaign in a new Battle of the Atlantic. The U.S. Navy's development of a carrier-based nuclear strike capability in the early 1950s and the deployment of Polaris missile submarines in the early 1960s had led to defense against nuclear strikes from the sea becoming the Soviet Navy's highest priority mission.

The whole history of submarine building is first and foremost, the problem of power supply in a submerged position. After muscle power an electric motor was a revolutionary step, but the submarine is still diving remained rather than underwater. Single engine in the form of diesel for several reasons and could not be an alternative to traditional elektrodvizheniyu, and only buildng a nuclear power plant finally allowed the submarine to be truly underwater.

Nuclear submarines were the determinant factor of the Soviet and then Russian Navy marine power. Their design and construction are unique pages in the history of the world's shipbuilding. Starting 1955, when the construction of the first Soviet nuclear submarine started, over 250 nuclear submarines were built, more than in the rest of the world combined.

In contrast to other countries, the USSR and Russia built three and not two classes of nuclear submarines - strategic armed with ballistic missiles, multipurpose submarines armed with short range missiles and torpedoes, and attack submarines armed with long and middle range cruise missiles. The later were intended to be deployed againsted aircraft carrier groups of the potential enemy and did not have analogs in foreign navies.

Submarine Generations

The Soviet and Russian nuclear submarines are divided into four generations according to their construction and combat capabilities. The most characteristic features of the first generation submarines (projects 627, 645, 658, 659, 675) are two shaft two reactors energy generator. The benefits of this construction are the high speed and reliability of energy system due to doubling of all systems. The handicap of the first generation submarines - high level of noise and fire hazard caused by the usage of chemical means for carbon-dioxide absorption. When the Project 667A/Yankee SSBNs went to sea in the late 1960s, the Soviet Navy was given another high-priority mission: Strategic (nuclear) strike against the United States and the protection of its own missile submarines by naval forces. But the Soviet Submarines were inferior to American ones in effectiveness of their missile armament.

The second generation of nuclear submarines (projects 667, 670, 671, 705) became a serious step forward. Since their building, the Soviet submarine building industry occupied the leading position in the world both in qualitative (especially in the areas of usage of titanium technologies, liquid metals heat carriers and automation on the submarines of project 705) and quantitative aspects (during the 70s the USSR built three times more submarines than the USA). But still, the Soviet submarines emitted more noise than the American ones.

The nuclear submarines of the third generation (projects 945, 685, 949, 971) were characterized the increased depth of dive and decrease of noise levels. The unique strategic missiles carriers of project 941, the largest submarines in the world, also belong to this generation.

At present, Russia is building the submarines of the fourth generation (projects 885, 955). In their characteristics, including noise levels, they go at par the most modern foreign analogs. But due to unsatisfactory financing, the possibility of their quick completion is rather distant.

Russia is planning to develop its fifth-generation submarine by 2020 under a 2011-2020 arms procurement program, to be armed with both ballistic and cruise missiles. The distinguishing feature of Russia’s newest, fifth-generation submarines will be stealth rather than higher speed or greater depth capabilities, Vladimir Dorofeyev, head of the Malakhit Design Bureau, said on 19 March 2013. “It is quite possible that new technological solutions will appear to protect submarines from detection,” he said in an interview with RIA Novosti. The fifth-generation submarine will acquire new capabilities through close interaction with other components of the Armed Forces, including surface warships, warplanes, spacecraft, satellites, as well as other submarines, based on an integrated information space, he said.

He added, however, that the incorporation of submarines, alongside surface warships and warplanes, into a single communications system is at odds with the idea of a “stealth vessel,” insofar as the sheer exchange of information is a “telltale sign.”

“But that is a field that requires serious scientific-technical research,” Dorofeyev said. Rubin Central Design Bureau head Igor Vilnit said on Monday work is in progress on fifth-generation nuclear-powered and diesel submarines. The new submarine will have a service life of about 50 years, he said. The fifth generation will be distinguished by its lowered noise, automated control systems, reactor safety, and long-range weapons.

Russia’s fifth-generation strategic and attack submarines will most likely be non-nuclear-powered, more compact and less “visible,” a senior designer at the Rubin design bureau said 11 November 2013 Monday in an exclusive interview with RIA Novosti. Large nuclear-powered vessels, including Russia’s Typhoon-class strategic boats, have so far dominated past and current trends in combat submarine construction. “I believe future submarines will be smaller, because of the use of more advanced technologies as well as the pursuit of more cost-effective production,” Sergei Sukhanov said.

“The fifth-generation boat will also be less ‘visible’ compared with existing submarines. They could also feature a new power plant, including fully electric,” Sukhanov said, adding that changes could affect other sub-systems of future submarines. The designer said the most likely substitution for a nuclear reactor on strategic and attack submarines would be an air-independent propulsion plant (AIPP), which would make them stealthier than nuclear-powered boats. The AIPP allows a non-nuclear submarine to operate without the need to access atmospheric oxygen.

While a nuclear submarine’s reactor must constantly pump coolant, generating some amount of detectable noise, non-nuclear boats running on battery power or AIPP can be practically “silent.” “The endurance of submarines with this type of propulsion should be sufficient [for patrol or strike missions] – for a month or even more,” Sukhanov said. He said the construction of fifth-generation submarines in Russia could start in the next 10 to 15 years. The Russian Navy relied on third-generation submarines, with fourth-generation subs of the Project 955 Borey class of strategic boats and Project 885 Yasen class of attack boats just beginning to be adopted for service.

Submarine Shipbuilding and Modernization

CKBMT "Rubin", SPMBM "Malakhit" in Leningrad and CKB "Lazurit" in Gorkiy designed Soviet nuclear submarines. Building of the ships was undertaken at shipyards in Severodvinsk, Komsomolsk-upon-Amur, Leningrad and Gorkiy. At present, the building of nucear submarines is done only at "Seveniy Mashinostroitelniy Zavod" (Northern Machine Building Plant) in Severodvinsk.

Russia is modernizing 12 nuclear-powered submarines as part of an ambitious project to extend the life of the vessels by another 20 years, according to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu 02 October 2015. Six of the submarines are undergoing repairs and upgrades at Zvezda shipyard at Bolshoy Kamen on Russia's Pacific coast. The modernization program left current force levels as low as nine active submarines across the fleet.

According to navy and shipyard representatives, the upgrades include new missiles and other weapons. The work aims to put the submarines on the same technological level as Russia's next-generation nuclear-powered boats, such as the new Project 885M Yasen-class submarines. The six boats reportedly include Schuka-B/Project 971 Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarines and Antyey/Project 949A Oscar II-class guided-missile submarines that were built in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Three of the six subs reportedly were receiving new anti-ship cruise missiles.

Join the mailing list