Find a Security Clearance Job!

Military


Sverkhmalaya Podvodnavy Lodka
(SMPL - Super-Small Submarine)

Type Class IOC Tonnage
1827O Bester
16810 Rus'
1906 Poisk-6
1855 Priz
1841
1839
1837
1832 Sever / Poisk-2
1825 Sever-2
1806 Poisk
908 Triton-2
907 Triton-1

Super-Small Submarines (SMPL - Sverkhmalaya Podvodnavy Lodka), with an underwater displacement of less than 100 tons, are considered an extremely important type of, underwater sabotage force and are a necessary supplement to the actions of multi-purpose submarines. This type of ship was being intensively developed as far back as in the years of the Second World War, when up to a thousand of them were built.

The Soviet Union began intensive research into the development of midget submarines in the middle of the 1930s. As usual, the same task was presented to several groups of designers at the same time, and there was keen competition between them. In 1936 a government commission studied four submissions: the Moskito, the Blokha, and the APSS and Pigmei. All four could be transported by small freighters or naval vessels. At that time the Soviet Union had completed development work on its K-class submarines, and there was a plan that each K-class submarine should be able to carry one light aircraft or one midget submarine. At the same time experiments were also being carried out for the purpose of assessing the possibility of transporting another design of midget submarine (similar to the APSS) in a heavy bomber.

In 1939 the Soviet Union put into production the M-400 midget submarine designed by the designer of the `Flea' prototype. The M-400 was a mixture of a submarine and a torpedo boat. It could stay for a long time under water, then surface and attack an enemy at very high speed like a fast torpedo boat. The intention was also to use it in another way, closing in on the enemy at great speed like a torpedo boat, then submerging and attacking at close quarters like an ordinary submarine.

Among the trophies of war were the Germans' own midget submarines and plans for the future, all of which were very widely used by Soviet designers. Interest in German projects has not declined. In 1976 there were reports concerning a project for a German submarine of only 90 tons displacement. Soviet military intelligence then started a hunt for the plans of this vessel and for information about the people who had designed them.

It should never be thought that interest in foreign weapons was dictated by the Soviet Union's technical backwardness. The Soviet Union had many talented designers who have often performed genuine technical miracles. It is simply that the West always uses its own technical ideas, while Soviet engineers use their own and other people's. In the Soviet Union remarkable types of weapons have been developed, including midget submarines with crews of from one to five men. The spetsnaz naval brigades had several dozen midget submarines, which may not seem to be very many, but it was more than all other countries have between them.

Side by side with the usual projects intensive work was being done on the creation of hybrid equipment which will combine the qualities of a submarine and an underwater tractor. The transportation of midget submarines is carried out by submarines of larger displacement, fighting ships and also ships from the fishing fleet. In the 1960s in the Caspian Sea the trials took place of a heavy glider for transporting a midget submarine. The result of the trial is not known. If such a glider has been built then in the event of war one can expect to see midget submarines appear in the most unexpected places, for example in the Persian Gulf, which is so vital to the West, even before the arrival of Soviet troops and the Navy. In the 1970s the Soviet Union was developing a hydroplane which, after landing on water, could be submerged several meters below water.

Naval spetsnaz can be very dangerous. Even in peacetime it is much more active than the spetsnaz brigades in the land forces. This is understandable, because spetsnaz in the land forces can operate only in the territory of the Soviet Union and its satellites and in Afghanistan, while the naval brigades have an enormous field of operations in the international waters of the world's oceans and sometimes in the territorial waters of sovereign states.

In the conduct of military operations the midget submarine can be a very unpleasant weapon for the enemy. It is capable of penetrating into places in which the ordinary ship cannot operate. The construction of several midget submarines may be cheaper than the construction of one medium-sized submarine, while the detection of several midget submarines and their destruction can be a very much more difficult task for an enemy than the hunt for the destruction of one medium-sized submarine. The midget submarine is a sort of mobile base for divers. The submarine and the divers become a single weapons system which can be used with success against both seaborne and land targets.

There was midget submarine activity within territorial waters in October 1982 in Sweden and in August 1983 in Japan. The midget submarines probably belonged to naval SPETSNAZ and may have been delivered to the target area by specially equipped India-class submarines. Discovery of tracks from the submarines also coincided with reports of unknown divers appearing on shore, leading to speculation that SPETSNAZ were conducting penetration exercises in foreign countries.17 The true reasons for this activity may never be known, but the boldness of the operations had the undeniable effect of enhancing the reputation of SPETSNAZ.

The spetsnaz seaborne brigades can in a number of cases be an irreplaceable weapon for the Soviet high command. Firstly, they can be used for clearing the way for a whole Soviet fleet, destroying or putting out of action minefields and acoustic and other detection systems of the enemy. Secondly, they can be used against powerful shore-based enemy defences. Some countries -- Sweden and Norway for example -- have built excellent coastal shelters for their ships. In those shelters the ships are in no danger from many kinds of Soviet weapon, including some nuclear ones. To discover and put out of action such shelters will be one of spetsnaz's most important tasks. Seaborne spetsnaz can also be used against bridges, docks, ports and underwater tunnels of the enemy. Even more dangerous may be spetsnaz operations against the most expensive and valuable ships -- the aircraft carriers, cruisers, nuclear submarines, floating bases for submarines, ships carrying missiles and nuclear warheads, and against command ships.

It can be assumed that the following tasks will be accomplished with the aid of underwater sabotage forces and means: the destruction of surface combat ships and vessels at anchor and while they are cruising in coastal areas, the demolition of important shore installations of the navy and coastal military districts, submarine bases, especially for nuclear submarines, airfields, electric power stations, bridges, locks, missile launchers, nuclear weapons depots, command posts, communications centers, etc.): the conduct of reconnaissance on the approaches to bases and ports and also on shore; the guidance of cruise missiles that are employed from submarines and surface ships; minelaying and demolitions actions in bases, ports, and channels by setting out mines and charges of varying power;. the support of landing operations; and other tasks. Subjected to the greatest danger, will be the dispersal basing points of naval forces and especially the system of bases for submarines, their forming-up bases, and other hydrotechnical installations used by submarines, primarily nuclear submarines.

The main trend in the development of underwater sabotage forces consists in these forces being capable, during combat actions in naval theaters, of negotiating the modern antisubmarine and air defense systems on the approaches to the basing areas of naval forces and the location areas of important shore installations of the coastal military districts and of delivering systematic attacks against them. To this end, groups of varied strength of underwater sabotage forces participate in almost all exercises, especially in the landing operations and maneuvers of naval forces.

For combat means, underwater sabotage forces use mines, torpedoes, and demolition charges of different strengths and sizes. The use of low-yield nuclear charges was also possible, since as far back as in 1955 the USA had tested a similar chargeof one to three kilotons specially intended for underwater sabotage. Thus, the improvement and development of underwater sabotage forces and means was carried out invarious directions with the trend being to strengthen their combat capabilities and, consequently, to increase the probability and danger of their attack and the extent of the damage they can cause. The equipping of underwater sabotage forces with combat means that are comparatively more powerful than those of the World War II period, including nuclear charges in torpedoes, mines, and land mines, and also the improvement of the tactical and technical properties of the means of delivering them to a target and of the operating methods of these forces, drastically increased the capabilities of carrying out underwater sabotage.

It is enough for one midget submarine or frogman on a guidable device to get through to a ship basing point, port, or naval base and employ a nuclear charge, and not only will ships and vessels be destroyed but the base will also be disabled for a long time. Also contributing to this is the fact that, with the dispersed basing of naval forces, there are likely to be serious diffisulties in creating a safe close-in defense of the basing points against the attacks of sabotage forces.



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list