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ORP Orzel Project 877E (Kilo class) submarine

ORP Orzel is a Polish Navy Project 877E (Kilo class in NATO code) submarine. Andrew Toppan noted that the Kilo was "considered too large for Baltic operations and subsequent transfers were cancelled."

" It is the third submarine to bear this name since 1939 [Orzel is Eagle in Polish]. The third ORP Orzel submarine was built by Sudomekh Shipyard in Leningrad (currently New Admirality Shipyard in St. Petersburg). She was commissioned on 29 April 1986 in Riga. On June 13 of the same year it was transferred to Gdynia where on 21 June 1986 it was christened. As of 2000, Poland's sole Kilo class submarine, the Orzel, was being refitted so as to be able to operate with NATO forces.

The first ORP Orzel was the lead ship of of her class of submarines serving in the Royal Polish Navy during World War II. The ship is most notable for her brave escape from neutral harbor of Tallin in Estonia in what is known and now referred to as the Orzel incident or Orzelgate. Orzel was laid down 14 August 1936 at the Dutch shipyard De Schelde; launched on 15 January 1938, and commissioned on 2 February 1939. She was a modern design (designed by the joint venture of Polish and Dutch engineers), albeit quite large for the shallow waters of Baltic Sea. The submarine Orzel was lost at sea with her entire crew on her next patrol somewhere in the North Sea, about late May - or early June - 1940. History and experiences RIP "Orzel" make the submarine (especially in Poland) legend, who has no rivals such as the legendary RMS Titanic.

The second ORP Orzel (292) was a WHISKEY class submarine Project 613 (Minken), which raised the the Polish flag 30 XII 1962 and ended service at the end of 1983. After withdrawal from service in the early 1970s of the submarine of pre-war design, the Navy retained the only 4 submarines. These were ships of the project 613, built in the mid-1950s in the Soviet Union and identified by NATO as the Whiskey class. They were built in the Soviet Union on the basis of the experience of the Second World War. The WHISKEY class boats were built in various versions from 1951 to 1957. Including 240 units were built for the Soviet Navy and 40 units for export, among others, four units saw service in the Polish Navy.

Having been leased by the Navy from 1962-1965, soon in 1965 were purchased and became the property of the Polish. Their use was very intense. Voyages outside the Baltic included to the North Sea to Murmansk. They were expected to perform operational tasks in the framework of the Warsaw Pact. In Polish Navy they were included in the composition of the 1st Brigade of the Submarinesin Gdynia, and since 1971, 33 Submarine Squadron of the fleet's ships. In the Baltic, the Soviet Union kept dozens of conventional submarines. Poland assumed the costs of the rental, purchase and operation of 4 of them. The former East Germany (the third of the Baltic States in the Warsaw Pact) never had submarines.

By the late 1970s the Polish Whiskey ships were already highly obsolete. It was decided to replace them with newer a design. At that time in the Soviet Union was increasingly focused on conventional submarines fit for action on the oceans and seas, other than on the Baltic Sea. Poland considered cooperation with Yugoslavia, but this did not come into effect. The supplier of submarines for the Polish had to be the Soviet Union.

At the end of the 1960s, the Soviets embarked on the construction of Project 641 Foxtrot, and in the 1970s built, as their modernisation, a series of 18 large conventional units of Tango submarine. They had a total length of 91.5 meters and 3100 tonnes displacement surfaced and 3900 tons underwater buoyancy. These huge units were non-nuclear powered warships, but not fit for the Polish Navy. Both powers, the Soviet Union and the USA, focused theis attention on nuclear powered units. The USA eventually chose the program construction of nuclear submarines only.

In the late 1970s and 1980s the Soviet Union began the design and construction of a series of new-generation submarines intended for its own fleet and for export. The main designer of these units was J.N.Kormilicyn. This type has become the standard for the fleets of the Warsaw Pact and its partner countries. For these reasons the Russians codenamed the project 877 as Warszawianka. Ships of this type were built in different versions with different equipment, among others. 877, 877K, 877M. Export variants were given the letter E ("eksportnyj"). The new modernised version offered for export was named 877EKM.

The Russian project 877 prototype unit was launched in the yard Leninskiego Komsomolu in Amurze Komsomolsku on 12 November 1980 and commissioned into service in 1982. Then the production project 877 submarines was undertaken at Sudomech podjely also yards in Leningrad (currently New Admiralty Shipyard in St. Petersburg) and Shipyard Krasnoe Sormowo"in Gorkim (now Niznyj Nowgorod). This last shipyard constructed project 877E submarines for export (but not for the Polish Navy) and produced a new export variant 877EKM.

Poland planned to buy 4 boats of Project 877E and for the first time these had to be newly built ships and had not operated in the fleet of the Soviet Union. At the beginning of the 1980s, making the withdrawal of submarines of the project 613. At the end of 1983 were ORP "Orzel" (292) and at the end of 1985 ORP Kondor (294). Poland went on training the crew of the new ship to the Soviet Union. In Riga, there was a training center for foreign crews of submarines and where are their takeover. Just in Riga on 29 April 1986, raised the flag at the first and the only Polish ship project 877E, one of the first two built for export. The second was bought by India and comissioned 30 April 1986 (the day after the Polish flag raising). ORP Orzel's crew took her to Gdynia on 13 June 1986. Solemn baptism and giving him the name of ORP "Orzel" and the number 291 was held in Gdynia, Poland on 21 June 1986.

Despite the fact that “Orzel” became a part of the Polish Navy back in 1986, it still offers a major combat potential. When it comes to the armament, the submarine uses 6 torpedo launchers in its bow (533 mm calibre, arranged into two rows). The launchers accommodate the Russian 53-65KE oxygen torpedoes. The primary purpose of this weapon is to act against surface vessels, their range is defined as 19000 meters. The vessel also uses the electric TEST-71ME remotely controlled torpedoes, destined to be used against submarines. The TEST-71ME’s range is 20000 meters. The submarine may carry 6 torpedoes in total, in its launchers, along with 12 spares, the reloading of which is partially automated.

12th Military Economic Element [Wojskowy Oddzial Gospodarczy] based in Torun announced that an entity has been selected on 16th April 2019 to carry out the task of “Recovering technical readiness and defining a new technical lifespan of the 53-65KE” torpedoes. The readiness extension plan created with the 53-65KE torpedoes in mind means that ORP “Orzel” is expected to remain in active service for at least another decade.



ORP "Orzel"

29th of April 1986

Project: CKB MT "Rubin" in Leningrad, ZSRR (Currently in Sankt Petersburg, Russia) Russian cryptonym of project: Warszawianka, Granay project number: 877E
Built: Sudomech in Leningrad, ZSRR (Currently Shipyard of New Admiralty in Saint Petersburg ,Russia)
NATO code: Kilo.


  • Total length: 72,6 meters
  • Beam: 9,9 meters
  • Draft: 6,5 meters


  • 6 torpedo tubes 533.4 mm;


  • Surface: 2460 tons
  • Dived: 3180 tons


  • Surface: 12 knots
  • Dived: 17 knots


  • 2 diesel engines 42DL42M class; 1 motor, PG 141 class; 1 shaft; economic speed motor.

ORP Orzel Project 877E (Kilo class) submarine
ORP Orzel Project 877E (Kilo class) submarine

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Page last modified: 27-05-2019 18:55:09 ZULU