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Project 1710 Mackrel
Beluga class

The single Project Beluga-class experimental submarine featured a hull shape similar to but smaller than that of the nuclear propelled Sierra-class, with a sail similar to that of the Alfa-class. This research and development platform may have been used for testing an air independent propulsion system, as well as for tests of hull forms, propulsors and boundary layer control techniques. This one-off design was apparently intended to research submarine hull forms and technology. It featured a very broad albacore-type hull with a very small, blended sail.

After the development of the first nuclear-powered submarine, Soviet engineers experimented with tactical and technical characteristics relating to speed to improve sonar performance and noise levels. The highest priority was speed, and the Soviets wanted to control sonar performance and noise by influencing the boundary layer with a polymer solution. The need for reduction in frictional drag has long existed. Means for reducing frictional drag include laminarization, air cavities and air films, riblets, magnetohydrodynamics, microbubble ejection, and polymer ejection.

In 1960 naval architect B.F. Dronov and I.M. Brodenkov suggested using an existing submarine as a laboratory. All necessary data using different drive variations and different ways of reducing the friction resistance would thus measurable. In 1962 the project was approved and supported by the scientific academies and institutes the development. A large floating prototypes, the Tuna, was built before the actual construction of the submarine. With him, the flow wing influence should be examined various means. Use the pull to laminar flow to maintain, gasification and emissions were studied by polymer plastic solutions (polymers).

In furtherance of the study of the effects of fluid polymers ejected from underwater bodies onto the exterior surfaces of the body, test vehicles have been utilized which are buoyant and adapted to travel, by virtue of their buoyancy, from a selected depth in a column of water, typically in a protected natural body of water having a depth of 1100 feet, or more, to the surface of the water. Such buoyant test vehicles (BTV) are provided in which a drag reducing polymer is ejected from the nose of the BTV so as to coat the hull of the BTV with polymer as the BTV travels through the water. The polymer typically is ejected by compressed air expanding in a housing holding liquid polymer, forcing the polymer out of the housing and out ejection ports in the BTV hull. Once the known ejection process is begun, it continues until all the polymer has been ejected.

The model with a stabilized speed of approximately 60 knots had been designed at SKB-143, and in 1970 was built in the pilot plant of the Siberian Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences. The tests were done from 1971 to 1974 in a special pilot plant of the USSR Acoustic Institute in the area of Sukhumi. Full-scale tests of some variations of the model (geometrically similar the form the Beluga) showed that it was possible to control the boundary layer using polymers. The Tuna was released at a depth of 300 meters and began his rise. The polymer variant of the model showed a decrease of total resistance of 30%-40%, and at the same time an increase in the ascent rate of 12%-18%.

In the Research Institute shipbuilding KRYLOV special testing was conducted with the 40 meter exemplary model Igla (needle) in the coupled channel. Those tests showed a constant friction reduction by polymer injection with high Reynolds values. This organization established the preconditions for a systematic approach, and was the basis for a scientific technical development process: laboratory and research, then large-scale models, then the laboratory submarine (Beluga) and ultimately the combat submarine.

The technical design of project 1710 was developed in 1975. Although project 1710 is an experimental submarine, the shape and the main measure conditions were for the development of submarines, project 696 and project 705 Lira were used. The project 705, NATO code Alfa, was one of the fastest high-speed subs.

The idea of the hull form was revolutionary, no cylinderical Center section and with a ratio length/width of approximately 1:7. Such a hull form ensured the success of the optimum drive properties in minimal form of resistance. A double-hull was elected so the outer lines could be optimized. The actual pressure body was designed as a simple cylinder, large enough to place the special systems inside and around positive buoyancy ensure. The double hul configuration allowed the position change of the propeller and the polymer ring slot ejectors. Change the shape and the material of the sonar dome were thus possible. The initial placement of scientific research equipment had based on calculations was later changed.

The propulsion scheme is something of a mystery, as the sub was never observed snorkeling but lacked the features of a nuclear propulsion plant. Some sources claimed the boat had an electric-only system and had to return pierside to recharge her batteries. An alternate explanation was that she was the testbed for an AIP engine; a third possibility is that she had a nuclear "micro-reactor" capable of producing a very limited amount of electricity. Interestingly, the boat apparently had a full combat systems suite but no torpedo tubes. It is reported that the power plant consisted of auxiliary diesel generator with a power of 500 kW and propeller motor 4.040 kW as well as an engine for economic progress with 37 kW and two sets of batteries. For charging the boat each time the boat had returned to the base.

The boat was equipped with a low-noise seven blade propeller with the was to reach a maximum speed of 25 knots. The underwater speed and the high tax and manoeuvrability the Beluga was confirmed during tests. The boat was peppered with sensors that were connected to the measuring instruments. Flow sensors that were mounted on Tower, rudder, and fuselage were mainly. We will grow not all sensors, they are simply too small. Also it had a kind of "Necking" the boat to the body. Probably this constriction due to the ring injectors for the polymer solution was built. Is unfortunately unknown.

The experimental submarine project 1710 was a unique scientific ship. Only the USS Albacore (AGSS-569) 1953 hydrodynamic research would be equivalent. Experiments with polymer solutions on board the USS Albacore did not reach use in the fleet. The Beluga allowed hydrodynamic and acoustic research at a new high quality level, and brought the success and knowledge that was not available as the Slbacore nor was commissioned.

The system for the delivery of the polymer solution to the boundary and a large number of scientific research equipment were on board. The system monitored the effectiveness of the polymer solution on the reduction of underwater resistance and noise of flow with the hydro-acoustic installation under normal conditions. Activates the system flows seawater and polymer paste to the mixer. The mixed polymer solution is then stored in an intermediate tank from which it is routed through a pipe system to the planned at Hull, Tower, stabilizers and propeller.

The Leningrad Admiralty shipyard began in 1985 with building project 1710. The finished submarine at the scientific research base in Sevastopol was transferred after two years. In 1987, after the experiments were conducted, Project 1710 was delivered to the Navy and began testing on Balaklava route in the Black Sea. The program was successfully continued until the Soviet Union collapsed. A strong reduction of attempts on board fight submarines enabled the systematic testing of the new acoustic systems and technology on board a laboratory submarine in original size. They brought even an extension of performance and reduced the total expenses for the maintenance of the submarine fleet. Based at Sevastopol, the boat was used sparingly after 1991 and never left the pier after 1997.

Last noted in operation in 1997, this trials submarine is believed to be inoperable or discarded as of mid-2000. In the spring of 2002, two gentlemen from Germany visited this boat, and proposed that it should be sent to Germany and converted into a Museum submarine. Unfortunately the boat was in very bad condition, pieces of equipment had already been removed. The boat was towed to the decommissioning in the scrap yard in Inkerman in Sevastopol. In the middle of the year 2002 [many reports claim 2000] the boat was scrapped completely.

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