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Project 613 Whiskey class

In the late 1940s, Central Design Bureau #18 (now the Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering) elaborated the technical documentation for the Project 613 medium submarine (NATO designation Whiskey). It embodied the advanced world experience of underwater shipbuilding accumulated during WWII. Its diving depth reached 200 m, and the full submerged speed was 13.1 knots. Its armament comprised 12 torpedoes or 24 mines. The submarines were fitted with the most modern electronic equipment of that time. In the 1950s, they were built at a record peacetime rate of 215 units at four plants simultaneously. Some 20 submarines were built in the People's Republic of China by Soviet technical documentation with the completing equipment supplied by the USSR.

To adapt the technical documentation of the Project 613 submarine to technological potentials of particular shipbuilding enterprises and to develop modernization projects for this class of submarines, Special Design Bureau #112 was set up in the city of Gorky (now Nizhni Novgorod) and rather quickly turned into an independent design enterprise. It was later renamed Central Design Bureau #112, then the Sudoproekt Special Design Bureau, and, finally, the Lazurit Central Design Bureau. Project 613 submarines became "draft horses" of the Soviet underwater fleet: they operated not only in coastal seas, but also in the World Ocean,

Ambitious German plans to build Walter-designed ocean-going submarines, such as the 1,600-ton Type XVIII, were thwarted by the unsuccessful course of the war, The Type XVIII was modified into the highly successful Type XXI "electro-boat," in which larger batteries provided a submerged speed of 17 knots, which could be maintained for 90 minutes. That innovation, and the adoption of the snorkel, yielded a potent combination that strongly influenced the postwar design of conventionally-powered submarines on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

During the five years following the end of World War II, Soviet exploitation of the Type XXI lagged significantly behind American fears. US intelligence initially foresaw in 1946 a force of 300 Soviet Type XXI equivalents by 1950. But it was not until 1949 that the first postwar Soviet submarine designs -- the Whiskey and the Zulu -- put to sea. While the Zulu was a true Type XXI, the Whiskey was a smaller, less capable, shorter range boat, designed more with an eye toward coastal defense and European littoral operations. It was not until the mid-1950s that Whiskeys were even given snorkels.

Early post-war construction focused on small submarines, the vast majority of which were Whiskey-class boats. Between 1949 and 1958 a total of 236 Whiskeys were commissioned. A shore targeting station would direct these vessels in their defense of the sea approaches to the Soviet Union. The larger Zulu-class and smaller Quebec-class submarines augmented the Whiskey-class. The thirty-two Zulu-class submarines operated further out at sea and coordinated with shore-based aircraft to provide targeting information to the shore centers. The approximately thirty Quebec-class submarines operated in the coastal waters.

During the 1950s there were efforts to convert Whiskeys into cruise missile submarines (SSGs). As the Soviet navy's mission expanded to combating the US Navy on the open ocean. The Echo I and Whiskey Long Bin class submarines deployed with anti-ship cruise missiles to fulfill this role.

Since the early 1980s Sweden suffered from a steady bout of violations of its territorial waters by foreign submarines that have been determined to belong to the Soviet Union. The reports issued by the Swedish navy were granted but passing attention by both the Swedish public and the international media until 27 October 1981, when a Soviet Whiskey-class submarine ran aground in a restricted area of the Karlskrona archipelago in an incident generally referred to as "Whiskey on the rocks." While the Swedish government issued a strong formal protest, the Soviets sloughed off the intrusion as an unintentional navigational error.

Modern technology allowed the development of quieter, more capable dieselelectric submarines (such as Germany's type 209 and the export Kilos from the former Soviet Union) which smaller countries were able to afford and operate. The U.S. Navy was very concerned about the submarine threat of such countries as North Korea with its numerous Romeo and Whiskey class submarines, Algeria with it's two Kilo class and two Romeo class submarines, Libya with it's six Foxtrot class submarines, and Syria with it's three Romeo class submarines.

By the late 1990s North Korea had the fourth largest submarine force in the world with a total of about one hundred boats in their inventory. But the numbers do not tell the entire story. Nearly half of these were midget submarines controlled by the Korean Worker's Party and suitable only for special forces insertion. Furthermore, their four "Whiskey" class submarines based at Pipagot on the Yellow Sea were reported to be used only for training missions and restricted to operating at periscope depth when submerged. The KPN appeared to betrying to offset the obsolescence of its "Whiskey" and "Romeo" fleet with development of a fleet of domestically designed "Sang-O" class boats. The "Sang-O" is a coastal submarine believed to be based on a Yugoslav design.

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Page last modified: 29-04-2018 19:31:59 ZULU