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Project 659 / Echo I
Project 675 / Echo II

The 'ECHO I' class (Project 659) boats were originally built as the first Soviet SSGNs, carrying SS-N-3 Shaddock SSMs. This missile was employed in the strategic role, rather than an anti-ship role, as the boats could not accommodate the guidance radar needed for anti-ship operations. The Project 659 [Echo I] carried 6 Shaddock missiles in erectable launch tubes mounted in pairs above the pressure hull on both sides of the sail. The Echo I boats used a reactor and propulsion system similar to the Hotel SSBN and November SSN classes.

The first K-45 nuclear submarine equipped with six P-5 missiles entered service on June 28, 1961. The missile containers were placed in the superstructure three on each side. In total, five such submarines were built (Project 659). From August 1965 to 1969, the rockets were removed, and the boats were converted into torpedo tubes for the 659T project.

The most advanced submarine designed for P-5 missiles was the nuclear submarine of Project 675, the technical design of which was completed in September 1960. The K-166 submarine entered the Northern Fleet on September 30, 1963. The superstructure of the submarine was eight containers were installed in which P-5 or P-6 missiles were deployed, and later these boats received P-500 Basalt missiles.

Even before the introduction of the P-5 missile into OKB-52, work began on various upgrades to this missile. Thus, in 1959, a preliminary design of the P-5RG missile with a radar homing head was developed for firing at surface ships. In 1962, flight tests of P-5 missiles with anti-radar coating XV-10, a kind of "stealth", were conducted.

The first boat missile also had a number of shortcomings: the surface launch of the rocket, the small accuracy of the shooting1 (which was partly compensated for by the presence of special ammunition during firing), the flight of the rocket could only take place over level ground (without mountains and hills), there were also restrictions on the direction and speed of the wind.

The SS-N-3 proved unsuited for the strategic role, resulting in the conversion of these boats to conventional torpedo-attack boats, Project 659T. At least one and possibly two were decommissioned in the mid-1980s, while the remaining three or four units were decommissioned in 1990.

The Project 675 [Echo II] nuclear-powered cruise-missile submarines were modified to carry the Front series of radars [also featured on the Juliet-class SSG] that enabled them to launch the anti-shipping version of the Shaddock. These were primarily anti-carrier weapons, intended originally as a response to nuclear strikes against the Soviet Union by carrier-based aircraft like the A-3 Skywarrior. As such, their SS-N-3s came in both nuclear and conventional versions. A total of eight missiles were carried, two more than on the Echo-I, and the hull was lengthed five meters to accomodate the extra pair of launchers.

The predecessor of the project 949 was a series of "675", which led Pustyntsev. And Igor Baranov also had a hand in it. He, in particular, already in the 1980s engaged in the modernization of submarines on the project 675MKV. They received a new missile system "Vulkan", significantly increasing the firing range. For defense against air targets responsible MANPADS "Strela-3M." Also on the submarines they placed the equipment of the Kasatka-B satellite target designation system. Total upgrades were four ships. According to Western estimates about 20 minutes was required to launch all eight missiles. To fire its missiles the submarine surfaced, deployed and activated a tracking radar, and remained on the surface linked to the high altitude cruise missile in flight via datalink, providing guidance commands based on the submarine radar's tracking data. The submarine itself was highly vulnerable to attack while on the surface operating its radar. A total of 29 Echo IIs were constructed between 1962 and 1968, of which perhaps 10 were converted to carry the improved SS-N-12 by the mid-1980s. All had been de-commissioned by the mid-1990s.

At least four Echo submarines have suffered serious accidents. In August 1980 a fire in an Echo II off Japan killed at least nine crewmembers. On 26 June 1989 a fire erupted in of the the two reactor compartments on an Echo II submarine of the Northern Fleet. The reactor had to be shut down, and the submarine surfaced to return to Murmansk under auxiliary diesel power. Several crew members were injured, but none were killed in the incident. There is some confusion over the numbering of the damaged submarines.

According to one reasonably authoritative account, the Navy had four damaged submarines, of which three are in the Far East, in the Pavlovski Bay (project 675, serial No. 175 and 541 and project 671, serial No. 610) and one - in the North (project 675, serial No. 533). The cores of submarines No. 541 and 533 are planned to be discharged. These numbers are at variance with those reported by other sources, and certainly reflect at least in part the annoying Russian habit of re-designating their ships.

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Page last modified: 16-01-2019 13:13:12 ZULU