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Submarines at at Admiralty Shipyard

Admiralty Shipyard was the first Soviet shipyard to produce a nuclear-powered surface ship, the celebrated icebreaker Lenin, but it did not launch its first nuclear-powered submarine after nuclear-powered units had been produced at Severodvinsk, Komsomolsk, and Gorkiy. The production of nuclear submarines at Admiralty was initiated with an investment in new facilities of only about $7 million [according to a 1970s CIA estimate] compared with investment expenditures on the order of $60 million [according to a 1970s CIA estimate] for each of the other producers of nuclear submarines.

Between 1973 and 1998 the shipyard built 41 submarines. In the 1980s the order of the defence sector reached 94% of the total output. A conversion program was implemented in 1991-95. Admiralty produced numerous specialized submersibles, including the civilian Sever-2 (1969), Tinro-2 (1972), Bentos (1975-1982), Tetis (1976), Osa, Argus, and Osmotr (1988) types, plus the naval Lima, Uniform, Xray, Beluga, and Paltus classes. Those most recently built include Kilo type submarines (2,325 tons D/W) and the smaller Lada type (1,600 D/W). In 1992 Iran agreed to pay $600 million to the United Admiralty Sudomekh shipyard in St. Petersburg for two Kilo-class submarines, with an option to buy a third.

Construction and investment in facilities at Admiralty can be divided roughly into four phases prior to 1970. Almost two-thirds of the yard's development took place prior to World War II. Of the remaining investment, the major share took place during phase three (1946-1959) and less than 10% of total investment was completed in the last (1960-1969). The construction of new facilities related to the construction of nuclear submarines had all taken place since 1960.

The basic industrial plant at Admiralty Shipyard around the year 1970 include about 100 buildings and structures. By contrast, two of the other three yards producing nuclear submarines around 1970 had less half that number of buildings. The third, and largest yard, at Severodvinsk, had a much number of buildings than Admiralty, but it had several different types of naval activities; Severodvinsk Shipyard alone contained over 170 buildings. Moreover, because Severodvinsk was an isolatod area, it had a number of plants producing component parts and assemblies that were not available locally as they were in the Leningrad area. The main fabrication hall which included subassembly and final assembly work on new submarines, fronts on the Fontanka, where completed submarines are launched into docks and moved to fitting out berths nearby.

The achievement of Admiralty Shipyard in producing a new class of nuclear submarine despite the small outward changes in its basic plant was linked to its location and to its highly skilled workers. Leningrad, with its numerous maritime and industrial installations, was a source of components, materials, and personnel without comparison in the USSR. The adjacent location of Sudomekh Shipyard, another submarine builder, may have a factor in the choice of Admiralty for the new program. The earlier choice of Admiralty to build the nuclear-powered icebreaker Lenin underlined the skills of the yard's staff and the high-quality production capability of the plant despite its external appearance. Although primarily a producer of surface ships, Admiralty had produced submarines prior to the Victor class.

Production of nuclear submarine at Admiralty Shipyard, even though there were few apparent changes in facilities at the yard, was a remarkable accomplishment, matched by no other Soviet producer. While the size of the facilities construction program there did not compare with other yards, it included the set of facilities associated with Soviet nuclear submarine production. Thus a large main assembly hall was created when an older one was enlarged. Next, a transverser was built for moving hull sections between stages of production from prefabrication to stuffing to final assembly. As of 1970 a probable subassembly facility was being built adjacent to the other two units, completing the set. As of 1970 a major share of the subassembly work on Victor class submarine was probably carried on in the main assembly hall. The addition of the new building would add significantly to the efficiency of the nuclear submarine production program at Admiralty Shipyard.

Admiralty Shipyard had fewer buildings that were standard shipbuilding structures than the which produce Soviet nuclear submarines. It was made up largely of industrial-type units laied out in a haphazard fashion that reflected the age of the shipyard. As of 1970 two-thirds of the buildings were more than 25 years old and many approached 50 years. Most of the shipyard's buildings were wooden-frame structures, but some all-brick buildings were located near the Neva River and at the eastern boundary with the city. Several of the brick units were originally apartment buildings which had been converted into design and administrative! offices. The limited size of many of the old buildings made efficient production techniques difficult. Some of the smaller buildings probably are not used at ail or are used only as warehouses. Whereas considerable work was undertaken at Gorkiy to rebuild and expand existing structures to adapt them to new uses, little construction along this line had taken place at Admiralty prior to 1970. At that time, plans had been announced to replace many of the older buildings at Admiralty with new shops and equipment.

The use of reinforced concrete wall panel construction has been confined to multi-bay units near the Sudonekh boundary area and at the south end of the yard. The main fabrication hall for submarines was one of these units; it was a modern industrial building which matches the quality of the main production buildings at other nuclear submarine yards. The hall probably was completed in 1955 and was built originally for the Whiskey class submarine which started to phase out before the facility came into production. Following the Soviet commitment to produce nuclear-powered submarines, the hall was enlarged during 1962-1964 in preparation for the productionof the Victor class submarine. The enlargement of the main hall provided for a new high-bay for assembling nuclear submarines. At the same time the overall building was doubled in size, the interior of the original building probably was remodeled and re-equipped, and a transverser system was added to the south side of the hall for the movement of heavy hull sections between bays. The large subassembly facility and workshops located immediately across the Fontanka Canal from the main hall probably were closely associated with the nuclear submarine program. These units, like the main hall, were constructed of heavy steel frame and concrete panels; some of the construction in this area was undertakan at the time tho main hall was built for the Whiskey class program.

The layout of both the main fabrication hall and tho adjacent transverser is consistent with facilities built at other nuclear submarine producers. As of 1970s a subassembly building was missing, but construction was under way at that time in an area adjacent to the main hall on what was probably subassembly-prefabrication. Stuffing consists of installing components, wir-piping, and other equipment in hull sections which are later joined to other hull sections in final assembly. The constructionew subassembly near the main fabrication hall would permit stuffing and other allied production operations to be transferred from the main hall. In addition, the new facility would permit a more direct flow of hull sections to the final assembly area of the main hall and would release space in the eastern bays for other work.

It was evident from external construction of the main hall that heavy support columns were built in the high-bay. Such construction is consistent with requirements for heavy-duty cranes having capacities of 50 to 100 tons which are intellaed at other nucloar submarine producers. Given the yard's basic mission of building merchant ships, however, it seemed likely to Western intelligence that the cranes in most shops were lightweight, lower capacity overhead bridge cranes. Outside, at the quays and the openways, there were many large portal-type cranes which were used mainly for moving large pieces for the fabrication of the cargo ships, icebreakers, fishing ships, and barges produced by the yard.

CIA estimates in 1970 of construction costs were obtained by costing each building and structure, including transportation lines and utilities. Ruble costs were derived from Soviet construction handbooks and include all direct costs, overhead, costs for temporary buildings, and other costs. Only buildings and structures under construction and substantially complete were included in this estimate. The inclusion of the probable subassembly building, which was under construction in 1970, would add about $1 million to $2 million to costs. Some of the buildings required the use or cost data not included in the Soviet handbook for construction in the shipbuilding industry. For example, the enlarged main fabrication hall exceeded the size limitations for standard Soviet assembly buildings. In this case, construction rates for the machine building and aircraft industries were used, as recommended in Soviet practice whenever suitable buildings and structures are not contained in a particular industry handbook. There were no special costs added for either climatic or locational conditions as Leningrad is in the base zone used to determine such cost factors.

Capital investment at Admiralty Shipyard was estimated at $89 million [according to a 1970s CIA estimate]. Of this total only about $7 million, or about 8%, took place when submarine-related facilities were being constructed. Investment expenditures for the submarine program at Admiralty were the smallest of any of the nuclear submarine producers. At Gorkiy Shipyard, for example, investment during 1960-1968 was more than $60 million, and roughly comparable expenditures were made at the other nuclear yards in the USSR. Estimates of investment related to nuclear submarine production at Admiralty did not include internal modifications to the main fabrication hall that might have been made whan the high-bay section was constructed; such costs probably would not have exceeded $1 million. Moreover, investment estimates include only the early construction work (less the probable subassembly facility. This facility probably would represent an investment of more than $2 million when completed. Of total investment, the cost of existing buildings and structures at Admiralty Shipyard was estimated at about $48 million. About $4 million of the construction costs were directly related to the new submarine program.

The estimated total cost of miscellaneous investment for the construction of Admiralty was about $7 million [according to a 1970s CIA estimate]. Miscellaneous investment included design and engineering services, building inspection, and the training of production cadres. The cost of installed equipment at Admiralty Shipyard was about $34 million [according to a 1970s CIA estimate] , or about 38% of the total capital investment in the yard. The cost of equipment was estimated in relation to the cost of construction of buildings and structures. Studies showed that there was a reeasonably consistent relationship between these costs in Soviet industries. A Soviet study on the economics of shipbuilding gave the shares of equipment. Similar studies were used to fix the share of miscellaneous investment costs which are calculated in relation to the costs of buildings and structures.

The original open building ways used for major surface ship production predate World War II and were little changed by 1970 except for some postwar reconstruction work. In comparison with other shipyards in the USR, unit costs of most of the buildings were relatively low, reflecting the quality of construction. Tho exceptions were the buildings devoted to nuclear submarine production, the main hall and the new subassembly Construction costs for these units were even greater than their normally high relative relative costs because of the marshy construction sites.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:46:58 ZULU