VAU-6 Auxiliary Nuclear Power Plant (ANPP) Dollezhal eggs - Submarines
The VAU-6 small power plant (600 kW) was designed and manufactured in NIKIET in partnership with Kaluga Turbine Plant and Research Institute of Electromechanics. The "only semi-atomic submarine" is precisely how one can classify the K-68 submarine converted in 1985 at the Krasnoe Sormovo plant according to project 651E created at the Lazurit Design Bureau. On this large serial diesel-electric missile submarine of project 651 (Juliett - according to NATO classification) an additional compartment-container with an auxiliary nuclear unit VAU-6 was installed. Thanks to it, the K-68 continuous underwater range with an economic speed of 4 knots increased to almost 7,000 miles and the tactical capabilities of the ship significantly increased. Placing auxiliary nuclear installations on submarines is one of the prospevtive areas of underwater shipbuilding.
During its existence in NITI, 4 prototype ship nuclear power plants were created, on which tests and studies of various types of installations were carried out (at 2 stands now). The first in 1971, a stand was introduced with the installation of VAU-6s for testing nuclear power plants with a boiling reactor and natural circulation of the coolant. The unit was intended for a diesel submarine (PL) as an auxiliary power unit. The development and research experience was used in testing the VAU-6 ship model on a Project 651E diesel submarine in 1985 with the participation of NITI personnel.
The idea of deploying a small-sized nuclear reactor was considered in relation to Project 651 submarines. The Project 651 diesel-electric submarine (DEPL) became the largest non-nuclear submarine of the time built in the USSR. From the very beginning, trying to increase the underwater range of the Project 651 diesel-electric submarines, the designers laid silver-zinc batteries instead of lead-acid ones. In practice, it turned out that silver-zinc batteries have two critical drawbacks: high cost and short life (up to 100 charge-discharge cycles), which predetermined a return to lead-acid batteries. However, in addition to batteries with increased capacity, more radical solutions were considered for diesel-electric submarines of project 651. In principle, the USSR Navy (Navy) in parallel with the construction of Project 651 submarines was preparing for the construction of Project 675 nuclear submarines (nuclear submarines) with the same P-6 cruise missiles that were installed on Project 651 diesel-electric submarines. However, Project 675 nuclear submarines were significantly more expensive than Project 651 diesel-electric submarines. A solution was required that would allow submarines of Project 651 to have an unlimited range of submarines while maintaining the remaining characteristics at the level of the diesel-electric submarines of the original project.
As a solution, the creation of a small-sized nuclear reactor, the so-called "Dollezhal egg," named after its creator Nikolai Dollezhal, chief designer of atomic reactors for the USSR Navy, was considered. At the initial stage, the project involved placing the reactor in a separate capsule and towing it on a cable with a cable in order to abandon heavy biological protection. However, such a concept was immediately rejected, both because of the high probability of losing the capsule with the reactor, and because of the potential for tracking submarines on the radioactive trail. Subsequently, the placement of the reactor outside the solid DEPL casing was considered, but within the framework of a single “rigid” submarine design.
Obviously, the technology of that time did not allow creating a compact and reliable maintenance-free reactor with acceptable characteristics. In the future, the idea of installing a nuclear power plant (NPP) on diesel-electric submarines has repeatedly returned. In particular, on the basis of the project 651 diesel-electric submarine, project 683 was developed to create a mass submarine equipped with a low-power nuclear power plant. This submarine was to be built in large quantities at plants that previously produced diesel-electric submarines. Project 683 was delayed and not developed, presumably because by this time the USSR already had sufficient production capacities to produce full-fledged nuclear powered ships in the quantities necessary for the Navy.
Project 651 was not forgotten. In 1985, one of the boats of this project was redesigned according to project 651E, developed back in 1977. As part of the modernization of the submarine, it was equipped with a compact low-power nuclear power plant developed at the Scientific and Research Institute of Power Engineering (NIKIET), currently the Order of Lenin, Scientific and Research Institute of Power Engineering named after N. A. Dollezhal. " In the framework of the project 651E, a low-power nuclear power plant was located in the lower aft part of the submarine outside the solid hull. A single-circuit boiling type reactor was used. However, the Project 651E submarine also did not leave the prototype stage.
The main direction of increasing the combat effectiveness of diesel-electric submarines is to increase the secrecy of their actions, which can be achieved only by significantly increasing the time spent under water. There are three ways to solve this problem: improving the traditional source of energy for underwater travel - a battery, equipping a submarine with an auxiliary non-volatile EC and equipping a submarine with a single (for surface and underwater) EC. In the Soviet Union, all three directions were developed. But of most interest are the work on the creation and operation of auxiliary nuclear power plants in the USSR on diesel-electric missile engines.
In the late 1950s. in order to increase the combat effectiveness of rocket diesel-electric submarines, government decree No. 980-458 of 08.28.1958 was issued on the development of a preliminary design for the modernization of diesel-electric submarines pr.629 by installing special power plants TES-3 (0-154) on them. The work was entrusted to TsKB-16 (now SPMBM Malachite). The head of the bureau, Nikolai Nikitich Isanin, appointed Y.E. Evgrafova, and Z.L. Marmuru.
Less than six months later (on time - in March 1959), an abridged outline sketch was submitted to the commission. In the developed materials there were three options for the ship: the option specified in the government decree - with the installation of TPP-3, and two initiative ones. Since, as it became clear from the study of the given option, the TES-3 power plant had a nominal turbogenerator power of only 600 kW, and more than 15% of this power was spent on the needs of the installation itself, the remaining power was barely enough for an underwater speed of about three knots and auxiliary needs of the ship.
Instead of installing TES-3, the bureau considered the possibility of using a small-sized nuclear power plant, which was being worked out at the Design Bureau of the Leningrad Kirov Plant under the code "0-153". Its power exceeded the power of TPP-3 by several times and, with a corresponding change in the composition of the propeller electrical equipment, allowed to significantly increase the speed of a long underwater course and, accordingly, the cruising range of the submarines.
Both modernization options, pr.629, provided for hanging the energy capsule under the aft (eighth) compartment of the strong hull, which significantly increased the draft of the ship, worsened the hydrodynamics of the hull and the conditions of internal placement, and also significantly complicated the operating conditions of the ship.
Installations were thought to be single-circuit with a boiling reactor. At the same time, in order to reduce the mass and volume, the protection of the capsule was only shadow, which made any docking problematic and created a host of other, including environmental, problems. In order to overcome these shortcomings and verify the possibility of creating a ship with higher characteristics, the third option provided for the placement of a 0-153 nuclear power plant in a strong submarine hull (naturally, of a new architecture - only the bow remained from pr.629).
According to the results of the outline design, TsKB-16 negatively reacted to further work on this project. At this time, the staff of the bureau worked hard on a preliminary design of the world's first ultra-high-speed titanium submarine pr.661, the lead designer of which was the same Z.L. Marmur, and everyone understood that building a new boat with a "small-sized" nuclear power plant does not make sense, just as it makes no sense to create a ship with a hybrid power plant.
Based on the results of the consideration of the submitted materials, a conclusion was drawn on the inappropriateness of further work on pr.629M.
The idea of a quick and relatively cheap way to increase the combat effectiveness of diesel-electric submarines was not forgotten in the Soviet Union. It was assumed that with a positive result of the creation and testing of an autonomous auxiliary nuclear power plant in the USSR, it would be possible to sharply increase the combat potential of the submarine fleet by transforming the most modern and powerful diesel-electric submarines into submarines if the international situation worsens in a relatively short time.
In April 1971, at the Research Technological Institute imeni Aleksandrova (Sosnovy Bor, Leningrad Region), a ground prototype of a ship nuclear power plant was mounted for testing and testing an auxiliary nuclear installation (VAU-6s). After a set of bench tests, it was decided to conduct the offshore testing phase of a new prospetive type of power plant. For this, a diesel-electric submarine with cruise missiles pr.651 was allocated.
Work on the conversion of a diesel-electric submarine into a submarine under the project 651E “Nerka” was started at the Rubin Central Design Bureau, and later it was transferred to the Gorky Central Design Bureau Lazurit (chief designer N.I. Kvasha). In the period from September 25, 1979 to January 30, 1985, the K-68 Northern Fleet submarine at the Krasnoye Sormovo shipyard (Gorky) underwent re-equipment on Project 651E. The responsible contractor for the delivery of the ship from the Central Design Bureau "Lazurit" was R.I. Lafer. The ship was equipped with a small auxiliary nuclear power plant VAU-6 with a capacity of 600 kW. It was housed in an airtight container mounted under a sturdy hull in the stern of the boat. Tests carried out during the trial operation of the ship made it possible to work out the design and evaluate the feasibility of using small-sized nuclear power plants as power sources for diesel-electric submarines to increase their combat capabilities.
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