Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Documentary on the Zvezdochka Shipyard

Some good pics of submarines in various states of overhaul/undress, plus, how to cook for Indian visitors north of the Arctic Circle from the folks at the documentary series "Smotr".

00:00 Narrator: Severodvinsk is rightly known as Russia’s Capital of Nuclear Submarine Construction. On one side of Nikol’skaya Inlet which divides the city into two parts stands the renowned “Sevmash”. On the other side, on Yagry Island, is the no less glorious “Zvevdochka”. And if you can call the first enterprise the submarine’s birthplace because Sevmash is where they are built, then the second is a clinic for submarines. Here they are repaired and modernized. They receive a second life. In its half century of operation, Zvezdochka has returned 115 submarines to service – 81 of them nuclear and 34 diesel-electric.

00:50 Nikolai Kalistrator (NK), General Director of “Zvezdochka”: A good ship is like a good man, they should serve for a long time. It is very costly and ineffective for the country if they serve for only a little while.

01:02 Narrator: Today about 10,000 people enter Zvezdochka every morning. The territory of the factory covers almost 150 hectares. Here they don’t apply their efforts fully to the repair and modernization of submarines, but they also built ocean going trawlers, oil and gas platforms and modern yachts. They make comfortable and inexpensive furniture at Zvezdochka and even work with diamonds.

01:40 Narrator: The most advanced and called upon production over the years has been the production of ship’s propellers. High technology, ultra-modern equipment and young, talented specialists. These propellers are mounted on all of our nuclear icebreakers, from “Arktika” to “Taymyr’”. They have been tested in the harshest Arctic ice. They propel the largest cruise ships in the world. The weight of these screws, if they are cast as one piece, is up to 50 tons. If they are assembled – up to 80 tons. But the main task of the shipyard, its reason for being, hasn’t changed – to give a second, or even a third life to submarines.

02:30 NK: If you don’t repair a boat, it’s like committing financial suicide, because without overhaul, a boat will serve effectively and reliably for 10 years. Our boats are pretty reliable in Russia, so sometimes 12 years. We have proved that our boats can serve 35 years, if that boat gets overhaul, it can serve 35 years. One of those, the Orenburg, named in honor of our Russian city...there were 6 heroes of the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation nurtured on that boat.

03:06 Narrator: And so everything began in a more than humble state. One lonely building hall, the 12th, and around 100 workers. On the 9th of July, 1946, the Party adopted a resolution to constuct a factory on the shores of the White Sea to build and maintain ships exclusively for the Red Banner Northern Fleet. With each passing year, the pace of work increased so quickly that it became the leading ship repair yard in the country. It was this great number of contracts accepted that ended up saving the shipyard. At the end of the 50s, Khrushchev contemplated consolidating a number of defense enterprises, among them, Zvezdochka. It was the then director of the factory, the legendary ship builder and repairer Grigory Presyankin, who made a shrewd move.

04:00 Vasiliy Kologreyev (VK), Director of the “Zvezdochka” Museum: “They said to us, ‘Guys, what are you doing? Where are you taking that huge portfolio of orders? You aren’t going to be able to deal with them!’ We took orders and took orders and took orders and we ended up taking so many orders for vessels that it would have been senseless to sign a contract to terminate activity at the factory…”

04:20 Narrator: This lasted until the middle of the 90s when the factory was on the verge of dying from a lack of military orders. The director, Nikolai Kalistrator, didn’t wait around for charity from the Ministry of Defense. He started concluding contracts with civilian firms and organizations and looked for foreign orders. It is difficult to say if Zvezdochka would have survived looking the way it does were it not for these civilian orders. There were times when there was no money and the workers were paid with coupons, so called “Kalistratovkas” which were good for products in the factory stores and for lunch in the cafeteria.

05:06 NK: These contracts helped out a lot. If it weren’t for those contracts, the situation probably would have been worse and we would not have been able to keep our expertise. We mastered the production of trawlers, civilian ships, we build self propelled gas platforms for Gazprom. One of them drilled 12 wells in up to 100 meters of water and the depth of the well was 6000 meters.

05:38 Narrator: In 1959, Zvezdochka received the most important task – to master the repair and modernization of nuclear submarines in the shortest amount of time possible. The first nuclear powered submarine arrived three years later. It was Project 658M “K-33”. The task was not only to repair the boat, but to also replace the obsolete missile launchers with a more modern version.

06:09 VK: The task before us was to perform intermediate maintenance as well as install the new D-4 launchers capable of underwater launch.
Narrator: Zvezdochka gave the Navy the first two modernized nuclear submarines in 1964. The shipyard was completely upgraded during its mastery of overhauling nuclear submarines. A new building hall was built, significantly increasing the number of workers and technical specialists. From this time on, Zvezdochka became the countries leading enterprise for the conversion and modernization of nuclear submarines. The ways were almost always full of boats being modernized and completely different boats emerged from the factory. Some boats completely changed their purpose.

07:00 NK: Sometimes boats with strategic systems, that is, boats with ballistic missiles, changed to boats with so-called cruise missiles, which, analogous to the Americans, we often call “Tomahawks”. Its an enormous amount of work, a couple of compartments are cut out, new compartments are inserted, new equipment is installed, the boat receives a completely new and different purpose, but we didn’t cut it up and it gets another existence.

07:28 Narrator: Everything built on the opposite shore over in Sevmash will eventually be re-equipped and modernized in Zvezdochka. Not only are new types of weapons installed and tested here during modernization, but also acoustic, navigation and communications systems which, after installation on modernized boats, go over to the ship builders. In those times, which are remembered as good times at the shipyard, up to four boats were modernized every year.

08:05 Narrator: At the beginning of the 90s, the shipyard began to dispose of nuclear submarines. The money that the shipyard received to carry out this contract is called “Judas’ 30 pieces of silver” to this day by the workers. Back then some of them were boats that still had service life left in them. The workers and factory director couldn’t just sit by calmly and watch the most powerful submarines in the world, the Akulas (Typhoon class)be cut up.

08:40 PK: To build and then 10 years later cut up, that should be a punishable offense…it’s an economic crime, yes.
Narrator: But, if Zvezdochka takes on any sort of work, then it is done professionally, clearly and at a high level of technical proficiency with scrupulous adherence to both safety measures and the letter of the contract. The agreement is known as the Nunn-Lugar Program, named after the initiators of the project, Congressmen Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar. In order to carry out activities in the framework of the program, the most highly effective facility was constructed at Zvezdochka for the disposal of submarines and for reprocessing of radioactive waste. But despite this, they aren’t as enthusiastic about cutting up and disposing of submarines as much as they like to speak about building and modernizing.

09:40 VK: I have personally heard several times that when a boat comes to the North, and after it goes out on deployment, submariners always say that after a stay at Zvezdochka that a boat is guaranteed to have a reliable deployment.
Narrator: In a time when we are doing practically nothing but cutting and disposing, other nations were doing just the opposite – they were repairing and modernizing. Zvezdochka was able to participate in this process thanks to India. The first Indian order arrived in 1997. It was originally given to another yard, but it was shared with the people in Severodvinsk.

10:25 NK: The last ten years, those diesel boats were built in Admiralty Wharf down in St. Petersburg led by Vladimir Alexandrov; we are friends and competitors, and he got the order and gave me the first boat, may God give him health.

10:52 Narrator: The Indian Navy quickly recognized the benefits of cooperation with Zvezdochka. Firstly it is the high level of professionalism which comes with half a century of experience as well as a year warrantee work at its home base – the city of Vishampatnam, and proximity to the test range in the White Sea, the last extremely important to expedite the acceptance time.

11:20 NK: (beginning few words missed) there for the second boat was also ordered here for repair and after that the third and now we are finishing the fourth boat here. Unfortunately the Indians think that they have mastered the repair of the submarines so the fifth that they originally promised would be overhauled here is being overhauled there, in India.
Narrator: But everything isn’t decided because by all estimates, overhaul done in India is more expensive and will take longer. It takes two years to overhaul a boat at “Zvezdochka” and at least about five years in India by the most modest calculation. The boat comes to the factory together with the whole crew, which lives here on Yagry Island. Every last detail was thought of in providing for the Indians living here in Severodvinsk, but it’s true that the last detail wasn’t available in these conditions.

12:12 Alla Zakharova (AZ), General Mess Services Director, “Zvezdochka”: (She talks about sending cooks and servers to Moscow for training on how to cook for the Indians).
Narrator: Alla Zakharova has already held the position of chief food service provider at Zvezdochka for a long time. Even during the most difficult times at the factory, she served the workers of her factory cheaply, deliciously and out of pure sense of duty. How could it be otherwise? Up North, they have always related to people on a human level. One couldn’t live up here any other way.

12:52 NK: It is very important for people, in general, when they see it, that they also think that way…
Narrator: Nikolai Yakovlevovich knows what he is talking about. When he came to Zvezdochka 34 years ago and became an apprentice, he felt this care. He received housing with everything that was necessary and they valued his professional (1 misssd). He’s been the General Director for 15 years now and even in the most complex times, hasn’t forgotten to think about people, especially about young people. Zvezdochka has lucked out with the General. He is the model of a modern leader, a true Russian top-manager who knows about the work and can maintain perspective. Who knows what the future holds and the yard can’t afford to depend on just defense orders. What can attract young workers to the yard? Money, a career, interesting work, the opportunity to get a place to live, a car and most of all, stability.

14:00 NK: I am calling upon, uh, inviting young educated, talented workers to come to Zvezdochka, there is good opportunity to develop. We are planning on building an apartment house for young specialists, a dorm…

14:25 Narrator: Zvezdochka’s Director is sure that it has great prospects. For now, the yard is engaged in the repair and modernization of second generation SSBNs, Project 667 boats (Delta class).
NK: Because we don’t have enough money, we can service up to three boats at a time reliably, they often talk about them on the television, they are the “Verkhotur’ye”, the “Yekaterinburg” and this one, the “Tula”. We have done good, effective work on these boats so they can defend the interests of our country on the world’s oceans.

15:06 Narrator: Today the yard is preparing to begin work on third generation boats. The state has allocated resources to prepare for the repair work. Third generation boats are different boats in principle and they require replacement and modernization of factory technology. But Zvevdochka is constantly updating itself with its own resources. The enterprise is always buying its own machine tools and other equipment. Therefore the equipment is always the most modern. No one doubts that Zvezdochka will do an outstanding job servicing third generation boats.

15:45 NK: We have a ship here, the “Voronezh”. It’s a third generation boat and we’ve already gotten to work. We should be working on the “Smolensk” and other third generation boats of two different classes.
Narrator: The titanium-hulled “Barracuda” (Sierra I class), one of four unique multi-purpose boats, distinguished by its extra-tough hull and outstanding combat characteristics. It has already been tied up at the yard for years awaiting a decision about its fate.

16:19 NK: We fought against the sentiment to just cut it up because its been sitting in the yard already for many years. Now they’ve made the right decision, we will repair and modernize and she’ll serve another decade. Narrator: Additionally, Nikolay Yakovlevovich dreams of getting an order to overhaul two of the three Akulas (Typhoon class) that haven’t been already cut up. These boats are the largest SSBNs in the world. Their idleness does great damage to the defense capability and treasury of Russia every year. They are still far from old and after overhaul and modernization, they can still be the basis of our subsurface fleet, especially as our subsurface forces renew themselves more slowly than would be liked.

17:05 NK: If its necessary, we will overhaul the Akulas and give them a second life. I have no doubt about it. Narrator: Besides the Akulas, there are other 3rd generation boats that continue to be in service. Bars (Akula class), Antey (Oscar II class), Kondor (Sierra II class)…
NK: I’m sure that we’ll be able to give those boats a second life also so that they serve reliably and protect our borders, our borders and our security, because as long as these boats exist, we don’t have to worry about our strategic security because a missile armed nuclear submarine is a terrible retribution weapon.


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