Saturday, May 31, 2008

Soviet Naval Disaster of the Day - Severomorsk is Nearly Obliterated, 17 May 1984

This event is never mentioned in print. What is being refered to is the explosion at Okol'naya - the main ammunition storage base for the Northern Fleet. Back then, because of a sailor's cigarette butt, almost half of the fleet's supply of strategic missiles, torpedoes and mines were destroyed in the course of an hour and a half. It was at the end of the work day. Missiles flew above the bay in corkscrew trajectories. One after another, and another...The air was full of howls, crashes, thunder and explosions. In the city as well as on the ships at their moorings in Severomorsk, it was immediately understood - Okol'naya was the source of the fireworks, its granite walls rising just a kilometer from a neighborhood and a few hundred meters from the ships of the 7th Squadron. There were two nuclear submarines acutally tied up at Okol'naya. The "fireworks display" grew. Several mindless missiles corkscrewed into the sky, flying in the direction of the town and the ships. Soon a giant cone of black fire spread in the sky. It slowly rose into the sky, taking on a mushroom form, leading to alarm in the population of the town.

Women ran into the streets with children in their arms, many only half dressed in house coats and slippers, the men running henny-penny with them, certain of them in uniform, giving the scene a weird drama. People ran up the stairs that lead up the slopes of the hills. Someone fell, he was picked up and dragged. Cars jammed the routes out of town. The cars were packed, but despite this they stopped to pick up children which their mothers literally threw into the arms of strangers. Screams, cries, curses - all drowned out by the thunder and howl from the volcano that was Mount Okol'naya. Black with an orange-purple mushroom top, growing to its full height in an instant, nodding toward the town, but afterwards it began to slowly settle in the direction of the tundra and the ocean.

There were casualties. I can confidently talk about two brave people - an officer attempting to extinguish the flames and a sailor staying behind to man his post in a burning storage building. The prevailing wind was in the direction of the town - hundreds, maybe thousands were poisoned by the fallout (the authorities prepared for the evacuation of neighboring Murmansk). A catastrophic ending could have occured with a bombardment by ships with nuclear reactors and full charges in their missile launchers.

This is just a snapshot. Not one town or village would want to live through this. But, judging by all the military units that have had such explosions and fires, even at the sites most suceptible to explosions, it hasn't been foresworn.

Vladimir Yermolin
June 9th, 2001

Cold War Stories - Guardfish Vs. K-184, Part III

(Photo: Ship Encyclopedia)

Part I
Part II
K-184 continues her transit toward the Gulf of Tonkin. Damage control drills are conducted and hilarity ensues:

13 May. Sky was completely overcast, visibility 2-5 miles, sea state 3-4. We approached the Korean Straits, 15 miles from Okinosima Island. We determined our position with a single sweep of the radar and then continued at depth of 50 meters, speed 12 knots. We systematically swept the area with active sonar. We entered the East China Sea and the water temperature became warmer, +22 degrees Celcius.

14 May. We are in the South China Sea. We are approaching the area where the Kuro-Sivo Current reaches a speed of 2.5 knots. The Executive Officer K3R L.B. Shaipov reported on deficiencies which were discovered during watch drills and his suggestions on improving on them in the future.

David Minton writes: Trailing is a complicated task. In order to remain undetected, the boat must determine the position, speed and course of the contact by means of passive sonar. Estimation of range by passive sonar demanded from Guardfish constant maneuvering in order to get changing bearings to the contact. Too close and they can detect you, too far and contact can be lost. These maneuvers usually took place in the baffles, the dead zone behind the stern. Just about hourly the Echo II turned around to listen to this zone. From time to time it was a passive turn 90 degrees so that their sonar could hear everything that was behind her, and sometimes it was pretty aggressive, turning 180 degrees and reversing course, heading directly at Guardfish. This was a very dangerous maneuver and risked collision. When the distance between us shrank, the Echo II had a real chance of detecting Guardfish. Each time the Echo II performed a baffles clear, Guardfish had to guess which way she was turning so that Guardfish could follow her from the opposite side. Additionally, Guardfish quickly slowed while trying to maintain silence so that the Echo II had enough time and distance to come about on her previous course.

15 May. We entered the Philippines Sea. We got a message giving us water space in area one in the approaches to the Gulf of Tonkin. The area is similar in shape to a coffin lid. K-45 was given area two, an area with a lot of bars and banks. We were ordered to be prepared to use conventional weapons on command and in self-defense. That night I received political information: “Officer Kuz’min said that he condemns the aggression by the USA in Vietnam”. This was “very important” information for the boat.

David Minton writes: “Situation reports are often demanded in Washington so that they can determine the Soviet threat level and intentions. President Nixon and his National Security Advisor received these reports every day. Since radio broadcasts from Guardfish sent at high frequency and power could be intercepted and Guardfish’s position fixed by the Soviets, we used an alternative way to get the message out. An ASW P-3 made a few secret fly overs to Guardfish’s assumed position and received a short message transmitted in UHF at periscope depth or with the help of a SLOT buoy so that Guardfish could remain at proper depth to maintain trail. During this pursuit, any submarine in the Pacific Ocean would immediately re-position to support the carriers operating along the Vietnamese coast and also participate in the search for other Soviet submarines. This created a problem, both for Guardfish and for command. Guardfish was clearly following the Echo II wherever she went and so command had to move other submarines out of the way so as to guarantee that any other, quieter submarine didn’t jeopardize the safety of Guardfish or any other submarines.

16 May. We continue to travel to the designated area after passing Okinawa and we only came to PD twice to get the broadcast. I called the missile officer, K3R Tsimbalenko, to the conn. Out of all the watch officers, Tsimbalenko was the most prepared, the best educated and he knew the missile business like no one’s business. He reported that everything was normal in container six and the water flow from the cable raceway wasn’t increasing.

17 May. Sea state three with swells, fog, tropical rains. We came to PD to determine our position before continuing through the Bashi Straits. We fixed our position using Loran A and C and also got a radar fix. From the intel summary: “A cruiser and destroyer left the Tonkin Gulf in the direction of Saigon. Nixon plans to be in Moscow for talks on the 25th of May. Intensity of military activity in Vietnam has significantly decreased.”

David Minton writes: “Once, while in the Philippines Sea, the Echo II turned to the south-west, in the direction of the Bashi Strait between Taiwan and the islands to the north of Luzon. The Bashi Strait is the often-used entrance to the South China Sea and I was sure that it is the Soviet boat’s goal, though it went further south than usual. The Echo II slowed, came to PD and then began to move quickly, orienting herself with high-frequency active sonar not usually used at that depth. She was lost. While at PD, she apparently fixed her position and then turned back on course for the Bashi Straits and increased speed to 16 knots. After sending a report via SLOT buoy about this quick change of course, Guardfish darted off after the Soviet boat, knowing that American boats may be re-locating to the area. In order to avoid collision with other American boats, Guardfish made her depth 100 meters, the depth often used by Soviet boats and which I knew American boats would avoid. My caution was vindicated when Guardfish detected an American boat, heading away to the north at high speed.

18 May. Today the commo, K3R V.F.Tereshchenko outlined his plan to search for enemy surface ships and submarines in area one as well as well as reporting on the bathymetry and possible measures that could be used to mask the boat from enemy ASW forces.

David Minton writes: “The Echo II has entered the South China Sea and has proceeded to a point located approximately 300 miles from the island of Luzon.

19 May. Today we conducted a check of all the emergency escape gear on the boat. A couple of discrepancies were discovered but they were quickly rectified. Before we went to sea back in April, our boat was inspected by a commission from the Navy General Staff headed by Contra-Admiral Ivanov. They inspected all the escape gear and the Chief of Navy Staff was of the opinion that it would work in the event of an emergency. There was nothing particular of note. At the end of the inspection, Admiral Ivanov initiated a drill. This was part of the scenario: “The boat has lost way. The sea state is four. You have to take on board a tow line from a salvage tug.” I called the missile officer, Tsimbalenko and the forward line handling team to the bridge. We prepared a rocket for the shot line. I gave safety instructions to Tsimbalenko and indicated the direction of the shot – to the side of the signal post. They shot and Tsimbalenko fell over from the recoil, into the sail, the damage limited to a soft spot and a scare. The rocket took off for the signal post, the line unwinding behind it, one end attached to the missile, the other to the boat. The missile smacked into the signal post, scaring the duty signalman sitting in the signal shack, who called up the division duty officer: “A rocket flew off of Berzin’s boat and hit the signal post!” The duty officer, confused at first, because when he heard “missile”, immediately thought a P-6 missile (SS-N-3 Shaddock), the main armament of the project 675 boat. Well, he called the fleet duty officer and quickly got straightened out. Everyone had a good laugh after that remembering that episode. The line handling team headed by Tsimbalenko didn’t laugh about it though. They had to collect up and store in its special configuration 300 meters of line.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Cold War Stories - Guardfish Vs. K-184, Part II

Part I

K-184 suffers a potentially significant casualty and Captain Minton sends a CRITIC:

11 May. Depth 100 meters, speed 12.5 knots. We turn off course 090 every hour to listen astern – to hear if any American submarines are trailing us. Life on board a submarine is organized and falls into a routine. From the intel summary: “There are six strike carriers and two helo carriers in Vietnamese waters.” During the broadcast, electronic support measures (ESM) detected an AN/APS-20 carried by a P-2 Neptune anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft: the signal strength was weak. We changed course and dove to 200 meters. Thirty minutes later, the missile officer, K3R V.I.Tsimbalenko, came to the conn to report that there was a leak in the cable raceway in missile container six, that is, container six wasn’t hermetically sealed and it contained the missile with the special combat section. If the container was flooded, that meant that the missile would have to be taken out of service, and actually, it was a potential weapons casualty. From the start of the deployment we were vexed by this situation: what to do in this case? Having heard the missile officer’s report and suggestions from the engineer, K2R M.S.Bayburin, I decided to open the drain valve in compartment seven so that the water in the cable raceway in container six would drain into the bilge so the leakage rate could be measured – 10 liters a minute – and periodically I ordered the water to be pumped from the bilge overboard. In addition, I decided to surface and try to fix the opening (or crack) in the cable raceway in container six. At 1520, we surfaced, raised containers five and six and a party of specialists went out to investigate container six. Ten minutes later, the silhouettes of two Japanese trawlers appeared on the horizon on a course headed away from us and at 1535 ESM reported a weak signal strength APS-20. I gave the command to make an emergency dive to avoid the aircraft. K3R Tsimbalenko and K2R Bayburin reported that the inspection was complete, everything was whole with no defects, that is, there was no visible cause of the leak. Thirty minutes later water again came through the drain valve in compartment seven. I decided to surface in order to deal with the leak. K2R Bayburin suggested winding the flange joint with bindings impregnated with epoxy. At 2000, we surfaced and carried out his suggestion and also transmitted a report to shore about the leak in container six. We got the intel report:
The strike carriers “Coral Sea”, “Kitty Hawk” and “Constellation” are located 190 miles north of Da Nang. The strike carrier “Midway” is east of Saigon with 47 vessels in support. The carriers flew 369 sorties in a 24 hour period, 279 strike sorties. In the last 24 hours ships of the 7th Fleet joined by bombers struck port structures with bombs and gunfire in Haiphong and Kam-Pha, the island of Kak-Ba and the Do-Shon Peninsula. As a result of the bombardment in Kam-Pha, the Soviet ship “G. Akopyan” was set on fire. The helicopter carrier “Okinawa” with accompanying amphibious group is located 180 miles north of Da Nang.

David Minton writes further: “In the course of the next two days, the Soviet SSGN often slowed and was at periscope depth for a long time, evidently receiving additional instructions from HQ. During the trail of the Echo II, Guardfish slowed her speed, significantly increasing the frequency response of her sonar. To the surprise of the crew, they could hear at least two, maybe three additional Soviet boats in the area. To follow three submarines is more complex than just following one, while following four is impossible. The tracking party on Guardfish has concentrated all of its efforts on maintaining contact with the Echo II, which we have already visually identified.

12 May. Water again began to come out of the cable raceway in container six through the drain valve in compartment seven. Accordingly I made the decision to continue at depths no greater than 80 meters. At 0600 we passed abeam of Ulin-Do. At 1200, I came to periscope depth to determine our position. There were up to 50 Japanese trawlers on a bearing of 120 to 250 on the horizon at a range of seven miles. The sonar officer, K3R V. Voronin reported that the depth finder went out of service. The navigator determined our position instead using the sun and Loran A and C. At 1634, we got the depth finder working again and thankfully passed abeam a bank with depths ranging from nine to thirty meters.

David Minton writes: Since the Echo II was proceeding to the south-east toward the exit of the Sea of Japan, as the captain, I had to make two important decisions. First, if it was worth breaking radio silence to report sighting three or maybe even four Soviet submarines. The first task during submarine surveillance operations is to report unusual Soviet vessel deployments as soon as possible after recognition. Those types of reports are known as “critics”, and although one had not been sent before, I decided that this was one of those times when Guardfish should break radio silence and inform the CinC about the situation. Second, should Guardfish break off from its surveillance mission and trail the Soviet boat. The orders were silent on this issue. But it occurred to me that the CinC would want to know where the Soviets were going. Since I didn’t have enough time to wait for orders, I remembered the motto of our CinC: “The faint of heart don’t become heroes” and we pressed on.

To be continued...

First Look - 30 May 2008

France Visits Baltiysk Ahead of BALTOPS-2008

A French minehunter and the tender “Loire” visit Baltiysk. There is opening footage of a damage control demonstration. French squadron commander discusses mine hunting technology, using a remote TV camera to locate a WWII wreck. During similar exercises in Lithuania a few years ago, they found four WWII mines. There is a shot of the French tender “Loire”, which has already served for over five decades. There is a tour of the on board workshop. A shot of the crew’s mess where the crew eats on tables they made themselves. The reporter notes that the French ship’s next port is Sweeden and has already spent 10 days in port in Gdynia and will remain in the Baltic for BALTOPS-2008, to which the Russians plan on sending the Large Landing Ship “Kaliningrad” and the Escort Ship “Neustrashimyy” (maybe).

“There Shouldn’t Be a Race” to Deploy the Bulava: Navy CinC

Testing of the new solid-fueled SLBM “Bulava”, designed for use on the new project 955 SSBNs will continue this year, according to the Commander in Chief of the Russian Navy Admiral Vysotskiy. “We will accept it when we are absolutely sure. Russia has invested a colossal amount of resources in the development of this new strategic weapon…”, the Admiral said. “There shouldn’t be a race. We will not accept a half-tested weapon into service.”

How much testing is enough? See the Soviet Era Documentary on SLBM trials and testing. The Bulava isn’t even close to that level of trials and testing yet.

Navy CinC: Russia Could Increase the Number of Ships at Sevastopol’

“The basing agreement allows us to base up to a hundred ships in the Black Sea Fleet and we have thirty five. We can have up to 25,000 sailors based there and we have 11,000. The question arises – what is keeping us from increasing numbers up to what we are allowed”, he explained to journalists in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. For Russia, he adds, it is not a question of preserving the Black Sea Fleet, but of developing it because of its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea and because of its role of maintaining Moscow’s interests in the world oceans.

The Japanese Ship “Tsugaru” Arrives on Sakhalin for a Friendly Visit.

During the three day visit in Korsakov, the Japanese sailors will pay an official call on local officials, make a courtesy call on the Japanese General Council in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and participate in a cultural program.

The port visit is being conducted in honor of the 90th anniversary of the Border Guard Service in Russia and the 60th anniversary of the Japanese Maritime Safety Directorate. On 13 May, Sakhalin Border Guards paid a visit to the Japanese port of Yakogame.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pic of the Day

The TAKR "Kirov" at her final mooring in Severodvinsk, 2005.

Cold War Stories: Guardfish vs. K-184, Part I

Details about American submarine special operations aren't very common. While it is "common knowledge" and "everyone knows" that American submarines conduct special operations off the coasts of foreign countries, especially with the publication of books such as "Blind Man's Bluff", operational details are (rightfully) rare.

There are exceptions. There is a little bit of operational detail of one particularly tense, wartime operation at, a website dedicated to the men who have served on board the USS Guardfish (SSN 612). Entitled The Saga of the 1972 Guardfish Patrol, it is a little bit of Commander David Minton's account of operations by the USS Guardfish that ranged from the Sea of Japan to the South China Sea in the late spring of 1972.

There are always men on the eyepiece of the other periscope and their stories (in English) are even rarer. In what may be a unique instance, we have the memories of two Cold War submarine captains on opposite sides of the periscope participating in the same events. Commander Minton has his story, as does Admiral Al'fred Simenovich Berzin, who as a Captain First Rank (K1R) commanded Echo II class SSGN K-184, the Guardfish's target, in 1972 during its transit to Vietnam in response to the failure of the Paris Peace Talks.

This is his side of the story, "Guardfish vs. K-184":

Not long ago, someone gave me a book, “United States Submarines”, in which I read an article by retired Navy Captain David Minton called “The Guardfish Trails an Echo”. I immediately understood that David Minton trailed the K-184, which I commanded at the time. I will tell you about this event from my side, paying attention to David Minton’s commentary.

While serving in the position of commander of the SSGN K-184 in the Pacific, I had to participate in reconnaissance operations against the strike carrier America, the anti-submarine carrier Ticonderoga and the submarine Guardfish. The experience received benefited me in my further service. During my education at the naval institue, at the post-graduate courses and at the Naval Academy, an officer had to receive a deep understanding of how to conduct reconnaissance, have a practical mastery of reconnaissance assets, know how to analyze information obtained about the enemy and make corresponding conclusions which is necessary to make a decision about employment of torpedoes or missiles or to decline (break off) from the anti-submarine warfare forces of the enemy. This learning process must continue even in the fleet, that is, it a constant process. For any submarine commander in peace time, the opportunity must present itself to get experience conducting a reconnaissance operation against surface and subsurface vessels of the probable enemy. Our commander must completely know the following facts about the submarine of the probable adversary:

- noise level,
- capability of the sonar system,
- parameters of the radar set,
- tactical action,
- acoustic countermeasures,
- maximum and minimum speed,
- maximum diving depth, and
- capabilities of the torpedo and missile armament.

The submarine I commanded, K-184 was already on combat duty for a month in Bukhta Pavlovskaya on the 9th of May, 1972. That morning the whole division mustered on the parade ground, the division commander Contra-Admiral I.I. Vereniki greeted us and congratulated the whole crew on Victory Day and afterwards we marched past the division commander's reviewing stand. After that I went to the duty officer and read the intelligence summary:
“The area of the Indo-China Peninsula. Combat action against the patriotic forces of Indo-China from the Tonkin Gulf (130 miles to the north of Da Nang) carried out by the strike carriers Coral Sea, Kitty Hawk and Saratoga; and from an area 170 miles to the south east of Saigon the strike carrier Constellation with 38 ships in support. The carriers have launched 353 sorties, 256 of them strike sorties.”
In the second half of the day the Pacific Fleet went to a higher state of readiness and our submarines sounded general quarters, while the alarm was sounded on our boat and the crew responded, the crew on the boat was ordered not to fire up the main reactor. That evening the division commander Contra-Admiral I.I. Vereniki called me to his office and said succinctly, “Go to the South China Sea and support our Vietnamese brothers.” I also found out from him that behind us were going Echo I SSGN K-45 (Captain First Rank Yu.N.Ganzha, commanding) and Echo II SSGN K-57 (Captain First Rank Yu.F.Shipovnikov, commanding).

10 May. By morning both reactors were brought on line to the turbo-generators. The combat orders came in the form of a telegram, which was given to me along with the route charts by the Division Chief of Staff, Captain First Rank M.B.Abramov. I received my final instructions from the division commander and then we slipped away from the pier and got underway.

David Minton writes: In the summer of 1972, the USS Guardfish (SSN 612) was in the Sea of Japan when world events pushed her and her crew into participating in a key event. With the collapse of the Paris peace talks, the war in Vietnam took a more forceful turn on the 9th of May and our troops began to mine Haiphong and other important North Vietnamese ports in order to cut the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) off from sea resupply. A message came to the Guardfish warning of operations at sea on the part of the Soviets in response. The world situation was white hot. No one knew how the Soviet Union would react to the mining. The Guardfish took a position near the Soviet Pacific Fleet's largest base at periscope depth. Later that night on the 10th of May, a submarine was sighted visually, intersecting our course at a high speed and heading straight for the Guardfish, which was expecting her. Closer contact allowed us to visually identify the maneuvering black mass as a Soviet Echo II class SSGN. This SSGN, which displaced 5000 tons, was equipped with a nuclear reactor and carried eight surface to surface Shaddock cruise missiles which could destroy targets at a range of 200 miles. The Guardfish followed behind her. Soon the Echo II submerged and took a course to the south-east at high speed. Was this sortie the answer to the mining of Haiphong harbor?(/i)

To be continued...

Why Send the Navy CinC to Landlocked Kyrgyzstan?

This morning, the Navy announced that the Commander in Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy, would be visiting landlocked Kyrgyzstan to engage in in talks with the Kyrgyz government and "become acquainted with the production of OAO Dastan". Why would he want to become acquainted with the production of OAO Dastan? He should already be very well acquainted with the production from that fifty year old enterprise - it is the home of the Soviet torpedo industry:

For fifty years, the factory has developed a whole array of torpedo weaponry and dozens of different types of navigation systems, explosives, tele-guidance systems and non-standard control and measurement equipment for them. These systems have dominated the world weapon's market for decades, offering parity with potential adversaries.

The enterprise also works closely with the Kyrgyz companies that run torpedo test ranges in Lake Issyk-Kul. Until a few weeks ago, talks had been ongoing for two years on transferring up to 37 percent of OAO Dostan's shares to the Russian Federation as part of a deal to reduce Kyrgyz government debt to Russia, but the Russians refused the deal. One reason given for the failure of the deal was, unofficially, a dispute amongst Kyrgyz parliamentarians over "kickbacks".

However, the Russians have apparently attached some importance to the deal, given the remarks by the Chief of the Russian Atomic Energy Agency, former Russian Prime Minister and Co-Chairman of the Bilateral Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Scientific-Technical and Humanitarian Cooperation, Sergey Kirienko:

"This project has strategic significance for both governments. The conversion of such a unique enterprise or use of the territory on which it is located for some other purpose would be a crime. Russia is not only prepared to support full production, but also to add another seven million dollars worth of orders".

First Look - 29 May 2008

Bold Monarch-2008 Continues: AS-34 Successfully Mates with NATO Boat

A NATO press release dated 28 May announced that for the first time, the Russian rescue submersible AS-34 has mated with a submarine, the Norwegian submarine “Uthaug”, from the NATO alliance and transferred crew members.

A few days ago, the AS-34 practiced an underwater docking with a Polish submarine, but did not actually mate as the fittings were 5mm in diameter different.

The active phase of Bold Monarch-2008 continues through the 5th of June

The Commander in Chief of the Russian Navy Discusses Military Cooperation with Kyrgyzstan.

The Commander in Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy will discuss the development of military cooperation between the two countries during an initial visit to Bishkek on Thursday, Navy press secretary Kaptain 1st Rank Igor’ Dygalo told the RIA Novosti press service.

“The main goal of the visit – the first in the history of relations between the two countries – will be to agree with Kyrgyz authorities on issues affecting further strengthening and development of Russian-Kyrgyz military cooperation”.

Dygalo said that the plan for the Admiral’s visit included talks with the military leadership of the republic, a visit to the Russian airbase at Kant and Russian Navy bases on the shores of the high mountain lake Issyk-Kul’, a Navy facility in the village of Chaldovar. The Commader in Chief will also acquaint himself with the work of OAO “Dastan”, once a great enterprise in the military-industrial complex of the USSR.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Soviet Era Documentary on SLBM Trials and Testing

This Soviet Era film (and it is a film, not video) documents the trials and acceptance testing of the SS-N-23 "Skiff". It was probably made sometime in the mid- to late 80s. There are shots of the missile undergoing pop-up testing from an underwater test stand as well as shore-based test firings.

It is interesting to compare the amount of test launches of the SS-N-23, a Soviet era missile, with the Bulava test history. The Russian government has committed to deploying the Bulava, despite the limited testing. According to, there have been only nine test launches, at least four of them failures. With the sea trials of the Borey expected to begin this year, the Russians need a missile for it fairly soon or the Yuri Dolgarukiy and her sisters will be nothing but money pits.
Compare the Bulava testing with the testing of the SS-N-23: according to this film, there were nine sea-based tests, 16 firings from a land based test stand and multiple firings in different configurations from the lead boat of the Delta IV class. In other words there were probably at least three dozen test launches before acceptance into the fleet. What wasn't mentioned in the film was how many of those tests were failures.

00:33 - With the nine launches of the missile, submerged test launches by the design bureau were complete. The calculated and actual parameters of the ignition process were confirmed as well as the parameters of the movement of the missile in the underwater and transition phase of the trajectory.

01:08 - The completion of design bureau flight testing allowed transition to the next step of the natural development of the system.

01:35 – Two phases of flight testing of the D-9RM missile at the northern test range were performed jointly – from a shore based launch facility and from the first nuclear submarine built of its class. The purpose of simultaneous testing is to completely finish the development of the missile system and to confirm its tactical-technical characteristics.

02:15 – ((Sentence fragment because of poor editing)).

02:22 - The missile was tested from a shore based test stand 16 times. Unlike operational missiles, these missiles had telemetry gear that sent back information about the launch and the flight of the missile.

03:10 – The final phase is launching the D-9RM from a project 667BRDM (Delta IV class) SSBN.

03:33 – The main goal of the testing is to test the capabilities and technical characteristics in as close to combat conditions as possible.

03:55 – The missile firings were carried out at minimum, intermediate and maximum range in salvos of one, two and four missiles.

04:36 – Missiles away! Maximum range and accuracy of the firing, with multiple independently targeted warheads. (TR Note: I'm guessing here. The circular error probability). The astronavigation mode and also the tactical-technical characteristics and conditions for combat use of the missile. .

05:10 – Congratulations to the Chief Designer Academic Viktor Petrovich Makeyev. By proclamation of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and Soviet Government, the strategic missile system D-9RM with the D-29RM missile is accepted into service with the Navy.

Cold War Stories - Indonesia Nearly Loses a Submarine

From the memoirs of Kaptain 2nd Rank Aleksandr Iosofovich Ostrovskiy, "We Deployed":

Excerpt from the chapter, "Was There a Cold War?" -

December, 1961. After finishing the Academy, I was assigned to project 613 (Whiskey class) submarine "S-290", 19th Brigade of Submarines, 6th Squadron, Pacific Fleet which was based in Bukhta Malyy Uliss, Vladivostok.

Kaptain 2nd Rank A.A.Kodes was the commander. The boat was assigned to support combat training by surface ships of the 10th Squadron of the Pacific Fleet at the end of December.

This incident happened at the end of December. A Project 56 (Kotlin class) destroyer, the winner of seven battle stars for training, was preparing for deployment and had to complete several training serials. S-290 was tapped for support.

We took up a position in training area #47, located to the south of Askhold Island. The depth in the area is more than 5000 meters. We came up in voice comms with the commander of the destroyer. The commanders agreed on a scheme of maneuver. The sub dove and began to maneuver according to fleet doctrine determining the course of action during exercise support.

After the completion of each maneuver, we surfaced and came up in voice to determine the next serial. That day the destroyer was unlucky. Whether it was bad acoustic conditions or bad sonar men, the destroyer couldn't attack our boat once.

Understanding the complexity of the situation, K2R Kodes suggested that the CO of the destroyer set up so they could attack the sub and complete the task. The commander of the destroyer indignantly rejected our suggestion. We submerged and began to carry out the maneuver scheme.

It was noon. The watch officer gave the order to feed the crew. During lunch the commander ordered a change of depth from 40 to 80 meters. Literally two or three minutes later we heard the sound of a torpedo, similar to a whistle. The first to hear it was the sonar man, and ship's doctor, Kapitan Yu. Volkov, upon hearing it, commented that at last the surface guys finished their task and that we could go home.

The whole crew could hear the "torpedo whistle". The sonar man made a recording of it and the Officer of the Deck logged it the moment the torpedo passed above the conn.

After surfacing, the CO of the boat and the CO of the destroyer conferred and returned to base.

This incident would have been forgotten were it not for a clarification that the CO received after flying to Vladimir Bay in January, 1962, where the boat was moored in its winter roadstead. He told us that he took the recording of the torpedo to the 6th Squadron intelligence officer, K2R A.T.Shtyrov, who, after analyzing the situation explained:

- The destroyer never made a practice torpedo firing during her exercise with us,
- Intelligence showed that there was an American sub in the area of Peter the Great Bay where the destroyer vs. sub ex occurred, and
- It was probably an American torpedo. If the torpedo had hit our boat, the boat would have been destroyed and she would have sank in water more than 5000 meters deep, making it impossible to determine the cause of the loss.

Later that year, S-290 was prepared for eventual transfer to Indonesia, where it served in Sukarno's Navy as the Cakra.

K2R Ostrovskiy retired in Riga in 1985. After the break up of the Soviet Union, he retained his Russian citizenship. He currently resides with his wife in Carmel, Israel.

K2R Ostrovskiy also believes that the loss of the Kursk was due to a possible collision with (or even attack by) an American nuclear submarine.

First Look - 28 May 2008

Capabilities of the Georgiy Titov Shown Off as Bold Monarch-2008 Continues

Russian Foreign Ministry Asserts: Black Sea Fleet Does Not Pose a Threat to Ukraine

“We pay the Ukrainians a $100 million a year for the facilities.”
The 12,000 Russian sailors and 25,000 Ukrainian employees contribute 15% of Sevastopol’s economy.

Russia Hasn’t Raised the Issue of Extending the Fleet’s Tenure in Ukraine.

The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dorokhin noted that, “We have never hid the fact that we would like to maintain our presence in Sevastopol’ past 2017”, and added that “the fleet has been there 225 years.”

The Oceangoing Minesweeper “Zheleznyakov” Has Commenced Operations in “Black Sea Harmony”

The Black Sea Fleet oceangoing minesweeper “Zheleznyakov” has gotten underway from Novorossiysk to take part in bi-lateral training with the Turkish Navy in “Black Sea Harmony”.

Operational control during the anti-terrorism exercise is effected from the permanent coordination center in the Turkish port of Eregli working with the Black Sea Fleet command post in Divnomorskoye, Russia, established to support effective participation of Russian Black Sea Fleet forces in international exercises in the Black Sea.

Black Sea Fleet Gets High Marks for the Winter Training Cycle

Results of the surface ship winter training cycle were presented at the Officer’s Club in Sevastopol’.

…In all, 18 exercises were carried out and there were 154 separate combat exercises conducted upon land, sea and air targets.

Singled out for special recognition were the crews of the missile cruiser “Moskva” and the Large Landing Ship “Tsezar’ Kunikov” for the successful tasks completed during deployment.

…The Black Sea Fleet flagship, the missile cruiser “Moskva” was named best ship for its outstanding preparation in 10 different areas, while the escort ship “Ladnyy”, large ASW ship “Kerch’” and the large landing ships “Tsezar’ Kunikov”, “Yamal” and “Saratov” also received high marks.

Northern Fleet Tight Lipped About Their Winter Training Cycle Results

The Northern Fleet press service reports that the Northern Fleet Vice Admiral Nikolay Maksimov held a meeting of the Northern Fleet Military Council in the Officer’s Club to discuss the results of the winter training cycle with the commanders of the units and detachments of the Northern Fleet.

The fleet command gave a detailed analysis of the training, pointed out the deficiencies and outlined the summer training plan.

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.

Soviet Submarine Disaster of the Day

Victor I SSN "K-314" collides with the carrier "Kitty Hawk".

The carrier was taking part in the joint American-Korean exercise "Team Spirit-84" and the submarine K-314 was conducting a trail of the carrier and its escorts. In the course of several days (according to the American press) the escort ships detected the K-314 several times and after simulating destroying her 15 times, planned on breaking off from the submarine.

The carrier entered South Korean waters to break off contact. K-314 remained outside territorial waters and having lost contact with the carrier, conducted a search. The seach depth was poorly chosen, not taking into account acoustic conditions which allowed for the optimal conditions to search for surface ships to be at a depth of 40 meters. At that depth, the carrier could have surely been detected at a range of more than 150 km.

The surface sea state was up to two, there was full night time visibility. The soviet boat, located at a depth of nine meters, was unable to fix the beginning of the Kitty Hawk's movement. The commander of K-314 located the escort group at around 2250 and conducted visual surveillance via periscope. At that moment, the boat was located next to the carrier which was running without lights at a distance of 9-10 cables. The Kitty Hawk was on a course of 160, speed 16 knots. The Soviet boat was located ahead of the carrier and didn't detect it and at 2300 made a sharp course change to 250. Within three minutes, the K-314 felt the force of a ramming blow from the carrier. The Kitty Hawk struck the submarine on the starboard side of the stern and received a small hole in the area of the aviation fuel bunkers on the starboard side. The carrier continued on course and the damaged submarine had to make an emergency surfacing.

The boat suffered light damage on the sail and the outer hull as a result of the glancing blow and her right horizontal stabilizer was dinged, the right shaft bent and the right shaft seal was broken. The boat lost way and drifted helplessly on the surface.

The large anti-submarine cruiser "Petropavlovsk" came to her aid after a few house and later the boat was towed by a salvage tug to Vladivostok for repairs.

First Look - 27 May, 2008

Video Report From "Bold Monarch-2008"

A video report from the rescue ship "Georgiy Titov" participating in Bold Monarch-2008. Footage of the rescue vessel AS-34 hooking up with a Polish submarine. Underwater footage of the AS-34 in action. Audio of the underwater communications between the participants. Animation of the plan for the exercise. Please leave requests for a full English transcript in the comments section.

Ukraine rebuffs all Russian pretensions to Sevastopol’

The world must unite in the fight against piracy.
"Coordination of naval fores in the zones where pirates are confirmed to operate will help to partially resolve this problem. Russia's Navy has actively participated in exerciese which have dealt, partially, with the issue of piracy in the last couple of years," [Navy spokesman Igor'] Dygalo said.

He also noted that the Russian Navy was reviving its presence on the world ocean.

"The fact of pirate attacks on Russian and foreign ships confirms the correctness of the course taken by the military decision makers in the Russian Federation and the General Staff of the Navy to renew the presence of Russian warships in all areas of the world ocean, especially in regions of intense fishing and shipping activity."

The Black Sea Fleet ocean-going Minesweeper "Zheleznyakov" departs for exercises with the Turkish Navy.
The goal of "Black Sea Harmony" is to interdict illegal activity, primarily terrorism and proliferation of WMD.

Trawlers suspected of poaching in the Sea of Okhotsk.
The Border Guard Patrol Ship "Antias" and the Krivak III Border Guard Escort Ship "Dzerzhinskiy" stopped two Cambodian fishing trawlers suspected of poaching.

Pacific Fleet Hospital Ship "Irtysh" returns to port after deployment.

Monday, May 26, 2008

What Is To Be Done?

They're trying to decide what to do with the unfinished cruiser "Ukraina".

26 May 2008 - The missile cruiser "Ukraina" has been laid up at one of the wharves at the shipyard in Nikolayev for more than 20 years. Burning through a million taxpayer dollars a year, the ship continues to rot at the shipyard, gradually becoming obsolete.

Yevgeniy Borisov, the Ukraine's General Constructor for Military Ship Building indicated that the 96 percent completed figure is "virtual" since there hasn't been any preventive maintenance done.

The warantee has run out on the machinery mountings and completion for use as a cruiser is "unrealistic".

Aside from selling her to another country, disposal or conversion into a museum, Mikhail Samus', an expert at the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Research has advanced the idea of using the missile cruiser as a sea-based anti-missile platform.

The "Ukraina" was the fourth and final cruiser of its class. The construcion of the "Ukraina" should have finished in 1994. The cost of construction was 135.3 million Soviet rubles at the end of the 80s, converted into dollars at the Soviet State Bank rate - $225.5 million dollars. Up to 1992, $171 million was put into its construction. From 1992 to 2003 - around $24 million, aside from the $5 million spent on upkeep of the ship.


The Specs Remain the Same: MiG It Is for Gorshkov

A rep for FGUP "Sevmash" told Interfax that they "...haven't received any changes in the technical specificaions for the Gorshkov" and that the ship "remains designated to fly the MiG-29K. As far as we know, the Indians, in addition to our aircraft, plan on flying the British Sea Harrier vertical take off and landing aircraft also."

There were rumors that the Indians would purchase American F-18 Super Hornets.

"Even if there is a similar initiative ongoing in the Indian Navy, its doubtful that its connected with the "Gorshkov". American aircraft use a catapult assisted takeoff which our ships don't have: we use a ski-ramp and planes with a short take off and landing capability - the MiG-29K."

The spokesman suggested that the Indians are possibly considering the possiblity of buying American planes for their first indigenously built carrier which is being constructed at their own shipyard in Cochin.

Earlier the Chief of Staff of the Indian Navy Admiral Surish Mehta announced that delivery of the carrier based MiG-29K interceptors intended for the Indian-purchased "Admiral Gorshkov" will begin in May 2008.

He emphasized that the contract has been executed with a slight delay. The contract, which was signed in January, 2004 for $700 million, calls for delivery of 16 carrier-borne MiG-29K/KUB interceptors (12 combat versions and four combat trainers) as well as the unique equipment and training for the aircrews and service personnel, including simulators and ground- and sea-based interactive training systems. There is also an option for further delivery of 30 aircraft in the period up to the year 2015.

Soviet Submarine Disaster of the Day

Twenty seven years ago this month, on the 23rd of May, 1981, Delta III Project 667BRD "Kal'mar" class "K-211 Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy" allegedly collided with an unidentified Sturgeon-class SSN.

There are two versions of the story. The first alleges a collision, but with whom is not mentioned:

An SSBN was returning to base from combat preparations at the range. The boat was at a depth of 50 metes and was proceeding on a course of 180, 9.5 knots. The commander of the Soviet boat formally checked on the absence of a trailer and at 1930 ordered a sound level measurement. At 1951, the "K-211" experienced three unexpected shocks lasting 10 seconds. The commander of the Soviet boat decided to proceed to periscope depth, but received a report from sonar about propeller sounds off the port side bearing 127. Sonar classified the contact as an SSN. At 1958, "K-211" maneuvered to starboard of the supposed contact and within two minutes contact with the foreign submarine was lost. "K-211" surfaced at 2011 but didn't detect anything visually or on radar. An inspection of the hull back at base showed insignificant damage to the rubberized covering of the hull of the Soviet SSBN from a glancing blow.

The second version of the story names a villain (the United States, naturally) and reveals that the damage was much more extensive than minor damage to the rubberized coating:

A collision between the nuclear submarine "K-211" and an American Sturgeon SSN occured in a training area near the Kola Gulf in 1981. An American submarine hit the stern of the newest SSBN "K-211", which had just joined the Northern Fleet and was testing elements of combat readiness, with its sail. The American boat didn't surface in the area of the collision. But a few days later an American SSN appeared at the British Naval Base at Holy Loch with severe damage to the sail. Our boat surfaced and returned to base under its own power. There it awaited a commission, consisting of navy specialists, production specialists, scientists and contractors.

The commission, having modeled the maneuvering situation of the two boats and having inspected the damaged area, determined that the American bost was following our boat, remaining in her acoustic shadow. As soon as our boat changed course, the American boat lost contact and collided with its sail into the stern of the Soviet boat. She was put into the dock and there an inspection revealed punctures in two main stern ballast tanks and damaged blades on the starboard screw and horizontal stabilizer. Bolts and rivets were found in the damaged ballast tanks and pieces of metal and plates from the American boat's sail. Additionally, the commision was able to establish that the collision was with an American "Sturgeon" boat which was confirmed to have showed up at Holy Loch with a damaged sail.

As far as it is known, "K-211" continues service in the Pacific Fleet in the 16th Submarine Squadron based at Rybachyy, Petropavlovsk.

First Look

Indians Come to Severodvinsk to Inspect Work on Gorshkov

According to a "Sevmash" press release, a delegation headed by the chief of the purchasing and production directorate of the unified headquarters of the Indian Navy, Vice-Admiral Dilip Deshpande is leading a delegation on a planned ten-day trip to meet with the group of Indian observers and the leadership of FGUP "Sevmash" in Severodvinsk on the progress on the aircraft carrier formerly known as "Gorshkov", now the "Vikramadit'ya". According to the Russians, "It is planned at the negotiations to agree with the Indian side about additional and unacccounted for repair work, equipment conversion and ship testing."

I'm sure the Indians are thrilled about that "additional and unaccounted for work"...

Active Phase of Bold Monarch-2008 Starts Monday

The goals of Bold Monarch-2008, which runs from 23 May to 07 June off of Norway, are to test the joint rescue equipment of the Russian and NATO navies and also exercise cooperative action during rescue operations.

"In the course of the active phase from 26 May to 05 June, with a one day pause, the participants will practice elements of crew rescue from stricken submarines. It is planned to carry out a series of medical support exercises using hyperbaric chambers and television guided underwater equipment on the pause day..."

The Northern Fleet Rescue Ship "Georgiy Titov" and other NATO and NATO partner ships and observers are participating.

An AS-34 Russian underwater rescue device will mate with a NATO submarine for the first time ever during these exercises in the presence of NATO observers on board the submarine.

Also, it is planned that Russian pararescuers will work with their counterparts from Great Britain, Italy and Ukraine for the first time.

Command and control over the NATO submarine will be exercised for the first time by a Russian officer on board the "Titov" using underwater communications channels.

Pacific Fleet Flagship "Varyag" Returns to Action After Long Break

A spokesman for the Pacific Fleet announced that the Slava-class Project 1164 Pacific Ocean Fleet Flagshp and so-called "carrier killer" (roll eyes here) "Varyag" Is carrying out a series of artillery firings on land, surface and air targets. The surface to air missile system will fire on an airborne target as well.

This is the first time at open sea for the "Varyag" as well as the first weapons firing since overhaul. The Pacific Fleet flagship underwent a successful two phase sea trial and is now again in active service. Now in the new year the crew under the command of Captain First Rank Edward Moskalenko awaits deployment and participation in various exercises.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cool Video of the Day

From the Russian documentary "Battle Above the Sea". Watch as a Tu-16 Badger make a low pass over the US aircraft carrier "Essex" in the Norwegian Sea in 1968. Watch as the Badger makes a second pass, below the level of the deck at 500 km/hr at an altitude of 15 meters. Watch as the Badger fails to make a third pass after attempting to turn a 35 meter long plane at an altitude of 15 meters at 500 km/hr.

Cool Pic of the Day

More pics of the underground submarine base at Balaklava, Ukraine here.

Soviet Submarine Disaster of the Day

Forty years and a day ago, the November class nuclear attack submarine "K-27" suffered a reactor accident that killed five right away, more than half the crew since and left many of the rest invalids.

A most horrible nuclear accident occured on the nuclear submarine "K-27" on 24 May, 1968 at 1135.

Five sailors received lethal doses and died in the hospital, suffering horrible tortures. And after the nuclear accident, 10 more submariners died after discharge from military service. Half of the crew members are still alive today, most of them diagnosed as invalids.

The average age at death of a "K-27" crew member was 50.

The military saga of the "K-27" and its crew began in 1963 and made two unique deployments in the five years beforet the accident - to the South Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. In its shakedown cruise, the crew of the boat under the command of Ivan Gulyayev set the world record for continuous submurgence - 52 days without surfacing. It was this legendary submarine that was the first Soviet nuclear submarine to sail in the Med.

The US Department of Energy determined that the cause of the accident in the experimental liquid metal reactor was

...[a] secondary to primary leak in the left board reactor led to fuel channel blockage and core damage, following which an estimated 20% of the fuel pins were transported to the steam generators.

The boat went on deployment several times despite a string of reactor accidents:
The first warning that the liquid cooled nuclear reactor had serious technical deficiencies let itself be known in 1959 in the Obninsk Submarine Training Center. Mazurenko says that "Then in the piping, through which coursed liquid metal, the hermetic seal broke resulting in microcracks. The sailors who were the first crew of the "K-27" arriving there for training didn't think anything of training on the mechanism. Each of them received a big dose of radiation. Some of these sailors were hospitalized and then quietly "retired". Nobody received any documentation of their injuries. Furthermore, each one signed a 25 year non-disclosure agreement about what happened to them. So they were silent as they slipped away from life, unaware of the reasons for their fatal illness."

The deployment to the South Atlantic with the world record 52 day submurgence did not pass without unplesantness - again there was a serious reactor accident. A similar story repeated itself in 1965 during "K-27"s deployment to the Med, which lasted 60 days. During resolution of the emergency situation, sailors Grigoriy Rain, Vasiliy Osyukov and the commander of the reactor compartment Sr. Lt. Vladislav Dombrovskiy displayed heroism.

But, despite this chain of reactor accidents, the crew prepared for their third deployment in the fall of 1967. The submariners had to set a new record: circumnavigation of the world without surfacing. The main task - testing the liquid metal reactor on an extended deployment in different ocean temperatures.

But this was not fated to be. In October 1967, there was a new reactor accident - there was a liquid lead leak from the loop and the crew again had to fix the leak by hand with chisels and hammers. "Not only was it radioactive," remembers Vyacheslav Mazurenko, "you had to add that it was really hot in the compartment where the lead spilled. It was simply Hell! There wasn't any sort of protection against radiation for the guys. Each guy could only work five minutes!"

The division commaner didn't listen to the warnings by the sailors that they couldn't go to sea with such an unreliable nuclear reactor, much less a round the world cruise. This became the end, not only of the story of "K-27", but also drove a stake through the heart of special project Soviet SSNs with liquid metal reactors...

Today the Project 645 November class "K-27" lays on the bottom of the Kara Sea with company:
The K-27 submarine did not sink after an accident but was scuttled in the Kara Sea in 1981 when necessary repairs were deemed impossible and decommissioning considered to be too expensive....In February 2003 a scientific expedition discovered 237 containers holding solid radioactive waste and the burial site of the K-27 in the Kara Sea in northern Russia...