Libmonster ID: RU-17277
Author(s) of the publication: Marina KHALIZEVA

by Marina KHALIZEVA, Science in Russia observer

At the end of 2013 an important event in the development of the national fleet took place, i.e. the Russian Navy received for trial exploitation the Severodvinsk head atomic submarine of the fourth generation with winged missiles aboard under Project 885. Versatility is its key feature, i.e. it can be used not only against enemy ships and submarines but also coastal facilities. Being equipped with the sophisticated communication and navigation complexes and a modern nuclear power plant Severodvinsk will enhance substantially Russian grouping of under-water missile carriers and strengthen positions of our country in the World Ocean. Another seven atomic submarines of this series will be launched from assembly jigs of the defense shipyard "Northern Mechanical Engineering Enterprise" before 2020.


Atomic submarines under Project 885 are one of the main constituents of national fleet's re-equipment program. Specialists started to form their appearance back in the Soviet times, i.e. in the 1970s. At that time it was planned to launch several types of submarines, namely, an anti-submarine (Lazurit Central Design Bureau, Gorky), an anti-aircraft (Rubin Central Design Bureau of Marine Engineering, Leningrad) and a multipurpose submarine (Leningrad Design Bureau of Submarine Shipbuilding, today--St. Petersburg Malachite Bureau of Marine Machine-building)*. But later on due to prob-

See: G. Gladkov, "A-Fleet Pioneers", Science in Russia, No. 3, 1999.--Ed.

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lems in development of new weapons and equipment, the naval authorities decided to abandon narrow combat specialization and concentrate on a project of a single multipurpose submarine capable of solving the widest range of problems. The Malachite Design Bureau which had a substantial surplus of promising atomic submarines at that time became a designer of a new submarine under the code name Yasen.

Early in the 1980s, a team of the chief designer Georgi Chernyshev (Vladimir Pyalov from 1985) set about to develop a submarine draft design approved in 1986 and formulated, together with 80 design companies, main engineering solutions of a new submarine by 1988. After the collapse of the USSR, the world geopolitical situation changed and a number of corrections were introduced in the project, which extended the potentialities of submarines of this class to deliver massive strikes against surface, subsurface and coastal targets. The submarine of the next generation was not to be inferior in any way to the American submarines of the Seawolf series of a revolutionary shipbuilding design and engineering (the US Department of Defense planned to put them into commission in the early 1990s). Moreover, it was even to surpass the competitor in a number of characteristics (noisiness, speed, armament, submergence depth, etc.).

On December 21, 1993, a keel-laying of the Severodvinsk head atomic submarine under Project 885 was carried out at the Northern Mechaical Engineering Enterprise (Production Association Sevmash, Severodvinsk, Arkhangelsk Region)*. It was planned to launch it in

See: M. Khalizeva, "'Sevmash' Arctic Project", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2013.---Ed.

three years and place under control of the Navy in 1998. However, the plans failed due to the USSR disintegration and a consequent drastic reduction of state-guaranteed defense orders and collapse of research and production cooperation in military shipbuilding. Thus, the building of the submarine was stopped in 1996 and resumed only early in the 2000s. In 2005, the submarine hull works were completed, and in 2010 the submarine was triumphantly launched. Severodvinsk first sailed on September 12, 2011, passed successfully sea trials and in 2013 started to pass state testing. By that time the submarine cruised 14 times with a total duration above 200 days, covered dozens of thousands of marine miles and implemented more than a hundred of divings and risings to the surface. In December of 2013 the submarine was placed under control of the Navy for trial exploitation. Already now experts, not only Russian, are of the opinion that the submarine can pretend to be the best in its class.


The chief designer Vladimir Pyalov wrote in one of his articles: "The new project inherited in many ways a classical 'brand' style of the exterior forms of the Malachite submarines as per Projects 671 and 971, i.e. a well-streamlined 'drop-shaped' hull and a 'limousine' deckhouse railing. All previous Soviet atomic submarines had a two-hull design, which was conditioned by requirements of the Navy for substantial buoyancy reserve... But such solution decreased reticence of submarines as a light hull was a kind of volumetric resonator, which increased noisiness at low frequencies." Unlike the previous projects the new missile carrier is

стр. 37

built according to one-and-a-half hull design, when a light hull embraces only a part of a solid shell of the submarine, which reduces essentially a level of its own noises. Besides, the hull made of low-magnetic steel (up to 48 mm thick) has a rubber coating, which decreases noisiness and thermal characteristics of the submarine and also signal reflection of enemy sonar apparatuses. Vibration-absorbing cellular carcasses made of composite materials on which the submarine's internal equipment is installed promote solving one of the main problems in submarine shipbuilding. In this case each structural element is covered additionally with sound-proof panels. All this reduces noises by 10-30 dB.

In a low-speed motion a missile carrier uses only a propeller motor, and the main turbogear assembly is connected by coupling in high-speed modes. The submarine is equipped with a propeller screw having 7 scimitar-shape blades of composite damping action. Its maneuvering ability is secured also by 4 falling back rolling up devices and bow diving flapped planes. According to the company specialists the Severodvinsk submarine is the most high-speed and low-noise national submarine invulnerable for enemy detecting devices. It can move under water at a speed above 30 knots (above 60 km/h), which is one of the best indices up to date. The submarine (120 m long and 9,500 t displacement) can dive at a depth of 600-700 m and remain in autonomous navigation for 100 days. The surfacing rescue capsule is designed for a whole crew of 90 persons including 32 officers.


The head atomic submarine of Project 885 is equipped with OK-650V reactor of 190 MW output

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which proved to be good on submarines of the third generation. The reactor has a unit installation diagram, which supports a primary coolant natural circulation mode on ultimate levels of a power plant operation, which is important for prevention of a thermal explosion in case of the submarine cut off, an automatic aftercooling system capable to "muffle" the reactor even in case of the submarine's overturning and the control pulse equipment, which maintains an atomic boiler in a subcritical state.

However, the second and subsequent submarines of this series will be equipped with a KTP-6 type nuclear power plant of 200 MW heat output developed as early as the 1980s at the Afrikantov Experimental Design Bureau of Mechanical Engineering (Nizhni Novgorod) for atomic submarines of the fourth generation. Its distinctive feature is an integral single-block design when a reactor proper and its primary coolant are in one reactor shell. Such diagram allows to exclude large pipelines (their maximum diameter was decreased from 675 mm in case of OK-650 reactor to 40 mm in case of KTP-6) from the design and thus make easier the coolant's natural circulation in all operation modes. The new reactor is more compact than plants of the previous generation, easy to service, safe and reliable in operation. The design of the reactor core allows its operation for 25-30 years without refueling (twice as much in case of submarines of the third generation), i.e. a whole lifetime of the submarine.


For the first time in the national submarine shipbuilding practice a serial atomic submarine was equipped with a powerful digital sonar system Irtysh with an increased search potential developed by the Okeanpribor group of companies (St. Petersburg). The main spherical hydro-acoustic large antenna occupies a whole fore part of the submarine. This equipment is borrowed from the Soviet project of the Afalina low-noise atomic submarines of hydroacoustic surveillance patrol, which were developed by the Malachite Design Bureau in the 1970s-1980s. Apart from a sphere, which forced to remove torpedo launchers from under a nose fairing to the first compartment with an outlet to the board, Severodvinsk has also side conformai antennas of a considerable length and a towed antenna in vertical tail surfaces. This technology opened unprecedented possibilities of submarines for detection of underwater targets.

It should be noted that such sonar system includes at once several systems responsible for noise and echo direction finding, detection of hydroacoustic signals, target classification, ice thickness measurements, mine detection, sound speed measurement, search for ice polynias and patches of ice-free water, as well as determination of propeller screw cavitation.


However, according to specialists, the trump card of Severodvinsk is its armament, which includes 10 torpedo launchers of 533 mm caliber located at an angle

стр. 39

along the board in the deck-house area and 8 vertical launching tubes, which can be loaded with up to four winged missiles of different classes.

Experts believe that the main arms aboard will be represented by the Onyx short-range missile system developed in the mid-1980s at the NPO Mechanical Engineering (Reutov, Moscow Region) under direction of the chief designer Gerbert Yefremov. The system's main element is an antiship winged missile 3M55 Onyx with a flying range up to 300 km designed for destruction of the enemy surface ships during active firing and electronic countermeasures. Its distinctive features include full independence of tactical employment and a high supersonic speed at different heights of a flight trajectory. The Onyx missiles are not only as good as Granit universal missile systems being in the inventory of the Navy since 1983, but also surpass them in the control system, algorithm of tactical employment and above all in weight and size.

Besides, the submarine launching tubes and torpedo launchers can accommodate Kalibr subsonic long-range winged missiles for striking against stationary ground facilities (developed by L. Lyulyev Experimental Design Bureau Novator in Yekaterinburg). They have no parallel in the world in firing range, accuracy of fire, target destruction effect and invulnerability in flight to the target. Moreover, such weapon can be equipped with both a conventional and nuclear warhead. In the first instance the maximum flying range of the missile will be above 2,500 km, and if a warhead is of a nuclear kiloton class the flying range will be somewhat less. Let us point out here that the Kalibr missile is

стр. 40

a weapon of the highest accuracy. When firing for thousands of kilometers, an impact error does not exceed several meters.

The universal ship fire control system 3R-14P is used aboard for conjugation of different missile systems, which "warms up" the equipment thus providing fast combat readiness of missiles for launching.

The munitions list of Yasen submarines includes also Fizik deep-water self-guided torpedoes of the fourth generation developed by specialists of the Research Institute of Marine Heat Technology (St. Petersburg) and the State NPO Region (Moscow). The unique specimens of Fizik were displayed at the international naval salons in St. Petersburg in 2003 and 2011.

Variation of arms provides flexibility in combat mission implementation from ground target destruction to striking submarines and all types of surface ships by supersonic antiship missiles and torpedoes. In other words, according to our defense administration representatives, the Severodvinsk submarines "can undertake a sizable proportion of non-nuclear containment, while remaining a serious threat for enemy submarines, warships and transport vessels".

It must be emphasized that this article describes only those design parameters and features of the Russian submarine which are published in mass media. But the main body of innovations is classified.

Most probably the Severodvinsk submarine will protect the Arctic Ocean aquatic area and its coastal territories which have accumulated an immense amount of mineral, oil and gas reserves. The Arctic is considered to be a strategic resource base of the Russian Federation which guarantees accomplishment of national social and economic tasks. Therefore, the new submarine in cooperation with other missile carriers will undertake a task of the main guarantor of safety in high latitudes of the Northern hemisphere.

By the way, the head submarine Yasen will be followed by other submarines of this series namely Kazan and Novosibirsk (laid down under the more sophisticated Project 885M at the Sevmash Production Association in 2009 and 2013 respectively). Under contracts signed with the Ministry of Defense the shipbuilders are to place at least 8 atomic submarines of the Yasen series under control of the Navy by 2020. The Ministry of Defense plans to appropriate above 200 bln rubles for these purposes. According to public data the cost of a head submarine as per Project 885 is estimated at about 47 bln rubles, and building of each subsequent submarine will cost supposedly 32 bln rubles (for comparison: the cost of the Borey serial submarine under Project 955 makes up almost 23 bln rubles).


The emergence of the up-to-date submarine in the inventory of the Russian under-water fleet did not remain unnoticed. The foreign media states unani-

стр. 41

mously that the Russian Federation seized the world technological leadership. The Sunday Times, was the first to mention this subject when on January 12, 2014, it published an article of its observers Sean Rayment and Mark Hookham entitled "The West Is Afraid of the Beast From the Depths", which was replicated then by other foreign publications. The authors stated: "The new Russian under-water fleet will have 8 submarines of the Yasen series each being equipped with 24 winged long-range missiles Granat with 200 kiloton warheads. The specifications of the new submarine are such that it is almost impossible to detect it in the World Ocean, which makes the Severodvinsk atomic submarine practically invulnerable by the latest anti-submarine weapons."

The submarine characteristics became a subject for interesting parallels. The British journalists compared our missile carrier with the technically advanced submarine from the novel by Tom Clancy Hunt for the Red October (1984) based on a fictitious story about hijacking of a Soviet experimental combat ship. In 1990 this most popular work of the writer was screened by an American film director. Referring to the undisclosed source from intelligence services, the British journalists drew conclusion that "the Russian atomic submarine would become a substantial cause for anxiety of Washington".

This assertion is also shared by the authors of the publication Russia Developed a High-Technology Submarine "Beast From the Depths" in the American International Business Times. They cite the words of Ian Ballantine, a fiction writer and specialist in the underwater fleet, who noted that the under-water atomic fleet was always the most élite and prestigious part of the Russian armed forces. The enormous financial investments in building of new atomic submarines correspond fully to this idea. He noted also that the Russian leadership made no secret of the intentions to further develop its Navy as it allowed solving the global problems. He concluded that for this reason submarines of the Yasen project could be a serious threat for the Navy of the USA and other developed countries.

It is true that we should not rule out lack of information (the observers state, "we do not know even a half of what is aboard of the Severodvinsk submarine"). This fact could not but affect the general tone of comments--from "recognition of Russian superiority" to fears of losing the leading positions in under-water shipbuilding (until recently experts believed that the American submarines were the best and most high-tech in the world, but the latest Russian development works can disprove the established opinion).

The article is based on the following sources: A. Gusev, "Submarines With Winged Missiles", SPb, Galeya Print, 2000; S. Berezhnoi, "Atomic Submarines of the USSR and Russian Navy",---Marine Historical Almanac, 2001, Issue 7; V. Ilyin, A. Kolesnikov, "The National Atomic Submarines", Equipment and Armament, Nos. 5-6, 2000; S. Ptichkin, "Black Guardian of the Arctic",---Rossiyskaya Gazeta, January 14, 2014; K. Ryabov, "Beast From the Depths",--Military Review, January 15, 2014.


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