by Yuri UNKOVSKY, naval architect, former Chief of the RUBIN Central Naval Design Bureau (TsKB MT RUBIN)
On May 25, 2001, there were celebrations in St. Petersburg to mark the 100th anniversary of the RUBIN Navy Design Bureau specializing in the production of advanced Russian subs. The century-long history of the Russian submarine fleet is inseparably linked with the names of Igor Bubnov, Boris Malinin and Pavel Pustyntsev-outstanding naval engineers and directors of the famous RUBIN Naval R&D Center.
First of all, it should be pointed out that the establishment and subsequent growth and development of Russia's submarine fleet rested on the progress and achievements of this country's science and engineering. Back in the 18th century members of the St. Petersburg Academy Leonard Eiler and Daniil Bemulli formulated the theoretical foundation of naval marine engineering. And it was back in the reign of Peter the Great, the founding father of Russia's naval power, that an attempt was made by this country's craftsmen to design and build what they called "clandestine man of war". All through the 19th century some of this country's leading technical brains were engaged in R&D work on undersea vessels, but it was only by the end of that century that a high enough level of science and technology was accumulated for the building of subs for the Russian Navy. The key role in this field belonged to Member of the St. Petersburg Academy, Boris Yakobi.
In 1901, Ivan Bubnov, Deputy Head of the R&D Department of the Russian Ministry of the Navy, was put in charge of a newly established Commission for the Development of Submarines. The head of the whole project was Alexei Krylov, an outstanding man of Russian science who later became full Member of the Academy. His task was "assist in a material way and by personal involvement and expertise all R&D work in the Department that could be required for the attainment of the established objective".
The design of the first naval submarine was submitted by Ivan Bubnov in May 1901. Two years later the pioneer of this country's submarine fleet, called Dolphin, passed sea trials with flying colors. In the years until 1918 a total of 32 naval subs designed by Bubnov were launched with the last two of them being equipped with the most powerful weapons in the world.
Being an outstanding engineer, Ivan Bubnov combined his R&D work with scientific activities. He wrote: "all of my sympathies belonged to theoretical research," and working together with Academician Krylov, they laid the foundation of our shipbuilding as we know it now.
The rise of this country's industrial potential in the 1920s put on the agenda the problem of a revival of the Russian Navy and above all its submarine fleet. With this aim in view what was called a Technical Bureau was set up in 1926 at the famous Baltiysky Shipbuilding Plant in Leningrad. It was headed by engineer Boris Malinin and his task was to design and build the first sub for the young Soviet Navy. As he later recalled: "We had to be dealing with three problems at one and the same time which were closely linked with one another: work on the development and construction of submarines of a type which had been hitherto unknown here; develop and immediately put into practice a theory of submarines which likewise did not exist in the Soviet Union; and also train submarine designers in the process."
The first "products" of the Bureau were large subs, called Dekabrist and Lemuels and a medium-class subs called Shchuka (Pike). The work on these new subs involved not only purely technical, but also a range of theoretical problems, needless to say For example, during the sea trials of the Dekabrist a young naval engineer, Sergei Bazilevsky, run into problems which made him to work out a theory of the submersion and surfacing of these subs which was then translated into some technical improvements. And to add to the drama of the moment, engineer Malinin and some of his staff were put under arrest on false and politically motivated charges of high treason.
In 1932 the Technical Bureau was reorganized into what was called the Central Design Bureau (TsKB-18) which attracted the country's leading brains specializing in this field. They worked in close cooperation with the Scientific Institute of Naval Shipbuilding and other related research establishments including the Naval Institute of Communications headed by Academician and future admiral Aksel Berg. Research on the problems of strength was conducted by leading experts in the field-future academi-
clans Yulian Shimansky and Valery Novozhilov, and Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences Pyotr Papkovich.
By the beginning of 1941 -the year of Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union, experts of TsKB-18 had on their list the designs of 15 types of naval subs which provided the basis for the construction of more than 200 subs of different types-large, medium and small, and it would be no exaggeration to say that at that time the Soviet submarine fleet was the most powerful in the world. A key role in this efforts belonged to Professor Boris Malinin.
The first years after the war opened up a new stage in the development of this country's submarine potential. Designs worked out by TsKB-18 experts were used for the large-scale construction of up-to-date diesel-battery subs, including medium-size seagoing ones and large ocean-going cruisers. The latter were used for longdistance voyages, including those to the Antarctic shores.
At the same time work was completed on the development of minor subs, powered by diesel engines whose operation in the submerged position was supported by a store of liquid oxygen and special absorbers of CO2 . Russian naval engineers also designed and built a pilot sub powered with a steam-gas turbine and using a store of hydrogen peroxide. But right at that time this country was approaching what one call a revolutionary upheaval in this and other fields of modem engineering.
After its successful A-bomb test in 1949, the Soviet leadership faced an urgent problem of nuclear warheads delivery across the ocean. It could be solved with the help of submarines capable of transporting strategic nuclear rockets. During this difficult time experts were working in parallel on the development of both strategic ballistic and cruise missiles which could be used against ground targets. In September 1955 Academician Sergei Korolev attended the first-ever launch of a ballistic missile from a sub in a sur-
face position.* They were testing a ground-based missile modified for submarine transport and sea launches. The new sea-based missile was designed and built by a specially established R&D Center headed by a gifted scientist and follower of Sergei Korolev-Dr. Yiktor Makeyev, later an academician.
Work on cruise missiles was conducted by another R&D Center headed by Academician Vladimir Chelomey who developed a unique system of automatic unfolding of the missile's wings after its emergence from the launch tunnel.
The advent of atomic energy opened up great prospects for the development of surface shipbuilding. A research staff headed by academicians Igor Kurchatov and Anatoly Alexandrov were working on a set of problems on determining the physical parameters and design features of a nuclear reactor for use on a submarine. Proceeding from the results in the studies and tests the Soviet government took a special decision in September 1952 on the development of a Russian nuclear-powered sub. Appointed chief designer was Vladimir Peregudov, Academician Nikolai Dollezhal was made chief designer of the atomic power plant and Academician Anatoly Alexandrov* was placed in charge of the whole project.
Building this country's nuclear submarine fleet called for a basic improvement of our industrial and also R&D potential. The world's biggest center which spearheaded this effort was the Central Research and Development Institute named after Academician Krylov in Leningrad. The project was backed by experts of a number of academic research centers and industrial institutes-the best brains in the physical-technical sciences including experts of a world class. They were backed by R&D centers of the Russian Navy including the Central Research Institute of Naval Engineering of the USSR Ministry of Defense. Set up at the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences was a Council on Submarine Hydrodynamics headed by academicians Mikhail Lavrentyev, Leonid Sedov and Igor Spassky.
For the development of Russia's first nuclear sub a special R&D Bureau was set up in Leningrad in 1953 which included the best brains of TsKB-18 and also a large number of young scientists and engineers. Their efforts were backed by a team of naval engineers headed by Academician Nikolai Isanin.
During those years TsKB-18 was headed by P. Pustyntsev who was in charge of research and construction of
* See: Yu. Markov, "Up Into Space From Deep Under", Science in Russia, No.4, 1999 .-Ed.
* See: G. Gladkov, "Four Generations of Nuclear Submarines", Science in Russia, No. 6, 1999 .-Ed.
diesel-powered subs and also of the new area of missile nuclear subs. But as a matter of fact studies in this area had been initiated at TsKB-18 as early as 1949. In 1956 it was decided to start development work on nuclear subs armed with strategic ballistic and cruise missiles. The former were the responsibility of the R&D Bureau of V Makeyev and the latter of a center headed by Academician V. Chelomey. He also developed missiles with a high-explosive warhead and a self-targeting warhead against moving surface targets. That was necessitated by the fact that apart from military bases on land, a no less serious threat for the Soviet Union were aircraft carriers of a potential enemy equipped with aircraft carrying nuclear weapons. The most effective weapon against that threat were ground-to-surface cruise missiles.
Work on cruise missiles of this kind was headed by a center of Professor P. Pustyntsev The chief designer of Russia's first submarine armed with strategic ballistic missiles was Sergei Kovalev with Igor Spassky as his deputy
From the early 1960s Soviet nuclear subs of the first generation were put on duty in international waters including
the biggest squadron of subs with surface-to-surface missiles which could be reequipped if need be with strategic cruise missiles against ground targets. A significant role in our strategic balance was given to nuclear subs armed with missiles that could be launched without surfacing and which had an effective range of up to 1,400 km.
Worked was also started at the same time on strategic nuclear missile subs of a second generation. Commissioned in November 1967 was a strategic submarine cruiser armed with 16 ballistic missiles which boasted automatic pre-launch preparations, increased accura-
cy and an effective range of 2,500 km. A squadron of more than 30 such cruisers was commissioned within a short span of time, laying the foundation of our naval strategic nuclear system-the most powerful component in the triad of Russia's strategic nuclear forces whose main advantage was secrecy and guaranteed response strike.
From 1966 all of the R&D centers and institutes were given names instead of numbers and TsKB-18 was named RUBIN with I. Spassky made its chief engineer. 1972 saw the advent of the world's first sea-based complex with ICBMs. Put on active service were submarine ICBM carriers patrolling coastal waters and protected by surface fleets, including those in the Arctic region close to the North Pole. Later on new versions of such ICBM cruisers were developed with self-homing missiles of greater accuracy.
At the same time experts of other R&D centers (MALAKHIT and LAZURIT) developed several modifications of what they called multi-purpose nuclear subs armed with torpedoes, and missiles and torpedoes. Their central objective was keeping an eye on the strategic US missile carriers and protecting Russian strategic ICBM subs. MALAKHIT experts also developed some experimental nuclear subs featuring a range of unique tactical-technical characteristics a vivid proof of the highest research and engineering level of Russian naval experts.
The summit of Russia's research and technical achievements was the Komsomolets nuclear sub operating at depths of down to 1,000 m-something attainable only by deep-sea research probes. Its sea trials began in 1984 and they proved that at such depths the Russian sub was practically out of the effective range of enemy detectors and anti-sub weapons. The tragic end of that sub was therefore all the more lamentable for both the experts and the public at large.
One of the problems associated with the building of nuclear subs was that of their telltale noises which exposed them to enemy hydroacoustic detectors. Being fully aware of this problem, specialized industrial and academic centers of this country formulated the theoretical backgrounds for the building of acoustic testing sites, labs and measuring gear for research in hydro- and vibroacoustics. These studies were coordinated by the Council for Hydrophysics of the Presidium of the Russian Academy which was headed by Academician Andrei Gaponov-
Grekhov. Of major importance for this research were discoveries in the field of sound propagation in the ocean made in the 1940s and 1950s by experts of the academic Physics Research Institute named after Lebedev and the Institute of Acoustic Research named after Andreev and headed by Academician Leonid Brekhovskikh. Back in 1946 its experts conducted studies of what they called super-distant sound channels in the ocean which later helped to increase by an order of magnitude the range of our hydroacoustic gear. Noise reduction measures were being introduced in several stages, but the problem was finally solved only in the 1980s when work was started on nuclear subs of the third generation. These were equipped with more powerful weapons, advanced radioelectronics, and better nuclear power plants featuring improved vibroacoustic parameters.
In 1974 Igor Spassky was appointed head of RUBIN, with his predecessor P. Pustyntsev, who headed the center over the previous 22 years, not retiring as long as he lived (died in 1977) the post of chief designer of nuclear missile subs of the third generation. They were armed with long-range nuclear cruise missiles and were capable of keeping track of enemy aircraft carrier units for a long time before delivering the decisive strike, if need be. As such, these cruiser subs became the main factor of holding back a potential aggressor at sea. The luckless Kursk submarine was one of this class, but its puzzling disaster, a truly national tragedy, did not bring to a halt Russia's naval activities of this kind.
In response to the naval strategic system Trident developed in the United States, Russian RUBIN experts have designed and built a flotilla of heavy nuclear strategic Akula (Shark) submarine cruisers of the third generation. These subs, which are the world's biggest, are armed with a new missile complex developed at the Makeyev Engineering Center. It consists of 20 ICBMs with 10 separating warheads (each individually targeted). The cruiser remains steerable and maintains its depth even after firing from a submerged position volley of missiles weighing up to 2,000 tons. Fire accuracy is ensured by a unique navigational complex developed by a team of experts under Academician Vladimir Peshekhonov The noise level of the submarine missile cruisers of the third generation is 30 times lower than of the first one. A major contribution to the development of these subs was provided by the Krylov Research Center headed by Academician Valentin Pashin and the PROMETEI R&D Center of Structural Materials headed by Academician Igor Gorynin, Chairman of the RAS Scientific Council on Problems of Mechanics and Materials Studies.
The historical path covered by the architects of the Russian submarine fleet extends from the time of the Dolphin capable of protecting our seaports from enemy threats to the Akula cruisers capable of inflicting an irreparable damage on the aggressor in any spot on the globe.
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