Why is the Navy afraid of the Russian submarine “Pike-B”

The Soviet Union did an excellent submarines, which were faster, more tenacious and immersed in water much deeper American. But the U.S. Navy was confident that superior Soviet submarines, as they were extremely noisy. In the event of a collision of the superpowers more quiet American boats were more likely to detect the first Russian and to inflict on him a blow of homing torpedoes. But in the mid-1980s, such arrogance has been breached, when the Soviet Navy received the first multipurpose nuclear submarines of project 971 “Pike-B”. Since then it has been 30 years and they are still the mainstay of the Russian nuclear submarine fleet, being much lower noise American samples.

Intelligence information provided in the 1970-ies spies John Walker (John Walker) and Jerry Whitwarta (Jerry Whitworth), who convinced the command of the Soviet Navy that the next shock, the submarine must have a means of providing acoustic stealth. After creating numerous submarines of project 671 “Ruff” and expensive submarines with titanium hull “Barracuda” in 1983 they started to build submarines of project 971 “Pike-B”. Through the use of purchased in Japan precision machine tools and is imported from Sweden, computer control new design has got great advantages that allowed Soviet engineers to construct low-noise seven-bladed propellers.

A big “Pike-B” has a submerged displacement of nearly 13 thousand tons, as well as typical Soviet submarine double hull of steel. This allows the boat to carry more ballast water and withstand more damage. The power plant strike submarines were improved to suppress noise, and its external and internal surface covered with sound-absorbing plates. Even memberborrowers holes to move bilge water inside the outer hull “Pike-B” has a sliding cover that increases its acoustic stealth. The case of a submarine with a length of 111 meters aquadynamics has an elegant cabin and teardrop-shaped boules on the tail where passive sonar with a towed antenna. The crew of the boat is approximately 70 people and can operate at sea autonomously for 100 days.

“Pike-B” is equipped with a pressurized water nuclear reactor with a capacity of 190 megawatts, which has an active area of higher density. Speed boat — as many as 33 knots and diving depth of 480 meters, that is 200 meters more modern American submarines of the “Los Angeles”. But the greatest concern for the Navy was the fact that “Pike-B” was almost the same low noise as “Los Angeles”. American submariners could no longer count on undeniable acoustic superiority. On the other hand, it was believed that detection devices “Pike-B” are inferior to us.

Submarine “Pike-B” is designed mainly to hunt for American submarines, primarily for boats with ballistic missiles. With four torpedo tubes caliber 533 mm and four torpedo tubes of larger caliber 650 millimeters, it can produce up to 40 torpedoes with steering-by-wire, mines and anti-submarine missiles “Blizzard” and “Waterfall”. This boat can also carry up to 12 cruise missiles “Granat”, which are capable of hitting ground targets at a distance of three thousand kilometers.

Soviet shipbuilders have released seven boats “Pike-B”, while the US Navy opposed to them were built less noisy submarines of the “Seawolf”. Although the Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse, he managed to build the first of five boats with improved acoustic stealth of project 971. her in 1995, was followed by heavier and longer the boat “wild boar” of the project 971-A, which has two-layer system of active suppression of noise and vibration from the power plant, less noisy motors and new hydroacoustic complex. In both options six additional torpedo tubes that can launch missiles and torpedoes about, as well as new MANPADS “Strela-3”.

But the most important improvement is the increased stealth boats. New submarines was much quieter improved boats of the “Los Angeles”, although some analysts argue that the latter at high speeds still malonamate. The intelligence Department of the U.S. Navy have made a comparison table of the acoustic stealth of submarines. In combat the US Navy still has a 43 submarine type “Los Angeles”, although 14 new boats of the “Seawolf” and “Virginia” superior “Pike-B” and subsequent versions in stealth characteristics.

But the Russian shipbuilders are faced with serious difficulties in the construction of improved “Pike-B”, which is not cheap. According to one estimate, each boat in 1996 was worth 1.55 billion dollars, and now worth 2.4 billion. Faced with the difficulties the Russian economy is not afford to maintain the already constructed boat. Two improved boat was not completed, and their housing was used for the construction of nuclear submarines of “Borey”. As for the submarine “Vepr” and there, in 1998, tragedy occurred. When the boat docked, mentally unbalanced young sailor killed eight co-workers and threatened to blow up the torpedo room, after which he committed suicide.

The only completed by the modernized project boat “the Cheetah” went to sea after 10 years after construction began. At that time, it was presented as a sample of Russian technologies acoustic stealth. After seven years, Moscow managed to finally complete the construction of the submarine “Nerpa” (project 971И), which lasted 15 years. But in November 2008 during sea trials as a result of unauthorized actuation of firefighting system, the boat is filled with freon, and 20 people, mostly civilians, suffocated. It was the most serious incident in the history of the catastrophes of submarines, which is full of such sad events.

After costly repairs “seal” was again ready to sail. It was immediately passed on 10 years lease to the Indian Navy for $ 950 million. The submarine received the name “Chakra” and for many years was the only one in India of a nuclear submarine, armed with cruise missiles, short-range Klub due to limitations on the control regime of missile technology. In October 2016, Moscow and new Delhi agreed to lease a second submarine of this project. However, it’s unclear whether it’s an older version of the “Cachalot” or unfinished boat project “IRBIS”, although the price is two billion dollars gives reason to assume that will be transferred to second submarine. This year, the Indian “Chakra” will be joined by boat only local production. The basis of her design went to the project “Pike-B”, but she will have on Board a ballistic missile.

Today in the Russian Navy have 10 or 11 boats 971-year project, as reported by Jane’s directory for the year 2016. But in working condition only three or four submarines, and the others waiting for repairs. But the current subs are used very actively. In 2009, two boats of this project were seen off the East coast of the United States. It was the first case of its kind after the cold war. Three years later, has made unsubstantiated allegations (this time the U.S. Navy has denied them) that another boat for a month and was searching in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, to find her and failed. Older “sperm Whale” has earned praise for being “14 days followed foreign submarine”. All these cases indicate that the U.S. Navy must re-focus on the fight against submarines. In recent years, Russia is modernizing boats 971-year project that they could launch the deadly missiles “Calibre”. In 2015, these cruise missiles were fired at targets in Syria from aboard submarine “Rostov-on-don” project “warszawianka”.

Although the state of readiness of the submarines of project 971 disgusting, they still form the basis of the multipurpose nuclear submarine fleet and will remain in the combat composition of the Navy of the next decade, while in operation do not enter the submarines of new generation “Ash”. Until then, the project 971 due to the good characteristics of acoustic stealth will create headache specialists in anti-submarine warfare.

Sebastien Roblin has a master’s degree at Georgetown University in the field of conflict resolution. He worked as a University instructor in the peace Corps in China. Robin regularly publishes articles on security issues and military history on the website War is Boring.