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Media: Russia's Oldest Sub Returns to Black Sea Fleet

Media: Russia's Oldest Sub Returns to Black Sea Fleet 13.11.2012
Text: Vzglyad
Photo: Diesel-electric submarine Svyatoi Knyaz Georgy in floating dock PD-16, Sevastopol. wikipedia.org
Russian Navy Main HQ decided to put Project 641B diesel-electric submarine Svyatoi Knyaz Georgy (former B-380 Gorkovsky Komsomolets) back to Black Sea Fleet (BSF), writes Izvestiya. The sub has been under repairs in floating dock PD-16 near Sevastopol since 1991.

According to the BSF development plan, repair of the submarine will start in 2013.

"Svyatoi Knyaz Georgy will serve at the Black Sea Fleet right up to commissioning of new St. Petersburg-class subs. According to the intergovernmental treaty tied in 1992 with Ukraine, we cannot station new warships in Sevastopol. However, one diesel sub Alrosa deployed there is not enough. Alrosa is permanently involved in exercises held in the Mediterranean, the North Atlantic, the Baltic, and international activities", said the newspaper's interviewee. As for him, St. Petersburg-class submarines will be based in Novorossiysk; infrastructure of the BSF main base is being constructed there at a rapid pace. Although Russia does not need Ukraine's consent for that, it is unclear when the new submarines would join Black Sea Fleet.

Svyatoi Knyaz Georgy needs upgrading of tactical data system and propulsion plant. However, there is no adequate equipment to perform serious modernization.

"Being predecessor of Varshavyanka and St. Petersburg classes, Project 641B submarines are 20 meters longer. Also, there are some serious differences in propulsion systems, but the main problem is batteries. This kind of batteries is no longer manufactured, and the submarine cannot dive without them. To plant new batteries, the hull must be redesigned. Repairs will take a year and a half or something", says the Navy staff officer.

B-380 was commissioned into Black Sea Fleet back in 1982. Other subs of this class were written-off long ago; last of them was decommissioned in mid-90's. But B-380 was luckier than others. In 2000, Black Sea Fleet HQ decided to recover her and put the full crew also used as a relief crew for Alrosa. In 2005, the submarine was assigned to 247-th Submarine Division and named Svyatoi Knyaz Georgy three years later.

A top-ranking official of United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) told Izvestiya there had been no certain talks so far.

"It is only a wish of the Navy command. At first, we should evaluate the project cost. If the money are found, the sub would be transported on pontoons to Saint Petersburg and delivered to Admiralteyskie Verfi shipyard which is the main manufacturer of diesel-electric submarines. Sailors should not be worry about batteries, they can be either taken from Varshavyanka-class subs or we may order a new battery with same weight and dimensions but new materials", said the USC representative.

Military expert Dmitry Boltenkov, co-author of the book named "New Army of Russia" considers that the country needs only a "mosquito fleet" at the Black Sea.

"Small-size corvettes and non-nuclear submarines are ideal for those conditions. A nuclear sub would be like a whale in the puddle there. Turkey operates 14 diesel submarines in the Black Sea, they are based on German Type 209. In 2015, Turkish Navy will obtain Type 214 German subs powered by anaerobic plants. Svyatoi Knyaz Georgy is perfectly suitable for the Black Sea", says Boltenkov.

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