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The Rise of the Soviet Navy

Based on publications of -
V.N. KRASNOV - Candidate of Naval Science, capt. of the 1st rank,
Ĺ.Ŕ. SHITIKOV - Candidate of Technical Science, State award winner, Vice-admiral
The journeys in 1923-1932 of Persey (Perseus), the vessel of the Marine Scientific Institute, to Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya, Greenland and Lafonten Islands should be considered as the first Soviet scientific expedition with the Navy involvement. A graduate of the Marine School N.N. Zubov participated in these journeys.

Besides scientific purposes the expedition pursued fish finding objectives. The research works performed at Persey laid the groundwork for the new stage of the ocean science development. The expeditionists of Persey later compiled such major works as Sea Waters and Ice by N.N. Zubov, Marine Physics by V.V. Shuleikin, Marine Geology by M.V. Klenovaya, Marine Fauna by L.A. Zenkevich, and Marine Chemistry by S.V. Bruevitch. Persey became a school for many researches. It was successfully passed by S.A. Zernov, V.K. Soldatov, Ya.V. Samoilov, A.M. Rosolimo, V.S. Butkevitch and others.

In 1932 N.N. Zubov at N. Knipovich reached Viktoria Island (the Far West of the Soviet Arctic) and hoisted the national flag there. Upon the completion of island’s description she rounded Franz Josef Land from the north for the first time.

In 1935 N.N. Zubov was in charge of scientific group at Sadko icebreaker steam-vessel of the First High Latitude Expedition established by Glavsevmorput’. The expedition rounded Spitsbergen from the north and surveyed the great part of the Greenland Sea.

The active study of the Arctic basin was continued by journeys of icebreaker steam-vessels Sedov and Sibiryakov. O.Yu. Schmidt, V.Yu. Vize, G.A. Ushakov were in charge of the expeditions. In May 1937 a group of scientists under I.D. Papanin was landed on ice in the polar neighborhood and soon the first ice station in the world called Severniy Polyus (The North Pole) started its drift. Young researchers P.P. Shirshov, E.K. Fedorov (later became academicians) and E.T. Krenkel (later obtained Doctor Degree in Geography) were among the scientists of the station.

The study of the Arctic and especially the area of the Northern Sea Route allowed organizing and setting inter-fleet redeployment of naval ships on the regular basis. Numerous expeditions of the task forces of surface ships and submarines following the icebreakers managed to pass from Arkhangelsk and Murmansk to the Pacific Fleet in peace-time and back from the Pacific to the Northern Fleet during the war.

Close and fruitful cooperation between the Navy and Science was promoted by establishment in 1923 of the Scientific and Technical Committee of Sea Forces of the Workers'-Peasants' Red Army that later became the headquarters in the field of naval shipbuilding and naval armament. Yu.A. Shimanskiy, A.I. Berg, M.I. Yanovskiy. P.F. Papkovich and other scientists and specialists were employed there.

The Experimental basin for hydrodynamic testing of ship models resumed its operations giving employment to I.V. Gire, E.E. Papmel and other well-known engineers and ship builders.

In 1925 the work named The Vortex Theory of the Rotor by V.I. Levkov (the inventor of the first cushion craft in 1935) was published. One of the first articles with regard to gas turbines was the work of V.M. Makovskiy Testing experience of Internal-Combustion Turbines published in 1925. More detailed research about the turbines was performed by G.I. Zotikov in 1933.

In 1927 S.Ya.Sokolov while running test for determination of correlation of oscillation frequency and metal thickness, discovered the ability of ultrasound to penetrate through metal without noticeable absorbance. This effect was used in design of hydroacoustic equipment.

An academician A.N. Krylov continued his active scientific work upon the return to the USSR from the long-term trip abroad in 1927. In Europe he had resolved several important issues on behalf of the Soviet government (inspection of the Russian ships in Bizerta, purchase of steam locomotives, return of Krasin icebreaker to the USSR, etc).

A number of significant tests with regard to gyro science were performed by A.N. Krylov. He published the book The General Theory of Gyroscope and Some Areas of its Application in co authorship with Yu.A. Krutikov. Later the coauthor became a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (AS USSR). The substantial input into the theory and practice of gyrocompass usage during the Soviet times was made by B.I. Kudrevich.

S.A. Chaplygin (academician since 1929) became a continuator of N.E. Zhukovskiy. Chaplygin‘s formulas for calculation of fluid stream pressure on a body were included in the ship theory textbooks.

Many of the scientists employed in the Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute (CAI), labored at fundamental theoretical and experimental studies with regard to hydrodynamics. N.E. Kochin for 6 years taught theoretical mechanics in the Naval Academy, was the head of hydrodynamics division in the Moscow State University. His works The Accuracy in Determination of the Finite Waves of Steady-State Amplitude at the Interface Surface of Two Liquids of the Finite Waves (1928), Wave Resistance and Buoyant Force of Liquid Submerged Solid (1937), Plane Problem of Gliding of Slightly Curved Shape at the Surface of Heavy Incompressible Liquid (1938) were of interest for the ship builders. The findings of Kochin’s studies were used in the development of oscillating motion theory with taking into account interaction between the hull and water as well as in solving other tasks on ship hydrodynamics. In 1939 he became a full member of AS USSR.

The works of L.N. Sretenskiy employed in CAI, dedicated first of all to the theory of wave resistance of the ship in motion. In 1939 L.N. Sretenskiy became a corresponding member of the AS USSR. After the conference in CAI related to the theory of wave resistance the conjoint work of M.A. Lavrentiev and M.V. Keldysh Foil progress underneath heavy liquid surface was published in 1937. Earlier in 1935 they published the article General Problem of Hard Water Impact.

The first scientific paper of L.I. Sedov was also related to the impact during water touchdown of a float plane. It was then followed by the series of studies on the theory of gliding, quite relevant for PT boats and float planes. L.I. Sedov was the first to set and resolve a plane problem of gliding at the surface of heavy liquid. In 1946 he became a corresponding member of the AS USSR and an academician in 1953.

The first corresponding members of AS USSR with regard to shipbuilding became P.F. Papkovich and A.Yu. Shimanskiy in 1933.

P.F. Papkovich as the author of fundamental research related to elasticity theory and theory of ship structures succeeded in obtaining formulas demonstrating global decision of the classical elasticity theory through the potential functions (Papkovich’s functions). The classical course of ship structures theory was highly estimated of A.N. Krylov who said “This book is indeed reflects the whole epoch in the theory of the Russian shipbuilding”.

A.Yu. Shimanskiy created a number of significant works with regard to submarines hull strength that exposed to a great compression forces. These works include Strength Calculation of Bended Hull Plates, Design of Submarine Built-Up Frames published in 1936. A.Yu. Shimanskiy deserved to be considered as the founder of structural mechanics of submarines. Bilging calculation of submarines was performed by P.G.Goinkis in 1931.

The welding comes into the shipbuilding industry in the thirties. The initiator of welding use was Professor Viktor Petrovich Vologdin. The first welding jobs were performed under his supervision at Dalzavod in Vladivostok in 1930. His elder brother Valentin Petrovich Vologdin a corresponding member of AS USSR was the founder of the industrial use of high-frequency current technology including shipbuilding. Widely known in the area of welding academician of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (AS UkSSR) E.O. Paton headed the trials of all-welded river towing steamer Belorussia in 1931. The institute of electric welding at AS UkSSR labored at the powering of welding jobs in the different industries. The electrodes for underwater welding were developed and tested at the Black Sea in 1932 by K.K. Khrenov, later (1945) a full member of AS UkSSR. The strength of welding seams is addressed in the articles of P.F. Papkovich Strains in the End Lap Welds (1933) and Yu.A. Shimanskiy Design of Electric-Welded Seams for Combined Strength (1936).

In connection with the expansion of usage of electric welding a separate lab of electric welding under V.P. Nikitin was organized in the Institute of Machine Building in AS USSR.

The sphere of technical science was not always related to the Academy of Science. It so happened that the first four departments of technical sciences were established in 1928 only. The division of mathematical and natural sciences was considerably strengthened by election in the Academy of full members in 1932 and corresponding members in 1933. The two vacancies were filled by ship builders.

The third charter of the Academy approved in 1935 stipulated for the full Division of technical sciences. It comprised the institutes of metallurgy, teleautomatics, mechanics, machine science, as well as different technical councils and committees. The requests and offers from the shipbuilding industry for research works were considered when making annual planning for the institutes in the Academy. Often the Academy received claims for inventions on naval subject. Here is one of them:

There is file #17 in archival holdings of the Russian Academy of Science that contains an application dated April 19, 1938 originated by a researcher of the Institute of Theoretical Geophysics of AS USSR V.A. Krasilnikov and a postgraduate of the Moscow State University F.A. Korolev for an invention named Acoustic torpedo. Subject matter of an invention is “electroacoustical mechanism for a torpedo providing for automatic homing to a vessel under attack.” Operating principle of the mechanism that homes the torpedo was based on emitting of acoustic waves by the torpedo and their echoing from vessel’s underwater hull. Implementation of this invention could have equipped the Navy with a self-guided torpedo with sonar sensor head that would outmatch the German self-guided torpedo T-5 with a passive homing head.

Unfortunately due to inattention of Academy’s staff, negligence and unbelief of Navy’s officials who considered the proposal the military invention was not materialized. Such applications to AS USSR were always addressed conjointly by academic institutions and respective military branches of People's Commissariat for Defense.