The Latest Russian Submarine Is Unlike Any In U.S. Navy Service

The Latest Russian Submarine Is Unlike Any In U.S. Navy Service

The Latest Russian Submarine Is Unlike Any In U.S. Navy Service

0
Get started on your Homeland Security Degree at American Military University.

There is an aspect of submarine operations where the Russian and U.S. Navies take fundamentally different stances. The latest Russian submarine to enter service, B-274 Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, illustrates this. She is unlike anything in U.S. Navy service because she is conventionally powered, meaning that she does not have a nuclear reactor. For comparison the last time the U.S. Navy commissioned a non-nuclear submarine was in the 1950s.

The new Russian submarine is an Improved Kilo Class boat. She is one of 13 project 636.3 variants expected to enter service. She uses heavy-duty lead-acid batteries to power the propeller. These are occasionally recharged using diesel generators, an arrangement known as diesel-electric.

The last conventionally powered submarines in the U.S. Navy were the Barbel Class built between 1956-58. Thereafter only nuclear powered submarines have been built. One reason is because the U.S. Navy requires its submarines to travel long distances from their bases to where they will be needed. Nuclear submarines have virtually unlimited range so the main limitation on its endurance is the people. Patrols of over 1 month are common, and sometimes much longer. This compares to weeks for most conventional submarines.

Nuclear submarines are also faster and have more surplus energy which can be used to power massive sonar arrays. In open water this makes them much more deadly because they can hear the enemy further away and then move faster to get into position, or get out of trouble. The U.S. is not alone in abandoning conventional submarines. The Royal Navy and French Navy have too.

The first and most obvious strengths of conventional submarines are that they are smaller and thus cheaper to build. And cheaper to crew. And they can turn off almost all systems and sit silently on the sea floor, making them extremely difficult to detect.

Additionally, geography is such that Russia expects many of its submarines to be patrolling relatively close to their home base. This is particularly true of the Baltic and Black Sea fleets. Conventional submarines are deployed to all fleets, even in the vast Pacific where B-274 will be heading.

Unlike many other countries, Russia has not yet adopted modern Air Independent Power (AIP). This means that the Kilo Class, and more modern Lada Class, have to come near the surface to run their diesel engines more often. AIP provides a submarine with an alternative way to drive the propeller without coming to the surface. This extends underwater range and increases stealth. There have been reports that the Lada Class will get AIP, but it has yet to materialize.

So the Russian Navy still values the more limited conventionally powered submarines to complement their nuclear powered boats. The quietness of these boats may give them advantages in some scenarios, particularly in shallower waters.

 

This article was written by H I Sutton from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Comments

comments

Learn From The Leader

American Military University (AMU) is proud to be the #1 provider of higher education to the U.S. military, based on FY 2018 DoD tuition assistance data, as reported by Military Times, 2019. At AMU, you’ll find instructors who are former leaders in the military, national security, and the public sector who bring their field-tested skills and strategies into the online classroom. And we work to keep our curriculum and content relevant to help you stay ahead of industry trends. Join the 64,000 U.S. military men and women earning degrees at American Military University.

Request Information

Please complete this form and we’ll contact you with more information about AMU. All fields except phone are required.

Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Ready to apply? Start your application today.

We value your privacy.

By submitting this form, you agree to receive emails, texts, and phone calls and messages from American Public University System, Inc. which includes American Military University (AMU) and American Public University (APU), its affiliates, and representatives. I understand that this consent is not a condition of enrollment or purchase.

You may withdraw your consent at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy, terms, or contact us for more details.

tags: