File:Ru Losharik Cutaway940.jpg

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Losharik by H I Sutton, 2019

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Description Spy Subs- Project 10831 Losharik. Wed 03 July 2019. By H I Sutton. Few other submarines are the subject of so much speculation and interest as the elusive and Top Secret Losharik (AS-12) deep-diving special missions /engineering boat (read 'spy sub') operated by the Russian Navy on behalf of GUGI (Main Directorate Deep Sea Research). On 1st July 2019 a fire occurred on a Russian deep nuclear station (‘AGS’) in the vicinity of Severomorsk. 14 of the crew died. RIP. The submarine in question has bee reported to be AS-12 Losharik.

Host submarine BS-64 seen at pier in Severomorsk, 3rd July 2019 (69° 5'42.45"N, 33°26'47.42"E)

She is the successor of two earlier families of special mission subs which were built in the Cold War; the 40m long Project.1851 X-RAY Class and the 70m long Project.1910 UNIFORM Class. The X-RAYs were closely equivalent to the American NR-1 submarine except that they were designed to be carried under the belly of a larger submarine for greater secrecy. The UNIFORM had a similar mission but was larger and and had to carry itself to he mission. The Losharik combines the features of both these submarines being similar in size to the UNIFORM but carried beneath another submarine.

Original artwork. CLICK for HIGH-RESOLUTION image.

She is named after a Russian cartoon horse (Лошарик) which provides a clue about her unusual construction. The Russian Navy keeps her hidden from sight and despite years of popular interest relatively little is known about her. Over time there have been more photos leakin g out but they are always grainy and have not yet revealed the special fit which is of course below the waterline. All the same some photo analysis, discussion with sources and educated guesses allows a reasonably accurate picture to be drawn:

Original artwork. CLICK for HIGH-RESOLUTION image.

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Note that the specifications available online for this submarine are often incorrect. The below are best estimates.
Boat: AS-12 (Factory number: 210) "Losharik"
Class: Project 10831 (NATO: Norsub-5)
Laid down: 16th July 1990
Launched: 26th August 1995
Entered Service: 1997
Displacement: <1,000 tons
Speed: 10-11kts submerged (estimate)
Operating depth: 1,000m (3,300ft)
Length: ~70m
Beam: ~7m
Power plant: 1 x nuclear reactor driving a single screw. Estimated 5 MW
Crew: 25

Internal arrangement There has long been speculation that, like its namesake, Losharik consists of a series of joined spheres. Analysis of satellite imagery of her in dry dock at Severomorsk confirms this, and allows us to say with some confidence that there are seven orbs. Spherical hulls are frequently used in very deep submergence submarines because they are a stronger shape than regular cylinders, but they are also less conveniently shaped for living in. Although the boat is about 70m long the internal space is much less than other submarines with similar dimensions and all the walls are curved. This does allow her to dive down to about 1,000m. The orbs are constructed from titanium alloy and contained within a streamlined outer hull giving the appearance of a regular submarine. The orbs are about 6m in diameter giving a total internal 'dry' volume of around 1,000m3, which is roughly equivalent to the average house in US. So imagine your home with thirty-five men, a nuclear reactor and no flat walls to put anything against!

The image to the right, from a Russian nuclear program publication, is believed to show the reactor compartment of Losharik:

7th (rear) Orb: This is probably for the motors. The batteries and emergency diesel engine (if there is one) are probably in forward compartments. There is a deck hatch although, assuming that the reactor section is unmanned, this would only be used whilst in dock.

Original artwork. CLICK for HIGH-RESOLUTION image.


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