Russia's very large BS-64 "Podmoskovye" special operations submarine was launched just a week ago, on August 11, 2015. BS-64's conversion began 16 years ago, in 1999, with intended launch in 2002, but lack of funds led to the 13 year delay. At 11,700 tons surfaced and 18,200 tons submerged BS-64 probably has more capabilities than USS Jimmy Carter (SSN). (Photo courtesy Barents Observer).
BS-64 was a Delta SSBN but its 16 ballistic missiles were removed to accommodate a Multi-Mission Platform (MMP) which may host a smaller submarine - perhaps a "Losharik" (60 to 80 meters long) if it exists. BS-64 can also host extra support crew (for example special forces, sigint specialists from Russia's NSA, scientists, technicians, divers and rescue crew).
Authentic or perhaps imaginary model of a Yankee or Delta class submarine acting as mothership to what may be a Losharik 60-80m long submarine attached to its belly. (Photo courtesy of a Russian website - right click mouse to translate into English). However the belly arrangement and even existence of the Losharik may also be Russian science-fiction/propaganda.
A more conventional smaller submarine. like the 55 ton Project 1855 Priz class Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) seems more credible. The four known active Priz class DSRVs would be small enough to have on hand at each of Russia major naval bases (Pacific, Northern, Black Sea and Baltic Fleet). A DSRV Priz would:
- connect to the back of a mothersub (on secret missions) or
- be delivered by crane by a Pionier Moskvyy class submersible support ships (Project 05360/05361) or by Antonov heavy lift aircraft then ship for overt missions. The crew of the DSRV will maneuver the DSRV above the upper hatch of the escape trunk and then latch on to the submarine (whose crew needs to be rescued) using the built-in eyes on the outer hull of the submarine (in distress). Most submarines do not have the built-in eyes and rely on the DSRV establishing a watertight seal on the area surrounding the hatch.
Mystic DSRV attached to the back of a Los Angeles class SSN. In a similar way a Priz DSRV could attach to BS-64 "Podmoskovye" or other large Russian submarine.
So what, in more detail, does a special operations submarine do? USS Jimmy Carter would be the world's most famous example.
Russia's BS-64 "Podmoskovye", with a smaller submarine (or LDUUV - see tomorrow's article) is capable of:
- splicing/placing taps on (Western country and Chinese) undersea cables
- placing sea-floor sensors in critical places like naval base approaches or removing Western sea-floor sensors
- hosting special forces, including divers or rubber boat marines, for Putin's new-style hybrid warfare campaigns
- oceanographic and undersea oil in the Arctic research
- hosting a smaller submarine (perhaps a 60-80 meter Losharik). Noting it may have been a (or the) Losharik that was detected in Swedish waters in late 2014. The Losharik's search and rescue function for sunken Russian submarines is critical - noting the damage that the Kursk's sinking did to Putin's reputation.
MORE LOSHARIK DETAILS
"Losharik" is a nickname for a toy horse connected by spheres. The Losharik submarine (if it exists) contains at least 2 layers of Titanium alloy pressure hulls - with the innermost hull (or hulls) being spheres around the crew of about 25. It is nuclear powered for scientific and strategic operational reasons. Losharik is variously called "Project 210", “AS-12”, “Project 10831” and the NATO reporting is NORSUB-5.
The much smaller US Deep Submergence Vessel NR-1 is an earlier example of a nuclear powered deep diving submarine.
"BarentsObserver reported earlier, [BS-64] “Podmoskovye” will probably be used as carrier for the “Losharik” deep diving titanium submarine. “Losharik” was in 2012 used for deep diving along the Mendeleyev ridge at the seabed of the North Pole, as a part of Russia’s research before submitting its claims of the continental shelf in the Arctic for the United Nation."
"Due to the titanium hull and nuclear reactor, the submarine can stay much longer and much deeper than any other bathyscaphes. During the collecting of geologic material by the North Pole, the vessel dived to a depth of 2.5 to 3 kilometers and stayed submerged for 20 days."
"The “Losharik” is said to be able to dive to 6,000 meters, it has a crew of 25 and an estimated length of 79 meters. A photo of the top-secret submarine was accidentally published by the Russian edition of Top Gear in January 2015."
Note BS-64 "Podmoskovye" is the latest in a series of Russian special operations submarines which have included an earlier Delta, BS-136 "Orenburg", and a "Yankee Stretch" KS-411. There are various photos on the Internet of what may, or more likely, may not be the Losharik.