Ultra-small submarines of the Triton family

Divers carrier “Triton” on a transport trolley. Photo Deepstorm.ru

In 1957, in our country, work began on the creation of the so-called. group submarine carriers – midget submarines (SMPL) of the “Triton” family. Such a technique was intended for combat swimmers and was supposed to provide patrolling, reconnaissance and sabotage operations, etc. For several years, three types of equipment have been created within this family.

The first “Triton”

The history of the Triton family begins in 1957, when the specialized research institutes of the Ministry of Defense began to work out the appearance of promising divers’ vehicles. In April of the following year, the Leningrad Central Design Bureau-50 received an order for the creation of a carrier for divers “NV”. Already in August, the experimental “NV” was tested in the Caspian Sea, according to the results of which the project continued. Then the code “Triton” appeared.

Triton testing and development continued until the end of 1959, after which it was adopted and put into mass production. Rather quickly NV “Triton” entered the disposal of the special units of all fleets and were mastered by the personnel. During various exercises, combat swimmers have repeatedly shown all the advantages of this technique. It facilitated patrolling, going out to a given area with cargo, etc.

“Triton-1M” on land. Photo by Russianarms.ru

“Triton” was distinguished by its extreme simplicity of design. It had a cylindrical lightweight hull with sealed bow and stern compartments. In the bow there was a T-7 battery, in the stern – a 2 hp electric motor. with a screw in a swivel ring attachment. The central compartment was intended for two divers in wetsuits and scuba diving. The compartment was made “wet” and covered with a light transparent lantern.

The length of the “Triton” was 5.5 m with a diameter of 700 mm. Weight – 750 kg. The submerged speed did not exceed 2.3-2.5 knots, the range was 8-10 nautical miles. The diving depth was limited to 35-40 m and depended on the physical capabilities of the divers. SMPL / NV of a new type could deliver two divers and small loads, such as mines for sabotage, to a given area.

Project 907

A new stage of work began in 1966 and was carried out at the Volna Central Design Bureau. Their first leader was Ya.E. Evgrafov. In parallel, the development of two projects was carried out – “907” and “908” with different technical features and capabilities. They were implemented and brought to production almost simultaneously.

The draft version of the project 907 “Triton-1M” was ready in 1968. The technical design was completed in 1970, after which the Leningrad Novo-Admiralteyskiy plant (nowadays “Admiralteyskie Verfi”) began construction of the lead boat. Tests of the new SMPL started in 1972 and lasted for several months. After that, the plant received an order for serial construction. The Navy wished to receive 32 units of new equipment.

Submarine diagram. Figure Russianarms.ru

The boat “Triton-1M” was built in a tear-shaped fragile hull, divided into compartments for different purposes. The bow of the hull accommodated a two-seater cockpit for divers of the “wet” type, covered with a transparent canopy. At the disposal of the crew were the MGV-3 hydroacoustic station, navigation aids, a heading machine and a radio station.

The central sealed compartment housed the STs-300 silver-zinc batteries; a P32M electric motor with a capacity of 4.6 hp was installed in the “dry” stern. The engine rotated the propeller in a rotary annular nozzle, which provided directional control.

The SMPL with a length of 5 m and a width / height of less than 1.4 m had a total displacement of 3.7 tons. The low-power engine provided acceleration to 6 knots, and the batteries provided a cruising range of 35 miles. The immersion depth remained at 40 m. The autonomy during operation was limited to 7.5 hours. If necessary, “Triton-1M” could remain on the ground for up to 10 days, after which it could continue to move.

Project 908

Together with the “Triton-1M” in the Central Design Bureau “Volna” a larger underwater vehicle, project 908 “Triton-2” was created. Due to its increased size, it had to carry more swimmers. In addition, it was possible to obtain higher running characteristics and other advantages over smaller SMPLs.

Instrument panel in the cockpit. Photo Zonwar.ru

A prototype of the future Triton-2 was built in 1969 at the Krasny Metallist plant. Design work was completed in 1970, and in the next 1971, complete documentation was sent to the Novo-Admiralteyskiy plant. The larger and more complex submarine took a long time to build, tests began only in 1974. After their completion, serial production began.

“Triton-2” outwardly resembled an “ordinary” submarine: a light hull of greater elongation with a pronounced superstructure and a small wheelhouse was provided. The bow compartment of the hull with the crew post was made strong, behind it was a sealed instrument compartment with a battery pit. The stern was given under a durable compartment for divers and a volume for an electric motor.

An interesting feature of the project 908 was the presence of durable sealed compartments for divers. The bow compartment was the cockpit and accommodated two people with equipment, in the aft compartment there were four places. When submerged, two cabins were filled with water and sealed. Regardless of the depth of the dive, the divers experienced a constant minimum pressure. Hatches in the upper part allowed getting out of the boat and back on board. The crew had at their disposal the hydroacoustic stations MGV-11 and MGV-6V, as well as a navigation complex with the necessary instruments.

SMPL “Triton-2” on a transport trailer and its crew. Photo Russianarms.ru

The length of “Triton-2” reached 9.5 m with a width of approx. 1.9 m. Full displacement – 15.5 t. Electric motor P41M with a power of 11 hp. and the screw in the nozzle provided a speed of up to 5.5 knots. Cruising range – 60 miles, autonomy – 12 hours.

Mass production

In 1958, plant No. 3 in Gatchina built two experimental “Tritons” of the first version. The first production boat was laid down in 1960. The construction of the series continued until 1964. A total of 18 units were collected. techniques, including prototypes. They were handed over to the customer in 1961-65.

A few years later, construction began on the improved submarines of pr. 907. The first two Triton-1Ms became part of the USSR Navy on June 30, 1973. Then there was a break, after which mass construction began with the regular delivery of equipment to the customer, and in significant quantities. So, in December 1975, seven submarines were handed over to the fleet at once.

Construction of SMPL pr. 907 continued until mid-1980. In August, the customer accepted the last batch of six units. A total of 32 Triton-1Ms were built. The boats went to serve in all the main fleets of the USSR Navy. They were assigned side numbers of the type “B-482”, “B-526”, etc., without continuous numbering.

Scheme of the boat, project 908. 1 – engine compartment; 2 – aft cabin; 3 – accumulators; 4 – instrument compartment; 5 – cockpit; 6 – systems management; 7 – hydroacoustic station. Figure Russianarms.ru

The lead “Triton-2” was completed in 1972, and tests continued until 1975. The checks and fine-tuning took a lot of time, which is why the next SMPL was launched only in 1979. A year later, it joined the fleet. In 1980-85. a dozen boats left the stocks. The finished product was taken in pairs; the corresponding events were held irregularly, at intervals of several months.

In total, 13 submarines of project 908 were built – one head and 12 serial. Having entered the composition of all main fleets, the boats received side numbers from B-485 to B-554. The numbering was again not continuous, and the ranges of numbers of submarines of the two types overlapped.

“Tritony” on duty

Ultra-small submarines of three projects were intended to transport combat swimmers – in order to ensure the solution of a wide range of tasks. With the help of this technique, divers were supposed to patrol the protected waters of ports and roadsteads, to protect areas from enemy combat swimmers, to survey the seabed and to provide maintenance of underwater structures. In addition, the “Tritons” could be used in reconnaissance and sabotage operations for the delivery and evacuation of personnel.

Depending on the nature of the operation, the Tritons could operate independently or with a carrier vessel. In the first case, only work was provided near the basing point, and the carrier could deliver SMPLs to any given area.

Submarine-monument in Vladivostok. Photo Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately, due to the special nature of the service of combat swimmers and their equipment, there is no detailed information about the operation of the Triton submarine, as well as projects 907 and 908. One can only assume that such equipment did not stand idle and was constantly exploited – first of all, with the aim of protecting water areas.

According to known data, the active operation of the Triton boats continued until the mid-seventies, when newer and more successful models appeared. SMPL “Triton-1M” became a direct replacement for them. They remained in service until the turn of the eighties and nineties. During this period, due to resource depletion and lack of finance, the fleet was forced to write off all or almost all of these small submarines. However, according to some reports, individual copies continued to serve almost until the 2000s. “Tritons-1M” could remain in the fleets of Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.

“Triton-2” was used longer, until the end of the nineties. However, the specific situation in the armed forces and the development of the resource did their job, and the boats had to be written off. The possibility of retaining individual small submarines in the fleets of the three countries is not ruled out, although this is unlikely.

Modernized version of pr. 907. Graphics SPMBM “Malachite” / malachite-spb.ru

As far as we know, the carriers of the Triton divers have not survived. Most of the decommissioned Triton-1M submarines were also recycled, but at least 7 units survived, now they are monuments or are in museums. Perhaps in the future, the number of such samples will increase. Also, 5 items became exhibits and monuments. “Triton-2”. Some of the monument boats are available to the public, others are located in closed areas.

Direction prospects

In 1974, TsPB “Volna” became part of the newly formed SPMBM “Malachite”, and this organization was engaged in the design support of “Tritons” of two types. In recent times, Malakhit has continued to develop its direction and offers customers two options for modernized SMPLs.

The modern project 09070 “Triton-1” provides for the revision of the basic project 907 with the restructuring of the original design and the use of modern components. In particular, more compact batteries and an electric motor were used. The improved version of the boat pr. 09080 “Triton-2” is distinguished by a different layout of battery and habitable compartments, as well as the use of modern units.

Development variant of project 908. Graphics SPMBM “Malachite” / malachite-spb.ru

Materials on the new pr. 09070 and 09080 regularly appeared at various exhibitions, but there is still no information about actual orders. Probably SMPLs do not attract the attention of potential buyers.

Although the Tritons of the first three projects were decommissioned and mostly disposed of, the special units of the Navy were not left without special equipment. At the beginning of the last decade, a new submersible boat-carrier of divers, pr. 21310 “Triton-NN” developed by the Central Design Bureau “Lazurit”, entered service. Unlike its predecessors, it combines the qualities of a submarine and a high-speed surface vessel. In addition, the boat carries a set of various modern equipment. Thus, the development of the direction of carriers of divers / ultra-small submarines continues, but now it is based on fundamentally new ideas.

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