In order to understand the essence of the factors that unmask the ship and reduce them to a minimum, a truly grandiose research work was carried out. The main role in them was played by the Central Research Institute. Academician AN Krylov (now FSUE “Krylov State Research Center”). This research center, which largely determines the level of national shipbuilding, has been and remains the main participant in the “battle for decibels”, as the researchers themselves call the struggle to reduce noise from domestic submarines. .
It is known that submarine hydroacoustic fields have been and remain the most informative in terms of detection, classification and target designation capabilities. They are divided into primaries and secondaries. The primary ones are due to noise emission from various sources (propulsion devices, mechanisms), and the secondary ones are due to the reflection of active signals from sonar stations on the hull of the submarine.
The situation worsened with the advent of nuclear submarines. The power of its power and power plants has increased tenfold compared to diesel. And this caused a significant increase in the intensity of noise sources during the diving period. After all, the noisy equipment was constantly working.
Early Soviet nuclear submarines sometimes turned out to be nearly blind due to high levels of acoustic interference from their own ship. Their onboard hydroacoustic systems heard nothing at low speeds due to loud noise from the ship’s mechanisms, and at high speeds due to high hydrodynamic interference (noise produced when water flows around the hull).
Our potential adversaries, which mainly included the United States, could not fail to take advantage of this. They were able to install in the waters of the World Ocean a whole network of stationary hydroacoustic stations – “SOSUS” and “Colossus”, which reduced the efficiency of work and the possibility of covert operation of our nuclear submarines in the ocean to zero.
The leadership of the Soviet Union continuously received reports from the command of the Navy about the impossibility of practical use of nuclear submarines as the main force of the fleet, which at that time was becoming one of the components of the country’s nuclear missile. triad. Losing the competition in terms of acoustic characteristics threatened to lose the competition with the NATO nuclear weapons bloc.
By the way, the United States also faced the problem of noise from nuclear submarines. The creator of the world’s first nuclear submarine, American Admiral Rickover, once remarked that making nuclear-powered ships less noisy is even more difficult than creating a nuclear power plant. But the United States was a pioneer in the construction of nuclear submarines, they had a temporary reserve, as well as a more powerful economy and industry in comparison with the USSR, which had not yet recovered from the Great Patriotic War. We were forced to catch up.
In the late 1950s – early 1960s, in the Soviet Union, the problem of acoustic secrecy of nuclear submarines was assessed by the country’s leadership as a national problem, which required the mobilization of maximum resources to your urgent solution.
As a result, a seemingly insoluble problem was solved, and in many ways more qualitatively than abroad. How this was achieved can be told for a long time, and not everything can be said yet.
Second generation submarines have already turned out to be much less noisy. And third-generation nuclear submarines have sometimes become elusive to the West’s more modern anti-submarine forces. They had full-spectrum noise levels 20 times lower than early second-generation nuclear submarines, and internal interference levels were reduced 30 times. This not only increased the stealth of the ships, but also ensured the effective operation of sonar systems not only at low-noise movements of the submarine, but also at high speeds of its movement.
In the early 1980s, American experts estimated that our gap in acoustic noise was at least 8 years. And for the Pentagon, the appearance of the Project 971 nuclear submarine in the ranks of the USSR Navy was a real shock. The first ships bore names like “Tiger”, “Bars” and moved under water as quietly as cats. wild.
It is worth remembering examples of his brilliant underwater voyages.
In Operation Aport in 1985, three nuclear submarines of the 671RTM project left Zapadnaya Litsa, which, incidentally, was known to NATO intelligence. However, they could not find the nuclear powered ships. Intensive ocean searches for ships were unsuccessful, but Soviet nuclear-powered ships successfully tracked US Navy nuclear submarines in their patrol areas (one of our nuclear submarines “led” the American for 28 hours).
In 1987, during Operation Atrina, the Americans lost five nuclear submarines of the same design in the North Atlantic, although virtually all carrier-based and land-based aircraft, six multi-purpose nuclear submarines, three powerful naval search groups and also three state-of-the-art Stalworth-class sonar surveillance ships. Even British Navy ships joined this sizeable anti-submarine force.
Our nuclear submarines managed to go undetected as far as the Sargasso Sea area, where, as if by chance, they met. The successful conduct of the “Aport” and “Atrina” operations confirmed the assumption that the US Navy, with the massive use of modern nuclear submarines by the USSR, would not be able to organize an effective response to them.
Nuclear submarines of the fourth generation – the multi-purpose project 885 “Ash” and 885M “Ash-M”, as well as the strategic project 955 “Borey” can be considered “black holes”. NATO anti-submarine forces practically do not record their underwater movement. We won the “battle of the decibels”.
The author thanks Doctor of Technical Sciences, Professor VN Polovinkin, scientific director of the Federal State Unitary Enterprise “Krylov State Research Center” for advice in preparing this material.