CA -- San Diego -- Maritime Museum of San Diego -- B-39:
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SDMM39_070724_002.JPG: Type of Submarine and Exhibit:
The B-39 is a long-range Foxtrot Class attack submarine capable of cruising up to 20,000 miles on diesel-electric power. She was built in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) over a two year period from 1972-1974, and is 299 feet in length. The vessel displaces 2475 tons, submerged, and is considered one of the finest non-nuclear submarines ever built. The B-39 is capable of diving to 985 feet, and is a potent naval weapon. The first Foxtrot was introduced in 1958, and its capability became legendary. Its design was generally based on late World War II German U-boats (type XXI). The B-39 is powered by three diesel engines which generate 2000 horsepower each. She has three propellers and can make16 knots on the surface and 15 knots submerged on battery powered electric motors. The B-39 had a crew of 78 which included twelve officers, ten midshipmen and 56 seamen. All were highly trained technicians and respected throughout the Soviet Union. The boat carried twenty-two 2 ton torpedoes with 880 pounds of explosive, and some torpedoes could be nuclear tipped with fifteen kilotons yield explosives. The boat could also carry up to 36 mines as well as noisemakers for escaping detection. For defense there were anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons.
Considering the era, the Foxtrot was well equipped with modern electronics. The Soviet navy built sixty-two boats to be assigned to their fleets. An additional seventeen craft were built for sales to friendly governments such as Libya, Cuba, India, and Poland. The Foxtrot or Project 641 submarines were built over a 26 year period with the last two units being transferred to Poland in 1988. Aside from the Foxtrot's laid up in the backwaters of Russia and a few museum craft, there are two remaining active in the Indian navy and four inactive boats in Libya. The Project 641 has been active for almost a half century.
SDMM39_070724_005.JPG: Life Aboard the B-39 and Those Who Sailed It:
The B-39 is representative of Soviet submarines during the Cold War. The crews came to the Navy through universal conscription, and could be sent to the Army or Navy at age 18. Most of the enlisted men were quite young and the officers not much older (20s and 30s). They were highly trained for their specialty and well respected in the Navy and Soviet society.
The work shifts were four hours in length for the enlisted crew and the officers slept when they could. The submarine force had a warrant rank known as a michman which would be the chief of the boat in the American navy. Sleeping was based on hot bunking -- 27 bunks in compartment seven served 56 crew. The sheets and pillow cases were throwaway as were parts of the uniforms. This was done for cleanliness as there was only one shower for a total crew of 78, so cooperation was a must. The food was considered the best in the Navy and divided into four meals. A glass of white wine (generally Georgian) was allowed each day, and vodka was forbidden. The crew listened to the radio or watched old movies. The movies were 16mm on big reels and only five were permitted per cruise.
Duty aboard a Foxtrot was not considered bad, but was often quite boring. No torpedoes or mines were ever used in battle, and only one torpedo was fired each year for training. All in all, it was not a bad life, except that the salaries were pitifully small compared to western navies. There was an escape hatch and suit that promised the submariners that they could escape from the boat at a depth of 800 feet, but few believed it. Only two Foxtrots were lost due to accidents that we know of.
SDMM39_070724_008.JPG: How A Submarine Works:
Building a boat that will submerge is easy! The difficulty lies in getting it to surface when needed. Since 1578, inventors have put forth over 130 designs for submersibles, yet it was not until the early 1600s that an oar-powered wooden craft with air filled leather ballast tanks emerged on the Thames river in England. This boat was only experimental and resembled a water beetle. It was not until the American colonies were fighting for independence that a true submarine appeared. David Bushnell's seven foot by six foot wooden hull Turtle could dive, surface and was powered by a screw (propeller). More importantly, it carried a weapon -- a 150 pound gunpowder mine in a barrel. There was even a flintlock pistol for close in defense. The target was the British navy flagship, the 64-fun HMS Eagle in New York harbor. The attack failed, but the Turtle did what a submarine is supposed to do. It submerged, attacked, surfaced, and escaped.
The mechanics of the Turtle are similar to the B-39 and all other submersibles. The difference lies in the number of gauges, valves, and controls -- and the sheer size of modern submarines (up to 25,000 tons). The inner or pressure hull is surrounded by an outer hull. There are ballast tanks that can be filled with water or compressed air. To dive, the boat vents the air and fills the tanks with water, and surfacing is the reverse process. Of course, there is the matter of trim or ensuring the boat is level. There are trim (air or water filled) tanks for this purpose -- these tanks are located at strategic places in the submarine. Compressed air is stored in several bottles and replenished by air compressors run by the diesel or electric engines. If you wonder what all the valves, gauges, and wheels are for -- remember, the dive staff must be able to dive or surface the boat quickly in an emergency. This requires great skill and discipline among the crew. Today's submarines rely heavily on automated systems and computers to do the work we find so familiar in the movies about submarines. The principle is the same, and dates back to September 6, 1776. A seven foot by six foot wooden submersible which resembled a Turtle was first manned by Continental Army sergeant Ezra Lee, who made the first true submarine attack.
SDMM39_070724_011.JPG: The Cold War:
At the conclusion of World War II (1945), there were two major super powers -- the United States and the Soviet Union. Over the course of the next forty-five years, most of the developed nations of the world chose sides with one of these powers. Each side believed in vastly different economic, social and cultural systems. This fundamental difference in ideology combined with the Soviet animosity based on losing 22,000,000 of its citizens during the Second World War made it barely possible to coexist.
Coined the "Cold War" in 1947, this war of ideas and sometimes violent conflict was a series of events and incidents of "one upmanship" for both powers. By 1990, each was bending under the financial strain to maintain a huge arms race. At one time, the United States military had targeted 10,000 sites in the Soviet bloc of nations for annihilation with nuclear weapons. Likewise, the Soviet Union had identified over 7,000 sites in the west (cities of 100,000 population, industrial complexes, military bases, etc). The war took on a life of its own, and became a fact of life for billions of people worldwide. During this period, the Soviet Navy grew in strength and power as did the United States Navy. Both concentrated on nuclear attack, ballistic missile or guided missile submarines. The Soviet bloc employed its submarines to protect the homeland and track western task forces and battle groups in case a war order was issued. The B-39 was one of those submarines charged with surveillance and attacking American and Western shipping when ordered. It was not until the Cold War was nearly over that the Soviet Union embarked on a naval aviation program to compete with the American navy super carriers.
The war actually lasted from September 1945 until December 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed under a staggering debt load and a populace weary of poverty and absolute control. Conversely, many Western nations also began to weaken in the 1980s due to swelling military budgets, and the United States was financing much of its military hardware through deficit spending. Fortunately, the Cold War ended with hundreds of people destroying a concrete wall in Berlin -- the Soviet Union had blinked, and then disappeared into history.
SDMM39_070724_013.JPG: Cold War Soviet Submarine B-39:
Foxtrot class ssk (ship and submarine killer):
Welcome to the former Soviet Navy Attack Submarine (Podvodnaya Lodka) B-39. The "B" signifies that the boat is a diesel electric attack submarine. The B-39 has been known by several colorful names, including Cobra and Pluto. At one time in its early history, it was named in honor of a hard-working Soviet collective -- a Komsomolets. Yet, to the Soviet Navy, it was simply designated a Project 641 vessel, and its name and number were changed often in an attempt to fool western military forces. In the West, it was simply identified as a "Foxtrot" Class. The Project 641 designation identified the boat as a long-range or Pacific Ocean capable craft. It was designed to kill American and Western navy ships and submarines.
SDMM39_070724_016.JPG: History of the B-39:
The B-39 was commissioned in 1974 in Leningrad at the Primary Submarine Shipyard (Admiralty/Sudomekh), and ordered to join the 9th Submarine Squadron based in Vladivostok. This was the headquarters of the commander in chief of the Pacific fleet. There was an advanced submarine school and repair yards at the base which was within 100 miles of the Chinese and North Korean borders. The B039 was sent on a number of missions to the Sea of Japan, Indian Ocean, Arctic Ocean, the North Pacific, and along the coast of the United States and Canada. The boat often went to Vietnam after the war was over and made port visits to the former American base at Da Nang.
Aside from normal patrol routes, which are still classified to this day, the B-39 tagged along behind American aircraft carrier battle groups and watched carriers such as the USS Coral Sea, USS Midway, and USS Ranger. Of course, the watching was done via periscope. However, in the Sea of Japan in 1989, the B-39 found itself within 500 yards of an American Oliver Hazard Perry frigate. The B-39 was running on the surface charging its batteries, and both ships crew members snapped pictures of one another. By this time in the history of the Cold War, much of the hostility between the nations was on the wane. The B-39 was decommissioned in 1994 after twenty years of service. It had been replaced by the more formidable Kilo-Class diesel electric boat. in 1995, the B-39 was sold to private businessmen (capitalists) in Canada and began a career as an exhibition vessel.
SDMM39_070724_019.JPG: How the B-39 came to San Diego:
The B-39 was culled from a group of ex-Soviet diesel electric submarines in Vladivostok, and sold to a group of western businessmen. The B-39 ultimately was put on display in Seattle, Washington where it was cared for by the United States Submarine Veterans. This group did an excellent job of cleaning the boat and making repairs to it. On April 21, 2005, the boat was moved to San Diego, California to join the fleet of ships and craft that are part of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. During the trip from Seattle to San Diego the tug towing the B-30 encountered gale force winds and storms, and the boat came into San Diego harbor with a slight list. Also, nearly twenty feet of her stern cowling had been carried away, but that was compensated for by the astonished looks of people who for the first time witnessed an old enemy enter a bastion of American naval strength.
SDMM39_070724_026.JPG: The Foxtrot or Project 641:
The Project 641 or Foxtrot (code named by NATO) class was originally to have 160 boats, but this was pared down to 79. The Foxtrot was solidly armed with powerful torpedoes (some nuclear tipped), and was a very quiet boat. It was capable of a patrol lasting 70 days and 20,000 nautical miles on 256 tons of diesel and 160 tons in reserve. Although much of the electronics were dated to World War II, improvements came with each new boat, and the crews were highly trained and dedicated to their boats. Crews often re-named their boats as has been discovered in graffiti and other records found aboard.
To naval observers today, the Foxtrot is one of the finest diesel electric boats ever built. The reason for the continued use of diesel electric boats was economics. The Foxtrot was far less expensive to build and operate than a November class nuclear boat built during the same time period and with generally the same capability. In addition, the November class boats suffered seven major accidents, and one of the class, the K-19, was known as the "Hiroshima Boat" - not the Hollywood "Widowmaker." Diesel electric submariners in the Soviet navy did not have this to contend with -- a definite advantage.
SDMM39_070724_029.JPG: The Soviet Submarine Force:
The greatest fear of the Soviet Union was that the American led Western powers would invade and conquer their country. The protection of the motherland from invaders was paramount, as the Russians had just faced half of the German army which had come within thirty miles of Moscow. The battles to eject Hitler's military cost them dearly, and the nation's leadership was not going to permit this again.
The Soviet submarine force has always been an important element of the Navy, and even before World War II, the number of Soviet submarines was greater than the German U-Boat force. They were primarily smaller boats designed for coastal defense however, and not built with great quality. In 1950, as the Cold War was just beginning, the Kremlin set down the overall naval policy and a plan to build 1,200 submarines. The boats would be of varying capability an assigned to one of three defensive rings around the country's shoreline. One hundred smaller craft would patrol the inner ring or coastal area. They would be the last ditch stand against western amphibious forces; aircraft carrier groups, and supply convoys. The next ring was an intermediate distance from the coastal areas (500 miles +/-), and would attack naval and merchant ships attempting to invade the motherland. For this purpose, 900 medium range, yet heavily armed boats would be built. An additional 200 long-range submarines such as the Foxtrot or Project 641 boats would be deployed in the far reaches of the world to attack enemy shipping in its own backyard and also send back intelligence on western naval movements.
So much for planning! By the mid 1950s, it was obvious that this plan would require modification due to the need for nuclear attack and guided missile boats. Also, there was a definite need for ballistic missile submarines to counter the West through deterrence.
SDMM39_070724_032.JPG: They give you a dummy portal just to let you know what you're going to endure. It was pretty difficult with the camera case.
SDMM39_070724_066.JPG: Torpedo Loading and Firing:
Once the firing countdown has begun, the torpedo technicians run through a strict checklist of preparations.
* Confirm the outer torpedo tube door is securely shut: Double-check indicators by opening a drain valve to the tube to verify the tube is dry.
* Open the inner door and latch in place. Verify the tube is clear of any debris.
* Check that the torpedo loading gear are attached; remove the safety covers and pins in the warhead.
* Verify the torpedo is aligned horizontally and vertically with the open torpedo tube.
* Attach pulley system from torpedo tail loading gear to torpedo tube ring and pull torpedo into the tube.
* Remove pulley system & gear, and remove protective cover from the propellers at the back of the torpedo.
* Shut and lock the inner torpedo tube door.
* Flood the torpedo tube on command and equalize pressure with the sea.
* Open the outer torpedo tube door on command.
* Fire the torpedo on command.
SDMM39_070724_069.JPG: Operational Chart of the B-39:
The B-39 was built over a two-year period beginning in 1972 at the Admiralty/Sudomekh Navy yard in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). The boat was commissioned in early 1974 and assigned to the Soviet Pacific Fleet based in Vladivostok. It was part of Submarine Squadron 9,and there were forty submarines of varying types in this fleet out of a total of nearly 400 operational boats in the entire Soviet Navy.
Although not the 1,200 craft the Soviet Navy planned for in the early 1950s, it was still the largest submarine force in the world. The B-39 patrolled in the North Pacific, Arctic Ocean, South China Sea, Sea of Japan, Indian Ocean, and virtually anywhere it was assigned to observe and photograph the Western navies. It tailed battle groups led by the carriers USS Ranger (CV-61), Midway (CV-41), Coral Sea (CV-43) and others. Often the boat was never discovered due to its quiet running systems and tactics. The vast majority of its patrols are still considered "highly classified" by the Russian government as are all submarine operations. After the Vietnam War, the B-39 visited Vietnam many times and her officers and men toured the former American naval base at Da Nang.
Ultimately, the boat was decommissioned in Vladivostok in January, 1994. Foxtrot, Whiskey, and even some older nuclear boats (November and Echo Classes) were moored or run on the beach to rot. In 1995-1996, several Western businessmen purchased two of the Project 641 Class boats (Scorpion -- now in Long Beach) and the B-39 (Pluto). After a blizzard of paperwork and fees to various officials, the Scorpion went to Sydney , Australia as a museum boat, and the B-39 was towed via Dutch Harbor to New Westminster, British Columbia in 1996-1997. Shortly thereafter, she was moved to Vancouver Island, Canada, and in 2002 to Seattle, Washington.
The B-39 has been privately owned since its purchase from Russia in 1996, and in April 2005 was towed to San Diego. The voyage from Seattle took over a week, and she encountered fierce storms, high winds and heavy seas off the Northern California coast. Ironically, an operation submarine normally dives to avoid this type of weather. The B-39 arrived at her new home ,the Maritime Museum of San Diego, on April 21, 2005.
SDMM39_070724_073.JPG: The Cuban Missile Crisis:
Foxtrots were present off Cuba in 1962 at an event that could have triggered nuclear annihilation of millions of American and Soviet citizens.. Just two years after a popular revolution ousted its dictator, a new charismatic leader from the hills controlled the island nation. Fidel Castro has maintained a dictatorial communist state in Cuba from the early 1960s to the present, but in the early years mutual fear and animosity between Cuba and the United States contributed to the most dangerous confrontation of the Cold War.
Aligning his nation with the Soviet Union, Castro agreed to allow installation of Soviet medium-range Sandal and Skean missiles with nuclear warheads on Cuban soil -- within 90 miles of the U.S. coastline. The Sandal mountain a three-megaton-yield warhead and had a range of 1,020 miles. The Skeans carried up to a five megaton warhead and could hit targets as far away as 2,200 miles. The Sandal could reach much of the southern U.S., including Washington D.C., and the Skean could potentially devastate almost all of the continental U.S. and half of South America. Firing either missile would prompt a full retaliation.
Surveillance aircraft from the United States photographed the construction of the missile installations, and by October 1962, a showdown was imminent. The U.S. Navy initially sent every available ship and aircraft to the region to prevent any Soviet freighter from delivering missiles and their support supplies, equipment and technicians. On October 23, a blockade was declared, to be enforced by the Navy. The Soviet Union had anticipated difficulty with the U.S. and deployed at least five Foxtrot Class boats with full loads of nuclear-tipped weapons. It was up to the Navy's anti-submarine forces to keep these boats neutralized while diplomacy was being carried out. Aircraft searched incessantly for the familiar Foxtrots. The sonobuoys were of immense help in locating and harassing the Foxtrots which could remain submerged for just so long. Within three days of President Kennedy's announcement of a naval quarantine, there were 52 warships on station, and by early November 1962, there were 115 destroyers and countless other warships.
Five days after the blockade began, the Soviet premier backed down, and agreed to remove all offensive weapons. By this time, the Foxtrot submarines had surfaced and were on their way east except boat number 945, which was broken down and required a tow. A Soviet tug arrived, and the crisis was over.
Neither the B-39 nor any other Foxtrot Class submarine ever fired any of its 22 torpedoes in anger -- or at least there is no record of any such attack. However if the opportunity arose in combat, the targets would have been:
* Western & U.S. Navy aircraft carrier battle groups -- to be attacked with nuclear-tipped torpedoes (15 kiloton yield)
* U.S. Navy battleship- or cruiser-led groups.
* Western or U.S. Navy amphibious groups
* Convoys with troops, supplies and equipment transiting the Atlantic to NATO installations
* Aircraft carriers of any type
* Strategic ballistic missile submarines (SSBN)
* Supertankers laden with oil, gasoline or other petroleum products
* Coastal naval bases and/or industrial complexes on the enemy coastline -- to be attacked with nuclear torpedoes or mines.
SDMM39_070724_088.JPG: Soviet Submarine Names and Numbers:
It was common practice to name Soviet vessels and then re-name them at will. Their numbering system seems capricious, but helped confuse Western and American observers. Foxtrots might have no number painted on their sail, or they might change them frequently -- boat number 660, for example, might become 546, and then 411. Studying their operational records is an adventure in itself. B-39 is the number given to this vessel by the building in 1972, yet she was later numbered 412, and sported no number at all for most of her career. At one point she was named in honor of a prominent Soviet Collective. Later her crew dubbed her Pluto, and painted that name on the torpedo tube doors. This was permitted, perhaps encouraged, as was other graffiti -- provided it was tasteful, artistic and, in some instances, anti-American!
When this boat was moored for visitors in Seattle, she was known as Cobra, but at her new museum home here she is B-39 again, as when she began her career.
SDMM39_070724_091.JPG: Soviet Submarine Classes:
This chart depicts the types of nuclear- and diesel-powered submarines in the Soviet Navy at the late 1970s-early 1980s height of the Cold War. The primarily philosophy which formed the foundation of Soviet naval thought was the "one shot fleet." Fire all missiles, torpedoes and other major weapons at the U.S. and Western fleet invaders to score an immediate first-strike victory. This accounts for the lack of re-loads for their strategic weapons.
There are ballistic missile, guided missile, attack, surveillance, and special type submarines dating back to the late 1940s represented on the chart. During the 1990s and up to the present day, Russia has been building greater numbers of technologically adept boats for attack purposes and ballistic and guided missile attack. Some, like the Typhoon Class, are virtually "doomsday" machines; designed to launch missiles from the frozen north when war is declared. Until the message is received, the submariners relax in spas, watch TV and indulge in other forms of entertainment. However, much of the old Soviet Navy is plagued by a lack of funding and most of its once great fleet is rusting away in the backwaters of Russia.
SDMM39_070724_105.JPG: Interior Watertight Hatches:
Like any other submersible craft, the Foxtrot B-39 has watertight hatches that divide the boat into vital areas. For strength and durability during attack from above, the circular hatch has proven best, and the B-39 has four circular hatches. Sailors in a hurry can negotiate them quickly, but for the untrained or slightly out of shape, the experience can be memorable!
Once these hatches were closed and locked in an emergency, there were not opened for anyone. To do so could jeopardize the boat and those remaining alive. Films that show submariners desperately beating on a hatch, begging to have it opened but receiving no response, are true to life. Accepting dangers like this is part of the discipline of being a submariner. These hatches were closed and locked during submerged periods.
SDMM39_070724_132.JPG: Officer's Accommodations
SDMM39_070724_135.JPG: Officers' Accommodations:
The officers shared a tiny storeroom with multiple bunks that were assigned to individuals, unlike the crewman's shared "hot bunk" arrangement. There is a little room for anything except sleeping and storing a few belongings. One cabin holds four bunks; the other holds two. An officer's assigned bunk depended on rank. More bunks were also sometimes welded into working compartments like the radio room and radar shack.
SDMM39_070724_157.JPG: Looking down -- those are my shoes
SDMM39_070724_162.JPG: What Is Below the Main Walking Deck in the Submarine?
The areas below are machinery spaces and main battery compartments. They were not manned and were only entered to fix equipment or, in the case of the central command post, to get frozen food from the walk-in freezer. Front to back, the below decks areas are:
* First Compartment: (Forward torpedo room) In the aft end (back) of the torpedo room is a "pit" below the stairs containing firefighting equipment and a chemical foam generating plant.
* Second Compartment: (Officers cabins and sonar cabin) Main battery storage below the walking deck.
* Third Compartment: (Central command post) The small compartment up the ladder is the periscope room. The ladder continues up to the Weather Bridge, which was used when the sub was on the surface. Below the main deck is a pump machinery space and the main freezer and refrigerator for food storage.
* Fourth Compartment: (Officer and senior enlisted specialists cabins, ship's office, radio & code room, and kitchen) Main battery storage below the walking deck.
* Fifth Compartment: (Engine control room) Lube oil and fuel oil pumps below the walking deck
* Sixth Compartment: (Engine room) Lower portion of engine blocks and lube oil sumps.
* Seventh Compartment: (Motor control room) Main electrical propulsion motors, propeller shafts, thrust bearings and associated equipment located below decks.
* Eight Compartment: (Aft torpedo room) 180 HP "Creeper" Motor on centerline shaft for silent running.
SDMM39_070724_174.JPG: Looking up to the conning tower
SDMM39_070724_176.JPG: Conning Tower:
The small compartment above contains two periscopes, steering mechanisms, and a hatchway to the navigation bridge. This compartment could also be used to make escape from the submarine if it was sunk in shallow water. The navigation bridge was open to the sea and could be used only when operating on the surface.
SDMM39_070724_228.JPG: Engine Control Room:
In this small area, the three Kolomna diesel engines were controlled. The engines could only be operated while operating on the surface or snorkeling because of their need for a large quantity of air to operate. The large pipes running down the side of this room are the air intake pipes connecting to the snorkel mask in the "Fin." The diesel engines, 2,000 Shaft HP ea, are directly coupled to the shafts which pass through the main electric motors and on to the propellers. When propulsion was conducted by the main engines, the electric motors could be electrically charged (in the motor room aft) into generators to re-charge the main battery banks in Compartments 2 and 4.
Below this room is a normally unmanned work space for various pumps, tanks and valves and the bottom portions of the engines. As you go into the engine room, you will pass under one of two massive ventilation motor assemblies. On the forward starboard (right) side you will see a smaller air intake which collected fresh air from this room to redistribute throughout the submarine.
SDMM39_070724_230.JPG: Engine Control Room
SDMM39_070724_242.JPG: Engine room
SDMM39_070724_253.JPG: Engine Room and Diesel Power Plant:
The engine room contains three Kolomna 2D42M turbo diesel engines that each put out 2,000 horsepower. They drove three shafts connected to six-blade propellers. The propellers were routinely polished to maintain the highest possible speed and reduce cavitation -- the noise that is a dead giveaway to the sonar of an enemy submarine, destroyer, or aircraft on the prowl. The diesel engines could drive the boat at eight knots on the surface for up to 20,000 miles. When the snorkel was in use, the maximum mileage was 11,000 miles.
SDMM39_070724_257.JPG: Diesel-electric submarines still have advantages in this age of nuclear power. The primary one is economic. The construction cost for a conventionally-powered submarine is a fraction that of a nuclear boat. Diesel boats have greater access to foreign ports. They are free of sanctions by foreign governments which bar nuclear-powered vessels from their ports. They also have operational advantages. When these submarines are running on battery power, they are quieter than nuclear boats and thus harder to detect.
SDMM39_070724_295.JPG: Toilet Facilities:
The Foxtrot Class boats have a total of three toilets or heads for seventy eight men; to linger in the head was tantamount to a crime. There is also a toilet and shower located high in the sail above you that utilized salt water -- as much as you wanted. To use it, however, the boat had to be on the surface. This central toilet is conveniently located in the control center, and relied on air and water pressure for use. The third toilet and shower were in compartment six, just forward of the aft torpedo room. Both had to be used sparingly. The boat had no way of generating fresh water and relied on the thirty-six tons of water stored aboard. On a seventy-day patrol, water shortages could make showers rare, and make life uncomfortable. The crew, however, had throwaway underclothing, and were given a hot wet cloth each morning by the Doctor.
SDMM39_070724_305.JPG: Torpedoes and Mines:
The B-39, like most Foxtrot submarines, carried a multitude of weapons dependent on her mission plan. Typically, Foxtrots carried twenty-two two-ton anti-shipping torpedoes. These were 25-foot-long Type 53 weapons with a range of ten nautical miles, whose direction, speed, and depth could be set based on instructions from the control room. The "fish" had counter-rotating propellers and a diving plane to maintain the correct course to the target. The most common torpedoes in the early years of the Cold War were designed to explode on contract; they were later replaced by acoustic tracking weapons. Today, "wake seeking" torpedoes acquire and follow the wake of any enemy vessel. Modern torpedoes explode under the keel of a ship, ensuring her almost instant destruction.
Type 53 torpedoes were carried loaded in the tubes, and generally two were fired at a target. On the command "Fire!", the torpedoes were forced out of their tubes by compressed air from a series of bottles in the torpedo room. As they emerged from the tubes, the "fish" dropped several feet before their oxygen-powered engines ignited, and then raced to their targets at up to 45 knots per hour. Reloading the tubes took between three and ten minutes, depending on the crew. Drills increased the speed at which the crew could work together to reload the huge torpedoes. A few of the Type 53 torpedoes were armed with a low-yield fifteen-kiloton nuclear warhead, but the majority carried 880 pounds of high explosive. Firing a nuclear torpedo would only occur on receipt of orders from Squadron, Fleet and Central Commands.
The boat could also carry mines, to be sewn in shipping lanes or harbor entrances. With no torpedoes aboard, B-39 was capable f carrying between thirty-six and forty-four mines. The danger from mines was so great that NATO nations commissioned over seven hundred minesweepers to counter them.
Aft torpedo room weapons played a different role than those forward. These were intended to allow the boat to survive enemy retaliation and make good her escape. The four tubes had two noisemakers that could be fired to create a sound resembling a Foxtrot moving at fifteen knots in a completely different direction than the actual submarine. Also here were canisters of chemicals that could act as decoys. When all else failed, a high explosive torpedo could be launched from the stern.
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Wikipedia Description: Soviet submarine B-39
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
B-39 was a Project 641, also known by its NATO reporting name of "Foxtrot" class diesel-electric attack submarine of the Soviet Navy. The "B" (actually "?") in her designation stands for ??????? (bolshaya, "large") — Foxtrots are among the largest non-nuclear submarines ever built. Her keel was laid down on 9 February 1962 at the Admiralty Shipyard in Leningrad (now known as Saint Petersburg). She was launched on 15 April 1967 and commissioned on 28 December 1967.
Transferred to the 9th Submarine Squadron of the Pacific Fleet, B-39 was homeported in Vladivostok and conducted patrols throughout the North Pacific, along the coast of the United States and Canada, and ranging as far as the Indian Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. After the end of the Vietnam War, she often made port visits to Danang. During the early 1970s, B-39 trailed a Canadian frigate through Strait of Juan de Fuca to Vancouver Island.
In 1989 in the Sea of Japan while charging batteries on the surface, B-39 came within 500 yards of an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate. Both crews took pictures of each other.
B-39 was decommissioned on 1 April 1994 and sold to Finland. She made her way from there through a series of sales to Vancouver Island in 1996 and to Seattle, Washington, in 2002 before arriving in San Diego, California, on 22 April 2005 and becoming an exhibit of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. During her sequence of owners she acquired the names "Black Widow" and "Cobra," neither of which she had during her commissioned career.
When B-39 was made a museum the shroud around her attack periscope was cut away where it passes through her control room. As built, a Foxtrot's periscopes are only accessible from her conning tower, which is off-limits in the museum. With the shroud cut away, tourists can look through the partially-raised periscope (which is directed toward the Midway museum, some 500 yards away). However, the unidentified and unexplained change gives the false impression that one periscope could be used from the control room.
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