Dr. George Sviatov, naval architect with Ph.D.s in designing of ships and defense history, is an independent analyst in Bethesda, Maryland.
Ten minutes before 9 AM on January 15, 1965 a Captain 3rd Rank of the Soviet Navy came up to the Moscow Kremlin’s permits bureau. He had an appointment with the First Deputy of the Soviet Prime Minister Dmitry Fedorovitch Ustinov. “Have you a gun with you?”, he was asked at the permit bureau. “No”, he answered.
Exactly at 9 AM that officer approached the office of the First Deputy of the Prime Minister. It was not a big office. In its entrance room there were two secretaries-a man and a woman. “Dmitry Fedorovitch is waiting for you”, says the man. “Come in.”
The officer was me, Georgy Ivanovitch Sviatov, then a senior research fellow of the Central Institute of Military· Technological lnfonnation of the Soviet Armed Forces General Staff in Moscow, came in to the study. Dmitry Fedorovitch was sitting at his desk. He stood up, shook my hand and sat down at the adjacent table, and invited me to sit down face to face with him.
First, he asked, “What do you think about our new Project 667 A ballistic missile nuclear submarine?” I said that recently I had visited the Severodvinsk shipyard, had seen the leading ship in the Assembly shop, and by my assessment she is the best product of the Soviet design and shipbuilding community.
Then he told me, “Well, what do you like to report to me?”
I understood that I should deliver my message to him in a time span not more than 15 minutes. In these minutes I had to present the most important information which was the result of my five years of independent maverick research on a comparative analyses of Soviet and American nuclear submarine development, and some recommendations for the native shipbuilding.
My response was, “Dmitry Fedorovitch, for 10 years I worked as a naval architect, a Navy supervisor at the Severodvinsk shipyard and as a research fellow at the Leningrad’s Central Navy Research Institute, building and preliminary designing of Soviet nuclear submarines. I was the first junior Navy supervisor on the first Soviet Project 627 A nuclear attack submarine and on the first Soviet Project 611 V diesel ballistic missile submarine, built and tested Soviet Project 658 nuclear ballistic missile submarine, Project 627 A nuclear attack subs, and Projects 659 and 675 long range cruise missile nuclear submarines, and participated in preliminary designing of Project 671 next generation nuclear attack submarine, super new Project 661 nuclear extremely fast attack titanium submarine with new Amethyst short range cruise missiles, and Project 667 A ballistic missile nuclear submarine with 16 new missiles. And in 1960-61 in the Central Navy Military Shipbuilding Research Institute I had accomplished an intelligence research. I collected relevant classified and open information and redesigned the best American attack and ballistic missile nuclear submarines: SKIPJACK and THRESHER, GEORGE WASHINGTON, and ETHAN ALLEN classes. So, I am a person who knows better than anybody else about the Soviet and American nuclear submarines combined. As a result, in 1962 I delivered my above mentioned report (117 printed pages) and lectured at the Scientific-Technological Committee of the Main Navy Staff.
In the attachment to that report I presented preliminary blue-prints on my visions of the future SSN and SSBN Soviet nuclear submarines on the base of Skipjack-Thresher, Projects 671and661 nuclear attack submarines, and of George Washington-Ethan Allen, Project 667A nuclear ballistic missile submarines.
My major new naval architectural ideas were for a drastic reduction of categories and classes of Soviet nuclear submarines, using only steel as hull material, use of improved existing water-water nuclear reactors with 17 ,500 hp, and use of the Thresher type scheme of sonar and torpedo tubes arrangement. In addition, I recommended a two reactors-two reactors-two propellers power plant with elimination of reserve electric motors. My plan used a longitudinal bulkhead in two power plant compartments and 20 percent buoyancy reserve for providing surface and underwater dynamic unsinkability of a submarine with almost any one compartment flooded.
My attack sub had to have a length of some 80 meters, a maximum pressure hull diameter of 9 meters, a speed of 36 knots, and a test depth of 500 meters. Six bow and two stem 533-mm torpedo rubes with 32 torpedoes and missiles as armament, and her surface displacement has to be some 3000 tons. My SSBN sub had to have the same principle naval architectural characteristics with a speed of some 30 knots, a surface displacement of some 6000 tons, a length of some 120 meters, and 16 strategic ballistic nuclear missiles in a 40 meters long cylindrical compartment.”
In conclusion I stressed the economic issues of cost-effectiveness of the Soviet program of nuclear submarines building.
I told Ustinov, “Dmitry Fedorovitch, Americans are building approximately 100 nuclear attack and 50 nuclear ballistic missiles submarines. Let us assume that an attack submarine cost is some $50 million and a ballistic missile submarine $100 million. That is $10 billion. Let us add $5 billion for their basing infrastructure. In sum $15 billion. They are building only two categories: attack and ballistic missiles subs and only two classes: THRESHER and ETHAN ALLEN, with only one architectural scheme and one type nuclear power plant of 15,000 hp. That is the highest possible degree of standardization and unification.
We are building four categories: torpedo attack (Projects 627A and 671), torpedo and short range missile attack (Projects 661 and 670), ballistic missile strategic submarines (Projects 658 and 667A), and long range cruise antiland and antiship missiles (Projects 659 and 675) nuclear submarines. Plus we continue building much less effective diesel ballistic missile (Project 629) and torpedo (Project 641) subs. (Editor’s Note: The Project number to NATO designation correlation is as follows: 627A-November,· 671-Victor I; 661-Papa,· 670A-Charlie I; 658-Hotel; 667A-Yankee; 659-Echo I; 675-Echo II; 629-Golf; 641-Foxtrot.)
Our serial Project 627 A sub costs some 12 million rubles. A comparable American serial Skipjack class sub costs some $60 million-five times cheaper in comparison of dollars and rubles (the difference is in levels of salaries).
So, if we would have the American level of standardization and unification. we should need for our similar program some 3 billion rubles. If we continue our current policy of nuclear submarines building, we should have spent at least twice more money-some 6 billion rubles. ”
On that point I had finished my report.
Ustinov listened to me attentively. Then he said: Well, we are trying to choose the best projects. Are you suggesting we copy the American nuclear submarine building program?”
No”, I answered. “Only their attitude to standardization and unification and some of their best naval architectural decisions, especially ALBACORE type hull form for an attack submarine and THRESHER’s scheme of sonar and torpedo tubes arrangement. I am against reduction of buoyancy reserve from 30 to 15 percent, one reactor power plant, one propeller and reduction of surface unsinkability degree. I am for transfer placement of two reactors and for a longitudinal bulkhead in two engineering compartments. My nuclear attack sub must have six compartments (1-bow sonar equipment, storage battery and living; 2-bow torpedoes and living; 3-control room and living; 4-reactors, turbogenerators and auxiliary mechanisms; 5-turbines and reduction gears; 6-stern torpedoes, rudders and planes equipment) and 14 ring like ballast tanks with kingstones (12 in area of the 6 compartments and two in bow and stern). So, my sub will have guaranteed surface unsinkability with any one flooded compartment and underwater dynamic unsinkability with flooding in the first, second, six and a half of fourth and fifth compartments. That would be a revolutionary jump in submarine naval architecture. In essence such a submarine will have a possibility to sail underwater with one flooded compartment in battle conditions. By the way, Americans made such a jump in the TRITON class nuclear submarine, but their naval architects implemented a correct but too simplistic approach copying naval architecture of surface ships.”
“Well”. said Dmitry Fedorovitch, “go to the Chairman of the Council of Minister’s Military-Industrial Commission Titov and tell him that I ordered you to organize your report for the Shipbuilding Minister Boris Evstafievich Butoma”.
I went immediately to Mr. Titov. He asked me how I had reached Ustinov. He also said that recently Commander in Chief of the Soviet Navy Fleet Admiral Gorshkov approved the 12 year Soviet Navy’s shipbuilding program. Then he asked me where I was working. I told him that my superiors were at the Scientific-Technological Committee of the General Staff. He recommended me to report first to the naval experts of that body. I agreed and did so to Rear Admiral Zenkin. But that body and that person were absolutely insignificant in decision making.
It was a victory. I felt that Ustinov’s impression of me was positive. I had to push up, using Ustinov as a step.
But it meant that in a case of my successful report to the Shipbuilding Minister, I could probably get a responsible job related to submarines in his ministry. It meant also that I would have to struggle with four design bureaus and a number of civilian and naval chief designers who would fiercely resist reductions of their projects’ number. Or I could go to a design bureau in Leningrad to become a designer of my project of a nuclear submarine.
At that time, however, I was an analyst of United States’ naval policy in Moscow and had planned my career as a scientist and scholar. I was getting additional money by writing my articles and books about U.S. nuclear submarines (I could not write anything about Soviet submarines).
So I did not demand to present my report to Butoma (to the unexpected pleasure of the shipbuilding bureaucracy). I stopped my maverick’s activity, and continued working in my Moscow military research institute. Two years later I became Captain 2nd Rank and defended my first Ph.D. in submarine naval architecture at the Shipbuilding Faculty of the Naval Engineering Academy in Leningrad. It was probably better for me but not for my country. As people say: a winner gets nothing. In principle I am not sorry for such a decision. My nature was much more multifaceted than naval architecture and later I become a head of the military-technological section at the Institute of U.S. and Canada, and Captain 1st Rank. For the first time in my life I visited the USA in 1976 and later I became a Senior Fellow of the Institute of World History of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, and defended my second Ph.D. in history of United States defense policy since WWII. My English was becoming better and better. I published a book about nuclear submarines and a book about the history of American defense policy. But could it be I lost an opportunity to be a Shipbuilding Minister of the USSR.
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