Military Review

"Dolphin", "Som" and "Trout": the history of the first "hidden vessels" of Russia

"Dolphin", "Som" and "Trout": the history of the first "hidden vessels" of Russia

MOSCOW, March 18. / TASS /. Underwater the fleet Russia March 19 marks 110 years. During this period, domestic submarines went through several stages of development - from tiny "hulled vessels" to the world's largest strategic missile carriers. Since the advent of the Navy, submarines have been and remain the embodiment of the most progressive scientific and technical ideas and advanced engineering solutions.
For the first time as a real military force, submarines showed themselves in the First World War. The events of the Russian-Japanese war of 1904-1905 showed that the submarines recently entered service were poorly adapted to the realities of warfare at sea.

First steps

The first of our compatriots who approached the construction of underwater equipment with a good training of a military engineer was Adjutant General Karl Andreevich Schilder. His underwater vehicle built in 1834 carried out historical a three-hour dive into the waters of the Malaya Nevka River in September 1840.

Schilder's boat was armed with missiles, and during the tests the idea of ​​launching them from under water was practically confirmed. There was no engine on board, the boat was set in motion by a muscular drive, for which it was equipped with flippers arranged on the principle of duck paws. Moving under water, the unit could approach an enemy ship and hit it with a powder mine with an electric fuse.

The next step in the development of domestic submarine shipbuilding was the 350-tonnage boat of Ivan Fedorovich Aleksandrovsky. She could not only dive, but also move under water for quite a long time using pneumatic piston machines powered by compressed air from 200 cast-iron cylinders.

The first designer of serial submarines is Stepan Karlovich Dzhevetsky. The main manned underwater vehicle of small displacement was built and tested during the Russian-Turkish war 1877-1878.

The heir to the throne, the future emperor Alexander III, according to his own diary, was present at the testing of the apparatus. Perhaps his word was decisive, and the treasury financed a series of 50 boats, completed in 1881 year. They were driven by a muscular drive, armed with two mines and intended to protect sea fortresses.

Against the background of the battleships of that time, such ships looked helpless and served only until the 1886 year. Nevertheless, several Dzhevetsky's boats were equipped with rowing electric motors. Stepan Karlovich owns another brilliant idea - the "optical navigation tube".

At the same time, at the turn of the 19-20 of centuries, there was still neither the theory of scuba diving nor the proper engineering and technical support. In practice, the first Russian submariners had to rely mainly on knowledge in the field of basic sciences and practical experience acquired during the years of service on surface ships.

Model submarine K.A. Schilder
© CDB MT Rubin

Destroyer №150

The fateful decision that determined the future of the domestic fleet and shipbuilding was the formation of the December 19 1900 of the Year of the Commission for the design of submarines of the Maritime Department. It included a senior assistant shipbuilder Ivan Bubnov, a senior mechanical engineer Ivan Goryunov and lieutenant Mikhail Nikolayevich Beklemishev.

Shortly after the formation of the commission, on December 22 of the 1900 of the year, notification letters were sent to Bubnov and other shipbuilders. This date is taken as the beginning of the history of the Central Design Bureau of Marine Technology "Rubin" - the oldest domestic designer of submarines.
The Commission prepared the drawings "Destroyer №113". After approval of the construction order (Baltiysky Zavod), the ship was enlisted in the fleet as "Destroyer No. XXUMX". Later he was given the name "Dolphin".

In June-October 1903, the ship was tested in Baltic waters, and in winter, construction began on a series of submarine-bearing "Russian type" of six units. By the name of one of the ships they were called "killer whales".

The Russo-Japanese War struck 27 on January 1904 of the year (hereafter - in the old style). The tsarist government was looking for ways to strengthen the naval grouping in the Far East, providing additional funding for advanced weapons systems.

German electric

In Germany, an order was placed for three submarines of the Karp type. Out of gratitude, the Krupp company (which by then could not sell anything like that to the Kaiser fleet) donated the electric Forelle to Russia.

Afloat and underwater, the 18-ton boat with two external torpedo tubes showed good handling. There was no internal combustion engine on board - both underwater and surface run were provided by an 50 horsepower electric motor, and the battery was charged in the base. The battery capacity was enough to go 4 miles at a 20 node speed.

In the 1904 situation of the year, Trout had another important advantage. The submarine of small dimensions and mass could be relatively easy to transport by rail. After a short stay in the Baltic, on August 11 the boat, along with a crew of six people, went by rail to the Far East. For almost half a year, the Trout remained the only formally operating submarine in Vladivostok.

Submarine "Sturgeon", completion in St. Petersburg

Order from America

Russia acquired from the Lake Submarine Company and Electric Boat Company firms for one finished boat. They were taken to the Baltic Sea in the summer of 1904.
The first is 1902's Protector, built by designer Simon Lake, called the Sturgeon.

The second is the Fulton design of John Holland (John P. Holland), built on 1901, and was renamed Som. The ship passed the sea trials in September-October 1904 of the year with the participation of the American transfer team, which also trained the Russian naval crew in the management of the ship and the maintenance of its mechanisms. The boat was well managed, had tolerable seaworthiness and relatively high accuracy of firing torpedoes.
“Dolphin”, “Som” and “Sturgeon” differed in small sizes: the length of the hull did not reach 20 meters, the displacement at the first two was less than 150 tons, and the third to 175. Surface speed did not exceed ten knots, underwater speed - and even less.

Sturgeon served the Russian fleet for only nine years (removed from service in the summer of 1913), Som died in May of 1916, and Dolphin remained in service until August of 1917.

First action experience

To participate in the Russian-Japanese war during November 1904, five submarines of the Bubnov (Kasatka, Skat, Nalim, Field Marshal Earl Sheremetev, and Dolphin) designs and one American (Som) went to Vladivostok. ). History did not know such transportation of submarines to a range of 9 thousands of kilometers.

Port Arthur fell 20 December 1904 of the year. By that time, seven submarines were delivered from the Baltic to the Far East and created the “Separate Detachment of Destroyers of the Vladivostok Port”. The detachment was headed by the commander of the "Kasatki" Alexander Plotto. He can be considered the world's first commander of a tactical submarine formation in a theater of operations.

The first joint campaign submariners performed 16-19 February. At the same time, only the Dolphin was armed: the torpedoes of the 1898 model of the year that fit the Drzewiecki apparatus showed up in the reserves of the Vladivostok port.

Submarine C.K. Dzhevetskogo in the Central Naval Museum
© CDB MT Rubin

Deficiencies found

Gasoline internal combustion engines (ICE) at that time could not withstand long loads. For example, the Killer Whale was equipped with two Panar motors. This gave the crews the opportunity to use them alternately, changing every couple of hours. The practical cruising range under favorable circumstances was 1,5 thousands of miles.

However, due to the unreliability of the engines and the low seaworthiness of submarines, commanders tried not to leave the port more than 100-120 miles away. At the same time, they sought to keep a reserve of battery capacity for eight hours of the smallest underwater stroke.

In boats of the "Killer Whale" type, with a surface run, an electric motor with a power of 100 l. with. It was powered by two dynamos (electric generators) driven by the internal combustion engine. During service, it turns out that when swimming in a positional position in fresh weather, sea water enters the hull. We had to batten down the hatches, and the observation was carried out through the windows with limited viewing angles.

The immersion from the cruising position under the periscope took at least five to six minutes, and in some cases delayed to ten or more. Russian boats could be easy prey for Japanese surface ships, especially high-speed cruisers and destroyers. During one of the trips to the "Kasatka" mistakenly took the island for an enemy ship, and held an urgent dive, which took seven minutes. Maneuvering was deemed unsatisfactory: during this time, the destroyer could well have sunk the boat with a ram attack.

Even if it was possible to plunge in time, it would be difficult to take a comfortable position for a torpedo attack on a moving target. On an underwater ride, the Killer Whales were poorly controlled. A "Dolphin" had a heavy steering, which imposes increased demands on the skill of the crew.

After Tsushima

The battle of the battleships near Tsushima Island 14-15 in May 1905 ended with the destruction of the Second Pacific Squadron. Russia retained only the cruisers of Rear Admiral Jessen and the "separate destroyer squadron" in battle-ready status in the theater of military operations of the Vladivostok detachment.

Over time, the squad became quite numerous. The first submarine designed by Lack arrived on rails to the Far East in April. Gradually, the number of troops increased to 13 submarines. Half of the boats were under repair, which was conducted, as a rule, by the crews.
“Boats are one of the most powerful means of coastal defense. With the ability to use them, submarines can inflict terrible damage on the enemy in his own ports and induce moral fear and commotion in his appearance,” commander Soma said Rear-Admiral Vladimir Trubetskoy.

The war ended on 23 on August 1905, with the signing of a peace treaty.

Submarine "Som"
© RPO "St. Petersburg Club of Sailors, Submariners and Veterans of the Navy"

Understanding the experience

Four of the "separate detachment" 13 submarines reached Vladivostok after the end of the war. In view of the late delivery, the sturgeon-type submarines did not have time to take part in the hostilities.

A common disadvantage of all the submarines of those years is the unreliable operation of internal combustion engines. The excitement of the sea, a strong swell rocking the boat in the surface position so that the electrolyte was splashed out. Internal explosions took place several times during the war. The death of a sailor entailed a case at the Dolphin, the cause of which was the ignition of gasoline vapors.

Poor living conditions created constant discomfort, reducing the efficiency of the crew. Since the boats were structurally integral and the ventilation system was inefficient, a mixture of gasoline, oil-burning and exhaust fumes was constantly kept inside the ship. Add to this the increased humidity and the lack of ability for the crew to dry clothes after the watch. Overalls for work inside the boat was missing. Only the “Soma” team was lucky: it was equipped with waterproof clothing on squirrel fur.

The boats built by the projects of the American engineers of Holland and Lack and the boats of the development of Bubnov turned out to be comparable in terms of the overall technical level, seafaring and combat qualities.

Domestic submarines differed from the "foreign" high speed and range. They had more powerful weapons. True, Dzhevetsky's torpedo tubes did not work in the cold, which limited the combat value of the Killer Whales in the winter. In addition, torpedoes in Dzhevetsky’s vehicles were in the water all the time, and in order to remain ready for firing, they had to be lubricated frequently.

Training attacks

Happy 22 September 1906, the submarine "Mullet" conditionally sank the cruiser "Pearl" at anchor in Novik Bay. Being in the Amursky Bay, the Mullet took a position that was favorable for the attack and imitated a shot from the nose from a range of 3-3,5 cable (about 600 meters). The periscope of the attacking submarine was not noticed by the observers on the cruiser.

Continuing the training attack, the boat shortened the distance by another 400-500 meters, surfaced under the periscope and imitated a shot from the second nasal apparatus. Then, having completed the maneuver in depth and course, turned around and “fired” the cruiser from the stern. Submariners made their way out of the bay, maintaining a depth of seven to eight meters. Since the periscope was found on the cruiser only before the “second torpedo shot,” the attack was considered successful.

Submariners worked and actions in the event of a night attack. Entering the bay unnoticed and continuing to move in the surface position at low speed, the Mullet approached the Pearl cruiser to an extremely small distance of torpedo firing. And in the submerged position, the cruiser observers could not distinguish the submarine even close up, when it was slow to travel under the periscope.


Thinking about the future of a new type of marine weapons, Pacific submarine commanders considered it advisable to build large submarines with a displacement of more than 500-600 tons (that is, 4-5 times larger than those that formed the basis of the "separate unit").

The decree “On the classification of military courts of the Russian imperial fleet”, dated March 6 1906 of the year (according to the new style - March 19) can be considered the recognition of the growing role of submariners.

Emperor Nicholas II "commanded the highest deign deigns" to include in the classification of "messenger ships" and "submarines." The text of the decree lists the 20 names of submarines built by that time, including the German Trout and several in construction.

The submarines of the Russo-Japanese War did not become a formidable fighting force, but served to teach submariners and to start systematic work on the development of tactics for the actions of a new type of naval weapon. The fighting gave a strong impetus to the development of underwater technology in Russia.
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  1. Amurets
    Amurets 20 March 2016 08: 36
    There is a collection of memoirs "From the Abyss of Waters." And the first two articles just tell about the first submarines. Moreover, M. Tieder, "On a Submarine" recollections of the first submarine formation. the first underwater mine layer was born at Naletov in Port Arthur.
  2. magician
    magician 20 March 2016 09: 37
    Thank you for the article!
  3. Rurikovich
    Rurikovich 20 March 2016 09: 39
    It would be interesting to look at the diameter of the eyes of the designers of the first "Dolphins", "Catfish", "Trout", "Mullet" if they see what their creations have transformed into at the moment - "Tafuna", "Sharks", "Boreas", "Ash" ... winked
  4. tchoni
    tchoni 20 March 2016 10: 08
    Here I read the article, and it seems that the commanders of these first boats did not really favor their service. On the other ships - nobility as nobility, but here, along with the sailors, and in the same tin, it’s stuffy, it stinks ... Horror. It seems that such conditions are the main reason for the inefficiency of the first boats.
  5. Aleksandr72
    Aleksandr72 20 March 2016 10: 39
    In the 1904 situation of the year, Trout had another important advantage. The submarine of small dimensions and mass could be relatively easy to transport by rail. After a short stay in the Baltic, on August 11 the boat, along with a crew of six people, went by rail to the Far East. For almost half a year, the Trout remained the only formally operating submarine in Vladivostok.

    Perhaps this was the only advantage of the Trout electric ship. Krupp built this boat as an experimental one, in order to work out the technology of building submarines on it and generally assess the capabilities of submarines. The first pancake, as expected, became a lump. The Trout was completely incapable of combat and I suspect that was one of the reasons (if not the only worthwhile reason) why Krupp donated this submarine to the Russian Empire.
    110 years have passed and the Russian submariners, who began their silent service with such fragile pelvis described in the article, are now going on ocean voyages in my opinion on the best submarines in the world. And if there were no primitive boats of Lek, Holland, Dzhevetsky and Krupp, there would be no modern submarines.
    I have the honor.
  6. midshipman
    midshipman 20 March 2016 12: 33
    I had a good friend, Twice Hero of the Soviet Union A.O. Shabalin. We met when I had to participate in the re-equipment of our fleet and the creation of the RSDN for our fleet. I wrote a story about him "Mosquitoes", and in "VO" I published an article "The First Attack". So, his teacher was the chief officer of the submarine "Crocodile" of the Tsarist Navy. He dedicated his first attack during the Second World War in the North to him. I have the honor.
  7. Denimax
    Denimax 20 March 2016 20: 55
    Quote: Amurets
    And the idea of ​​the first underwater minzag was born at Naletov in Port Arthur.

    With such submarines, there is little sense, they still did not have that perfection.
    More real would be the opportunity to retool the destroyers. Remove all torpedo tubes, install additional guns and machine guns in their place and, in addition, shrapnel shells. Then it would be possible to give battle to the Japanese destroyers and conduct active mine productions on the communications of the Japanese. There was somehow the idea of ​​floating mine stretch marks. But alas, it's all fantasy.)