Soviet designers entered into an unofficial competition with American manufacturers who, through technical intelligence channels, managed to find out that an extraordinary ship had appeared in river waters.
A few years ago, in the American magazine Popular Technique, Alekseev read an article by Alden Armagnac entitled "A new superfast way to travel on ships whose hull is out of the water." A series of drawings and diagrams of future cruise ships was also placed there.
In Sormovo, the appearance of this article was regarded as a challenge to the competition and as evidence that Americans are lagging behind in this area of technology.
What did Alden Armagnac write?
“The question of whether hydrofoils can be used for super-fast passenger ships has been resolved satisfactorily as a result of semi-annual tests that were conducted by Grammon Ercraft Engineering Corporation. The first steps have been taken to make the dreams of designers come true. ” However, the American journalist did not write anything about Soviet designers. They were the first to embody their idea in “Rocket” and “Meteor”.
And in this correspondence were more interesting things. The US Maritime Administration has ordered the same Grammon project (project only) of an eighty-knotted hydrofoil vessel — at a time when Rocket has been walking along the country's rivers for several years.
Also, the Americans were going to make a stomest ship, and the Soviet hundred-ten-seater was already running along the Volga, the three-seater was already laying on the stands of the Gorky workshop.
“The speed limits that were considered insurmountable were left behind with the introduction of hydrofoils and the screws mounted on them. And future passengers will be proud to ride the ship that made the era in stories maritime shipping, ”wrote an American journalist. But this era was opened by Soviet developers. They have already left the sphere of river shipbuilding and brought their ships to the seas. On these stocks, the Comet, the so-called marine version of Meteora, its own sea sister, was created these days.
"Meteor" goes to sea
Then Popov remembered how “Meteor”, hitting the Black Sea and having repaired after the Azov rubbish, began to walk on wings along the coast, easily overcoming the excitement of three or four points, that is, almost three-meter waves. The body proved to be great, there are no cracks or dents anywhere, that's what's important. Opponents of that time in the scientific community doubted the strength of the “Comet”, made especially for the sea, for tougher loads. These, as they say, blew on the water.
Yes, there were testers and funny moments. They did not move along the Volga at night - it was dangerous at such a high speed, settled down to sleep right on the ship, in soft chairs. Autumn, it was cold, everyone warmed up as best he could, and even warmed himself like a soldier — with his breath behind the collar of his shirt. And the Volga was already covered with ice, it is about to become, already small ice over the course were nailed to the board of the "Meteor". They were afraid for a joke: what if they were captured in ice captivity? The end of the campaign.
They cooked themselves, sometimes went to restaurants on the wharves, if there was time. It seemed that such a transition - entertainment, but no! Everyone was busy either at the instruments or in the engine room. What is surprising is everything, and who needs it, and the volunteers, did not get tired to watch the flight of the wings on the water for hours. It seems to be familiar, but hard to break away.
At Vasilsursk they fell into a strip of forest raids. The last caravans went to that navigation. The Volga in this area is all as if in a wooden shell. Rafts are nothing, you can see them, but half-submerged logs - snags, come off the rafts. They could damage a screw in a collision. The moment is alarming. But nothing happened.
Not far from Kazan, in Zelenodolsk, in the evening the ship broke into at high speed. The local watchman saw a ship flying at him, frightened - he opened what was called a quick gunfire. Scorched into the air thoroughly. I thought it was furious.
Finally arrived at sea. Outing into the sea is still postponed to Sunday. We decided to go fifty kilometers to the open sea, and then along the coast. In order not to take with them a lot of ballast, we invited those wishing to take a boat trip at the factory. And naturally, the workers, craftsmen, technologists who took part in the creation of the ship, wanted to ride it along the Caucasian coast.
The era of "Comet" and "Whirlwind"
The summer of 1962 of the year was in Sormovo the era of the Whirlwind. This was the name of the second, already three-seater ship, which was built, so to speak, in pursuit and in support of the “Comet”.
In July, he was at the shore and finished building on the water. The snow-white handsome, twice the size of the Comet, he was the sea brother of the river Sputnik, who flew between Gorky and Kazan.
The appearance of the "Whirlwind" spoke of a decisive breakup of the winged ships with the traditional architecture of the old ships and the latest ships. His aviation the lines and handicaps of the hull resembled the familiar designs of modern air liners.
"Whirlwind" was preparing to go on his first voyage, and "Comet" was already on the Black Sea. So how did the difficult fate of this sea-born Rostislav Evgenievich evolve?
The comets “case” is a plump volume of business departmental correspondence, protocols, orders, telegrams. Perhaps the generally accepted clericals and do not deserve a place in the narrative, but the protocols are sometimes even interesting. And this protocol is all the more so because it was the long-awaited “metric” for the birth of the first sea motor ship on the wings.
This event can be considered as belonging to the history of domestic shipbuilding, although it has passed little noticed. I cite several excerpts from the protocol:
“Having heard the information and having checked the vessel’s work at the control exit to sea, the meeting decides:
Confirm the decision of the selection committee on the admission of the experienced ship "Kometa" to the Black Sea Shipping Company with an addition to the Sochi port.
For the period of trial operation in Sochi, put the vessel on the coastal line, systematically monitor the vessel’s work and behavior at sea and ensure that feedback from passengers is collected.
Pay particular attention to the behavior of the vessel at sea on the wings and in a displacing state and clarify the maximum sea level of the sea, at which the normal safe operation of the vessel with passengers is ensured.
The third vessel of this type and the subsequent considered serial.
Consider it expedient to issue the issue of “Kometa” type ships for export, be resolved in 1963 year after the accumulation of necessary experience. ”
Then came the signatures: a member of the collegium of the ministry Bykov, the chief engineer of the Black Sea Shipping Company Yermoshikin, the chief of inspection of the Register Pinson and others.
Started sea trials.
In the morning a group of temperamental Southerners had already attacked the marina, where Komet was swinging on the wave. As usual, sensors were installed on the wings and in the hull of the vessel, instruments were started up.
Georgy Alekseevich Kintozhsky, the captain from Sochi port, sat in a white uniform and white uniform cap on a high rotating chair.
Almost all the captains who came to the new ships from the ships. Tugboats, tankers, deciding to change their specialty, felt a sense of risk, but then they all quickly became allies of the designers.
It happened with Viktor Poluektov and his doubler Nikolai Zimenkov, with Hero of the Soviet Union Mikhail Devyatayev, with Gennady Vlasov, with Ivan Khabarov and his doubler Boris Latyshinsky, with mechanic Anatoly Alekseenko and David Maysuradze.
All these are pioneers of cruise navigation and at the same time testers of ships, assistants to designers.
Extensively conducted tests "Comets" George Quintorus. Although he did not close his eyes to some of the shortcomings of the vessel. When the ship entered the open sea, Quintoria said:
- Gently going, good!
The ship really went on the wings very softly, barely noticeably swaying.
First, “Comet”, not for the first time, reached the so-called measuring mile — a precisely measured section of the sea route. It was on the measured miles that the speed of the ships, recorded at different engine operating modes, and the maximum speed that the ship could develop, was verified.
In a fairly close engine room from the heat went warm. Ship mechanics crowded near the shield with the instruments. Two diesel engines roared so that they had to be explained with gestures.
The arrows on the dashboard, showing the number of revolutions of the right and left diesel engines, gradually rose on the dial: 800, 1000, 1200 revolutions.
Even here, in the ship's hold, next to diesel engines, slightly vibrating, it was felt that the "Comet" is already on the wings. And the arrow continued to run upwards: 1400, 1500 and, finally, the largest number of revolutions.
Rapidly flashed on the seashore control landmarks, the wind whistled behind the glass windows as he whistles behind the small windows of the plane. Tests continued successfully.
Back in 1951, Alekseev, along with Zaitsev, Popov and Erlykin, received the Stalin Prize for "work in the field of shipbuilding." It was then about special projects still, so to speak, the “pre-plan period” of their work.
In the spring of 1962, Rostislav Alekseev and his closest assistants were awarded the Lenin Prize. When creating technology involved a lot of minds and hands. But to choose the most honored among good workers for Rostislav Evgenievich always proved to be a difficult matter.
The award ceremony took place at the end of the summer in Gorky, at the plant, in the conference hall of the engineering corps. Just at that time, Alekseev was preparing "Whirlwind" to the exit to the Black Sea. This event coincided for Rostislav Evgenievich with another, significant: the Gorky Water Institute awarded him the title of Doctor of Technical Sciences.
Rostislav Evgenievich found out about the upcoming defense one day before the meeting! Only at the very meeting, Rostislav Evgenievich saw the “Explanatory note.” She was made by his deputy Zaitsev and Moskilik, briefly outlining the main merits of Alekseev to domestic and world shipbuilding. After the scientific part, the “Explanatory Note” provided a list of assessments and reviews of the cruise ships, and not only scientists, but also public figures, guests from abroad, who at various times visited aboard new ships.
It was an interesting section, in any case, for Rostislav Evgenievich himself, because he did not always manage to follow the press. For the first time, he read a report on a press conference with Joseph Corren, chairman of the National Maritime Union of the United States, in a “Notebook”.
Corren was asked a question:
- Did you see anything in the USSR that you would like to see in the USA?
- Yes, for example, hydrofoil vessels. I know that there are no such vessels in the USA. I would be very happy if hydrofoil vessels could sail across Mississippi. If we had such “Rocket”, then the railways would cry from us, water specialists.
After the Academic Council got acquainted with the "Note", the debate began. Perhaps it was not an ordinary Academic Council, because, in addition to professors, major business leaders also spoke on it, the director of the Sormovsky plant, Mikhail Afanasyevich Yuriev, spoke.
It was unusual also because not only scientists, but also the collectives of factories, the Volga rivermen, just the passengers had the opportunity to witness with their own eyes every year the public defense of the new ships coming to life by Alekseev.
The newly appeared Doctor of Science Alekseev merely continued the tradition established at the plant: many of his outstanding engineers became professors of Gorky institutes.
True, Rostislav Evgenievich could not yet take over the training course of the winged shipbuilding, but on the other hand he advised many young projects. And he especially liked to sit on the defenses of student diplomas at the Polytechnic Institute, in the very audience where many years ago he stood with a pointer in his hand in front of his student project.
Moreover, Rostislav Evgenievich was pleased to recall his youth, to plunge into the student turmoil, the roar of young voices in the corridors of the faculty. It is nice to see the familiar walls, the audience again, to look out the window at the familiar Volga escarpment, at the Trans-Volga distances and the river with the ships sailing.
The Volga landscape was always agitating for Alekseev, a student at that, it seemed to be a long time ago, did not leave anyone indifferent, and Alekseev, a doctor of science.
Looking at the ships sailing along the Volga river never bothered him.
Gone are the ships with wooden cases, with wheels, thick slapping tiles on the water, with steam engines, their thick smoke. The whole fleet was dressed in metal.
The ending should ...