...Very little is known about the nine X-Craft built by the Soviet Union in the 1970s, and operated through the 1980s. The Project 1015 SPLC type was analogous to the British X-Craft midget submarine and appears to have had similar capabilities. SPLC stands for Special-purpose submarines (СПЛЦ - Специальные подводные лодки-цели), although the boats are also described as SPLT and SPLTS. The 9 SPLCs were distributed across all fleets: 2 in the Northern, 2 in the Pacific, 2 in the Baltic, 2 n the Black Sea and 1 in the Caspian. At least one was converted to an uncrewed craft and known as the Haddock.
After World War Two the Russians became interested in naval Special Forces capabilities and paid particular attention to British wartime exploits and equipment. It is natural therefore that they might seek to emulate the X-Craft, which was still in service throughout the 1960s. The Italian CB Class and German Seehund may also have been influences.
The SPLC is about the same size as an X-Craft but likely smaller on the inside thanks to its double-hull construction. In line with post war design philosophy, the bow was more rounded than on the original X-craft, which would have optimized the SPLC for submerged performance. It retained the short fixed snort mast similar to postwar X-craft however, allowing her to run on the surface on just below, while running on her diesel engine. Combined with the dry interior, this would have increased range considerably over similar sized all-electric SDVs. In the Baltic, Black Sea and Caspian Sea this would have translated into a shore-to-shore capability without the need for a mother ship. For longer missions he SPLC could be towed like X-Craft were, and there is evidence of towing attachments on some examples.
The craft had two access hatches in the sail which suggests that one of them, likely the aft one, provided a diver lock-out capability. Although it is not confirmed, there is no other obvious explanation for having two hatches on such a small craft. This capability would be in line with the British X-Craft and Italian CA Class.
In service these midget subs kept out of the public eye and are rarely even listed among Soviet submarine classes. They were likely employed for testing harbor defenses, acting as inshore anti-submarine warfare (ASW) targets and for equipment trials.
Interesting read.covert_shores said:Thanks, great article (sorry!)
I have more on tracked submersibles coming soon to Covert Shores