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'Tracked' Mini Submarines in Swedish waters - 1980's

covert_shores

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I've seen some good stuff on this recently from level-headed Nordic defense observers - will share when I find the links :)
 

covert_shores

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Seems like a good place to post this. Not a tracked mini-sub, but a very little known Soviet mini-sub used in the Baltic in the 1980s. And not saying that there is any evidence that these were the culprits for any of the incursions. Project 1015 SPLC. Roughly equivalent to an X-Craft.

main write up http://www.hisutton.com/Russian%20X-Craft%20SPLT.html


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.
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Mr London 24/7

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An account of the alleged incursion at Lulea in ‘83:

http://www.hisutton.com/Lulea%201983.html
 

Mr London 24/7

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Absolutely: I thought perhaps not everyone who checks this thread may have seen it :)

Very good news.
 

TomS

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covert_shores said:
Thanks, great article (sorry!)

I have more on tracked submersibles coming soon to Covert Shores
Interesting read.

One thought regarding the foot/boot prints. You write "However weighted driving boots are associated with old fashioned diving apparatus and you would expect a ‘frogman’ of the 1980s to wear swimfins, or comparatively slim rubber plimsolls. "

This is true of recreational scuba divers. But working divers (either "surface supplied" divers using external air from a mother ship or with rebreeathers) continue to use weighted footwear like this to counteract the buoyancy of their legs when working on the bottom. Your own article on USS Halibut shows weighted shoes as part of the kit for the saturation divers using rebreathers.

Here is a recent (2017) picture of a US Navy diver with weighted boots even more crude than the boots that might make the prints shown in your article.

https://www.strategypage.com/military_photos/201706082214.aspx
 

covert_shores

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Fair point.

I was thinking of a Soviet diver driving a wet submersible. In many navies swimfins would be required to be worn, but maybe they'd take them off, especially to step outside on a beach.
 

covert_shores

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New article focusing on the Swedish naval intelligence illustration of a hypothetical tracked minisub. http://www.hisutton.com/Russian_Tracked_Submarines_Baltic_1980s.html
 

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