THE GEPARD GOES UNDER WATER

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Igor Lisochkin Rossia, October 16, 2001, p. 8

Vladimir Pyalov is sure that it is practically impossible to sink up-to-date nuclear submarines. This is why they are not equipped with rescue devices.

In the near future, Sevmashpredpriyatie will pass over the Gepard nuclear submarine to the Russian Navy. The plant’s team has left the submarine and the crew has settled on board the underwater cruiser. The Gepard was designed by the Malakhit Design Bureau (St. Petersburg). Vladimir Pyalov, General designer of the Malakhit Design Bureau, agreed to answer journalists’ questions.

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Question: As is known, Malakhit has designed third generation submarines (the Bars project). Is it true that this is the best submarine in the world?

Vladimir Pyalov: Yes, this is true. The foreign technical press dedicated many articles to this submarine. We have built 14 such submarines. The Gepard is the last submarine of this type.

Qustion: Does the Gepard differ from ordinary Bars submarines?

Vladimir Pyalov: There are no ordinary Bars submarines. The matter is that the building of a submarine takes several years. The situation in the world’s ocean changes during this time. New scientific ideas and weapons appear. This is why we have to upgrade submarines. This is why each new submarine differs from its predecessors.

As far as the Gepard is concerned, we have used all scientific achievements.

Question: There are rumors that the Gepard is the most high-speed and silent submarine. Captain Pavel Nychko, a representative of the Defense Ministry, said, “There are no submarines which can compete with the Gepard in the world’s oceans.” Previously, US specialists called Russian submarines “bellowing cows”. They were sure that they could discover them easily. It is clear that it is very important who chases whom in the world’s oceans. The US recently understood that we chase them. When did it happen?

Vladimir Pyalov: This happened after we created the Bars submarine. Previously our submarines were noisy but high-speed.

Question: There were rumors that the problem of silent screw propellers was very topical…

Vladimir Pyalov: This is not true. The role of the screw propeller is very important. However, screw propellers become noisy at a high speed. Hundreds mechanisms and the turbine make much noise.

We always quarreled with producers over the balance of all constructions of submarines. However, we managed to cope with the problem of noise. The first Bars submarine was a silent underwater cruiser. The noise level decreased 3.5 times.

Up-to-date submarine sonar systems do not detect the Gapard, which moves at a high speed. The Gepard can discover the enemy before it spots the submarine.

Question: The submarine is equipped with only one nuclear reactor. Why?

Vladimir Pyalov: The use of two reactors was aimed at increasing submarines’ reliability. However, the OK-650 nuclear reactor is very reliable, and we do not have to duplicate it. This is not a new solution.

Question: The Kursk tragedy has caused serious debates over reliability of nuclear submarines. What do you think about it?

Vladimir Pyalov: Nothing. Malakhit did not participate in investigating that shipwreck, and no one asked our designers’ opinion. (…) I am sure designers of the Rubin design bureau are not guilty that the submarine sank. The Kursk was a very good submarine. The shipwreck was caused by an unbelievable concentration of circumstances. It should be noted that Russian and foreign submarines are extremely safe. Third generation submarines are not equipped with devices, which make it possible to supply submarines with air and establish communication between divers and the crew. Such devices are not needed.

The Kursk tragedy forced us to revise this point of view.

Question: Journalists asked in Severodvinsk how designers intend to improve rescue devices of nuclear submarines. The military refused to announce how up-to-date submarines are designed. Is it necessary to improve anything on the Gepard submarine?

Vladimir Pyalov: Firstly, I think rescue devices must not be secret. Secondly, we revised the whole rescue system of the submarine after the tragedy and improved it. There are four life rafts on the submarine. But I am sure the crew will never have to use them.

Question: I visited Malakhit three years ago. The design bureau was in a financial crisis. As far as I know the situation has improved.

Vladimir Pyalov: Yes, we think hard times are in the past. At first the industry revived. In addition, the design bureau succeeded in several conversion tenders. Belarus has purchased one plant designed by the bureau. Iran is interested in such a plant. (…)

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