Photos – Inside a Russian “Foxtrot” Submarine. I only took photos from beneath it :)

Posted: April 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

Fifty years since President Kennedy’s failed invasion of Cuba, the power of the  ‘Black Widow’ submarine under the command of the Soviet Union is revealed for the first time.

In action the 1,950 tonne submarine carried 22 nuclear tipped warheads and 53 explosive mines – and had the explosive power of the Hiroshima bomb.

Now docked on the River Medway in Kent, the foxtrot submarine’s torpedoes are disarmed and it is looked after by submarine man John Sutton, who is seeking investors to save her from ruin.

In the shallows: The Russian Foxtrot submarine is now docked on the River Medway in Kent

In the shallows: The Russian Foxtrot submarine is now docked on the River Medway in Kent

Up periscope! The sub's manager John Sutton gets to play with his very own nuclear submarine, and says he is looking for help to refurbish her

Up periscope! The sub’s manager John Sutton gets to play with his very own nuclear submarine, and says he is looking for help to refurbish her

Sutton, 46, has looked after the war machine for nine years, ‘It was her job to hunt down enemy sea vessels. This weekend is her 44th birthday as she was built in Russia on the first of April 1967,’ explained Mr Sutton

The class was so popular with Soviet allies that Libyan President Colonel Gadaffi bought a fleet of 11 foxtrot submarines in the 1980’s – and is reported to still command several of the hunter killer submarines today.

As the Soviet Union did not go to war with America she didn’t see combat, but Mr Sutton explains:
‘She was used for patrolling the Baltic Sea and training sailors. By 1994 the submarine was decommissioned.

‘She was sold to a private investor and brought to the United Kingdom.’

The sub has been used as a museum in London’s Docklands and Folkstone but is now closed and currently undergoing refurbishment. After refurbishment its owners plan to relocate the sub and open it up again as an educational facility.

Inside the submarine the iconic red stars and other symbols of the Soviet Union look the same as the day Communism fell

Inside the submarine the iconic red stars and other symbols of the Soviet Union look the same as the day Communism fell

That sinking feeling: Mr Sutton demonstrates the escape hatch of the Black Widow submarine, which was built in Russia on April 1 1967

That sinking feeling: Mr Sutton demonstrates the escape hatch of the Black Widow submarine, which was built in Russia on April 1 1967

Inside the maze-like inside of the submarine the iconic red stars and other symbols of the Soviet Union look the same as the day Communism fell.

The 78 seamen lived in conditions so cramped they shared their sleeping area with live nuclear torpedoes and had to work 12 hour shifts every day.

In a combat situation the Black Widow would have used its 6000 horsepower motors to chase down its intended prey – mainly ships and submarines of the US and allies like Great Britain.

‘When Russia sold the submarine it made sure that it was decommissioned so that it could not be used as a weapon of war against them,’ says Mr Sutton.

‘It would be very expensive and at the moment there are currently no plans to do it – but with enough care and attention the Black Widow could be made fully operational and even submerge underwater again one day.’ 

Submarine power: The diesel engine control room. In action the 1,950 tonne submarine had the explosive power of the Hiroshima bomb

Submarine power: The diesel engine control room. In action the 1,950 tonne submarine had the explosive power of the Hiroshima bomb

Inside the torpedo room...now disarmed. The sub has been used as a museum in London's Docklands and Folkstone, and is now in need of investors to refurbish and save her

Inside the torpedo room…now disarmed. The sub has been used as a museum in London’s Docklands and Folkstone, and is now in need of investors to refurbish and save her

The Black Widow had enough power in its three electric motors to remain underwater for up to three days.

But these days the Black Widow cannot move under its own power and has to be towed.
‘She used to travel with ten of the 400 kilogram type 53 torpedoes loaded in her tubes – ready to fire at all times,’ says Mr Sutton. ‘Each torpedo had a range of ten miles and when fired would travel to its target at 30 miles per hour.’

The Bay of Pigs Invasion of April 4 1961 was an attempt by the CIA to overthrow Castro’s new Communist government.

Soviet Russia rushed its fleet of nuclear armed hunter killer submarines to aid its ally, Cuba.
During the conflict one of these ‘foxtrot’ class nuclear armed submarines was mistaken for a less dangerous enemy submarine.  

All at sea: John Sutton in the officers' quarters. When Russia sold the submarine it was decommissioned so it could not be used as a weapon of war against them

All at sea: John Sutton in the officers’ quarters. When Russia sold the submarine it was decommissioned so it could not be used as a weapon of war against them

Kennedy ordered the nuclear armed submarine to be attacked by a US warship and explosive depth charges hit the hull, damaging but not sinking it.

Despite being authorised to attack the Russian submarine captain decided not to fire on the Americans – and may have avoided war between the two nuclear armed superpowers.

Mr Sutton says he is now looking for people or organisations to come forward to give the sub a new home.

‘London’s Russian community might be happy to help out. Maybe I should approach Roman Abramovich?’ he jokes.,

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