Victor-III Class


Origin: Soviet Union.

Type: SSN.

Number: 18 boats.

Displacement: 5,000 tons surfaced; 6,000 tons submerged.

Dimensions: Length 341·2ft (104m); beam 32·8ft (10m); draught 23·9ft (7·3m).

Propulsion: Nuclear, 30,000 shp; 1 shaft; 30kt dived.

Armament: SS-N-15/SS-NX-16 missiles; 6 21in (533mm) torpedo tubes.

Complement: 90.


Development: First seen by Western observers in 1968 the Victor class is a second generation Soviet nuclear powered attack submarine. Somewhat shorter than the November class but with as great a beam, sixteen of the first type victor-1 were built. These were followed by the Victor-II, which is 15-25ft (4-6m) longer to enable it to carry the SS-N-15-missile.

            Only seven of these boats were built before production changed to yet another development, 11-5ft (3-5m) longer still and with a cylindrical pod mounted on top of the upper rudder. This has subsequently been confirmed as the first Soviet towed sonar array, and it can be assumed that this device will be seen more widely on other attack submarines in future. Other sensors are a large, low frequency sonar array in the bow, and a medium frequency array for torpedo control. It is also reported that Victor-III hulls are coated with the Soviet Clusterguard anechoic protection to attenuate the reflections which are returned to searching hostile warships. There are now eighteen Victor-IIIs, and production ahs ceased; the successor to the class is the Sierra (qv).

            On 27 February 1982 the Italian Sauro class submarine Leonardo da Vinci detected a Soviet Victor-1 at a depth of some 984ft (300m), 25 miles (40km) south east of the naval base at Taranto. The Italians tracked the Soviet submarine for some 18 hours until it left Italian territorial waters. In reporting this incident the Italian authorities made it clear that this was by no means the first such incursion by a Soviet submarine. It is also noteworthy that the public announcement was absolutely positive about the nationality and type of the precision of modern underwater identification technology.


Above: A Victor-III appears to flaunt the fin-mounted towed array sonar.


Below: A Victor-III diving. The hull is coated with an anechoic substance to help reduce chance of detection.





Oscar Class


Origin: Soviet Union.

Type: SSGN.

Number: 3 boats + ?building.

Displacement: 10,000 tons surfaced; 14,000 tons submerged.

Dimensions: Length 469ft (143m); beam 60ft (18·3m); draught 36ft (12m).

Propulsion: Nuclear, 40,000shp; 2 shaft; 30 + kt dived.

Armament: 24 SS-N-19 SLCM; 8 21in (533mm) torpedo tubes.

Complement: c 130.


Development: Like other recent Soviet submarine class, the Oscar class is significantly larger than its predecessors, with a submerged displacement of 14,000 tons and a length of 469ft (143m). The principal weapon is the SS-N-19, with 24 missiles housed in vertical launch tubes, mounted twelve per side abreast the long, low fin and outside the pressure hull.

            The Oscar class appears to be the Soviet Navy’s reaction to the increased range of US carrier groups’ defensive measures, as made possible, by, for example, the Lockheed S-3 Viking ASW aircraft (qv). Thus the SS-N-19 has a range of 277 miles (445km) compared to the 69 miles (111 km) of the Charlie-II’s SS-N-9. The Oscar could also act as the advance guard of a Soviet Navy task group clearing the way for SSBNs to transit the Iceland-Faroes ‘choke point’ and move out into the Atlantic.

            The first Oscar was launched at Severodvinsk in 1980 and joined the fleet in 1983. The second boat was launched in 1982 and the third in 1983 and the delivery rate is now expected to stabilize at one or two boats per year. The single boat to have been a test bed for the Oscar / SS-N-19 combinations.

            By 1985 Oscar class SSGN patrols had become a matter of routine and production was continuing. In addition, the elderly Echo II SSGNs were being updated by replacing the 1960 vintage SS-N-3 missiles by the much more effective SS-N-12.


Above: 14,000 ton Oscar class cruise missile submarine (SSGN), armed with 24 nuclear capable SS-N-19 anti ship missiles with a 340 mile (550km) range. Missiles are targeted on NATO carrier battle groups.


Below: An Oscar-class SSGN running with its sail surfaced and one periscope raised, photographed by a vigilant NATO ASW patrol aircraft, probably in the Barents Sea. Note the hatch covers for quiet running.





Agosta Class


Origin: France.

Type: SSK.

Number: 10 boats

Displacement: 1,450 tons surfaced; 1,725 tons submerged.

Dimensions: Length 221·7ft (67·6m); beam 22·3ft (6·8m); draught 17·7ft (5·4m).

Propulsion: 2 diesel , 3,600bhp; 1 electric, 4,600hp; 1 shaft; 20kt dived.

Armament: 4 21in (533mm) torpedo tubes.

Complement: 52.


Development: Agosta, name-ship of the class, joined the French fleet in July 1977 and was followed by three more in 1977-78, completing the French Navy’s own order. A further four Agostas have been built in Spain by Bazan and two have been built in France for the Pakistan Navy. The south Africans wanted to order two as well, but this was blocked for political reasons. Egypt was interested at one time in purchasing two Agostas, but no order has ever been announced.

            Somewhat larger than the previous Daphnés, the Agosta class is intended for distant water operation. Only four torpedo tubes are fitted, but there are twenty reloads and special devices for rapid reloading. The tubes are 21in (533mm) in diameter, the first time that the French have abandoned their previous 21-7in (550mm); this is presumably intended to enhance the export potential of the type. ASW equipment includes a passive sonar set (DSUV-2) with 36 microphones, two active sets, and a passive ranging set under a spiky dome on the foredeck.

            Considerable attention has been devoted to silent running, and an unusual feature is the fitting of a small 30hp electric motor for very quiet, low-speed movement whilst on patrol.

            If the French Navy sticks to its announced intention to concentrate on nuclear powered to concentrate on nuclear powered submarines in future, the Agosta class could be the last of a distinguished and interesting line of French conventional boats.


Above: The Agosta class; probably the last non nuclear boats in the French Navy.


Below: Hurmat (S 136) is one of two French-built Agosta class submarines in service with the Pakistan Navy.



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