Currently, our country is working on several promising projects of submarines of various classes and purposes. Not so long ago it became known about the launch of the project with the code "Gorgon". As part of this work, the SPMBM "Malakhit" is working out the appearance of a multipurpose nuclear submarine of small displacement.
Several weeks ago, JSC “St. Petersburg Marine Engineering Bureau“Malakhit”prepared and published its annual report for 2020. One of the first sections of this document, traditionally, is devoted to the key events of the year under review. It mentions the implementation of various works on projects already being implemented, and also reveals the existence of new ones.
One of the paragraphs of the section indicates that last year “on an initiative basis, technical proposals were developed and the appearance of the Gorgon nuclear multipurpose submarine of small displacement was determined. Along with this work, the already well-known project of the non-nuclear submarine "Serval" is mentioned.
In another section of the report, "Gorgon" and other projects are called works that ensure the strategic development of the enterprise. There are no other references to the new project in the report. No data of a technical or other nature is also provided. Reported about the manufacture of models of different submarines for display at exhibitions, but not "Gorgons".
It should be recalled that in recent years SPMBM "Malachite" regularly discloses information about its promising developments. Thus, materials on new projects of the Piranha family were published, and last year the model of Serval was openly demonstrated. The new project "Gorgon" for unknown reasons has not yet reached this stage.
Very little is known about the Gorgon project so far. In fact, only the very fact of its existence and the class to which the new submarine will belong is disclosed. However, this information is enough to determine the overall picture and search for possible benefits.
The Gorgon project proposes a design for a small displacement submarine, the exact meaning of which has not been named. Taking into account the domestic experience in this area, it can be expected that the displacement of the Gorgon will exceed 200-250 tons, but will not go beyond 1000-1500 tons. For comparison, the Serval project envisages reaching the level of 1450 tons.
Thus, the "Gorgon" will be lighter than all existing submarines of the main classes, including the diesel "Varshavyanka" and the special nuclear-powered "Losharik". Accordingly, such a boat will be inferior to them in terms of main dimensions. The length of a promising nuclear submarine can be estimated at 50-60 m, diameter - no more than 5-7 m.
Information on the use of a nuclear power plant is of great interest. "Gorgon" may become the first domestic small class submarine with a similar power. Until now, all such ships were equipped only with diesel-electric power plants.
The idea of a small submarine with a nuclear power plant has certain advantages and allows you to improve the potential of the ship. In this case, quite complex technical problems arise, without the solution of which it will not be possible to obtain all the desired results. First of all, it is the need to fit the power plant of the required power into the limited dimensions and displacement of a small nuclear submarine.
The Gorgon is seen as a multipurpose submarine. Modern domestic nuclear submarines of this class are equipped with advanced means of observation and target designation, and are also capable of carrying a variety of mine-torpedo and missile weapons. Due to this, an effective search and defeat of surface, underwater and coastal targets is ensured.
In the well-known projects of small submarines from SPMBM "Malachite", the complex of weapons is built on the basis of torpedo tubes of different calibers. At the same time, 533-mm systems are capable of using both torpedoes and modern missiles. The Gorgon project can also use this approach. The use of a separate launcher for missiles, as in projects of larger nuclear submarines, is unlikely.
Earlier it was mentioned that the non-nuclear submarine "Serval" can receive a modular complex of weapons, self-defense and reconnaissance means. The composition of the boat's equipment should be determined during the planning of the operation, and it is proposed to mount the necessary equipment on it before going to sea. It is quite possible that such solutions will find application in the "Gorgon" project - if the objective limitations of the design allow it.
It should be expected that the most modern models of radio-electronic equipment will be used in the promising project, incl. with new features. Most of the control processes can be automated, making it possible to reduce the crew.
The Gorgon project is based on the original concept of a small multipurpose nuclear submarine. It provides for the integration of solutions specific to different classes of underwater technology in order to obtain new opportunities. You can imagine what advantages such a nuclear submarine will show and how it can be useful for the fleet.
At the moment, the benefit of the "Gorgon" lies in research and development and in the search for the necessary solutions, components and technologies. Regardless of the further fate of the project, SPMBM "Malakhit" will receive valuable experience in the development of an unusual class submarine, which can then be used to create new ships.
Small submarines from SPMBM "Malakhit", such as "Piranha", P-650E, etc., are offered for the defense of coastal and sea borders, bases, etc. They must patrol at a limited distance from the coast, tracking the activity of a potential enemy. Their standard armament allows them to attack a wide range of targets, both in defensive and offensive operations. In addition, small submarines are capable of supporting the work of combat swimmers.
A submarine of small displacement like the proposed "Gorgon" is quite capable of solving all such problems. At the same time, the nuclear power plant will improve some of its capabilities. Such a ship can constantly remain under water and not be exposed to unnecessary risks with regular surfacing.
However, the presence of a nuclear power plant complicates the development of the project and increases the cost of building a boat. There are also operational limitations. Unlike diesel and non-nuclear ships, the Gorgon needs a base with a more complex and developed infrastructure. A significant disadvantage is the high cost of the life cycle, from construction to disposal.
From initiative to implementation
The concept of a low-displacement multipurpose nuclear submarine provides for the use of a number of interesting ideas and solutions that provide the most remarkable results. It is very interesting from a technical point of view, but the real prospects are not yet fully clear. The potential customer has yet to evaluate the initiative development of the SPMBM "Malachite" and determine the value of the "Gorgon" for the navy.
Initiative developments of design bureaus, created without an order from the Ministry of Defense, often do not receive development.However, it cannot be ruled out that the "Gorgon" or another project of an unusual nuclear submarine will interest the military and receive support. In this case, the original concept will be developed and turned into a full-fledged technical project. At the same time, the opposite scenario is also possible, in which the multipurpose small submarine has no future.
At the moment, very little is known about the Gorgon project, which does not allow us to fully assess its advantages and disadvantages, as well as predict the real future. However, one can expect that in the near future this project will be presented at one of the military-technical exhibitions - and all the basic data necessary for a more detailed study will be published.