Soviet Submarine: B-413 foxtrot submarine in Kaliningrad
One of Kaliningrad’s main attractions is the B-413 a Soviet Foxtrot class submarine, belonging to the Museum of the World Ocean. Foxtrot submarines were deployed as long range patrol vessels by the Baltic fleet until 1995. The B-413 is maintained by former crew members who also provide guided tours trough the diesel submarine. The submarine is in excellent state and all it’s original equipment and weapon systems are still in place. Visitors can also climb in the periscope room and operate the periscope.
Naberezhnaya Petra Velikogo 1
Wed - Sun 10.00 to 18.00
Kaliningrad’s top attractions
Not many travellers pick the Russian town of Kaliningrad as a destination for a city breakaway. Most foreigners you’ll meet here are German heritage tourists in search of their pre war family history. Before the Second World War Kaliningrad was the famous Prussian city of Koningsberg. It was not just the name that changed after the ware. During the war Koningsberg was totally destroyed by bombing raids and the Soviet siege at the end of the war. After the war Stalin ordered to replace the German population by Russians and rename the city after his loyal follower Michael Kalinin. It was also decided to make Kaliningrad part of the Russian SSR (not bordering Lithuania or Poland) to ensure an all year round warm water port for Russia. The result in the 21st century is a Russian enclave within the borders of the EU. The Russians who moved to Kaliningrad never found much love for their new home and little effort has been taken to restore the Baltic city back to its former glory. Kaliningrad does have a number of very interesting tourist attractions however for those who care about World War 2 or cold war history. Most notable attractions of Kaliningrad are the restored cathedral, the beautiful house of the Soviets, the command bunker of general Otto von Lasch, the railway museum and the B-413 as part of the museum of the world ocean. Combine a stay in Kaliningrad with a visit of Baltiysk (former Pillau) to see the Russian Baltic fleet and you have great city trip.
Museum of the world ocean
Kaliningrad’s maritime museum is highlighted as a local top attraction in most tourist brochures. The museum consist of an indoor exposition with various themes plus a number of vessels in the harbour that can be visited separate from the museum. Most notable are the Soviet research vessels Vitiaz and Cosmonaut Victor Patsaev, the ice-breaker Krasin, a fishing trawler and the B-413 foxtrot class submarine. Several Soviet navy objects like torpedo’s, mines and naval guns are displayed in the harbour where the museum ships are docked. Visitors can buy a discount ticket for the museum plus all ships or single tickets for the museum or each ship.
The B-413 museum submarine
Foxtrot class (project 641) are the most common Soviet diesel submarines used as museum ship around the world. Besides the B-413 in Kaliningrad can enthusiasts also visit the B-143 in Zeebrugge Belgium, the B-15 in New Westminster Canada, the B-427 in Long beach USA, the B-39 in San Diego USA and the INS Kursura in Vizag India. The B-413 however is operated by its original crew which probably make sit the most interesting Foxtrot to visit. The B-413 was built at the Novo-Admiralteisky shipyard in Leningrad and was launched in 1968. It served in the Soviet Northern fleet until 1991 and in the Russian Baltic fleet until 1999 and became part of the Kaliningrad world ocean museum in the year 2000.
The front torpedo room
Visitors enter the B-413 in the torpedo room on the bow site of the submarine. Retired crew members working as museum volunteers welcome guests on board and provide tours trough the submarine. Besides information about the submarine can the staff also tell stories about their submarine missions. The only language spoken is Russian so none Russian speakers who are interested in the story of the Soviet submariners are advised to visit the B-413 with a guide who can translate. Foxtrot submarines have six launch tubes on the bow and can carry up to 533mm torpedoes. Four foxtrot class submarines were armed with nuclear torpedoes during the Cuban missile crisis in 1969 and came very close to using them. The torpedo room of the B-413 houses an exposition about Soviet submarines with models of submarines, a movie played on a TV, information about other museum submarines and more. From the torpedo room stairs bring visitors to the next compartment.
The living quarters
The hatch from the torpedo rooms leads to the corridor of the foxtrot’s cramped living quarters. Eighty men were living in the submarine while deployed which must have been very uncomfortable. The main rooms in this part of the ship are the officers mess and officers cabins (the sailors sleep between the torpedo’s and machinery).
The control room
The next compartment of the B-413 is the middle section below the sail from where the submarine is operated. This cramped compartment is fitted with communication equipment, wheels, leavers, valves and switches. The radio communication is stacked with radio equipment used to communicate with the Soviet navy headquarters or with other ships. Sonar provide the ears and eyes of a submarine when it is submerged. Very interesting is the equipment used to communicate with other compartments like the engine rooms and the torpedo room. Each of the 3 diesel and 3 electro engines have a clock to communicate the engine speed to the engine rooms.
The periscope room in the tower
Stairs in the control area lead to the submarine tower with the periscope. Visitors can enter the tower one by one for an extra payment of 100 rubble. Visitors are offered the unique experience to operate the fully functioning periscope. The submarine periscope rotates 360 degrees, can be moved up and down and can zoom in and out. Playing around with the periscope is a real tread for any submarine enthusiast and by itself makes a visit of the B-413 worth while.
Further down the middle section are the remaining crew cabins, the sub’s galley, the medical room and toilets. Next is the engine rooms are situated in the next compartment of the foxtrot. Three diesel and three electric engines drive the Foxtrots three six blade propellers. It were those three propellers that made the Foxtrot more noisy compared to its American counterparts. Beds where the lower ranking crew sleeps are built around and above the engines.
Rear torpedo room
The last room in the stern of the submarine is the rear torpedo room with four torpedo tubes. More engine control equipment is mounted on the entrance wall. Crew beds are placed on multiple placed in this compartment. The foxtrot carried a maximum of 22 533mm torpedoes that could be armed with a nuclear war head from up to 100m depth. Mines can also be placed via the torpedo tubes. The escape hatch of the Foxtrot is located in this compartment. A dummy diver in a pressure suit that could perform repairs to the submarine is displayed in this area. Stairs lead visitors to the stern of the submarine where the museum exit is located.
Technical data: Project 641 (Foxtrot class) attack submarine
History of the Soviet Project 641 submarine
The first Project 641 (NATO designation “Foxtrot”) diesel electric submarine was completed in 1958. It succeeded the Zulu and Romeo class Diesel subs with larger ammunition load, endurance and range. The Foxtrot could stay under water for four days without servicing. The main task of the Foxtrot was long range patrols both in the Baltic, Northern and Pacific fleet. A total of 74 Foxtrots were build by the Soviet union at the Sudomekh shipyard in Leningrad. The Soviet and alter Russian navy retired the last Foxtrot submarines between 1995 and 2000. North Korea, Cuba and Poland have now retired their Foxtrots, India, Libya and Ukraine are still deploying a couple each
Foxtrot’s finest hour, the Cuba missile crisis
The Foxtrot submarine became famous during the Cuba missile crisis in October 1962. Four Foxtrots (B-4, B-36, B-59 and B-130) were deployed to Cuba. Three were forced to the service by the US navy using depth charges, one managed to escape the American destroyers. The Americans were unaware that the four Foxtrots were carrying torpedoes equipped with nuclear warheads. Conditions on the submarines were very bad and many of the crew were exhausted. The most dangerous incident took place on the B-59 were captain Valentin Savitsky, unable to establish communications with Moscow was furious about the American attack and started the procedure to launch a nuclear torpedo at the US fleet. He was finally convinced by two other high-ranking officers not to launch the torpedo and services the submarine. This was probably the most dangerous moment in the cold war that could have started world war 3. An interesting documentary about the role of the Foxtrots during the Cuban Missile crisis is History Channels Nuclear Sharks - Cuban Missile crisis.