Russia to Build Civilian Nuclear-Powered Submarine to Conduct Seismic Surveys

By Prei Dy, | May 04, 2017

Russia is building a nuclear-powered submarine to do seismic surveying works. (YouTube)

Russia is building a nuclear-powered submarine to do seismic surveying works. (YouTube)

Russia is building a civilian nuclear-powered submarine that is expected to begin operation by the end of the decade.

The submarine is expected to do seismic surveying work across the wide areas of the sea and ocean floors. "The most important [modifications] is the sub's special seismic sensor wings," Rubin's Yevgeni Toporov told Izvestia, noting that the sub will be built using one of Russia's military nuclear submarine designs to make room its unique equipment needs.

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When in idle state, the seismic sensor wings will be hidden. And in working position, it will open like fins and form like a giant scanning surface area that will cover several hundreds of square meters, Toporov said. The military is expected to utilize the seismic data to look for potential strategic positions for its underwater drones and other facilities.

The submarine also aims to ease the search for reserves of hydrocarbons and other minerals, to supply relevant information to the Russian Navy, to search for potential locations to construct its underwater projects, and to monitor foreign vessels as part of the 'Project Harmony' maritime surveillance system, Sputnik News noted.

The submarine will be under the 'Project Iceberg', which focuses on building a network of unmanned drilling rigs, underwater facilities, and autonomous nuclear reactors. The project, which will be carried out by Rubin and the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects, is projected to finish within a 20- to 30-year timeframe, according to Russia's Izvestia newspaper.

The submarine could also be sent at the bottom of the oceans to keep track of foreign vessels as part of the 'Project Harmony' maritime surveillance system.

"First of all, this has to do with the exploration of underwater areas... there are many strategic facilities underwater: oil and gas pipelines and communication lines including government ones," retired colonel Viktor Baranets told Radio Sputnik when asked about the expected uses of the new submarine.

"Furthermore, such a sub could conduct underwater geological exploration. For us, this is extremely important in areas like the Arctic, for example," he added.

The absence of weapons systems in the sub is expected to cut down the seismic scanner's cost to around 60 percent compared with a conventional nuclear-powered combat submarine. The vessel is expected to accommodate up to 40 crews, with a displacement of around 14,000 metric tons, and a sea-based endurance time of 90 days.

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