Echo I class submarines

Project 659 (NATO “ECHO I”) nuclear missile attack submarines

5 submarines, Project 659 (1961-1963)
К-45, К-59, К-66, К-122, К-151, К-30 (cancelled)

Soviet Cold War Subs
Pr.613 Whiskey | Pr.611 Zulu | Pr.615 Quebec | Pr.633 Romeo | Pr.651 Juliet | Pr.641 Foxtrot | Pr.641 buki Tango | Pr.877 Kilo
Pr.627 kit November | Pr.659 Echo I | Pr.675 Echo II | Pr.671 Victor | Pr.671 skat Charlie | Pr.705 lira Alfa | Pr.949 antey Oscar | Pr.945 barrakuda Sierra | Pr.971 bars Akula | Pr.885 graney Yasen | Pr. 545 Laika
Pr.629 Golf | Pr.658 Hotel | Pr.667A Yankee | Pr.667B Murena Delta I | Pr.667D Delta II | Pr.667BDR Kalmar Delta III | Pr.667 BDMR delfin Delta IV | Pr. 941 akula Typhoon | Pr.995 borei Dolgorukiy | Pr.09851 Khabarovsk

The world’s first nuclear cruise missile launching submarines

The Project 659 (NATO Echo class) inaugurated a brand new league in submarine design for the cold war. Just as the first tests were made to carry and launch ballistic missiles, there was another school that advocated the use of cruise missiles instead. The USN, with the USS Grayback and Growler in the 1950s tested nucmear-tipped cruise missiles as early deterrence (plus many Gato-class converted SSG), and in 1959 the nuclear powered USS Halibut. This was no lost in USSR. The development of the Zulu conversions, then the Foxtrot-based Golf class, led to the nuclear-powered Hotels but in parallel were developed Project 659 (ECHO I) attack ships, first dedicated to missile striked against US battle groups. The first generation were five boats carrying six (later reconverted as SSNs) and the second, Project 675 were better known as the ECHO II class. With 29 of these, they formed the backbone of the Soviet SSG force before the arrival of the Charlie class in the 1970s and finally, the Oscars in the 1980s, less numerous but far more sophisticated. Since both ha a very different design and trajectory, they are to be seen over two posts, on two days.

These nuclear cruise missile submarines of the Soviet Navy were built during the 1960s, the first having Project 659 as decomination. They served for the whole duration of the cold war, and experienced some issues. Project 659 clas were all built at Komsomolsk, far east, by 1960-1963. These SSGNs according to US and NATO classifications were armed with six launchers for the P-5 Pyatyorka (SS-N-3C, “Shaddock”) land-attack cruise missile. But a strategic rather than anti-shipping role was defined for them, due to the lack of fire control and guidance radars, meaning large imprecision and the missiles were nuclear-tipped. So they were in short, the first and last Soviet strategic SSGNs, mirroring the US conversions and Grayback/Growler/Halibut.
Due to the SALT I agreements the tubes were removed and they were reclassified as attack submarine of Project 659T, SSNs in NATO classification.

As the Soviet SSBN force built up, the need for these boats diminished so they were converted to the Project 659T SSNs between 1969 and 1974. The conversion involved the removal of the cruise missiles, the plating over and the streamlining of the hull to reduce underwater noise of the launchers and the modification of the sonar systems to the standard of the November-class SSNs.
All the Echo Is were deployed in the Pacific Fleet. The last two boats were scrapped in the early 1990s.

Genesis of the design

By government decree the creation of SSGN project “659” was adopted on August 25 (26), 1956. By September, simultaneously with the start of the SSBN Project 658 program start, TsKB-18 started work on a technical design set of specifications for nuclear submarines, armed with six P-5 cruise missiles, called Project 659. Development of both projects was carried out in parallel within the same time frame. P.P. Pustyntsev was appointed chief designer of project 659 with his deputy Nikolai Andreevich Klimov. On October 23, 1956, as a significant part of the project had already been developed, Naval Commander-in-Chief S.G. Gorshkov approved the tactical and technical specifications (TTZ) for the development of this first SSGN using the P5 complex, precising it was intended to carry out air strikes on naval bases, ports, industrial and administrative centers located on the coast and inland, within the range of aircraft.

On October 19, 1957, at a meeting of the Presidium of the Central Committee, progress in construction was considered and a long-term plan was approved, according to which by 1961 it was planned to procure 32 SSGN submarines with P-5 cruise missiles to the fleet. Continuation was ensured in the VII Five-Year Plan (1961-1965). By the time the design was completed however, the missile complex was not ready yet. As a result, technical decisions were made to do a mular approach fir future modifications, with all future necessary changes precised at the detailed design stage, as well as during construction or even during testing of the lead boat.

Construction of Project 659 submarines started at “Lenin Komsomol” Yard in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Externally, the hull was based the need to use the cumbersome weapon while surfaced, it the hull design aapproach was the same way as on Project 658 (Hotel I class). Sharpening the bow tip made it possible to ensure that the deck was not underwater while at full speed when surfaced. Particular attention was paid to refined the outer hull design when placing containers lids protecting the cruise missiles ramps, ensuring to contain profile resistance while submerged, and obtained the greatest straemlining possible. After considering several options, it was considered most appropriate to raise the superstructure deck to an height equal to missile containers, ensuring they all were placed below the superstructure deck without step.

In the first quarter of 1957, TTZ development was completed, planss submitted for approval, after which, without even waiting for approval from high authorities, TsKB-18 confidently started the final working draft. Despite issues later arising during the development of the detailed design moslty due to the P-5 missile system, dragging on until 1959, the drawings were all completed in October 1957, making it possible to build the lead submarine as soon as September 1958. The first sections of the pressure hull were delivered to the slipway, Dock No. 3, section “A”. By December 20, 1958, the keel of the lead submarine was laid down with a ceremony.
Leninsky Komsomol was the USSR’s second yard to undertake construciton of nuclear submarines, largely using the experience of Severodvinsk, which provided significant assistance and personal to organize construction.

Project 659 boats spent their relatively short service in the Pacific Fleet, patrolling to the West Coast of the United States and notably aiming at the largest Boeing aircraft factories in Seattle as well as other major industrial, military and administrative centers, but also, Hawaii, Japan (Sasebo), and the Panama Canal. They appeared such promising ships that the young Chinese Navy express its wish to purchase plans or disamembled boats but the icing 1965 Soviet-Chinese relations interrupted all military-technical cooperation. In the end, the PLAN never created its own SSGN, only transformed regular SSNs recently to do the job, as the US did.

In the end however, the P-5 Pyatyorka (SS-N-3C, NATO “Shaddock”) were not a great asset, with low firing accuracy, sensitivity to wind direction and wind speed, impossibility of flying over difficult terrain, interference of air temperature, and many other factors. They were removed from service in 1966. Attempts to improve them by installing a Doppler radar and create the P-5D and P-7 did not gave satisfaction, so they were removed from Project 659 (Echo I) boats in the end.
Project 659 boats proved ill-suited to be modernized with the new P-6 missiles, the modifications were estimated way too costly. Decision was made to re-equip them under Project 659T: This included the removal of all containers, former cutout welded shut, transformed into new useful compartments, and alteration of the superstructure and increase in torpedoes. After all, they still could perform nuclear SSN roles, second after the November class. This was done however between 1968 and 1976 and technology went ahead in between, notably with the new Charlie class SSGNs and Alfa, Vicor class SSNs, way more silent and capable.

It should be noted that the general arrangement, equipment and power plant of Project 658 and 659 submarines (Echo I/II) was extremely close, despite the difference in the number of launcing ramps. In fact each pair was identical compared between the two, including down to the latest detail. The lauch sequence was the same, just now comprising an extra pair, albeit the P6 required less time to be operated.

Design of the class

Hull and general design

Project 659 cutaway

The Displacement of Project 658 boats was 3,731 tons, normal, and 4,920t fully loaded. They measured 111.2 meters long by 9.20 meters wide, with a 7.10 meters draught. They kept the traditional a double-hull architecture with a robust internal pressure hull body 6.8 m in diameter and divided into nine waterproof compartments separated by very thick bulkhead, capable to absorb a massive pressure in case it was breeched. The design was considered “unsinkability” even when any of these compartments was entirely filled with seawater.
The initial conning tower or sail was not setup to support a radar, unlike the next class. Each P5 “shaddock” was suppposed to be autonomous, and the poor accuracy on land targets compensated by their powerful nuclear warhead. Buoyancy reserve was about 27% ad they were capable of diving to 300 meters, thanks to a hull combining PC steel for the pressure hull and LC low-magnetic steel for the outer hull. If range was so, the human factor meant her real autonomy was fifty days, unless there was a contact with a resplenishment ship at some point.


Project 659 in initial and final configuration as SSNs.

The ship was equipped with a power plant with a nominal power of 35,000 hp. s., which included two pressurized water reactors VM-A (2×70 mW). There were two groups of batteries with 112 cells each, two creeping electric motors PG-116 (2×450 hp) and two DC diesel generators DG-400. The SSGN was armed with the Pluto-659 navigation system, including the Mayak gyrocompass. There was a hydroacoustic station MG-200 “Arktika”, a noise direction finder MG-15, a hydroacoustic radiation detection station MG-13 and other target equipment.
The shafts VM-A nuclear reactors were associated to GTZA-601 geared steam turbines units for a total oitput of 35,000 hp, producitng a surface speed of 15.1 knots, and underwater speed of 26 knots. Nuclear Propulsion meant their endurance was unlimited. This was on purpose to keep them permanently off major US targets.

The VM-A reactors were about the same as those on the November class, but already many teething issues were cured. The Project 658 boats were not free from troubles though. The GTZA-601 turbines which delivered each some 17,500 hp on shaft, completed by two 1400 Kw TG GPM-21 generators providing direct current at 320 V coupled with diesel M-820 each 460 Kw. But they often experiences in service fires due to various manufacturing quality issues, compounded by human errors. The “black sheep” in the bunch was without contest K122, joining the cohort of “widowmakers” typical of the early soviet SSNs. The K122 experienced in a single cruise dozens of issues, culminating with a firce fire (12 dead) that obliged the submarine to surface and the crew to be rescued by a British tanker in the Philippines seas…
The battery groups were of the type AB lead-acid type with 38 cm elements, two groups of 112. They proved more or less reliable in servicee but there was still one incident. The current stored was interfaced via a RSD GED PG-116 type transformer into direct current, built into the shaft line working at 450 rm plus 140 rpm with reduction, but the end propellers turned at 500 rpm. The latter were GV type four-bladeed types, refined to avoid any cavitation. There were also measures taken in the turbines and diesels suspensions to reduce vibration. The latter were considered “creeping” engines for silment running approaches at low speed.
At full speed underwater on trials the reached 22-23 kts, and 14-15 surfaced wit an average cruising range on diesels alone of 500 in case of reactor shutdown. They were provided a snorkel system to feed them while be kept submerged.


6x 1 P-5 Cruise Missiles (6 P-5)

The missile containers were placed in three pairs, was raised to fire when surface at an angle of 15° rotating on its fixed hollow axis, inside which communication gear connected the missile to the control panel in the pressure hull, to disconnectable onboard connectors. The data transmitted included microclimate parameters and the ship’s 3D angle in real time. Before start the firing sequence, the starting angle was secured with stoppers, whereas two covers front and back were opened, the rear one deflecting upwards the blast. Containers used hydraulic lifts located in the 2nd, 6th and 7th compartments, in 140 seconds, whereas the lids opened in 20-25 seconds.

A six-missile salvo needed to be carried out in a certain sequence (6-3-2-5-4-1) to avoid interferences, 1 and 2 being part of the bow section, 3-4 middle section and 5-6 stern one. They needed to be in a fully fueled state, with the warhead installed, launch engines attached and connected. The sequence was carried out at a bearing equal to the submarine course but it needed four minutes to start the firing and with preparation time and pause between launches of all 6, 12.5 minutes passed before she could submerge again. The first design of the rear blast deflectors proved unsuccessful as exhaust gases from the forward rockets caused the following pair to stall. The geometry of the gas outlet baffles was changed to reditect them properly.

They had a nuclear warhead unified with R-11FM ballistic missile (200 Kt, yeld, later increased to 650 Kt). The diameter was one meter, length ten meters and 80 cm, wingspan 3.7 m for a total mass
of 5,2 tons and a maximum flight speed of Mach 0.9 to Mach 1, max ange of 350 km.
The flight took place at an altitude of 800-900 m and they took off from their solid fuel boosters, jettisoned, after which a sustainer turbojet engine KRD-26 (2250 kgf) took relay until the target was reached. The control system included an autopilot, time-meter and barometric altimeter. The missile was in a fully sealed container 1.65 m in diameter for 12 m in lenght and filled with nitrogen to keep the whole system inert.

Eight Torpedo Tubes

In all there were four 21-inches or 533 mm torpedo tubes in the bow (12 total) and four light torpedo tubes, 16 inches of 400 mm, two at the bow to at the stern, only four.
The torpedo 533-mm bow torpedo tubes were made to fire SET-65 and 53-61 torpedoes, capable of diving down to 100 m, as well as four stern torpedo capable of 240 m.
They were guided by the “Ladoga” type sonar and data transmitter, and the 400 mm by the SJSC “Kerch” data system.


RLK-101 all-round surface and air search 2D radar “Albatros”
-MG-200 Arktika
-SORS ECM suite “Nakat-M”
-Plutoniy system
-MG-10 Kola
-MG-13 sonars
-Identification station “Nichrome-M”
-Targeting system “Success-U”
-Navigation complex “Strength H-675”
-Automatic. radio bearing system ARP-53/ARP-53R
-Ship indicator KI-55
-Echo sounder NEL-6
–Echometer EL-1 or EL-2
-Distance magnetic compass KDE-P
-Anti-aircraft periscope PZNG-10
Radio Transmitter KV “Iskra-1” and “Tantalum” or “Perch-PL”
Radio station VHF “Graphite-1”, receiver KV “Onyx” or “Cowberry-M-PL” and DV receiver “Depth”.

⚙ Echo I specifications

Displacement 3,768 long tons (3,828 t) surfaced, 4,920 long tons (4,999 t) submerged
Dimensions 111.2 x 9.2 x 7.1 m (364 ft 10 in x 30 ft 2 in x 23 ft 4 in)
Propulsion 2 shaft pressurized water-cooled reactors 44,500 hp (33 MW), 2 steam turbines
Speed 15.1 knots (17.4 mph; 28.0 km/h) surfaced, 24.2 knots (27.8 mph; 44.8 km/h) submerged
Range 18,000–30,000 miles (29,000–48,000 km), 50 days
Armament 6× P-5 Pyatyorka cruise missiles, 4× 533 mm (21 in) bow TTs, 2× 400 mm bow, 2 stern TTs
Sensors RLK-101 Albatros radar, MG-200 Arktika, Plutoniy, MG-10 Kola, Svet-M, MG-13 sonars, Nakat ECM suite
Test depth 300 m (984 ft)
Crew 104-109 men (including 29 officers)

General Assessment

Rushed construction and hazardous choices

In the mid-1950s, the Soviet Union was rapidly increasing the pace of creation of a nuclear submarine fleet. In 1956, a decision was made to build nuclear submarines armed with two missile systems, ballistic and cruise types, all nuclear tipped. These ships were designed by TsKB-18. Project 659, nuclear submarine with six missile P-5, were designed to strike coastal targets at 300 km, developed under P.P. Pustyntsev and then N.A. Klimov. Its special feature was the use of a nuclear power plant from project 627-A (November) to significantly reduce design time, but it proved detrimental, as shortcomings had not been all identified by that time.

There was a reunion by October 6, 1956, to review TTZ of Project 658 and Project 659 boats (Hotel and Echo). Admirals N.E. Basisty, G.I. Levchenko, N.I. Vinogradov, engineer-admiral N.V. Isachenkov, engineer-vice admiral G.F. Kozmin and engineer-rear admiral M were present, and it was N.V. Isachenkov that decided to take as basis Project 627-A to gain time as politocal pressure above and notably from premier N. Khrustchvev pushed for a large number of nuclear submarines as soon as possible. Their autonomy was also increased to 90 days compared to the Project 627. M.A. Rudnitsky drew attention to meeting participants to the fact that the nuclear power plant, planned to be used for both projects, has a serious drawback, using mounted electric generators which significantly reduced maneuverability and made it difficult to maintain the powrplant. This proved prophetic.

Concluding the meeting, instructions to the fleet was that the upcoming projects should not require installation of autonomous power generators, because they will be implemented on subsequent nuclear submarine projects. In short, this arrangement was considered immature at that stage. However the time factor again intervened, with the top management ignoring the costs required to refine the control system and wanted above all else that USSR was to be ready to go to great lengths not to be inferior to the USN.

The five nuclear submarines of Project 659 all made at Komsomolsk-on-Amur for the Pacific fleet predetermined a number of features. The plant wa slocated on the river, far from the coast, and required to transfer the launched ship along the Amur River to Chikhachev Bay, towed or transported in dock, which took about a week. Then it had to proceed under its own power to the plant’s outfitting base in b. Pavlovsky. It was planned to build barracks there for nuclear submarine crews, commissioning teams and were installed a double-distillation unit, a power substation, a radiation control service building, and a burial ground to disposing of removed radioactive equipment. The lead ship K-45 was started under the 7-year military shipbuilding plan, but by top decision, delivery was advanced to 1960, instead of 1961 reducing construction by almost a year. This immediartely had severe consequences in manufacturing quality, with most of the work being just botched to gain time and many shortcuts taken.

During construction, many difficulties emerged. The basic yard’s lack of experience for nuclear powered boats was compounded by a lack of metal-cutting machines at plant No. 199 and poor metal casting capacity while mechanical engineering capabilities were limited. There was a lot of pressure and thus, massive staff turnover, or understaffing. The remoteness of the plant from industrial centers increased delivery time for various components, increased costs. During work in preparation for the official laying in 1958, the plant also received 2,800 notifications for changes concerning 16,000 documents and drawings, leading to changing many ready-made components and structures. All contributed to a perfect storm of future issues.

In mid-May 1960, dedicated efforts of engineers and workers managed to have the K-45 launched on time. The construction took 510 days, 150 days more than the lead boat of Project 658 (Hotel) at Shipyard No. 402 in Severodvinsk. Mooring tests started by June 1, 1960 and all systems were tested until September with the reactor pushed to 60% power and then cooled down, identified many defects, eliminated until she was placed on her transport dock to be transferred to Chikhachev Bay for fitting out… So this explains largely the numerous issues that plagiues the class and shortened their operational times (inluding two years of conversion as SSNs). In the end, the November, Hotel and Echo boats are considered the “cursed” 1st generation of Soviet submarines, in a ruthless time schedule dictated top down by the cold war. Just with more time in an alternative universe, the boats could have been so much better.

A short career marred with issues

The end result of the Project 659, ECHO I boats, was not glorious. Construction to commission time was four years on average. All served on the Pacific fleet, but as customary for the time they had a lot of technical issues, most of these caused by poor manufacturing quality standards. Leaks were many, and albeit there never was a major nuclear reactor cooling failure like on K15 (Hotel class), they experienced serious fires several times, with one on K122 being the most critical. On paper, they were to terrorize the US West Coast as SSGNs, but they did yearly only a few sorties with relatively short underwater periods and in general two-three months at best at sea and few practical firing missiles before being converted after less than 5-6 years of service to SSNs under Porkect 659T.

In the latter type, they were found too noisy for late 1970s standards and sorties were made until the mid-1985, after which they reduced their service or went stringht into reserve, decomm. in 1988-89 for the most. The next ECHO II were head and shoulders above with their four launchers and far better cruise missiles (the previous Shaddock P-4 were very innacurate and subject of interferences of all kind while being slow and thus easy to shoot down). But since the Echo II shared most components and sub-systems, they also experienced scores of issues. The SSGN concept really matured with the Charlie class in the 1970s to eventually settle with the gigantic Oscar.

Sovietskaya Flota K-45

K45 was ordered on April 22 1958, laid down on December, 20 at shipyard No. 199 Lenin Komsomol, Komsomolsk-on-Amur as the lead boat, launched on May 12, 1960. She was tested from June to September with yard trials until completed, including nuclear power plant tests at 60% power. By late September she was towed to Chikhachev transport dock, after which she was officially was launched. By October 2 she was sent to Pavlovsky Bay for outfitting, with more tests, and with her first crew temporarily subordinated to the 9th formation, Pacific Fleet.
She made a first sortie of 48 hours for fixes, notably reworking the ventilation, torpedo and missile system. She made a full power run, all lines were checked and and her seaworthiness when surfaced, until all certificates were granted. Also tested were her anchor line drum and winch and echo sounder. Some 270 defects were identified.

November to June 1961 saw her starting sea trials, and after being completed, it was reported an incident 04/01/1961, while testing the pressure hull deep, water rushed into the central post and the 4th compartment, and a hydraulic shock was registered in air pressure system. When inspecting missile containers the first had partial flooding. During missile firing, gas outlets issues were revealed, with the propulsion engines stalling at launch, missiles falling into the water. Nevertheless she made 13 missile launches, 7 unsuccessful. During state tests, she managed to reach 3,840 nautical miles in 34 running days, 445 hours, and submerged she made 2,560 nautical miles in 223 hours.

By June 28 1961 she received her full commission certificate, signed by Khvalin Yu.I. of the State Commission and Rear Adm. Ivanov.
From May 1962 to January 1964 she continued sorties, tests and fixes. On 4 November 1964 she is assigned to the 45th Brigade, 15th squadron of the Pacific Fleet based in the bay Krasheninnikova. In 1965-66 she made classified operational cruises, and from December 1966 to September 29, 1970 she received an overhaul at Zvezda, Bolshoy Kamen, convered as pure torpedo SSN, first of her class.
By 30 September 1970, her acceptance certificate is signed, and she is recommissioned, then transferred to the 26th submarine brigade based in Pavlovsky Bay.

On 20 October 1970 as project 659T shez started patrols, and in 1972 May-June she operated with “K-184” and “K-57 in the Gulf of Tonkin, South China Sea to monitor the US aircraft carrier forces. Later she is redeployed to the Philippine Sea. On July 25, 1977 she is reclassified as a “large submarine” and underwent modernization and overhaul between 1977 and 1978 at Zvezda, Bolshoi Kamen and upon completion is reassigned in 1979 to the 26th division, then 4th division. On 16 December 1976 an incident is noted, as she had a gas increase detected in her bow, up up to 49 atm. The port side turbine is stopped and later while returning to port, a leak in circuit 1 inside the reactor compartment is detected, close to the control rod sleeve.
In 1981 at SRZ-30, Chazhma Bay she had her reactor core replaced.

In Sept. 1981 was reported another incident. The 10th, she was in sortie to the combat training area, surfaced, with on the bridge the ship’s commander. There was strong wind (5 m/sec), rough seas
of 1 point and night with zero visibility, but there was no issues yet, untul was ordered by the operational duty officer to set course 0° at 12.5 knots, until on radar were reported three clusters, which happened to be fishing vessels. The boat commander decided switch on electric motors for easier maneuvering but this was overrruled by Division commander cap. 1st rank
Samoilov Yu.M.. K-45 made several course changes within 5-6 minutes.
According to the later investigations, Security measures appropriate to the situation were not taken, Combat readiness not increased, all was normal in the combat information post, the watchman officer was even sent by the commander to the radio room for the next radio communication session. The commander still believed at this point no action has been taken even after report on unchanged bearing and reduction of the distance. Meanwhile, one of the large trawler, “Novokachalinsk” quickly approached and at 06.03, suddenly turned sharply to the left. The sub Commander then only spotted the red side light and ordered to fire a red flare ad flashed spotlights, then ordereing “Left aboard!” and “Reverse!”, too late as the trawler collided, rammed by K-45. It opened a 3.5 x 6.0 m gush into her hull, and being not compartmented, she soon sank, although all crew members escaped. Back to port and investigation, Cmdr.
division cap. 1st rank Samoilov was sacked, demoted from his post and transferred to the reserve.

From October 15 1981, to February 20, 1982 she was repaired, and in 1983 transferred to the 28th division, and in June to her permanent base in Postovaya Bay.
She made a 53 days sorties and in 1984-1985 made more sorties over 257 days, 1,226 miles surfaced, 17,747 miles underwater. She was then sent for her last overhaul at Zvezda, Bolshoi Kamen and by May 3, 1989, she was decommissioned, anchored in Postovaya Bay. In 1995 she was prepared for long-term storage afloat. In 1999 she was disposed of at Zvezda, BU.

Sovietskaya Flota K-59

Ordered on 1959, July 28, K59 was laid down on Septembe, 30 at Komsomolsk-on-Amur Yard, placed under the 80th submarine Brigade of the Pacific Fleet on September 25, 1960, launched on October 5 – 1961 with yard trials in August and completed soon after. In the autumn, she was assigned to the 26th Division if the Pacific Fleet in Pavlovsk Bay Strelok, Fokino village. From August to December she completed her state trials, and was commissioned on December 16 1961. June-July 1962 saw her first sortie of 42-day in the sea of Japan, Okhotsk and Pacific under command of Ganrio A.V., with the 26th Division Rear Admiral Yu.V. Ivanov, including 28 underwater, 10,958 miles/9,975 nm at 11 knots on average. The crew later received awards.
From May 1963 May to July 1965 she was in dock for fixes and modifications, but in between on 16 December 1964 she was reassigned to the division, 15th “Special Submarine unit” of the Pacific Fleet based at Krasheninnikov Bay, Vilyuchinsk. In August 1966 she made intensive fleet training, and in 1966-1967 made another 51 days cruise (classified). In February 1967 under Dec. 1970 she was reconverted as SSN, Project 659T at Zvezda Shipyard, Bolshoi Kamen, Primorsky Oblast under supervision of the 72nd brigade.
On 9 October 1968 she is transferred to the 26th SubDiv based at Pavlovsky Bay, Strelok Bay, Fokino and on 28 Jan 1971 completed her recommission trials and qualif. In 1971 – 1974 she made three cruises over 96 days and from Nov. 1974 November to April 1975 she made another cruise under 2nd Rank Capt. Astashin E.L. and V.V. Korotkikh, stopping at Berbera (Somalia) and an Indian Ocean fortie in Nov. 1974 to Feb. 1975, then fleet exercises under the 8th fleet in the South China Sea, playing with the US Navy ASW forces, notably two Orion-R3S aircraft and two destroyers chased her.
In July 25 1977 she is reclassified as “large submarine”, Renamed to K-259. In Dec. 1978 December to early 1979 she was unde roverhaul, no record, but in 1982 she had a change in reactor core, but malfunctions sent her back to the yard until recommission, by July 1983 she is reassigned to Postovaya Bay, 28th SubDiv Sakhalin 60th Brigade, Sovgavan Naval Base Reserve making later a single sortie of 50 days. In 1984 she made another under Capt. 1st Rank V.D. Khapersky with the 17th and 8th operational squadrons of Pacific and Indian Oceans and Resupply at a base point. In 1986 she developed a leak was in the HVD system close to the nuclear core under biological protection. Not records but probably repairs back in port. In 1989 she is decommissioned, but berthed in reserve at Chazhma bay, then Strelok Bay, then Pavlovsky Bay (renamed B-259 in 1992) and in 1996 she is Bolshoi Kamen, still in reserve, until the guard crew is disbanded in 1997 and she is BU until 1998 at Zvezda Shipyard, the last elements were treated for long term storage in 2022.

Sovietskaya Flota K-66

K66 is ordered on 1960, March 26, laid down at Komsomolsk-on-Amur on April 14, launched on July 30, 1961, completed under the 26th SubDiv Pacific Fleet Pavlovsk Bay Strelok with first trials by December, state tests and on 28 December she is commissioned. Tests and fixes were done in 1964-65 but by Dec. 1964 she joins the 45th SubDiv, 15th Special Submarine unit of the Pacific Fleet at Krasheninnikov Bay. In 1966-1970 she made three yealry sorties over 146 days plus two combat sorties in the Gulf of Tonkin. On May 6 1966 however a fire started in the turbine compartment as she recharged her batteries. The Extinguisher system VPL-52 failed and the fire became uncontrolable. A nearby ship, PUS-4 used its hose, fed through the hatch of compartment 8 to extinguish the fire and cool the turbine compartment bulkhead. However the control panel on both sides as well power cables and other equipment were destroyed. Probable cause was the activation of launch briquettes for regenerative cartridges RP-46, stored in the aft enclosure of compartment 6. She was under repairs and in June-July 1967 had her reactor core changed. April-May 1970 saw her in the exercize “Ocean-70”, northwestern Pacific under Capt. 2nd R. Malkov B.M. making a bogus missile strike on Alaskan coastal targets. From August 1970 to Dec. 1972 she is reconverted as SSN under Project 659T at Zvezda Shipyard but end dates are conflicted. In October 1973 she is moved to Pavlovsky Bay and joined SubDiv 26. In May 1974 May-June she taked part in “Signal-74” under Capt. 1st V.K. Yakovlev, northwestern Pacific with real firing of her PT-3 torpedoes at a mock enemy submarine in a duel situation.
In July-September 1975 she made a sortie over 43 days under Capt. 1st Rank. Yakovlev V.K., from K-151 and Capt. 2nd Rank. Galutva I.G.. On August 30, 1975, however, she experienced another fire while in the Philippine Sea in compartment 8 after an accidental spill of vegetable oil on the galley electric stove. The flame spread through the ventilation into the holdwhere oxygen rich regeneration boxes were stored, but fire was extinguished using the LOX system (automatic extinguisher) in this compartment.
In 1977-1979 she amde two missions over 83 days notably in the Philippine Sea. In 1978 while anchored in high seas, mooring lines were torn off, and a cable ended around a circulation pump gear. She neded extraction. In 1979 she made a mission off Vietnam, watching over the Chinese aggression, while underway, there was a rupture in the rubber-metal pipe of the oil citculation system to the gearbox, leading to the spillage of 6 tons of turbine oil and shutdown of the turbine.
In 1981 during another sorties there was a leak in circuit 1 of the reactor, and back at port, she was placed in reserve until 1986 decommissioned in Pavlovsky Bay as part of SubDiv 26 reserve, 4th Pacific Fleet area. Possibly renamed B-66 in 1993 she was transferred to Chazhma Bay, and in 2004 August spent fuel was unloaded at Zvezda and she underwent full deactivation and a lenghty process of scrapping and recycling of elements with placing some in long-term storage by 2022.

Sovietskaya Flota K-122 (“The widowmaker”)

K122 was ordered in 1960, laid down in November 16 at Komsomolsk-on-Amur launched September 17 1961, completed in July 6 1962. But only commissioned in June 1963 and by August 20 joined SubDiv 45, 15th special unit of the Pacific Fleet. In August, there was an incident as in the reactor compartment, 3rd deck water was discovered, the emergency alarm was sounded. A major cooling leak developed in the reactor compartment, waist-deep water at 60°. The emergency was resvolved.
In September while under command of Cap.2r. Ryabova V.P. at night at 14 knots, she lost control of her bow horizontal rudders and started sinking, until measures taken prevented catastrophy. After surfacing it was discovered that the starboard plane stock burst and located a shell inside the size of a cap, which was clear manufacturer’s defect. By December 30 she is transferred to Pavlovsky Bay, SubDiv 26 and repaired, overhauled from Jan 1964 to November 1968 under project 659T SSN, as the lead submarine of the project at Zvezda Shipyard. December 1964 saw her recommission in the Pacific Fleet. No record for the period under June 1968. While in mooring tests an increase in gas activity was detected in the turbine compartment. The steam generator of the fourth pair starboard (steam generator No.7) started to leak and the steam generator stopped. She was repaired and in October 1968 she was turned to SubDiv 26 at Pavlovsky Bay, delivered by Zvezda Shipyard in January-February 1969, recom. In April-May 1970 she made a 38 days shakedown cruise (Cap. 1st Rank. Kopyev V.F., 1st Rank. Suchkov L.F.) and Okean exercise.

In July 1970 while monitoring USN manoeuvers in the Philippine Sea, Sokara Strait, she surfaced to transmit her final report to the Pacific Fleet command while Navigator cap. 3r. Savchuk reported a location error and probably collision with an underwater hill with just as she started a dive to 200 meters. But it was apparently partly ignored by the commander which gave order to ascend to 150 meters, and she still collided with an underwater under 196 meters. Back at the base, coral stones were found in the fairing of the hydroacoustic station and during another sortie, her large horizontal rudders became stuck down while at 30 knots underwater, resulting a rapid drop from 170 m to 270 m. Pimps and ballast air allowed to return to the surface. But the next day, the rudders jammed again. Back at base, the large stern rudders were dismantled for examination, finding a small piece of ceramic on top of the contacts. At “Ocean” ex. she carried out a mock torpedo attack on the missile cruiser “Varyag” with her SAET-60 torpedoes, one launched from tube No. 6, successful.

But on 05 December 1970 she had a major fire in the turbine compartment when the feed pump of the condensate-feed system caught fire starboard. It was quickly extinguished, but the high temperature and humidity caused the personnel of the 7th compartment to faint from heat stroke. The submarine commander decided to open the emergency hatch of the 8th compartment to vent the boiling hot and carbon monox. strong internal atm in other adjacent compartments, still underwater, reducing the temperature anough for the team to work in the turbine compartment for 10-15 minutes by rotations. The refrigeration unit was reconnected the air conditioning system.

On 13 May 1970 however the small horizontal rudders failed and later, the tightness of the front cover of the 5th torpedo tube ejection device failed while while submerged, with debris cogging the tube, but an attempt to shoot them out failed. The incoming flow of water filled the torpedo tube No. 5. After 45 days K122 was back to Pavlovsky Bay. The number of issues was examined by Admiral Amelko N.N. and he sacked the commander. From July 1972 to Nov. 1974 she had repairs and passed all tests at Zvezda her cores being reloaded and in 1975 she made a 120 days cruise (90 days submerged) over 36,000 miles.

She was in overhaul in August 1976 to Jan 1977 and made two missions in 1978 – 1979, over 100 days notably in the Philippine Sea. In 1979 – 1980 she wa sin overhaul in Chazhma Bay and in July 1980 started another cruise in the Philippine Sea. On Aug. 20 1980 while submerged at 21.00 and transferring loads from the left ballast to the right, a fire broke out in compartment 7. She surfaces as the fire extinguisher failed after 8 minutes. The crew managed to stop the fire, but 31 men worked unprotected for the most in the compartment wheeras the hydroacoustic station caught fire in turn, breathing apparatus being unavailable, nine of the crew, intoxicated, were transferred to section 9.

Compartment 7 fire was so intense after a while the bulkhead turned red hot and the LOX system had to be used three times for naught. Everything inside was burned to a crisp. In the end the submarine surfaced and the crew had to stay on the upper deck, with power supply off. The remaining personal manually shut down the reactor by removing a plate in the pressure casing above the reactor compartment and sent flares to attract the attention of the passing by British gas carrier Harry, from there, the crew was rescued and via the vessel it was possible to transmit a report about the accident to the Navy headquarters via the embassies encrypted channel.

9 hours later, the Vladivostok training ship Meridian arrived and had the crew transferred. On the third day, the floating base “Borodino” arrived with specialists and a replacement crew. K122 was towed to base. In all, 14 sailors died and the sub staff were demoted wherehas midshipman Viktor Belevtsev was awarded the Order of the Red Star as in pitch darkness under 70° without protective mask, he managed to open the front covers of the torpedo tubes to equalize pressure and the other team open the hatch of the 9th compartment to evacuate personnel. The investigation established it was a crew error but later pointed out “design deficiencies”.

From 1980 November to April 1981 repairs were done and by September 1983 she was sent to Postovaya Bay, SubDiv 28, Sakhalin unit until January 1990 where she was transferred to the 60th Brigade unit, Sovgavan Naval Base Reserve. She was in between decomm. on October 28 1985, laid up from 1992 in Chazhma Bay, 52nd brigade, 4th FPL reserve Pavlovsky Bay for long term storage, 26th Brigade, guard crew disbaned in Sept. 1994 September and BU from 1995 at Zvezda Shipyard, the last elements processed for long term storage in 2022.

Sovietskaya Flota K-151

Ordered on November 16, 1960, she is laid down on April 21, 1962 only, at Lenin Komsomol, launched on 30 September, outfitted at Bolshoy Kamen and completed on January, 27 1963. A crew is formed and in July the acceptance certificate is signed, she is commissioned officially. August August she in Pavlovsky Bay an passed her weapons qualifications. In 1963 a leak in circuit 3 (nuclear reactor cooling) was discovered at sea, leading to loss of power and overexposure to radiations. In October-November she cruised to La Perouse Strait and Bussol Strait and then to the Bering Sea. Gas contamination occurred in the reactor compartment on 10/23/1963 due to a cooling leak in 2 sections of the steam generator. She still fired a missile at the target range and was back to the nearest base in Kamchatka for emergency treatment.
Assigned to SubDiv 45, 15th “Special Submarine Unit” in Krasheninnikov Bay. While berthed she had a rupture in a high pressure pipe due to poor air purification during replenishment of her reserves. She made several sorties in 1964 – 1966, tested new equipment, made formation exercises, had combat training, missile fires, and received the Commander prize.
In 1966 she took part in the operational-tactical exercise “Bussol” with missile firing, with “excellent” rating and this year made 1524 miles, 1809 underwater.
Until 1968 she had her steam generators replaced with newer SRZ-30 in Chazhma Bay. In 1969-1972 she made two cruises over 97 days and received more “excellent” ratings in 1970-71. From Aug. 1972 to the autumn of 1974 she is converted as 659T SSN at Zvezda Shipyard and in 1974 had a change of reactor cores. By March 1975 she had emergency dock repairs after colliding while at mooring. In April 1975 she took part in “Ocean-75” under Capt. 2nd Galutva I.G., making mock torpedo strikes. In June she took part in the educational film “Ocean-75” (classified as “Secret”) and in September-October was in the Philippine Sea. In October 1977 she won a prize and was awarded a pennant for torpedo skills.
She trained in the Indian Ocean, stopping at Socotra Island and on November 10, 1977, crossed the equator, winning again the 1978 prize torpedo firing. In 1980 she made a 172 days cruise and resupplied at Cam Ranh. From April 1981 April to Sept. 1983 she was in overhaul, then moved to Postovaya Bay, SubDiv 28th, Sakhalin.
On June 30 1984 a fire broke out in compartment 7 underway, having 10 crew working inside. Heavy smoke and impossibility of accurately determining the fire location led to withdrawn personal in the next compartment 8. Turbines were stopped, 2 were poisoned by toxic gases, one later died.
In January 1985 to September she made a cruise under Capt. 2nd R. Yu.V. Suvalov over 239 days, supplied at Cam Ranh while adressing the issues of compartment 7. She was repaired but mostly inactive in 1986-89, by May, she was decommissioned from SubDiv 28 Sakhalin and in 1990 joined the reserve at the Sovgavan naval base, guard crew disbanded in 1995. In storage until 2006, Postovaya Bay, Sovetskaya Gavan and in 2009, disposed of at Zvezda, BU, same as others in 2022.

Read More/Src


Hampshire, Edward (2018). Soviet Cruise Missile Submarines of the Cold War. London: Osprey Publishing.
Pavlov, A. S. (1997). Warships of the USSR and Russia 1945–1995. NIP
Polmar, Norman & Moore, Kenneth J. (2004). Cold War Submarines: The Design and Construction of U.S. and Soviet Submarines. Potomac Books
Polmar, Norman & Noot, Jurrien (1991). Submarines of the Russian and Soviet Navies, 1718–1990. NIP
Vilches Alarcón, Alejandro A. (2022). From Juliettes to Yasens: Development and Operational History of Soviet Cruise-Missile Submarines. Europe @ War (22). Helion & Co.
V. P. Kuzin, V. I. Nikolsky “USSR Navy 1945—1991” IMO St. Petersburg 1996
V. E. Ilyin, A. I. Kolesnikov “Submarines of Russia: An Illustrated Directory” Astrel Publishing House LLC 2002
“History of domestic shipbuilding” vol. 5 St. Petersburg Shipbuilding 1996
A. N. Gusev “Submarines with cruise missiles” St. Petersburg “Galeya Print” 2000.
Submarines of Russia Volume 4, part 1. Central Design Bureau MT “Rubin” St. Petersburg. 1996.
Reference information from S. S. Berezhnaya “Nuclear submarines of the USSR and Russian Navy” MIA No. 7 2001.
V.P. Kuzin, V.I. Nikolsky “USSR Navy 1945-1991” IMO St. Petersburg 1996

Links ru_ss_k45.htm Echo-class_submarine projekt-675-echo-ii-class 1955_1982 659
on projekt 675 project_659.htm 659.htm k151


Model Kits

Soviet submarine project 659 (NATO name Echo I) by OKB Grigorov 1:700

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