The Soviet designated "Project 641" Diesel Electric Attack Submarine, known to NATO as the Foxtrot Class, was one of the most successful class of submarine ever in service to the Soviet Navy. Seventy-nine Foxtrots were constructed by the Soviet Union, the second largest class of submarines ever built by them, and the b-427, code named "Scorpion", was one of their best!
Built at the Sudomekh Shipyards just outside of Leningrad, now once more called St. Petersberg, the keel for Podvodnaya Lodka (submarine) b-427 was laid down in 1972. She was completed and commissioned into the Soviet Navy in 1974. At that time, "Scorpion" was fitted with all the latest developments in engines, sonar, radar and weaponry. She was indeed, "state of art" and truly the pride of the Soviet Navy's undersea fleet!
Assigned to the headquarters of the powerful Soviet Pacific Fleet based in Vladivostok and manned by a full compliment of 56 sailors, 10 midshipmen and 12 officers, "Scorpion" sailed out on its maiden voyage into the North Sea where she then turned south for her secret journey down the coast of Europe and Africa, rounding the Cape of Good Hope and then into the Indian Ocean. From there she sailed up the coast of Viet Nam, then patrolled by the US Navy, through the Sea of Japan and finally to her new home port, Vladivostok.
For the next 20 years, the missions undertaken by "Scorpion" are shrouded in secrecy and remain so to this day, still classified TOP SECRET by the new Navy of the Russian Federation. As one of the quietest submarines in the Soviet fleet, it is known that Foxtrots were extensively used for surveillance of United States Navy Battle Groups as well as electronic surveillance of all types.
Although intrusions into North American territoral waters was officially forbidden, we do know that both sides in the Cold War considered submarines as the perfect espionage tool and rumors of such incursions persist to this very day.
We also know that the Vladivostok Submarine Squadron was regularly tasked with patrol of the Indian Ocean, the Arctic Ocean. the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean as far east as North American territorial waters. After the end of the conflict in Viet Nam, elements of the Soviet Pacific Submarine Fleet were also assigned to a new base in Viet Nam and it is likely that "Scorpion" spent some time on assignment there as well.
It is a real tribute to the submarine forces of both sides in the Cold War that dispite their dangerous proximity to each other for over 40 years, neither side actually fired a shot in anger. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the ability and need for the Russian Federation to field the worlds largest fleet of submarines vanished. In 1994, "Scorpion" was decommissioned and ended her 20 year career as a Cold War Warrior, replaced by the next generation of Russian Diesel Attack Submarines, known by NATO as the Kilo Class.
In 1995, after long and difficult negotiations, "Scorpion" was purchased by a group of private businessmen and with the help of the Russian Navy was transported to Sydney Australia for display at The National Maritime Museum and 3 years later to Long Beach California where she now proudly stands as a monument to all the brave submarine crews of all sides in the Cold War who went to sea in "Sharks of Steel" and served their countries with honor.
By kjfitz @ 2005-10-19 13:45:37