The submarine took part in the “Arctic-2012” expedition this autumn aimed at proving Russian ownership of the Mendeleyev ridge stretching across the East Siberia Sea towards the North Pole. Russia will use the data collected in its application to the UN Law of the Sea, that within the next few years will divide the continental shelf among the Arctic costal states, including the North Pole itself.
Officially, and as reported by BarentsObserver last week, the expedition was headed by the two icebreakers “Dikson” and “Kapitan Dranitsyn.” Little has so far been known about what happened under water.
To collect geological data and samples from the seabed, the expedition used the “Losharik” submarine. This is likely Russia’s most secret nuclear powered submarine. None of her missions have ever been reported in the media, until Izvestia on Monday could tell that she had helped collecting samples of geological material in the High Arctic.
The submarine is listed as Project 10830, built of Titanium to stand the pressure at extreme deeps, and powered by one nuclear reactor. The submarine was taken into operation in 2007 and is 74 meter long. Project 10830 is a follow up of the earlier Uniform and X-ray classes of small naval nuclear powered submarines for special purposes sailing for the Northern fleet. The first information about “Losharik” appeared on the social media site VKontakte in September and the information was soon reprinted by the portal MilitaryRussia.ru.
A drawing of the submarine in work along the seafloor of the Mendeleyev ridge was published together with some few and bad quality photos of “Losharik” believed to be taken in the Olenaya bay on the Kola Peninsula. Also, a photo of the carrier submarine BS-136 surfacing at the North Pole is published at the site.
BS-136 is a rebuilt Delta-class submarine aimed at carrying smaller submarines, such as “Losharik” that can’t sail all by her own to remote locations like the East Siberia Sea.
“Losharik” dived to a depth of 2,5 to 3 kilometers and stayed submerged for 20 days, according to Izvestia. Due to the titanium hull and nuclear reactor, the submarine can stay much longer and much deeper than any other bathyscaphes. During the dive, the crew collected some 500 kg of rocks to be analyzed to prove that the geological structure of the ridge goes all the way towards the North Pole.
The submarine also carried equipment for seabed seismic profiling and an side-scan sonar.
During the path-breaking dive in the High Arctic this September, “Losharik” damaged her outer lighting e equipment. The sub is therefore now taken into a dock in Severodvinsk for repair. Also “minor faults” of the reactor will be fixed.