Hello fellow Psubbers
Just thought I'd fill you in on some
interesting information about Russia's underwater capabilities or lack
Most of my career has been saturation diving
specializing in Hyperbaric welding on petroleum pipelines around the
world, (welding pipe in a dry room on the bottom of the ocean) I
can't remember the specific year but around the mid 80,s myself and three
other Yanks were hired to go over to Turku Finland and work with the
Russians. They were having a state of the art diving vessel
built that specialized in commercial diving work and capable of performing
Hyperbaric welding mainly in the Caspian sea. Our job was to show
them our technique in Hyperbaric welding and go threw all the systems and
make sure that they all functioned properly before they made their final
payment to the shipyard that built it.
We went out into the Baltic sea, put the
Habitat down in 500 feet of water and did a full weld joining two 40 foot
sections of 24" pipe together to make sure everything in the Habitat
worked properly (that is another story in itself!). The name of the
diving vessel was "SKATT" and was around 400 feet in length. I was
told that the Russians had spent about 80 million U.S. on it which I
believe as everything on it was top notch and they had cut no corners at
all. It was much nicer than any other system I had ever been on and
I had been on a lot of them in the past. The vessel also had a
small sub that had two separate compartments that could take two
divers down in the pilots sphere and then they could crawl threw to
the other sphere, close their hatch, and pressurize their
compartment to equal the existing depth, lock out to do a job and
then return where the sub would surface, be retrieved by a stern "A"
frame and then set on deck on a set of what looked like railroad tracks
where it would then hydraulically travel along the deck going threw a
large set of double doors to the inside of a large heated room where it
would then mate up with the sat system which was one floor below, where
the divers could then crawl threw and decompress in comfort.
This sat system even had two hyperbaric life
boats which was something I had never seen before! We also
pressurized to 1000 feet to test out a new helmet that they had developed
which looked like a gold fish bowl and had what looked like
a windshield wiper on the inside to wipe away any condensation that
may occur. Everything checked out, they paid the final payment and
it headed to the Caspian sea and docked in Baku ready to go to work.
Almost right after that, the Berlin wall came down and from what I
understand, the SKATT was being used as a floating hotel and has never
worked as what it was intended for! It is frustrating with these two
sub incidents to hear that they have no deep water capabilities when if
fact I know they do or atleast did! I would love to find out what
ever happened to such a fine diving support vessel.
Sorry for the long email but thought some of
you might find it interesting.