INS Sindhuvir : Operational Again

Among several Russian ship repair facilities, the choice fell on the Severodvinsk-based Zvyozdochka State Mechanical Engineering Enterprise, a specialized ship repair facility. The enterprise dates back to 1956 when it began to repair fishing vessels, tugs and transport ships. At present, Zvyozdochka is a recognized domestic ship repair leader. The enterprise has mastered the repair of diesel-electric submarines and optimized the technology of repair and modernization of nuclear-powered submarines. Commissioning of its first nuclear-powered submarine was a landmark in the history of the enterprise: the submarine's nuclear power plant was repaired and a new underwater-launched missile system installed. With the commissioning of a specialized production shop in 1974, the enterprise became the largest producer of propellers made of high-strength stainless steels, carbon steels, non-ferrous and titanium alloys, including those designed for nuclear-powered submarines, icebreakers, and cruise superliners. Every year the enterprise manufactures over 1000 propellers weighing from 20 kilograms to 50 tons.

The prestige of Zvyozdochka increased with the introduction of the Onega Research & Development Technological Bureau - elaborated technology involving the industrial method of re-equipment, modernization and repair of submarines of Projects 627A, 658M, 667A, 667B, 667BD, 667BDR and 667BDRM. Owing to this method, up to four submarines went down the slipways of the enterprise every year. And, most importantly, the submarines left the launching dock after repair with improved acoustic characteristics. Having repaired and modernized over 100 first, second and third-generation submarines, Zvyozdochka is currently able to repair ships of any class and purpose and even build new-project ships and vessels.

Today, Zvyozdochka is a comprehensive and well-equipped facility boasting hi-tech production potential. The enterprise has two covered berths with slipways, a floating dock, quays equipped with portal cranes, as well as main shops (hull building, pipe and copper works, outfitting shops, etc.), repair and assembly, machine-building and auxiliary shops. Zvyozdochka is fully engaged in ship repair and shipbuilding activities, including assembly, hull repair, docking, paintwork, electroplating, mechanical and propeller machining work, as well as repair of ship mechanisms and equipment. Main two-span covered berth No.1 features a total length of 216 metres, while the slipway is 204 metres long. Each span is equipped with a bridge crane with a load-lifting capacity of 100 tons. The slipway facility incorporates a flooding dock with portal cranes with a load-lifting capacity of 30 and 80 tons respectively, a transborder pit, self-propelled transborders for transverse movement of vessels, and self-propelled transport facilities for longitudinal movement of vessels.

Each facility features a load-lifting capacity of 12,500 tons. The floating dock is provided with a 139.5 m floor. The special and deep-water quays are equipped with two-three portal cranes with a load-lifting capacity of up to 80 tons. Each quay is provided with a plant to supply high-pressure nitrogen and air, low-pressure air and foam, fresh cold and hot water, electric power with required characteristics, and high-pressure steam. The hull-building shop with a working area of 9700 m2 has hi-tech equipment, a steel cleaning line, automated gas, plasma and oxygen-cutting machines, sheet bending power presses and rolls, and machine tools for machining edges of large-sized parts for welding. The pipe and copper works shop ensures all operations involving the bending and machining of pipes and tubes of 57 to 273 mm in diameter by means of unique equipment, as well as insulation and coating of comprehensive configuration pipes and tubes. The modern submarine cannot be visualized without anti-sonar coating that is prepared and applied by the special coating and painting shop.

INS Sindhuvir after repair

One of the main shops in ship repair technology is the outfitting shop furnished with heavy-duty press-forging and highly productive welding equipment. This shop also repairs and manufactures shipboard equipment, ventilation systems, etc.  The machine-building, repair/assembly and auxiliary shops enable the Zvyozdochka staff to perform top-quality comprehensive repairs of any-project submarines independently, without involving other enterprises. The modern ship repair level, hi-tech stand and equipment base, highly qualified specialists and a suitable cost of labor attract potential customers' attention. Thus, as Director of the enterprise Nikolai Kalistratov says, India had good reason to choose Zvyozdochka.

In December 1996, the Russian Rosvoorouzhenie State Corporation and India signed a set of contracts for the repair of the Indian Navy's INS Sindhuvir submarine. The contract volume involved the repair of the submarine hull, a number of systems, special technology and equipment as well as modernization. Prior to signing this contract, Zvyozdochka specialists executed large-volume preparatory work at the submarine's home base. They checked the technical condition of the submarine's hull, equipment, and all its systems and compiled a repair sheet incorporating all revealed defects and their remedy.

The contract stipulated rendering services to the submarine's crew: provision of comfortable apartments for officers and their families and hotels for seamen; provision of fully equipped working spaces, all types of communications, motor transport; and also offering an entertainment and recreation program for the submarine's crew. In June 1997, the Dockwise Company (Belgium) delivered the INS Sindhuvir to the Zvyozdochka facility where it was placed on the slipways of shop No.10 which had previously repaired dozens of different types of nuclear-powered submarines.

INS Sindhuvir was repaired in the Zvyozdochka's spacious berth provided with hull machining, welding and assembly, mechanical repair, pipe bending, outfitting, insulation & painting, and machining bays, as well as chemical cleaning, electroplating, and instrumentation and automatic equipment repair shops. All the sub's parts & elements, instruments & devices, systems & equipment were checked, repaired (if required), tested and examined. The results were entered into a computer system to create a repair electronic database. Replacement of a pressure hull section should be specially pointed out from the entire range of work executed on the submarine. The filling of Indian-made storage batteries with electrolyte was executed for the first time in Russia (this work was considerably more complicated than that done on Russian submarines).

Taking a closer look at the submarine repair process, Commodore P. Sakhi, Indian Navy's Attache in Russia, frequently visited the enterprise and met with Director Nikolai Kalistratov, submarine repair department chief Igor Orlov, and other specialists of the enterprise. Owing to a well-organized production process, the enterprise specialists and the Indian submariners worked concertedly and jointly solved all complex problems. As a result, Zvyozdochka repaired the submarine in compliance with the terms of the contract. The day of INS Sindhuvir's departure from the covered berth of Shop No.10, became a holiday not only for the submarine's crew and the enterprise's specialists but also for Severodvinsk inhabitants. The enterprise's central gates were thrown open to local people.

A grand meeting took place before a vast concourse, while a traditional bottle of champagne was broken against the ship's side and the submarine, mounted on the transborder, moved into the launching dock where it was put on water. Further factory tests and running trials of the submarine confirmed the high quality of repair. The Indian submariners were pleased. INS Sindhuvir will be in service with the Indian Navy for many years to come. Meanwhile Shop No.10 is expecting new orders. Actually, the enterprise's advanced technologies, it's high production capacity and unique stand base enable Zvyozdochka to repair two submarines at a time. What submarines will be next?