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"Scat" submarine

Depth: 70 .
Date of sinking: 1919

  During a series of technical dives in the roadstead of Sevastopol, which were made in 2008, A. Bykov and A.Spiridonov discovered several submarines lying on its bottom. Studing some archive materials, accessible literature and photos and expert consultations let them identify one of them as the German UB-7. So ended the 2008 season.

  The first spring dives in 2009 reminded of another very interesting and still unidentified wreck, the submarine, that attracted attention mainly with her form and proportions of the hull. This boat lay on even keel, with her hull dug into the underwater ground from which it protruded for less than one meter. Looking at her from above one could see the unusual outlines of decks in fore and after extremities, where narrow and graceful proportions gave place to flat and teardrop ones.

  A small steering-wheel outside the conning tower made her look even more attractive. Various hatches and apertures could be seen along the whole light hull. There was a pipe rising high above the conning tower which was a part of either a periscope or a snorkel. The submarine's conning tower got caught in numerous trawl nets, and her hull was substantially overgrown.

  I supposed that the unusual shape of the light hull of the boat would make it easy to identify her only by remaining shots of first submarines belonging to the early years of the 20th century.

  In the 1920-30s actively working EPRON raised the majority of them, but I have found no evidence that the Kashalot, Narval, Gagara, Skat and Karas' were among those subs. So, one can suppose that they are still lying underwater.

  Taking into consideration the size and position of the boat's hull I was inclined to think in the beginning that we had come across the submarine Karas'. A similar opinion was shared by Oksana Istratova, a famous technical diver and the Russian record-holder in deep dives in the Red Sea. In 2008 we had together begun to explore the area of the Sevastopol roadstead, and she was also interested in submarines' identification. She had spent a lot of winter evenings studying the archives, and knowing her stubborn and persevering character I attentively listened to the Superstardiver's versions.

  Our submarine's length of about 40 meters, the specific shape of the light hull and presence of a central conning tower - everything pointed to the Karas'.

  A closeup of the conning tower in a remaining photo depicting a public prayer on board this submarine closely resembled what we had seen underwater.

A public prayer on account of hoisting of colours ( the submarines Kambala, Karas', Karp ). 1907

  All we had to do was to clear the conning tower of the trail nets and debris, take photos and prepare a claim for identification.

  During a pair of dives we managed to cut off the trail and bared the conning tower from one side with the help of a tug-boat. Under such conditions a mounted on the tug-boat powerful 200 w HID light turned out to be very useful because in totally muddy water it gave a very strong psychological support due to its bright illumination. Everything went as predicted, but we were a little bit confused by the steering-wheel position which slightly differed from what we had seen in the old photo, and by the conning tower shape which was not quite round enough. The sizes of the hull's visible part didn't coincide either. When the length from one end to the other measured with a tape-line amounted to 33-34 meters. I explained this as a result of partial covering of the boat's after part with silt. The drawing showed that the light hull ended before a rudder blade, and the remaining 4-5 meters might well be hidden under the silt layer.

  On one dive I made use of a 1.5 meter probe. It freely and entirely penetrated into the bottom at the stern. This meant there was no rudder blade and hull in that place.

  After the nets had been removed it was rather easy to open a hatch on the conning tower. It led below to the central shaft of half a meter diameter and with ladder shackles. Beneath one could see the central compartment and a wide steering-wheel. It was practically impossible to come in through a half a meter hatch with twins or a rebreather. I was absolutely sure that submarines' hatches must open counter their forward movement, and according to this we determined the boat's orientation. Meantime San Sanych was clearing the bow section, as we supposed, looking for the name of the submarine. After he had found no bulging letters on the hull he cleared the bottom of debris and came across a blade of a propeller.

  This let us exactly locate the fore and after parts, but also showed that the sizes didn't coincide at all... So all we had at the moment was an unknown submarine's hull which was 33-34 meters long, and we had to return to our list of unraised boats in this area.

  Such a hull's length was characteristic of the Kasatka class submarines - 33.5 meters.

  There were 6 such boats built : the Kasatka, Skat, Nalim, Mackrel, Okun' and Feldmarshal Graf Sheremetev. Two of them - Skat and Nalim - served in the Black Sea Fleet. But in accordance with the initial project these boats had small conning towers on the bow and the stern, and an entrance hatch in their middle.

The submarine Skat soon after being commissioned

  Length     -   33.5 meters
  Beam       -   3.35 meters
  Draught   -   3.4 meters
  Displacement while surfaced/submerged     -   140/177 tons
  Engines for surface/underwater running     -   1 x 100 hp / 1 x 100 hp
  Speed while surfaced/submerged             -   8.5/5.5 knots
  Range: while surfaced             -   700 miles
            of submerged cruising   -   30 miles
  Maximum diving depth             -   50 meters

  1 47 mm gun (added in the beginning of WWI)
  4 torpedoes in outer lattice torpedo launchers of the Dzhevetsky system ("Drzwiecki drop-collars")
"Skat" Submarine
Skat Submarine
(photo A.Bykov)
"Skat" Submarine
Skat Submarine
(photo A.Bykov)
"Skat" Submarine
Skat Submarine
(photo A.Bykov)

"Skat" Submarine
Skat Submarine
(photo A.Bykov)
"Skat" Submarine
Skat Submarine
(photo A.Bykov)
"Skat" Submarine
Skat Submarine
(photo A.Bykov)

"Skat" Submarine
Skat Submarine
(photo A.Bykov)

  "The successful trials of the first domestic combat submarine Dolphin have once more confirmed that the direction in designing such vessels chosen by a commission under the chairmanship of ship building engineer I.G.Bubnov is correct. Having obtained " a wish for success in further buildings " from the Russian Emperor Nicholas II during inspection of the Dolphin, Ivan Grigorievitch submitted a report to vice-admiral and Director of the Marine Ministry F.K.Avelan on the same day (13 August 1903), where he asked a permission to start a design effort on a submarine with a more substantial displacement, surface speed of 14 knots and advanced torpedo armament.

  I.G.Bubnov and Captain 2nd Rank M.N.Beklemishev based their project on the following main characteristics:
  - A maximum operating depth of 100 meters
  - The submarine must have a 14 knot cruising speed and a 250 miles surface range, or a 750 miles surface range with a 9 knot speed
  - She could cover underwater accordingly 25 miles with a 7 knot speed and 50 miles when making 5 - 5.5 knots
  - A calculated air supply duration was 12 hours
  - The required diving time must not exceed 5 minutes
  - "The exactness of running" underwater "with deviations in a vertical plane" was no more than 0.6 meter

  The first submarine of this type Kasatka was ordered from the Baltic Shipyard. On 18 March 1904 her first plate was installed. Following the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War the Marine Ministry made all efforts to accelerate her commissioning into service. The construction work went forward quickly, and on 24 July 1904 the Kasatka was successfully launched. In the next month 5 more such units were launched - the Feldmarchal Graf Sheremetev (on 8 August), Mackrel (on 14 August), Skat (on 21 August), Nalim (on 26 August) and Okun' (on 31 August).

  On 6 September all completing works on Kasatka came to an end.

  Her initial dives near the Shipyard's wall turned out to be unsuccessful - she was kept in a horizontal position only "with greatest effort". So were the dives during sea trial runs beyond Kronstadt which revealed a trim by the stern when submerging. To eliminate this serious fault it was demanded to install a stern conning tower, which acted as a float, and to enlarge the surface of diving rudders. Further trials showed that a lack of an earlier projected conning tower at the central entrance hatch significantly deteriorated her seakeeping. There was a fault in a device for filling trimming tanks, using the diving rudders was difficult and periscopes also needed some improvements. But under the pressure of war the Marine Ministry decided to quickly send the reinforcement to the theatre of operations and to make corrections in Vladivostok where the submarine could be transferred only in winter across frozen Lake Baikal because building of a railroad around it had not been through yet. For the submarine's railing a special transporter was used.

  First voyages revealed several shortcomings:
  - Slow diving time (5-6 minutes)
  - Difficulties in using vertical rudders (on the Nalim up to 140 revolutions per minute for shifting the helm to the other side)
  - Insufficient vertical stability during submerged running.

  The common fault which had been detected during the Kasatka's trials near Kronstadt was the lack of fencing of middle conning towers. On surface even in a light chop water flooded the deck through an open hatch and penetrated inside the boats, meanwhile closing the hatch let observation be conducted only through portholes and field of view was limited, especially in fog and at night. On 29 November 1904 M.N.Beklemishev offered a suggestion to make conning towers which could also act as original bridges during surface cruising. They were specially built at the Baltic Shipyard, and after shipping to the Far East they were added to the submarines' design.

  After the analysis of trial results a decision was taken to replace the conning towers in extremities by a central one.

The Nalim with a middle conning tower

  In the end of 1914 the Skat and Nalim were shipped by rail to the Black Sea. This class of submarines underwent numerous modernizations and their appearance altered, for example in 1910 the commanding officer of the former Nickolai Gudim and floating shop superintendent on board the transport Xenia Boris Saliar invented a snorkel (34 years earlier than the German submariners). One of its first models was constructed by this floating shop and tested on 19 October in the same year. The document from CGAVMF (Central State Archives Of The Russian Navy) below confirms indisputable priority of our country in this important matter.

  "14 January 1915. Secret. To the flag-captain of the Black Sea Fleet Staff's operations office.
  Having studied the drawings for ventilating and exhaust pipes for the Kasatka type submarines from the Siberian flotilla, proposed by the second division's mechanical engineer Lieutenant Saliar, I consider that this device ensures the boat's surface and submerged running when powered by a diesel engine. For this reason I ask your permission to immediately start its manufacture at the transport Kronstadt's shops, after which to install it on the boats Nalim and Skat... As concerns the Kit and Nerpa type submarines which are in the course of building... the drawings of the mentioned device for them must be worked out by the Main Ship Building Department. According to infomation received, these drawings haven't been made yet because of some encountered technical difficulties. Now in the project of Lieutenant Saliar all the difficulties have been successfully removed, therefore I ask to direct the Department to work out the drawings based on the idea of Lieutenant Saliar and to order this device.
                                                                                                                                                              Flag-Officer "

The submarine Okun's launching at the Baltic Shipyard in Saint Petersburg on 31 August 1904

                      Historical Reference:

        March 1904
  Laid down on a slipway of the Baltic Shipbuilding and Engineering Works as an underwater torpedo boat.
        On 31 May 1904
  The boat was named Skat by the highest decree.
        On 5 June 1904
  She was incorporated into the Siberian Flotilla.
        On 21 August 1904
        On 6 October 1904
  In spite of the fact that her standard battery had already been dispatched to Vladivostok she began trials with conducting a trial dive.
        On 27 October 1904
  Loaded on transporters.
        On 2 November 1904
  Dispatched in sections by railroad to the Far East.
        On 13 December 1904
  The train successfully arrived at Vladivostok where the Skat was raised on the shore pending navigation.
        On 1 Januar 1905
  The Boat joined a newly formed separate destroyer squadron of the cruiser detachment in the Pacific based at Egersheld Cape.
        On 29 March 1905
  The boat was completely fitted out
        March 1905
  Repeatedly launched, participated in the war, continued trials.
        On 3 April 1905
  The first training sea voyage.
        On 13 June 1905
  Torpedo firing trials, during which 10 torpedoes were launched, 6 of them successfully, 3 missed the target and 1 drowned.
        Since October 1905 till February 1906
  Wintering in the port of Vladivostok.
        On 6 March 1906
  Reclassified to a submarine by the highest decree.
  At the Engineering Works in Vladivostok the sub underwent repairs and modernization, during which an improved middle conning tower with a navigation bridge, constructed at the Baltic Shipyard, was installed.
        Since October 1906 till February 1907
  Wintering in the port of Vladivostok.
        Winter 1907-08
  Wintering in the port of Vladivostok.
        Winter 1908-09
  Wintering in the port of Vladivostok.
        On 2 December 1909
  Raised in a floating dock for wintering in the port of Vladivostok.
        Winter 1910-11
  Wintering in the port of Vladivostok.
        Winter 1911-12
  Wintering in the port of Vladivostok.
        Winter 1912-13
  The Skat underwent a big repair at the Engineering Works in Vladivostok.
        Winter 1913-14
  Wintering in the port of Vladivostok.
        Winter 1914-15
  The Skat was prepared for transfer and dispatched by railroad to Sevastopol.
        January 1915
  Joined the Black Sea Fleet.
  Participated in the war and saw action in the Black Sea: she was used for local offshore patrols near the Crimea, a 47 mm gun was installed for armament reinforcement.
      On 16 December 1917
  Became part of the Red Navy.
      February 1918
  Stricken from the Navy list and preserved at the naval base of Sevastopol.
      On 1 May 1918
  On the German occupation of Sevastopol the decomissioned Skat fell into German hands.
      On 24 November 1918
  Following the armistice of 11 Nov 1918 she was put under control of the allied British and French forces.
      On 16 April 1919
  Pending Sevastopol's evacuation and in order to prevent sudden capture by the Red Army the Skat was transferred to the Severnaia Bay of Sevastopol harbour and put on a burrel buoy together with 11 other submarines.
      On 26 April 1919
  Without notifying the Russian Volunteer Army's Command the Allied Command in the Crimea ordered to transfer the Skat together with the submarines Orlan, Gagara, Kit, Kashalot, Narval, AG-21, Krab, Sudak, Losos' and Nalim to the outer roadstead of Sevastopol and to scuttle using explosive cartridges.


2 Jul 1904 1907                                    Tieder M.M.

5 May/15 Jun 1907 - 5 Dec 1910                Gudim N.A.

7 Nov 1908 - 28 May 1909                        Pozdeev N.L. (in deputize)

8 Dec 1909 - 13 Feb 1910                        Petrov S.N. (in deputize)

12 Mar 1910 - 7 May 1910                        Mantiev B.A. (not acting, only in accordance with a formal order)

1910                                                    Kukel S.A. (in deputize)

14 Nov 1910 - 22 Jan 1911, 20 Mar 1912 - 5 Apr 1912    Gaevsky N.-M.D. (in deputize)

22 Jan 1911 - 7 Apr 1912                        Gadon A.S.

12 Nov 1911 - 17 Dec 1912 - 1915, 1916 - 1 Oct 1916    Sadovsky E.Ch.

15 Nov 1915 - 01 Jan 1916                        Maslov A.E. (in deputize)

9 Oct 1916 - 16 Dec 1916                        Lakhmatov P.Ya.

16 Dec 1916 1916                                Androsov Ya.S.

1916 1917                                            Von Krusenstern V.V.

1917                                                        Monastyrev N.A.

  After studing the materials on development of the Imperial Russian Navy's submarines we worked out a plan of our further actions. It was necessary to clear the bow part where in old photos one could see bulging bronze letters. This challenging work was completed only by the end of September, within the framework of the Black Sea stage of the ship Kartesh's expedition which worked in the Crimea under the aegis of the Underwater Heritage Department of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukrain. Together with Aleksei Bondar we cleared the hull's bow and took pictures at 70 meters depth. On the right side of the hull some letters didn't remain, but on its left side in powerful light illumination the letters of the pre-reform Cyrillic showed through a muddy silt cloud distinctly - SKAT.

  Andrei Bykov, Black Sea Wreck Club, Sevastopol, 2009
  The sources of the used materials:



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