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O JULIETT, JULIETT, Wherefore art thou JULIETT?

By Bruce Rule - Mar 4, 2014

O Juliett, Juliett, wherefore art thou Juliett? Gone to the scrap heap almost every one, including number 484 once on exhibit at the Saratoga Museum in Providence, RI, where it sank at its pier during a really bad storm several years after providing the interior shots for the Harrison Ford film, WIDOWMAKER.

On August 11, 2009, RI Recycled Metals LLC towed JULIETT 484 to a facility 1000 yards from the museum site so that it could be scrapped.

With the above as background and apologies to Shakespeare, let's consider a very short history of the JULIETT Class cruise missile-equipped Soviet diesel submarine of which 16 were built. One JULIETT (K-24) remains at the German Maritime Museum at Peenemunde.

Despite the best efforts of Soviet designers, the JULIETT – with two gaping missile blast deflection ports on either side - had all the hydrodynamic efficiency of a badly damaged brick.

(Go to linked below for photos of JULIETTs as well as dry-dock photos of a DELTA III showing skewed, 7-bladed propellers and a TYPHOON with shrouded 7s.)

In an apparent attempt to compensate for the hull-form drag, the Soviets tried to shoe-horn as much propulsion power as possible into JULIETTs. The class had two turbo-charged twin-six cylinder 1D43 diesels, each of which developed 4,000 hp and, squeezed between them, a six-cylinder 1D42 engine for use as a diesel-generator.

Next, they installed two extremely large PG-141 electric motors, each of which developed 6,000 hp at 500 rpm. That's a total of 12,000 hp for submerged operations when the previous maximum was 5,400 for ZULUs, FOXTROTs and GOLFs. The Soviets had great difficulty fitting those motors in the space available within the pressure-hull.

Another problem that arose was that to use that much horsepower, the propellers would have been too large for the submarine. The solution to this design dilemma was the use of shrouds to reduce the diameter of the propellers but that came at the expense of increased noise levels.

For submerged operation, the Soviets installed Type 30/3 silver-zinc batteries with four groups of 152 cells each for a total of 608 cells. The maximum discharge current was 14,000 amps for 1.5 hours and a maximum continuous discharge capability of 30,000 amp-hours at 250 amps. The battery had a closed-circuit water cooling system to accommodate discharge at the maximum rate.

The availability of silver limited the installation of Type 30/3 batteries to the first eight JULIETTs, later reduced to three.

As a final note, the writer was at the BRIDGE site when the first JULIETT was transferred from the Baltic to the North Fleet in 1963. The ambient was so high that the JULIETT was the only target detected that Sept day as it transited north along the coast.