When three Russian submarines break through the ice at the same time

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Three Russian Navy submarines recently forced their way through the Arctic ice to simultaneously surface several hundred meters apart. A delicate naval maneuver.

An impressive video (to watch at the end of the article) published a few days ago by the Russian Defense Ministry shows the command towers of three submarines piercing the Arctic ice, near the Franz Josef archipelago Land (north of the Barents Sea). These three buildings are part of an expedition (Umka-2021) involving 600 military and civilians, including staff from the Russian Geographical Society, one of the oldest geography societies in the world (founded in 1845).

The three submarines crossed 1.5m thick ice to surface within 300 meters of each other at the same time, “for the first time in the history of the navy“, a declared Admiral Nikolay, Commander of the Russian Navy. At the time of the maneuvers, it was between -25 ° C and -30 ° C, with gusts of up to 110 km / h.

The Russian military did not name the three submersibles involved in this maneuver, but the news site Barents Observer reportedly identified two Delta-IV nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (the mainstay of the Soviet fleet during the Cold War) and a new Borei-class submarine.

A delicate maneuver sometimes necessary

In general, these buildings remain hidden under the arctic ice to go unnoticed. However, sometimes they must also rise to the surface. If possible, sub-commanders will first try to identify patches of open water nearby, but these are not always available. Also, submarines sometimes have to pierce the ice (up to 2.5 m maximum). And necessarily, this requires a careful preparation.

The first task is to slowly lift the submarine until its top tower contacts the bottom of the floating ice sheet. Compressed air is then used to push seawater out of the submersible’s ballast tanks. In this way, you create an upward force which normally pierces the surface.

Getting three submarines across the ice at the same time is particularly difficult, since underwater ships cannot communicate with each other. It was a training maneuver.

Although this is the first time that three submarines have resurfaced together through the ice, in 2018 two US submarines (the USS Connecticut and the USS Hartford) had also emerged at the same time at the sight of the submarine. -British navy, according to Popular mechanics.

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