Bars-class submarine (1915)

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Russian Submarine Bars 1914.jpg
Bars in 1914
Class overview
Name: Bars class
In commission: 1914–1941
Completed: 24
Lost: 9
General characteristics [1]
Type: Submarine
Displacement:
  • 650 tons surfaced
  • 780 tons submerged
Length: 223 ft (68 m)
Beam: 15 ft (4.6 m)
Draft: 13 ft (4.0 m)
Propulsion:
Speed:
  • 18 knots (33 km/h) surfaced
  • 9 knots (17 km/h) submerged
Range: 400 nmi (740 km)
Complement: 33
Armament:
  • 1 × 63 mm (2.5 in) (as designed)
  • 1 × 37 mm (1.5 in) AA gun
  • 4 × 457 mm (18.0 in) torpedo tubes
  • 8 × torpedoes in drop collars (later removed)

The Bars class were a group of submarines built for the Imperial Russian Navy during World War I. A total of 24 boats were built between 1914 and 1917. A number of them saw action during the First World War, and three were lost in the conflict. The surviving boats were taken over by the Soviets after the Bolshevik Revolution and a number of them remained in service until the 1930s.

Design[edit]

The Bars class submarines were ordered by the Imperial Russian Navy under their 1912 construction programme. 24 boats were ordered; 12 for the Baltic Fleet, six for the Black Sea, and six for the Siberian flotilla. The Baltic Fleet unites were built at the Baltic Yard, St Petersburg, and the Noblessner Yard, Reval (now Tallinn). The Black Sea units were built at Nikolayev, at the Baltic and the Naval Yards. The Siberian units were also built in the Baltic, but the outbreak of the First World War made their transfer impossible, and they were reassigned to the Baltic Fleet in 1915.[1]

These boats were designed by Ivan Bubnov and based on the preceding Morzh class. They were single-hulled, but like the Morzh boats lacked internal bulkheads. The Morzh design was enlarged with more powerful engines, a larger torpedo armament, and larger guns.

As designed the boats were to have two 900hp electric and two 2640 bhp diesel engines, but a shortage of these diesels meant the boats had a variety of machinery fitted. Only Kuguar and Zmeya had the diesels originally intended for them. This and greater than expected hull resistance left them with lower than intended underwater speeds.[1]

The gun armament too was problematic; the intended armament was one 63 mm and one 37 mm gun, but this to varied according to availability. Three units (Bars, Vepr, and Volk) carried two 63mm guns, while four others had an additional 75mm gun. The Black Sea boats had one 75mm and one 37mm gun.[1]

The torpedo armament comprised four internal 18-inch (460 mm) torpedo tubes and eight external torpedoes in drop collars mounted in recessed niches low in the hull. Trials with Bars and Vepr showed these to be unsuitable and subsequent vessels had the niches and drop-collars moved to the upper deck; Bars and Vepr were later refitted to this pattern, before their ultimate complete removal.[1]

The design had numerous shortcomings, including a lack of internal bulkheads and a slow diving time. Surviving boats were modernized after the Russian Civil War by installing bulkheads, new diesels, pumps and extra torpedo tubes (the external drop collars were removed).

Service history[edit]

The Baltic Fleet units saw action during the First World War and made numerous war patrols in the Baltic, despite being limited by the short operating season. In the 1915 ice-free season they targeted German warships but with little success, these being generally fast and well-protected. In the 1916 and 1917 seasons they were employed attacking German iron-ore shipments along the Swedish coast, though again with little success, due to the restrictions imposed by Swedish neutrality.

Three vessels (Bars, Lvitsa and Gepard) were lost in action. Two (Edinorog and Ugor) were lost in marine accidents and two (Forel and Yaz)were left unfinished. Another two (Kuguar and Vepr) were designated as training units. With the onset of the Bolshevik Revolution and the start of the Russian Civil War the surviving units in the Baltic were taken over by the Soviets and saw some action against Allied Intervention forces; in 1919 Pantera sank the British destroyer Vittoria.[1]

The Black Sea units were unfinished during World War I and were seized by the German occupation forces before being surrendered to the Allies and the White Russian forces of General Wrangel.[1]

With the end of the Civil War the surviving Bars class vessels remained in service until the 1930s before being discarded.

Ships[edit]

Baltic Fleet[1]
Ship Namesake Builder Launch date Service/Fate
Bars
БАРС
(Leopard)[2] Baltic Shipyard, St. Petersburg 2 June 1915 Lost May 1917; cause unknown
Gepard
ГЕПАРД
(Cheetah) Baltic Shipyard, St. Petersburg 2 June 1915 Sunk 28 October 1917
Kuguar
КУГУАР
(Cougar) Noblessner Yard, Reval 1916 Hulked 1922
Leopard
ЛЕОПАРД
(Leopard)[2] Noblessner Yard, Reval 1916 Renamed Krasnoarmeets. Hulked 1936
Lvitsa
ЛЬВИЦА
(Lioness) Noblessner Yard, Reval 23 October 1915 Sunk 11 June 1917
Pantera
ПАНТЕРА
(Panther) Noblessner Yard, Reval 26 April 1916 Sank British destroyer HMS Vittoria off the island of Seiskari during the British Intervention in Russia. Aksel Berg was navigating officer at the time. The ship was renamed Komissar and converted to a harbour training ship 1941
Rys
РЫСЬ
(Lynx) Noblessner Yard, Reval 1916 Renamed Bolshevik, sunk in an accident 13 September 1935
Tigr
ТИГР
(Tiger) Noblessner Yard, Reval 18 September 1915 Renamed Kommunar, broken up 1936
Tur
ТУР
(Aurochs) Noblessner Yard, Reval 1916 Renamed Tovarich, sunk in an accident 25 June 1935
Vepr
ВЕПРЬ
(Wild Boar) Baltic Shipyard, St. Petersburg 1915 Hulked 1922
Volk
ВОЛК
(Wolf) Baltic Shipyard, St. Petersburg 1915 Stricken 1936
Yaguar
ЯГУАР
(Jaguar) Noblessner Yard, Reval 1916 Stricken 1936
Black Sea Fleet[1]
Ship Namesake Builder Launch Date Service/Fate
Burvestnik
БУРЕВЕСТНИК
(Petrel) Naval Yard, Nikolayev 1916 Seized by the Germans as SM US-1 and transferred to the White Russian forces in 1918, interned in Bizerte with Wrangel's fleet and scrapped 1924
Gagara
ГАГАРА
(Loon/Diver) Baltic (Admiralty) Yard, Nikolayev 7 October 1916 Seized by the Germans as US 4 and scuttled 26 April 1919
Lebed
ЛЕБЕДЬ
(Swan) Naval Yard, Nikolayev 1917 Seized by the Germans and scuttled 26 April 1919
Orlan
ОРЛАН
(Sea eagle) Naval Yard, Nikolayev 1916 Seized by the Germans as US 2 and scuttled 26 April 1919
Pelikan
ПЕЛИКАН
(Pelican) Naval Yard, Nikolayev September 1917 Seized by the Germans and scuttled 26 April 1919
Utka
УТКА
(Duck) Baltic (Admiralty) Yard, Nikolayev 1916 Seized by the Germans as US 3 and transferred to the White Russian forces in 1918, interned in Bizerte and scrapped 1924
Siberian Flotilla (transferred to Baltic Fleet 1915)[1]
Ship Namesake Builder Launch Date Service/Fate
Edinorog
ЕДИНОРОГ
(Unicorn) Baltic Shipyard, St. Petersburg 1916 Sunk 25 February 1918.

Wreck found on 28 May 2009 by the Estonian Maritime Museum in the northern part of the Gulf of Finland.[3]

Zmeya
ЗМЕЯ
(Serpent) Baltic Shipyard, St. Petersburg 1916 Renamed Proletariy, sunk in an accident 22 May 1931
Ugor
УГОРЬ
(Eel) Baltic Shipyard, St. Petersburg 1916 Sunk 27 March 1920
Yaz
ЯЗЬ
(Ide/Orfe) Noblessner Yard, Reval 1917? Stricken 1922
Erzh
ЕРШ
(Ruffe) Baltic Shipyard, St. Petersburg 1917? Converted to minelayer

Sunk in an accident 22 May 1931

Forel
ФОРЕЛЬ
(Trout) Baltic Shipyard, St. Petersburg 1916 Converted to minelayer

Stricken 1922

See also[edit]

Media related to Bars class submarines at Wikimedia Commons

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Conway p316
  2. ^ a b Russian has two words for the leopard (pantera pardus); «барс» (from Turkish) and «леопард"» (from the Greek)
  3. ^ Rare submarine found at the bottom of Gulf of Finland: 28 May 2009, Postimees (in Estonian)

References[edit]

External links[edit]