Croatian submarine Velebit (P-01)
Velebit in the Lora Naval Base, August 2011
|Builder:||Brodogradilište specijalnih objekata, Split|
|Homeport:||Lora Naval Base, Split|
|Fate:||Captured by the Croatian National Guard during an overhaul|
|Out of service:||2005|
|Homeport:||Lora Naval Base, Split|
|Fate:||Raised from the sea and stored in Lora Naval Base, declared redundant|
|Length:||21.09 m (69.2 ft)|
|Beam:||2.7 m (8.9 ft)|
|Draft:||2.4 m (7.9 ft)|
|Range:||250 nmi (460 km; 290 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph)|
|Crew:||4 + 6 special forces|
Velebit (pennant number P-01) was a modified Una-class midget submarine and the only submarine to see service with the Croatian Navy. It was built for the Yugoslav Navy during the 1980s where it was named Soča. At the outbreak of the Croatian War of Independence Soča was being overhauled in the Brodogradilište specijalnih objekata division of Brodosplit shipyard in Split, Croatia. Although stripped of all equipment, it was preserved from the retreating Yugoslav forces by the shipyard workers.
With modifications that were aimed at improving the ships endurance by including a diesel generator, it was launched as Velebit (P-01) in 1996. A few years later it was out of service because of the need to acquire a new set of batteries, which in turn, never happened. After unsuccessful attempts of selling it to a foreign buyer, it was offered to various museums in Croatia with a final destination still pending.
Design and construction
Velebit was completed as Soča in 1987 at the Brodogradilište specijalnih objekata division of Brodosplit shipyard in Split, Croatia, as the fourth boat in its class. It measures 21.09 metres (69.2 feet) in length, has a draft of 2.4 m (7.9 ft), a 2.7 m (8.9 ft) beam and displaces 88 tonnes (87 long tons) when surfaced or 98.5 tonnes (96.9 long tons) when submerged. It was constructed as a single hull design with the internal compartment divided into three sections: forward (command/steering) position, exit chamber and the propulsion section in the back. During underwater operations two battery groups with a total of 256 cells power two 20 kW Končar electric motors mounted on a single shaft that spins a five blade propeller. Surface propulsion and battery recharging is provided by a single diesel generator.
Maximum speed is eight knots (15 kilometres per hour; 9.2 miles per hour) underwater and seven knots (13 kilometres per hour; 8.1 miles per hour) surfaced. The boat's range is 250 nautical miles (460 kilometres; 290 miles) with a speed of four knots (7.4 kilometres per hour; 4.6 miles per hour). It has an underwater endurance of up to 6–7 days which is an improvement compared to 96 hours of other Una-class boats. Maximum diving depth is 120 metres (390 ft).
Because the class was designed with reconnaissance, small scale minelaying and special operations in mind, it does not possess any offensive weapons such as torpedoes. The submarine was to use its small dimensions to easily maneuver in the relatively shallow waters of the Adriatic sea, staying undetected and transporting up to six special forces personnel who had 6–12 limpet mines and four AIM-M70 (M70/1) bottom mines or four R-1 submersibles at their disposal. Velebit had a crew of four.
Before the Croatian War of Independence Velebit served with the 88th Submarine Flotilla of the Yugoslav Navy entering service during the late 1980s. Velebit, then named Soča, was like other Una-class submarines, named after rivers in Yugoslavia. In 1991, it was being overhauled in Brodogradilište specijalnih objekata until the beginning of the war, when Croatian forces captured it. In 1993, Brodarski Institut (BI) of Zagreb started a modification program to improve the operational capabilities of the submarine captured two years earlier. The hull was lengthend to create space needed for the installation of a single MTU 105 kW diesel generator, a feature the original Una-class design lacked. A new steering system developed by BI was also installed.
It was recommissioned as Velebit in 1996. According to the 2007 edition of The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, Velebit was fitted with a STN-Atlas Elektronik PP-10 active and PSU-1-2 passive sonar and a portable navigational radar may have been used on board along with the GPS. The claim is contradicted by other sources with news reports stating the submarine was completed without an active sonar, effectively being "blind" underwater. During the 1990s Velebit had the pennant number "3" painted on its side. After the existing battery set needed for underwater propulsion expired and needed replacement, crew training and boat operations were limited to surface drives.
Decommissioning and aftermath
In February 2005 Velebit was raised from the sea, placed on a small platform within the Lora Naval Base and has remained there since. In June 2006 the Croatian Ministry of Defence released the Croatian Armed Forces Long Term Development Plan 2006–2015 (Croatian: Dugoročni plan razvoja Oružanih snaga Republike Hrvatske 2006–2015) in which it was stated that:
The HRM [Croatian Navy] does not possess anti-submarine warfare capabilities. It possesses one submarine which is not operationally usable. It's designed for offensive minelaying and transporting underwater special forces. The Armed Forces of Croatia will not keep its submarine capabilities and the submarine will be decommissioned.
- - Croatian Armed Forces Long Term Development Plan 2006–2015
The defence minister at the time, Berislav Rončević, explained that because Croatia was to join NATO in the spring 2008, it would be a part of the collective defense of the entire alliance, and the need to develop all aspects of the defence system, including a submarine force, would be unnecessary. In 2007 it was confirmed that the submarine was put up for sale through the state-owned "Alan Agency" that deals with weapons sales, with a starting price of 8 million Croatian kunas (approximately 1.07 million Euros). Acting commander of the Croatian Navy at the time, Ante Urlić, among other propositions, mentioned the possibility of installing a new set of batteries, sonar and overhauling the submarine. Fully operational, Velebit would then be sold for a much higher price of around 15 million euros. Considering the potential overhaul and sale didn't happen, a decision was made to donate the submarine to a museum.
In 2009 it appeared that the submarine would be given to the Technical Museum in Zagreb under an agreement between mayor Milan Bandić and the government agencies, but this project was canceled due to the difficulty of transporting the 4.42 metres (14.5 feet) tall submarine through the city center to the museum. The Croatian Maritime Museum in Split also expressed interest in obtaining Velebit as a part of its display, especially considering it was built in Split and homeported in the city throughout its service career. The main obstacle to this option is that the Maritime Museum is located in the Gripe fortress; because the plans for moving the Maritime Museum to the more spacious port of Split have been put on hold, a new option that includes moving Velebit to the Military Museum that's being created in Zagreb, has also appeared. As of November 2013, the final location has yet to be decided.
- Brodarski institut - Velebit P 01.
- Wertheim 2007, p. 145.
- Brodarski institut - klasa Una.
- Krnić & 17 July 2012.
- Švel & 6 October 2012.
- Brodarski institut - Reference.
- Krnić & 20 October 2007.
- Nacional & 24 April 2002.
- DPR OSRH 2006 - 2015 & June 2006.
- Šarić & 1 August 2007.
- Profaca & 15 August 2007.
- Krnić & 25 March 2013.
- Dukić & 25 March 2009.
- Wertheim, Eric (2007). The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, 15th Edition: Their Ships, Aircraft And Systems. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 9781591149552.
- News reports
- Krnić, Denis (17 July 2012). "Podmornica ‘Velebit’ zaronit će u turizam" [Submarine ‘Velebit’ will dive into tourism]. Slobodna Dalmacija.
- Švel, Boris (6 October 2012). "Sudbina podmornice P-01" [Faith of the submarine P-01]. obris.org.
- Profaca, Ivica (15 August 2007). "MORH prodaje jedinu hrvatsku podmornicu" [MORH selling Croatia's only submarine]. Jutarnji list.
- Šarić, M. (1 August 2007). "Ministar Rončević potvrdio napuštanje podmorničarstva: Hrvatska prodaje jedinu podmornicu" [Minister Rončević confirms abandoning the submarine force: Croatia selling its only submarine]. Večernji list. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
- Dukić, Snježana (25 March 2009). "Podmornica ‘Velebit’ zapela na tramvajskim žicama u Zagrebu" [Submarine ‘Velebit’ stuck on tram wires in Zagreb]. Slobodna Dalmacija.
- Krnić, Denis (25 March 2013). "Stjepan Lozo: Nećemo odustati od ‘Velebita’" [Stjepan Lozo: We won't give up on ‘Velebit’]. Slobodna Dalmacija.
- "Jedina hrvatska podmornica Velebit ne može zaroniti" [Croatia's only submarine Velebit can't dive]. Nacional. 24 April 2002. Archived from the original on 30 December 2013.
- Krnić, Denis (20 October 2007). "Podmornica u muzej ili možda natrag u flotu" [Submarine to go to the museum, or back to the fleet]. Slobodna Dalmacija.
- Other sources
- "Diverzantska podmornica Velebit P-01" [Special operation submarine Velebit P-01] (PDF). Brodarski institut. 9 December 2013.
- "Diverzantske podmornice klase Una" [Una-class midget submarines] (PDF). Brodarski institut.
- "Dugoročni plan razvoja Oružanih snaga Republike Hrvatske 2006 - 2015" [Croatian Armed Forces Long Term Development Plan 2006 - 2015] (PDF). Ministry of Defence. June 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-27.
- "Osnivanje i gradnja diverzantskih podmornica klase P 911" [Developing and building P 911 class midget submarines]. "Podmornicar" Society.
- "Reference" [References]. hrbi.hr.
- "Review of delivered vessels since 1980." (PDF). Brodogradilište specijalnih objekata. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
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