Soviet submarine B-39

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Coordinates: 32°43′15″N 117°10′28″W / 32.720738°N 117.174320°W / 32.720738; -117.174320

B-39, homeported in San Diego, California
Soviet Union
BuilderAdmiralty Shipyard
Laid down9 February 1962
Launched15 April 1967
Commissioned28 December 1967
Decommissioned1 April 1994
FateMuseum Ship, Maritime Museum of San Diego, San Diego, California, United States (closed)
Statusto be scrapped
General characteristics
Class and typeFoxtrot-class submarine
  • 1,953 long tons (1,984 t) surfaced
  • 2,475 long tons (2,515 t) submerged
Length89.9 m (294 ft 11 in)
Beam7.4 m (24 ft 3 in)
Draft5.9 m (19 ft 4 in)
  • 3 × Kolomna 2D42M 2,000 hp (1,500 kW) diesel engines
  • 3 electric motors; 2 × 1,350 hp (1,007 kW) and 1 × 2,700 hp (2,000 kW)
  • 1 × 180 hp (130 kW) auxiliary motor
  • 3 shafts, each with 6-bladed propellers
  • 16 knots (18 mph; 30 km/h) surfaced
  • 15 knots (17 mph; 28 km/h) submerged
  • 9 knots (10 mph; 17 km/h) snorkeling
  • 20,000 nmi (37,000 km) at 8 kn (9.2 mph; 15 km/h) surfaced
  • 11,000 nmi (20,000 km) snorkeling
  • 380 nmi (700 km) at 2 kn (2.3 mph; 3.7 km/h) submerged
Endurance3–5 days submerged
Test depth246–296 m (807–971 ft)
Complement12 officers, 10 warrants, 56 seamen

B-39 was a Project 641 (Foxtrot-class) diesel-electric attack submarine of the Soviet Navy. The "B" (actually "Б") in her designation stands for большая (bolshaya, "large")—Foxtrots were the Soviet Navy's largest non-nuclear submarines.[1] In 2005 B-39 became a museum ship on display at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, California, United States. In October 2021 the decision was made to withdraw the deteriorating submarine from the collection and scrap it.

Service history[edit]

Her keel was laid down on 9 February 1962 at the Admiralty Shipyard in Leningrad (now known as Saint Petersburg). She was launched on 15 April 1967 and commissioned on 28 December 1967.

Transferred to the 9th Submarine Squadron of the Pacific Fleet, B-39 was homeported in Vladivostok. She conducted patrols and stalked U.S. warships throughout the North Pacific, along the coast of the United States and Canada, and ranging as far as the Indian Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. After the end of the Vietnam War, she often made port visits to Danang. During the early 1970s, B-39 trailed a Canadian frigate through Strait of Juan de Fuca to Vancouver Island.

In 1989, in the Sea of Japan while charging batteries on the surface, B-39 came within 500 yards (457 m) of an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate of the US Navy. Both crews took pictures of each other.[2]

Post-USSR history[edit]

B-39 was decommissioned on 1 April 1994 and sold to Finland. She made her way from there through a series of sales to Vancouver Island in 1996 and to Seattle, Washington, in 2002 before arriving in San Diego, California, on 22 April 2005 and becoming an exhibit of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. During her sequence of owners she acquired the names "Black Widow"[citation needed] and "Cobra", neither of which she had during her commissioned career.

When B-39 was made a museum, the shroud around her attack periscope was cut away where it passes through her control room. As built, a Foxtrot's periscopes are only accessible from her conning tower, which is off-limits in the museum. With the shroud cut away, tourists can look through the partially raised periscope (which is directed toward the USS Midway museum, some 500 yards (460 m) away). However, the unidentified and unexplained change gives the false impression that one periscope could be used from the control room.

In 2000, while stored in Vancouver, B-39 was used as a stage for scenes in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Small Victories". In 2012 she was a stage for the movie Phantom.

In 2010 B-39 was proposed to be sunk to create an offshore diving reef,[3] but an outcry from teachers and enthusiasts ensured the sub would stay on display for the time being.[4]

During the 2000s B-39 became badly rusted with large holes visible in the outer hull and upper deck. In October 2021 the museum decided to withdraw the submarine from its collection. On February 7, 2022 she headed out to Ensenada, Mexico to be scrapped.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Foxtrot Class - Project 641
  2. ^ "An Actual Soviet-Era Diesel-Electric Submarine". Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  3. ^ "Soviet-era submarine to be used as dive reef". Del Mar Times. Del Mar, California. Archived from the original on 2013-12-12. Retrieved 2013-12-09.
  4. ^ Sub thriller filmed at Maritime Museum |
  5. ^ Wilkens, John (October 2, 2021). "After 15 years as a San Diego tourist draw, rusty Soviet sub is headed to the scrap yard". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 2 October 2021.

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