Scheme of Whiskey-class submarine
|Preceded by:||S-class submarine|
|Beam:||6.3 m (20 ft 8 in) to 6.5 m (21 ft 4 in)|
|Draft:||4.9 m (16 ft 1 in)|
|Complement:||54 (more on the cruise missile variants)|
The initial design was developed in the early 1940s as a sea-going follow on to the S-class submarine. As a result of war experience and the capture of German technology at the end of the war, the Soviets issued a new design requirement in 1946. The revised design was developed by the Lazurit Design Bureau based in Gorkiy. Like most conventional submarines designed 1946-1960, the design was heavily influenced by the Type XXI U-boat.
Between 1949 and 1958 a total of 236 of an envisaged 340  submarines of this type were commissioned into the Soviet Navy. The vessels were initially designed as coastal patrol submarines. These patrol variants are known in the west as Whiskey I, II, III, IV, and V and were called Project 613 in the Soviet Union.
- Whiskey I − twin 25 mm guns in conning tower
- Whiskey II − twin 57mm guns and twin 25mm guns
- Whiskey III − guns removed
- Whiskey IV − 25 mm guns - fitted with snorkel
- Whiskey V − no guns - streamlined conning tower and snorkel
In the 1950s and 1960s some Whiskey submarines were converted to guided missile submarines. These boats had the capability to fire one to four SS-N-3 Shaddock cruise missiles. In 1956, the first prototype was ready. It was a regular Whiskey-class submarine which was fitted with a launch tube aft of the sail that contained a single SS-N-3c land-attack missile. This vessel was known in the west as Whiskey Single Cylinder. Between 1958 and 1960, six additional Whiskey-class submarines were converted to carry guided missiles. These boats had two missile tubes behind the sail, and were known in the west as the Whiskey Twin Cylinder (Soviet designation:Project 644).
Between 1960 and 1963, six boats received an extended sail that could contain four Shaddock missiles. These were called Whiskey Long Bin in the West and Project 665 in the Soviet Union. All guided missile variants of the Whiskey class carried the P-5/ NATO SS-N-3c Shaddock land-attack missile, and had to surface in order to fire their missiles. The boats of the single and twin cylinder class also had to raise their missile tubes, which were normally positioned horizontally.
The "Long Bin" boats did not handle well, the missile launchers caused stability problems and water flow around the missile fittings was very noisy. All were soon retired from service. Four were converted to Project 640 radar picket boats (which were called Whiskey Canvas Bag). Two vessels were converted to submarines for 'fishery research' and 'oceanographic research' purposes. In the Soviet navy, the patrol variants of this class were replaced by Romeo-class submarines. The guided missile variants were replaced by Juliett-class submarines.
The Soviet Union built a total of 236 or 215 Whiskeys (sources vary; it appears the initial 21 Chinese-built boats are often included with the Soviet boats). Vice Admiral Burov, head of the Soviet Defense Ministry's Shipbuilding Institute from 1969 to 1983, confirms 215 units built.
Patrol submarines of the Whiskey class were exported to:
- Albania (four vessels, all retired)
- Bulgaria (two vessels, retired)
- China (five vessels, and another 21 built locally from parts provided by the Soviet Union, known as Type 03, all now retired)
- Egypt (seven vessels, retired)
- Indonesia (twelve vessels, and two as a source of spare parts, retired)
- North Korea (four vessels)
- Poland (four vessels, 1962–1986, retired)
- ORP Orzeł (292)
- ORP Bielik (295)
- ORP Sokół (293)
- ORP Kondor (294) – 10 June 1965 raising of the banner, 30 October 1985 lowering of the banner.
By 1982, only 60 boats remained in the Soviet Navy (45 active, 15 in operational reserve); all were retired by the end of the Cold War.
Incidents involving Whiskey-class submarines
- On 27 January 1961, S-80 was lost due to accidental flooding while the boat was submerged. The valve that should have prevented water from entering the snorkel did not work properly.
- On 24 November 1972, the submarine KNM Sklinna of the Royal Norwegian Navy had "contact" with what they presumed was a Whiskey-class submarine, after 14 days of "hunt" in Sognefjord. Military documents released in 2009 confirm this episode.
- On 21 October 1981, S-178 was run down by the merchant vessel Refrizherator-13 in Golden Horn Bay, Vladivostok.
- On 27 October 1981, S-363 ran aground in Swedish territorial waters near the Karlskrona naval base.
- On 5 February 2007, the decommissioned S-194 took on water and sank off the coast of Denmark while being towed to become part of a naval museum.
- In 2009 a previously unknown and unidentified sunken Whiskey class submarine was discovered within Sweden's EEZ close to the island of Gotland. It was a decommissioned submarine which sank while under tow to be scrapped in Denmark. News of the discovery was not made public until March 2011.
- Couhat Jean. Combat Fleets of the world 1982/1983 Their Ships, Aircraft, and Armament Paris: Editions Maritimes et d'Outre-Mer, 1981 ISBN 0-87021-125-0 Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 78-50192 Pg.1
- Gardiner, pp. 396-397
- Kuzin, V.P.; Nikolskiy V.I. Voyenno-morskoy Flot SSSR 1945-1991. Istoricheskoye Morskoye Obshchestvo, Sankt Peterburg, 1996
- Burov, V.N. Otechestvennoye Voyennoye Korablestroyeniye v Tretem Stoletii Svoyey Istorii, Sudostroyeniye, Sankt Peterburg, 1995. 5-7355-0508-4
- Weir and Boyle 2003
- Aftenposten(Norwegian Language) (including pictures)
- Dansk Dykkerservice ApS (Danish Language) (including pictures)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Whiskey-class submarine.|
- Gardiner, Robert (ed.) (1995). Conway's all the World's Fighting Ships 1947-1995. London: Conway Maritime. ISBN 0-85177-605-1. OCLC 34284130. Also published as Gardiner, Robert; Chumbley, Stephen; Budzbon, Przemysław (1995). Conway's all the World's Fighting Ships 1947-1995. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-132-7. OCLC 34267261.
- Weir, Gary E., and Boyle, Walter J. Rising Tide: The Untold Story of the Russian Submarines That Fought the Cold War Basic Books, 2003.
- History, Development, and Use of the Whiskey-class Submarine
- Encyclopedia of Ships (Russian)
- Whiskey class submarines - Complete Ship List (English)