Russian Som Class Submarines
(Type 7-P)

A-02-Fulton Drawing

Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers Transactions, 1902

Length 63 feet 4 inches
Diameter 11 feet 9 inches
Displacement 120 tons

The Russian type 7-P boats were known as the Som or "Catfish" class (the Fulton was renamed Som after it was purchased by Russia). They were identical to the type 7-P boats built by Japan and the Netherlands except that larger superstructures and "Fossa" type periscopes were added.

On February 10, 1904, the Neva Shipbuilding Company in St. Petersburg offered to construct Holland type 7-P submarines for the Russian government. The Sea Technical Committee agreed and placed an order for five boats to be delivered in August and September of 1904. The material was purchased from the United States for assembly at the Neva yard. The keels were laid on May 10, 1904, but construction proceeded slowly. The first submarine (Schuka) was launched on October 15, 1904, completed by April 1905 and accepted on June 17, 1905.

The Losos (Salmon) was launched in September, 1905. On September 15, 1905, the she was visited by Sea Minister Vice-Admiral A.A.Birilev. The following day, the Losos maneuvered while Czar Nikolay II observed from a steamship. The Beluga and Peskar (Gudgeon) were launched in October, 1905. On February 5, 1906, the Peskar developed a large trim due to a faulty valve on an auxiliary pump. The mechanic on duty had fallen asleep. Fortunately, the alarm was raised in time and serious damage was prevented. The Peskar and the Sterljad were delivered in May 1906.

The Beluga and Peskar underwent trials with the Losos. The winds were strong, the waves were high and the low temperatures resulted in the formation of a significant amount of ice making the trials especially difficult. The trials were successful, however, and these three boats plus the Sterljad formed the submarine training group where they were used to train crews and develop combat tactics.

After traveling to St. Petersburg, the Schuka (Pike) was shipped to Vladivostok by rail car, arriving November, 4, 1905. Together with other boats it was used to patrol the waters around the Russian islands. The Schuka participated in experiments designed to determine the feasibility of operating submarines during the winter (in and around ice). These experiments were successful and recommendations were made relating to preparing a submarine for winter operations.

On July 4, 1907, the Neva Shipyard offered to construct an additional Holland type 7-P submarine. This offer was accepted and the Sudak (Pike perch) was completed on November, 22, 1907. Later that year, the Losos was shipped by rail to the Black sea where she and the Sudak formed the first submarine squadron on Black sea.

In 1908, the Sea Minister ordered a series of shock tests. On May 16, 1908, two rams, two rabbits and a dog were loaded on board the Peskar. The boat has anchored and a dead weight was lowered to the bottom. After filling ballast tanks, the crew left the boat, the hatch was closed, and the Peskar was hauled down to a depth of 6 to 7 meters with the aid of a steel cable passed through a pulley attached to the dead weight. Two explosive charges were set off at a depth and range corresponding to that of a torpedo striking an enemy vessel. Neither the boat nor the animals in the boat were harmed. This experiment proved that a submarine could destroy an enemy ship without sinking herself.

In 1908, the Sterljad collided with the training vessel "Khabarovsk." A small amount of water entered through the flanges of the compressor cooling system and several rivets, but the submarine survived the encounter.

On April 18, 1913, the Beluga collided with the surface torpedo boat Impressive. The outer torpedo tube hatch and superstructure of the submarine were damaged, and the torpedo boat was holed on the port side. A short time later, the Beluga was modified to include a connection for an external air hose. During a simulated rescue operation on May 18, 1913, a diver descended and successfully attached an air hose to the submarine while it lay on the bottom.

In June 1913, the Sudak struck a reef in Cossack Bay near Sevastopol. It was pulled off the reef by a surface torpedo boat and returned to Sevastopol. During the first world war the Sudak patrolled the waters adjacent to Sevastopol. On July 13, while being towed to Revel, a large wave caused the bow of the boat to become buried. One officer, two enlisted men and a student were washed overboard. Water penetrated the ballast tanks, and the submarine began to settle in the water. When the water began to enter the open hatch, Corporal Leonova rushed to the cabin and closed the hatch, saving the boat.

On February 24, 1918, the Schuka, Peskar, Beluga and Sterljad were seized by the German army and taken to Germany where they were scrapped. On May 1, 1918, the Losos and Sudak were also seized by the German army, but in November 1918, they were captured by the French army and scuttled near Sevastopol the following April. During training exercises in the summer of 1932, divers located the Losos, and the Sudak. The boats were raised, but not restored.

Note: All the information on this page originated on the Russian Navy website

Copyright 1999,2000,2001,2002 Gary McCue