As Russia and Ukraine remain embroiled in a bitter confrontation, Russia’s marine engineering design bureau – Rubin – earlier this month announced plans to modify the Strazh or Border and Offshore Submersible Sentry (BOSS).
Rubin had presented the first version of a submersible patrol boat integrating the advantage of a submarine and a surface patrol boat in 2021. This concept was dubbed BOSS. Translated variously by Sentry, Sentinel or Guardian, BOSS is mainly aimed at foreign customers.
The concept itself has multiple advantages. BOSS should be affordable like most offshore patrol vessels, which are relatively cheaper and therefore accessible to countries with tight defense budgets.
The operation of these vessels is quite efficient as they can be used for several activities such as prevention of illegal trade, poaching and other law breaking.
These ships are also multifunctional as they can also be used as patrol vessels, rescue vessels or research vessels. BOSS equipment will come primarily from surface ships and aircraft.
This ship is similar to the Soviet Whiskey-class submarines in terms of architecture and silhouette. The Whiskey-class submarines were also very popular with foreign customers.
BOSS has the same basic parameters as this old submarine – a surface displacement of more than 1000 tons, a total length of 60-70 meters depending on the configuration.
It can accommodate up to 42 crew, including the boarding team. Large pressure-resistant containers can be used to store Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) for boarding teams or a UAV that has up to 3 hours of battery life. The ship can be armed with torpedoes, small guided missiles and an autocannon, depending on customer requests.
This marine vessel also has the ability to dive. This allows the ship not only to be able to discreetly observe the culprits (and catch them red-handed), but also to help it avoid harsh weather conditions that would have otherwise forced it to abandon the mission.
A submersible vessel can be used like a conventional submarine, for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), as well as for other missions.
This submersible patrol vessel will have a better seabed search capability than a surface vessel. Additionally, it can serve as an inexpensive training vessel to provide crews with experience at sea.
The new submersible vessel
The new submarine that Rubin recently unveiled is 72 meters long and has a surface displacement of around 1300 tons. These huge dimensions allow for greater capacities. This also features new lines with a wave-piercing bow and roll-reducing tumbling hull, making the ship a more stable weapons platform.
This design reduces the ship’s radar signature. In fact, it’s been touted to be nearly invisible to radar. A high power propulsion system on this submarine allows a speed of up to 21 kt.
This version is equipped with an autocannon, two guided missile launchers and four 324 mm torpedo tubes. Rubin Claims that this set of weapons makes this BOSS “a formidable enemy for even bigger ships”.
Additionally, this submersible also has two multi-functional pressure-resistant hangars that can be used to accommodate boarding team boats and equipment, drones, or other payloads. For search and target acquisition, radar and sonar can be used. This should allow for a more discreet detection and approach.
Like the model on which it is based, this ship can also be used for anti-submarine exercises and for the preparation of conventional submarine crews.
This multifunctional ship meets the demand of navies with small budgets. This would be very useful in the context of the cost reduction measures imposed due to the pandemic. Rubin decided to build a combination of surface and underwater capabilities in the BOSS project to make the submersible multifunctional.
Thanks to this design, the ship, which is supposed to be intended for use in peacetime, will manage to maintain its relevance as a combat unit in the event of conflict. Additionally, the dive ability allows BOSS to perform typical patrol duties as well.
Target buyers on a budget
This submersible is likely to further cement Russia’s footprint in naval exports. Since most importing nations are looking for ships that can help them carry out coastal and regional defense rather than ships that house state-of-the-art weapon systems and high-end naval capabilities, BOSS ships are a perfect fit. .
Additionally, the naval export market is largely focused on low-cost frigates and small conventionally powered attack submarines.
A majority share of the money from military ship export business is for ships under 5,000 tons, most of which are ships under 3,000 tons. The new version of BOSS corresponds to this demand. It is likely to help Russia, which (along with Germany and France) has a market share over 80% for surface ships and submarines.