Site: Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering (RUBIN)
Ulista Marata 90
St. Petersburg 191126

Date Visited: May 19, 1993

Report Author: A. Kalvaitis



N. Caplan
A. Kalvaitis
M. Lee


Dr. Alexander Zavalishin; First Deputy Head, Chief Engineer

Nickolay A. Nossov; Deputy Chief Designer


The Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering (RUBIN) specializes in submarines and other underwater technologies. Several years ago, RUBIN was a secret institute that could not be mentioned openly. The Typhoon, Oscar, and Komsomolets submarines were designed here. Because of recent conversion efforts, approximately 40 percent of the work is presently defense related, with major thrusts in the past several years concentrating on high-speed train development, nonmilitary submarines, and tourist submersibles. RUBIN designed the only Russian tourist submersible now in service, which began operations in 1993 at the island of Antigua in the Caribbean. Other defense conversion activities have focused on areas in which RUBIN has expertise: coal and nuclear power stations; floating power stations for the northern parts of Russia; gas and oil exploration and production; and participation with ROSSHELF, which has U.S. company partners. The team was told that about 2,000 employees work at this location.

A salient feature is that RUBIN has strong connections to former Soviet Union countries. RUBIN has created a broad spectrum of organizational expertise that is incorporated in books and on a computer database. In addition, RUBIN has had extensive at-sea experience with sunken submarine investigations.


The team was given a briefing on RUBIN that focused on the bureau's responsibilities regarding the Komsomolets nuclear submarine that sank in 1,700 m water off Norway in 1989. Mr. Nikolay Nossov, the submarine's designer, informed the team that RUBIN is heading a team of forty Russian institutes, organizations, and companies that are studying the submarine. Concern was expressed that radiation could leak from missiles and contaminate a large area because of the aperiodically high (up to 1.5 m/sec) currents in the area. RUBIN planned to attend the Radioactivity and Environmental Security in the Oceans Conference at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on June 7-9, 1993 to describe the environmental monitoring program on the Komsomolets submarine.

Two videos (including an ABC newscast) and numerous pictures of the submarine that were taken by the Mir 6,000 m submersibles were shown to the team. Also present at this meeting was one of the Mir pilots. Two remotely operated vehicles designed for operation from the Mir submersibles while inspecting the submarine externally and internally were described. Specifications on these ROVs were provided by Intershelf. See M. Lee's site report on Intershelf for more information.

The WTEC team's hosts from RUBIN described two versions of gamma counters that were specifically designed for radioactivity measurements at the submarine site. These designs use sodium iodide (NaI) gamma detector. One version is attached to the Mir submersible and measurements are made directly; the other instrument is configured so that it can be inserted into the submarine hull and record data for a one-week deployment.

RUBIN was responsible for leading the development of selective absorbants of radioactive nuclides, including cesium, uranium, and plutonium. These absorbants were developed by the Nizhny Khlopin Radiation Institute of St. Petersburg and the Arzamas 16 Russia Nuclear Center near Nizhny Novgorod. These absorbants are used in conjunction with the NaI gamma counters to provide a complete measurement of the radioactivity.

There have been three expeditions to the Komsomolets site. Two expeditions were organized by RUBIN. However, the first one was conducted by another institute that may have used an autonomous undersea vehicle called the MT-88. This 6,000 m capable AUV was developed at the Institute for Marine Technical Problems in Vladivostok. RUBIN recognizes the high cost of conducting operations with large ships and the need for automated systems.

RUBIN has created a working group of many firms and institutes capable of investigating radioactive objects on the ocean bottom. Having been responsible for many of the designs, the institute's scientists are very knowledgeable of the object, can conduct the necessary sampling and experimentation, and can predict the effects.

Published: June 1994; WTEC Hyper-Librarian