B-39 Submarine

B-39 Russian Submarine

An Actual Soviet-Era Diesel-Electric Submarine.


One of a fleet of diesel electric submarines the Soviet Navy called “Project 641,” B-39 was commissioned in the early 1970s and served on active duty for more than 20 years. 300 feet in length and displacing more than 2000 tons, B-39 is among the largest conventionally powered submarines ever built. She was designed to track U.S. and NATO warships throughout the world’s oceans. B-39, assigned to the Soviet Pacific fleet, undoubtedly stalked many of the U.S. Navy’s ships home ported in San Diego. Now, less than 20 years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall signaled the end of the Cold War, she is berthed on San Diego Bay amidst her former adversaries. Soviet Project 641 submarines, classified as “Foxtrot” by NATO, are essentially larger and more powerful versions of German World War II era U-boats. Low-tech but lethal, she carried 24 torpedoes while she was on patrol-some capable of delivering low-yield nuclear warheads. B-39 carried a crew of 78 and could dive to a depth of 985 feet before threatening the integrity of her nickel steel pressure hull. The Soviet and then Russian Federation’s navies deployed these submarines from the mid 1950s through the early 1990s. They played a part in many of the Cold War’s most tense moments including the Cuban Missile Crisis.

  • Also known as “Black Widow” and “Cobra”
  • NATO Designator: Foxtrot-Class
  • 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.
  • After the end of the Vietnam War, she often made port visits to Danang.
  • In 1989 in the Sea of Japan while charging batteries on the surface, B-39 came within 500 yards of an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate of the US Navy. Both crews took pictures of each other.
LOA 299’
Surface Displacement 1952 Tons
Submerged Displacement 2475 Tons
Diesel Engines 3 X 2000 hp
Electric Motors 3 X 1350 hp
Cruising Speed Surfaced 16 knots
Cruising Speed Submerged 15 knots
Torpedo Tubes 6 forward, 4 aft
Armament 22 type 53 torpedoes with high explosive warheads and a range of 10 miles, 36 mines