This is the unique Soviet submarine that was built not for the Navy, but for civil use and for the entertainment of tourists. It was painted bright yellow (“yellow submarine”), had numerous windows, and was completely free of any sort of weapons on board. Spies from the West were tracking the progress of the project, assuming that if a huge Navy contractor “Sevmash” which builds giant “Typhoon” class subs is building something small, then it is probably something very dangerous. But no, it was its first civil project – the first submarine to give tourists a taste of the seas from below. It was 1991 – the last year of the USSR. Let’s see how it was:
They called it “Neptune”. Its purpose was to make trips underwater for entertainment, at depths of 30-40 meters (120 ft). The maximum immersion depth was 60 meters (180 ft). It was 28 m long and was made of steel 1.5 cm thick.
Like any other submarine, it was equipped with air conditioning and other conforts. The crew included three people, including one guide telling tourists stories about where they are and what they see. It could make 6 or 7 trips a day. Its first trip was on November 23, 1992. There were 22 windows installed, so one window should be shared between two passengers.
To oversee hiring of the boat, there was a company formed which consisted of a Soviet (then Russian) submarine building plant and an Italian company who owned some islands in the Caribbean. (Yes, Soviet people were deprived of the chance to use the boat, it went straight to the Caribbean first). However, in 1996 it returned from the warm waters of tropical Antigua to the cold Arkhangelsk port at White Sea Russia. They were to service the vessel and make some repairs, and the it was to return to the Caribbean, but something went wrong and it stayed there for more than 10 years.
It stayed there for a long time, and was then sold to a local business for about 2,500,000 roubles or $45,000.
The new owner wants to rebuild it, and then take it to Moscow and use it as a museum.
That’s the story of the USSR’s first and only tourist submarine! Hope you liked it!