The curious Soviet mini-sub of South Alabama

While running around South Alabama, I came across the sleepy shrimping capital of Bayou La Batre along the Mississippi Sound. The basis for Winston Groom’s (who grew up in Mobile County and for years later lived along Mobile Bay) fictional Greenbow, Alabama in “Forest Gump,” the town self-bills as, “The Seafood Capital of Alabama.”

So, of course, it has a surplus Soviet mini-sub along Hwy 188 downtown.

Soviet Sever 2 Bis civil submersible on its carriage at Bayou La Batre, 2018 (Photo: Chris Eger)

Built in Leningrad between 1968 and 1972 for the Soviet Ministry of Fisheries to research fish concentrations, Project 1825 produced two “North” (Sever) type submersible, dubbed “Север-2” (Sever-2) and Sever-2 Bis.

Proof the above wasn’t a Mardi Gras parade float

Complete with manipulator arms, seven viewing ports (3x 140mm, 4x60mm) and the ability to dive to as deep as 2,000m, they were legit minisubs for their day, akin to the U.S. Navy’s similar Alvin DSV project which predated the Severs by a half-decade.

Sever 2 in happier times

Operating from the 2,700-ton Soviet research ships Odissey and Ikhtiander, the two subs spent time in the Med, Atlantic, Baltic, and Pacific throughout the 1970s and 80s, conducting fisheries and oceanographic research. Electrically powered, they could motor at 3.5-knots for up to 9 hours before their batteries were drained, or simply submerge for as many as 72, carrying 3-5 operators/observers.

SEVER 2 & ODISSEY in the Atlantic, May 12, 1977, via Shipspotting

Specs:
Displacement 39.9 tonnes
Length: 40.68 feet
Beam: 8.76 feet
Draft (surfaced): 13.28 feet
Speed: 3.5 kts
Diving depth: 2,000 m, operating

Their work was important enough that the Soviets showed them off in a series of postage stamps.

Once the Cold War ended and Moscow thawed, the aging Severs and their motherships were laid up. Odissey and Ikhtiander were soon scrapped and Sever-2 left to rust in Sevastapol.

Apparently, in the 1990s, Sever-2 Bis was sold to an entrepreneur who considered putting it back into service and moved to Steiner Shipyard in Bayou La Batre. There it has sat ever since.

Mobile-native filmmaker Mike deGruy– who dived on “Titanic” with director James Cameron and for his BBC series “The Blue Planet”– took a look at the vessel in 2010 saying at the time that “a person would have to be crazy to go underwater in that contraption.”

Now, pushing 50, the Sever-2 Bis is still hard ashore in Shrimp Town, USA.

Head-on (Photo: Chris Eger)

Starboard. (Photo: Chris Eger)

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

One response to “The curious Soviet mini-sub of South Alabama”

  1. FTB1(SS) says :

    Reblogged this on Dave Loves History.

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