Watch A Russian Navy Submarine Absolutely Soak Onlookers With A Mock Torpedo Launch

The “water slug” maneuver we see here is the submarine equivalent to firing a blank from a gun.


A Russian Navy submarine, firing a wall of water from one of its bow torpedo tubes, gave a handful of onlookers a serious shower in a video that seems to have been taken at a Baltic Fleet base. What we see in the dramatic sequence, which has been slowed down, is what’s known as a “water slug,” when a submarine rapidly empties the water contained within an otherwise unloaded torpedo tube.

The process of loading and then firing a torpedo from a submarine is a surprisingly complex one and is something that The War Zone has looked at in detail in the past. Suffice to say, it’s a balancing act between the weight of the torpedo, the water that fills the tube around it, and the pressurized air that’s used to force the weapon out of the tube and then move more water back in. All this is carefully managed with a system of valves, using reserves of water and air that are already on the submarine, to ensure that the boat’s own center of gravity is preserved throughout the firing sequence and that water pressure is the same inside the tube as it is outside the hull.


The aftermath of the “water slug,” with a deluge of water pouring back off the harborside.

It is a convoluted process and it means that, when a submarine and its crew are on exercise or otherwise training, a torpedo often won’t actually be loaded into the tube at all. That appears to be the case for this Russian Navy submarine in the video, seen below, which looks to be one of the Baltic Fleet’s Kilo class diesel-electric boats, although this is hard to confirm. However, in the background is the Russia Navy’s Steregushchiy class corvette Soobrazitelny, also assigned to the Baltic Fleet, which is readily identifiable by its hull number.

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With a submarine’s torpedo tubes in an unarmed state, when the call comes for a launch, the water filling the flooded tube will be forced out the muzzle instead. This is the 'water slug' and blasting it out fairly well represents an actual torpedo launch, providing training for the crew, as well as for any sonars or acoustic equipment that may be listening in, even though no weapon is actually fired.

Since no torpedo is fired from the submarine during a water slug "launch," this means it’s quite possible to execute with a submarine moored up in the harbor. Provided there’s enough clearance, the worst that should happen is that anyone standing too close is likely to get drenched. It looks as if this is exactly what happened here. Fortunately, the four individuals on the receiving end of the mock torpedo attack seem to have been well prepared, while a passing dog seems to have escaped unscathed entirely.

It just goes to show that in this kind of mock dockside standoff between human and submarine, there is only likely to be one winner.

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