Polystyrene foam to increase buoyancy of retired nuclear submarines

Publish date: March 22, 2004

Mobile polystyrene foam installation will be upgraded in Arkhangelsk region.

The State company Severny Raid located in Severodvinsk, Arkhangelsk region, will upgrade the mobile polystyrene foam installations (TPU), which serve to secure additional positive buoyancy of the Russian submarines awaiting dismantling, REGNUM-Arkhangelsk News agency reported. Deputy director of the company Severny Raid Vladimir Kalashnikov told REGNUM that about 30 old Russian submarines based on the Kola Peninsula and the Far East obtained extra buoyancy thanks to the TPU. The buoyancy is secured after pumping polystyrene foam into the main ballast tanks.

However, the experimental prototypes produced back in the middle of 90’s have already exceeded their lifetime and their design needs modernisation. The improved TPU will have higher capacity and a compressor unit to pump in high-pressure air into the main ballast tanks. At the moment about 25 nuclear submarines on the Kola Peninsula and the Far East need polystyrene foam in the main ballast tanks for extra buoyancy, REGNUM reported.

Some specialists, who talked with REGNUM, believe that polystyrene technology application completely excludes a K-159 tragedy, which happened in Barents Sea in August 2003 when the submarine was tugged for dismantling. The polystyrene technology was not used then and the submarine lost buoyancy and sank. Some foreign partners who are funding the nuclear submarines’ dismantling works in Russia are likely to take part in this technology modernisation, REGNUM reported.