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The acoustics will not let you down!

Submarine hunting convoy

The navies of the USSR and Russia - hydroacoustics will not let you down!The foreman of the hydroacoustics team, Vasily Bolshov, adjusted the headphones on his head and stretched tiredly. Despite the habit developed over the years of service, my back ached from tension and my neck became stiff. The shift is not easy. Somewhere here, in the blue expanse, the “enemy” convoy will pass. The submarine commander conducts a search, guided by intelligence data. Everyone has the same thought: not to miss the convoy. And how much now depends on them, acousticians!

The boat would have been groping in the depths, as if blind, if not for the acoustics. Only they are connected with the outside world, only they can give the commander the data necessary for an attack. The commander and the entire crew rely on them, on the skill of their acousticians. And the awareness of this responsibility increases the tension unusually.

In the headphones there is the measured, muffled breath of the sea, the multi-voiced squeak of killer whales... Noises, noises. But not those that usually make an acoustician’s heart beat joyfully and anxiously. Vasily Bolshov looked at his watch. Wow! The watch time expires and the target has not been detected.

Sailor Alexander Kuznetsov looked into the wheelhouse. The foreman caught a silent question in the gaze of his subordinate. Vasily shrugged slightly. The gesture apparently meant: “The horizon is clear.”

“Comrade Chief,” the sailor begged, “rest a little, because there will be so much work soon.” And I will replace you.

The young sailor's impatience was understandable. He wanted to put on his headphones himself and listen to the sea, in the secret hope of being the first to detect the treasured noises of the propellers. And who among acousticians does not dream about this! True, there is a responsible torpedo firing ahead. And the young sailor, even if he is the first to discover the target, is unlikely to have to launch the boat into an attack. Here, as in a decisive battle, the most experienced and best of them will take their place in the wheelhouse.

The foreman of the first article, Bolshov, took off his headphones and handed them to Kuznetsov, and he himself perched nearby, ready to help at the first call.

There is silence at the central post. Only occasional short commands are heard, electrical appliances hum monotonously, and water gurgles in the mains. According to the navigator's calculations, the convoy should be somewhere nearby. Having made himself comfortable on the bench, the foreman began to observe Kuznetsov’s actions, sometimes briefly advising something or making a remark. And the sailor was completely immersed in the discordant sounds that filled the sea.

Bolshov wondered: will they be able to detect the target in time? This has now become not only a duty, but also a matter of honor. Not only the team leader, but also all the acousticians think so. Do they have the right to let the crew down? After all, they gave their word at the general meeting.

...The news that the boat was entrusted with the right to shoot competitively shook the entire crew. The foreman of the first article, Bolshov, sat at the meeting and listened attentively to the speakers. Just shortly before this, he came to the boat as the head of the acoustics team. Previously, he served on another ship and became a first-class specialist there. He knew that the boat on which he came to serve had been holding the title of excellent for several years. Her crew was famous for being able to handle any task. There is a strong commander here, a well-coordinated team.

The speakers spoke passionately about their tasks, but for some reason they ended with the same thing: if only the acoustics didn’t let them down. The officers, petty officers and sailors showed such an ardent interest in their training that Bolshov thought: “What to answer?” Vasily had known one of the hydroacoustics, senior sergeant of the second article Denisov, squad commander, a top specialist, for a long time. We studied together in the educational unit. You can count on him. But what about Kuznetsov? The young sailor has almost no practical skills.

He was then brought out of his thoughts by the voice of the senior assistant:

— What do acousticians think?

Vasily stood up and saw the eyes directed at him. How to tell them that the acousticians do not yet have full confidence in their abilities, that he does not know to what extent the entire team can be relied upon. But faith in people has never failed.

— Saying: we won’t let you down is easier than doing it, but believe me, comrades, the acoustics will not let the crew of an excellent boat down.

Who knows, perhaps the modesty and truthfulness of the foreman of the first article, Bolshov, paved the way to the hearts of the sailors. People who know the value of their word believed in his sincerity, felt his ardent desire to spare no effort for the success of the crew.

The foreman of the first article, Bolshov, had to begin his work with the young acoustician Kuznetsov. It was urgent to prepare the sailor to independently manage the combat post. The sergeant-major used every free minute to practice determining the classification of the target, to listen to the noise of ship propellers recorded on records. The foreman corrected him, patiently revealing what this or that mistake consisted of. Kuznetsov turned out to be a diligent student. The sailor was tired, but, stubbornly pursing his lips, he went back to the boat and did not give up.

Classes, training, debates.

There were so many of them! And the time to take the tests came quickly. Bolshov really hoped for luck, he wanted to surprise the commander, but Kuznetsov looked embarrassed, and the foreman, who was present at the test reception, began to worry about him. For a moment it seemed that the sailor would not be able to stand it, that he would get confused in the schemes and become confused. And did they manage to do everything in such a short time?

But then Kuznetsov approached the mechanism. Where did his recent shyness go? The sailor answered accurately and, without the slightest hesitation, completed the introductory instruction intended for second-class specialists. And when he confidently answered a question from the first-class specialist training program, the commission was surprised. The commander praised the diligence of the young submariner.

But it’s one thing to have an acoustics room, mechanisms and equipment at the pier, and quite another thing to be at sea, where every noise looks more unusual, where there’s so much interference.

The first joint campaign with Kuznetsov could not be called successful. The boat was on the surface when the commander asked to classify the target.

- What do you hear? — his voice came from the speaking pipe.

Sailor Kuznetsov fussed, rotating the compensator, but did not detect any noise.

“The horizon is clear,” he reported.

And through the speaking tube the impatient voice of the commander was heard again. It turned out that according to radar data, the acoustics were supposed to capture the target, but they didn’t even hear it. Finally, a bearing was given from the bridge, and a light, barely audible noise of propellers appeared in the headphones. Without properly listening to the rhythm of the noise, the young acoustician confused the class of the ship. The commander expressed his displeasure from the bridge.

Without waiting for orders to follow, Sergeant Major Bolshov again frequently went with his subordinates to an office specially equipped for training. Often the acousticians, together with the torpedo electricians, looked into the torpedo firing room. There, according to their data, the commander went out on a training attack. Gradually the mistakes became less frequent. But as soon as the sailor went on an independent watch again, the station suddenly went out of order. Previously, under the supervision of a team leader, Kuznetsov quite easily fixed various problems. But Bolshov was not around this time, and the sailor did not dare to take an independent step. He called the foreman.

“It’s not going well,” Kuznetsov threw up his hands sadly, “I can’t imagine: what’s the matter?”

Bolshov quickly examined the main components of the equipment and immediately guessed: “fuse”...

“You used to easily find such problems,” he turned to the young sailor, “look for it yourself.”

Having sorted out the equipment with the help of the foreman, Kuznetsov found a blown fuse in the electronic tube. Bolshov also made a conclusion for himself: “More independence, otherwise he will get used to the nanny.” And from that incident the sailor had to figure everything out himself. And the foreman, every time he went to sea, came up with introductory notes for him, each more complex than the other. Now, if it was necessary to change a blown fuse or fix something, Kuznetsov no longer called the foreman.

...And so, bending over the scan of the indicator flickering with a greenish light, sailor Kuznetsov smoothly rotates the compensator wheel. “Well done,” the foreman mentally praises him, “he’s just stressing himself out too much.” And he advised:

- Stay looser, otherwise you will get tired quickly. Listen to the horizon across the audibility range and give at least a short rest to your ears. Otherwise, you’ll miss the necessary noise.

The voice of the sea is still incessant in the headphones. Suddenly Kuznetsov craned his neck like a child, catching something unusual in the cacophony of sounds. Bolshov looked at his watch. Dawn was now breaking over the sea.

“Foreman, I hear the faint noise of propellers on the right,” Kuznetsov touched Bolshov’s hand. And in a voice muffled a little from excitement, he added: “Probably a convoy...

“Report to the central post,” the foreman perked up, quickly putting on his headphones.

The commander received an order to classify the target.

“On the left 20, I hear the noise of the propellers of a destroyer,” Bolshov reported.

And somewhere in the distance, several more noises were heard, among them the rhythmic chiming of the propellers of large ships. But which of them is the “enemy” cruiser - the target that the boat is ordered to attack? Once again, the acoustician has to solve a problem with many unknowns. The main thing is not to confuse, not to lead the boat to a secondary target. And Bolshov, with some sixth sense, defines: “cruiser”.

The commander entered the acoustics room. He sat down, put on his headphones, fell silent for a second and rubbed his hands with satisfaction, looking approvingly at Bolshov:

- Well, what a tracker... Now just don’t miss...

Bolshov carefully gives bearings and counts the revolutions of the propellers. After determining the direction of movement of the target, data for the attack is generated.

The submarine breaks through the guards behind the stern of the nearest destroyer. There is silence in the central post, interrupted only by abrupt commands. The boatswain's hands control the underwater ship with smooth, almost imperceptible to the eye movements: just so as not to prowl during the salvo.

The target was moving in a zigzag, the heading angle changed periodically. But then the command echoed through the compartments: “Apparatus, get ready!” Everything froze. In these few seconds, the faces of the submariners become especially concentrated.

The foreman of the first article, Bolshov, pressed his headphones tighter to follow the progress of the torpedo, and did not even hear the command “Fire!” He only felt the boat rock gently, and it trimmed to the stern. This means that the torpedoes came out, and the sound of the propellers was heard moving away. Finally, the noises of the torpedo and the target merged. Victory! At the central post, Bolshov’s report is greeted with cheers. Good news has wide wings. She instantly flies around all the compartments.

“Well, first mate, it seems like you did a good job...” the commander turned to the lieutenant-commander, smiling cheerfully.

But it’s too early for acoustics to rejoice. It is for him that work now begins, no easier than before. The noise of the guard ships' propellers is approaching. Bolshov mentally imagines watchmen rushing towards the boat. The commander needs accurate information about the situation in order to break away from the “enemy.” Having received the sergeant major's report, the commander began post-volley maneuvering.

A lot of time passed before Bolshov was able to report with a calm heart: “The horizon is clear.” The boat surfaced, and the admiral confirmed the success of the attack with a radiogram. This means that the acoustician was not mistaken, and it was not in vain that the crew rejoiced! 10 days of leave with a trip to their native places - this is how the commander assessed the skillful actions of First Class Sergeant Major Bolshov, and expressed gratitude to the rest of the acousticians. Among them was the young sailor Kuznetsov. This was his third promotion.

...The collective judges a person by his deeds. Therefore, no one was surprised when, at a Komsomol meeting, his colleagues elected Bolshov to the bureau and named him their leader.

Captain-Lieutenant A. PLEKHOV.
Northern Fleet
“Soviet Sailor” No. 13 1960

***

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