Mar 6, 2015

World War II Soviet submarine L-3

Refurbishment of L-3 1935-WWII

The World War II Soviet submarine L-3 belonged to the L-class or Leninets class of minelayer submarines. It had been named Bolshevik and later Frunzenets, before it was decided that submarines should stop having names and carry numbers instead.

Under Captain of the 3rd Rank Vladimir Konovalov, L-3 was one of the most successful Soviet submarines of World War II. On 16 April 1945, it sank the German refugee transport "Goya", an event that (if calculated by loss of life) is deemed to be one of the worst marine disaster ever, when 6,000 to 7,000 people died in the icy waters of the Baltic Sea.

After the dismantling of the submarine, part of it was used as the monument in Liepāja, though the monument was relocated to Moscow in 1995. Today, the conning tower of L-3 is on display in Moscow as a monument in Park Pobedy ("Victory Park") at Poklonnaya Gora museum.

Leninets (28 February 1931), Marksist ( 21 May 1931), Bolshevik (8 July 1931)
Builder: Baltic Garibaldiets (31 August 1931), Chartist ( 5 June 1932), Karbonari (3 November 1932)
Builder: Nikolayev Voroshilovets (15 May 1935), Kirovets ( 25 August 1935), Dzerzhinets (10 September 1935), L-12 (7 November 1936), L-11 (4 December 1936), L-10 (18 December 1936)
Builder: Dalzavod
Displacement : 1051 (Series XI: 1100) tons (surfaced), 1327 (Series XI: 1400) tons (submerged)
Dimensions: 265990 x 21980 x 13990 (Series XI: 14950)
Machinery: 2 diesel engines, 2 electric motors, 2 shafts. 2200 bhp/1050 (Series XI: 1450) shp = 14/9 knots
Range: 6000 nm at 9 knots surfaced, 135nm at 2 knots submerged
A r m a m e n t : 6 x 533mm torpedo tubes (bow), total 12 torpedoes, 20 mines, 1 x
100mm gun, 1 x 45mm AA gun
Complement: 54

These double-hull minelayers with saddle main ballast tanks were designed by Malinin on the basis of his earlier Series I class, with many features incorporated from the former British L- 55. Mines were carried in two horizontal tubes and ejected at the stern, either on the surface or while submerged. The first three boats went to the Baltic, the next three to the Black Sea, and the final six to the Pacific fleets. The named boats were redesignated the L-1 through the L-10 in 1934.

The L-2 was mined off Keri Island on 14 November 1941; German artillery sank the L- 1 in the Neva River in the same month; the L- 9 failed to return from a Pacific patrol in 1941–1942; the antisubmarine vessel UJ-104 sank the L- 6 near Constanza on 18 April 1944. In 1949 the L-3 through the L-6 were redesignated the B-3 through the B-6; the L-7 and the L- 8 were redesignated the B- 24 and the B-25; the L-12 was redesignated the B-12. All were stricken between 1956 and 1963.

Rear Admiral Vladimir Konstantinovich Konovalov, (December 5, 1911 – November 29, 1967) was a Soviet Navy distinguished submarine commander during World War II.

Born to a Jewish family in the village of Nadyezhnoe (Zaporizhia Oblast, in what is now Ukraine), His family moved to Donetsk when he was a child. He studied at the Donetsk National Technical University. He joined the Soviet Navy in 1932 and graduated from the Frunze Military Academy in 1936. After graduation he served on submarines in the Black Sea Fleet. Beginning in October 1940 he transferred to the Baltic Fleet and was appointed second in command of the Soviet submarine L-3, and he was named her commander in March 1943.

The L-3 was a minelayer submarine, but it was also engaged in offensive operations against German shipping during World War II, ultimately making 11 torpedo attacks under Konovalov's command.

On April 16, 1945, Konovalov sunk the German ship Goya, carrying wounded Wehrmacht troops and German refugees fleeing from the Eastern Front. At least 6,000 people drowned with only 165 people saved. It was one of the worst maritime disasters ever. For the sinking of the Goya, Konovalov was later awarded the honorary title of Hero of the Soviet Union on July 8, 1945. According to some versions, the L-3 also might have sunk a small 1411 GRT ship on January 31, 1945, but it is not confirmed.

Konovalov's submarine also laid five mine barrages of 52 mines during the war, one of which sunk a ship Henry Lütgens measuring 1141 GRT on January 29, 1945. Probably a torpedo boat T 34 sunk on mines laid by the L-3 as well on November 20, 1944.

From May 1946 to November 1947, he commanded the N-27 (formerly the German Type XXI U-Boat U-3515). In 1950 he graduated from the Voroshilov staff college and from 1958 commanded the submarine brigade of the Baltic Fleet. He was made a rear admiral on May 7, 1966, but died of a stroke in Leningrad the following year.

Over the course of his career, Konovalov was awarded the Order of Lenin (three times), the Order of Ushakov 2nd class, the Order of the Patriotic War 1st class (twice), and the Order of the Red Star (twice).

In the book and subsequent film The Hunt for Red October, the fictional Soviet Alfa class nuclear-powered attack submarine is named the V.K. Konovalov.