Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Recovery, the Beluga submarine, and Voyage to the Deep

I survived my visit to the surgeon last Friday, and I’m happy to report that I’m feeling better every day, even quasi-human some of the time. My dear wifey and son have been most attentive to my needs during my recovery, and my dear cohorts at work have (so far) left me alone to convalesce, bless them all.

One of the few things I can do while flat on my back is, thank goodness, read. Before I went on medical leave I was able to stock up on some special-request books from the Indiana University library, including the following:

Cry of the Deep: The Submarine Disaster That Riveted the World and Put the New Russia to the Ultimate Test, by Ramsey Flynn – A gripping account of the loss of the submarine Kursk.

Rising Tide: The Untold Story of the Russian Submarines That Fought the Cold War, by Gary E. Weir and Walter J. Boyne.

Hostile Waters, by Captain Peter Huchthausen, USN (ret).; Captain First Rank Igor Kurdin, Russian Navy; and R. Alan White – An account of the loss of the Russian submarine K-219 during the height of the Cold War.

Cold War Submarines: The Design and Construction of U.S. and Soviet Submarines, by Norman Polmar and Kenneth J. Moore.

As you can tell, I was in an undersea mood having just read William H. Keith’s submarine warfare-in-the-future novel Sharuq. And even thought I’m an Air Force veteran, I’ve always been interested in ships and submarines. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne was probably the first true science fiction book that I ever laid eyes on as a boy, and Captain Nemo was certainly my first and still favorite anti-hero. Adding to my oceanic inspirations was the fact that my father was a Navy man, a torpedoman’s mate, during the Cold War. Dad served aboard the USS Fulton, the famous submarine tender that supported some of the most historic submarines in Navy history, including the Nautilus, the Skipjack, and the Triton. I spent many an hour browsing through my dad’s Bluejacket manual, gazing at photos of those amazing subs. And now my six-year-old son is doing the same, looking through the great pictures in the Cold War Submarines volume, even sketching some drawings for his laid-up dad.

I almost dropped the hefty Cold War Submarines book when I came upon the photo and schematic of the Soviet’s Project 1710 – NATO Code name Beluga submarine. Commissioned in 1987 as a research platform for streamline hull design, the Beluga is the spitting image of a fictional submarine called the Proteus, from Dell Comic’s early 1960’s four-issue mini-series Voyage to the Deep. Drawn by one of my favorite “silver age” comic artists, Sam Glanzman, this submarine/SF series was undoubtedly an unofficial inspiration from Irwin Allen’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea motion picture that later became a television series on the ABC network. Glanzman also drew another of my favorite early-1960s Dell comics, Kona: Monarch of Monster Isle, a great Lost World/SF series filled with dinosaurs and other overgrown beasties.

In the Voyage to the Deep series, the Proteus was the first American submarine able to dynamically “change its mass” via some amazing new technology. Glanzman showed the sub actually changing its length and weight at critical times during its voyages. There were vague references to “The Enemy”, i.e. the Soviets, and the plots were very much like those that would later be seen on Irwin Allen’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea TV series.

But you have to give Sam Glanzman some credit. He depicted the ultra-modern submarine’s design in perfect form … 25 years before it was actually built! Unfortunately for the Soviet Navy, they were not able to dynamically alter the Beluga sub’s mass during its voyages!

Best wishes,

Viktor Kuprin

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At 2:51 AM EDT, Blogger gificor said...

Dear Victor,

I hope that you are feeling well. It is good that you were able to stock up on some interesting books for your convalesce. I will pray for you. I liked the movie K19: The Widowmaker. What did you think of it. God bless and take care.


Joseph H. Ficor

At 6:06 PM EDT, Blogger Captain Kosmos said...

Yes, K19 was impressive, though Harrison Ford's attempts at a quasi-Russian accent was sometimes as painful to watch as Sean Connery's Marko Ramius role in The Hunt for Red October film. The fact that K19 was the first theatrical film produced by National Geographic was very classy, too. The sorry fact is that the Soviet Navy did not implement much of a safety factor in so many of their sub designs, especially in the early boats. Then the collapse of the Soviet Union led to decay and negligence of their hardware. Though I know the world is a safer place now that the Cold War is over, it's still sad to see all those amazing submarines lined up at the Kola Penninsula docks, rusting away.

Thanks very much for your kind words, Joseph, and I'm glad to report I'm feeling much better. Even had to go back to work, though only half-days for now. Between rest periods I've had time to build a wireless network in my home, though I have only too-slow 802.11b 11-megabit WiFi adapters in hand. That's not enough to stream or copy video, but okay for music. I'm listening to Delicious Agony Progressive Rock, one of my favorite Internet radio stations.

At 2:31 PM EST, Blogger Morog said...


Maby you can help me. We build a model of the Beluga submarine. You can Visit us here:

Could you please send us an image from the bookpage with the belugapics (wotan.hart(at) We do not have this book.

best regards


At 6:11 PM EST, Anonymous John Goodwin said...

It seems we share a lot of common interests. I loved the Voyage to the Deep comics and I thought the changing mass submarine might lend itself to enough stories for TV or at least a feature. On re-reading, like yourself I'm not sure what the real idea was -it's all double talk - loved Kona too, which I've always felt would a great series played of course super straight.
hope this finds you in better health.


John Goodwin


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