The Conqueror of depths

The Conqueror of depths

In 2020, we celebrated the 90th anniversary of Yuri Mikhailovich Konovalov, the Hero of the Russian Federation, General Designer of special nuclear-powered deepwater systems, vehicles and equipment

An era is associated with the development of deepwater equipment and systems in the domestic and world shipbuilding. Yuri Mikhailovich Konovalov is one of the founders of the school of design of unique deepwater research facilities for ocean exploration. He became one of the first to propose a completely new class of ships capable of meeting a wide range of challenges facing national defense, science and economy at great depths with almost no time limit.

A bright and talented person, a highly qualified engineer, a strong-willed leader, a persistent and spirited specialist, Yuri Mikhailovich is a true patriot of Russia, who has made a significant contribution to the prosperity and power of the Motherland.

Yuri Mikhailovich was born in the village of Sengiley, Ulyanovsk region, and graduated from the Leningrad Shipbuilding Institute (now the Saint Petersburg State Marine Technical University) as a naval architect. Since 1954, he was engaged in teaching, was head of the ship hull cycle at the Naval Ship Repair School.

In 1958, Yuri Mikhailovich moved to a design department at Central Design Bureau No. 18 (or TsKB-18, now Central Design Bureau of Marine Engineering «Rubin») as a category 1 designer, where he soon became a lead designer. He dealt with statics issues, general design and construction, trials and delivery of non-nuclear submarines (Projects 615, 613, 641), and later first-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (Projects 658, 659, 675, 667A, 685). All this time, he proved himself not only a designer, but also successfully supervised equipment construction, testing and deployment as part of the maintenance and support teams. During these years, Konovalov participated in the development of an experimental deepwater submarine (a Plavnik prototype), a deepwater bathyscaphe Nauka, and a newly-designed rescue bell.

Since 1965, he participated in the development of deepwater vehicles featuring unlimited cruising range and great endurance with minimum displacement. He devoted more than 50 years of his life to the development of this completely new area of technology.

In 1970, Yuri Mikhailovich was transferred to the Volna Central Design Bureau (now JSC Malakhit Marine Engineering Bureau) to the position of deputy chief designer and continued developing deepwater facilities and integrated equipment together with a group of his colleagues. In 1988 he was appointed chief designer of Projects 1910, 1863 and 10840 and assigned to design nuclear-powered deepwater facilities. In 1994, he became general designer of deepwater equipment and systems. Since 2006 to 2016, Yuri Mikhailovich was General Designer of deepwater systems, special equipment and deepwater vehicles. Since 2016 to the present he has been an adviser to the General Director  –  General designer of special nuclear-powered deepwater systems and equipment.

Yuri Konovalov has made a huge contribution to the development, design practice and manufacture of unique deepwater facilities and systems, in fact, becoming one of the founders of this area of work in the domestic shipbuilding. Together with the customer, he developed the first design specifications for the deepwater facilities, their configuration and ways to meet challenges. As a technical manager, he personally supervised construction and all types of testing, including deepwater trials, on board prototype submersibles. A number of lead and follow-on deepwater submersibles and systems were subsequently built and commissioned under his supervision.

Since 2005, Yuri Mikhailovich has also led the development of manned deepwater vehicles, approved and supported by the Ministry of Defense. The construction of the Konsul autonomous deepwater vehicle was completed under his supervision and in 2011 the submersible successfully performed a dive to a depth of 6270 m.

Yu. M. Konovalov has been repeatedly awarded for his outstanding achievements with state decorations. In 1993, he was awarded the high title of Hero of the Russian Federation for the courage and heroism shown in the performance of a special assignment. In 1998 he was awarded the Order of Merit to the Fatherland, II degree. In 2002, he received the honorary badge «Veteran of Nuclear Power and Industry». In 2008, Yuri Mikhailovich won the State Prize of the Russian Federation in the field of science and technology for the development of unique new-generation deepwater equipment. Yuri Konovalov was awarded the honorary diploma of the President of the Russian Federation in 2010, the Order of Alexander Nevsky in 2016, and the title of Honorary Shipbuilder in 2013.

At the age of 90, Yuri Mikhailovich remains a member of several science & technology and expert councils, works as an adviser to the General Director of Malakhit, gives lectures at the basic departments of the leading universities of the country like St. Petersburg State Marine Technical University and the VOENMEKH Baltic State Technical University named after Dmitry Ustinov. He is full of strength, energy and new ideas for implementing the planned program of development and exploration of the depths of the world’s oceans.