On 3 November last year, one of Russia’s leading news agencies RIA Novosti published an article in which Stuttgart based ROTINOR GmbH “device designer” Anthony Simmonds alleged that military grade Diver Propulsion Devices (DPD), also known as Swimmer Delivery Vehicles (SDV), have been supplied to the Russian Army. According to Simmonds, who appears to be sales manager with ROTINOR GmbH, first contract was signed back in 2013, followed by a few more in the successive years, with one more pending in 2017. On its website ROTINOR claims to be “the only manufacturer that employs Jet Propulsion within their innovative DPD design” and that its DPDs “are virtually silent and absolutely emission free”.
The same RIA Novosti article focused on ROTINOR’s Seabob Black Shadow 730 (SBS 730) DPD specifics. But an image featured in one of Russian Ministry of Defence’s official 2017 calendars, shows a combat diver riding on Seabob Divejet 414 (SD 414) – smaller and less capable brethren of SBS 730.
Price of a single SD 414 unit is estimated to be around $50,000. The main two differences between SBS 730 and SD 414 DPDs are that the former is more powerful and therefore able to hitch an additional diver – one variant can tow up to four divers – and is equipped with an “active digital sonar technology, enabling it to be navigated optimally at high speeds, underwater and in conditions of poor visibility”. Obviously, it is wholly possible that SBS 730 was also supplied under the obscure contract(s), but to our best of knowledge there is no photographic or any other proof so far to support this theory.
The MoD calendar in question, features what seem to be Russian Special Operations Forces(SSO) officers throughout. Considering that the enduring EU sanctions against Russia were imposed in response to the Ukraine crisis, it is somewhat ironic that the pictured combat diver, with an APS underwater assault rifle slung over his shoulder, is probably attached to Crimea’s 561st Emergency Rescue Centre(ASC). Also known as military unit 00317, the secretive centre, based next to Chersonesus archaeological site near Sebastopol, supposedly hosts additional top tier spetsnaz – the GRU frogman.