At the end of the ХIХ century the Naval Command and top leaders of Russia came to the conclusion that it was required to create a new class of ships within the Russian Navy able to attack enemy’s ships from under the water. These ships were called torpedo boats or semi-submerged vessels. The actual name – submarines – was introduced only in 1906 and preserved till the present time.
On the 22nd December 1900 Old Style (4th of January 1901 New Style) the Marine Ministry, in compliance with the earlier made decision about the design and construction of “semi-submerged” vessels, three officers – Naval Architect Senior Assistant I.G.Bubnov, Lieutenant M.N.Beklemishev and Lieutenant I.S.Goryunov – were assigned to commence the design of a combatant submarine for the Russian Navy. The design was submitted for approval on the 3rd of May 1901. In July of the same year the design was approved and the Baltic Shipyard was awarded the order for construction of “Torpedo Boat No. 113”. I.G.Bubnov was appointed the Head of Construction Commission for Submarines on the Baltic Shipyard. It was this Construction Commission that after multiple transformations and renaming received its current name – Joint Stock Company "Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering “Rubin”.
The design of the first combatant submarine of the Russian Navy Dolphin (Torpedo Boat No. 113) was developed and approved by the Marine Ministry. Construction and trials of the submarine were successfully completed in 1903.
Successful trials of submarine Dolphin allowed to start creation of new, more advanced types of submarines. By 1918 seventy-three submarines joined the Russian Navy and 4 more were still under construction. 32 of them were built to the designs of I.G.Bubnov who by 1918 became Mayor-General of the Naval Architect Corps and Honoured Professor of the Nikolaev Marine Academy. By 1906 the Construction Commission was transformed into the Department of Underwater Sailing of the Baltic Shipyard which included:
Ivan G. Bubnov became the first Head of the Department of Underwater Sailing and held this post until 1912. Later G.G.Bubnov, V.T.Strunnikov, K.I.Ruberovskiy and B.M.Malinin took over this office.
The design of a submarine of Kasatka type was developed and approved by the Marine Ministry. The construction was assigned to the Baltic Shipyard. In 1904 the submarine was launched. Altogether six submarines of this type were constructed, two of them – Makrel and Okun – were converted into full electric propulsion submarines in the process of construction.
The design of submarine Minoga was developed. The submarine was laid-down at the Baltic Shipyard in 1906 and trials were completed in 1909. Diesel engines were installed onboard submarine Minoga for the first time. It sharply increased the fire safety as compared to the previous submarines that were equipped with petrol engines.
The design of submarine Akula was developed. The submarine construction was started in 1906 and trials were completed in 1909.
The design of submarine Morzh was developed. The submarine trials were completed in 1915. Altogether 3 submarines of this type were constructed. One of them – Tyulen – became the most effective among the submarines of the Black Sea Fleet during World War I.
The design of submarine Bars was developed. In 1913 the submarine construction was started at the Baltic Shipyard in Saint-Petersburg and at the shipyard of Joint-Stock Company “Noblessner” in Revel (Tallinn). Altogether 20 submarines were constructed and 4 more remained uncompleted. The submarine of Bars type was the largest submarine of the pre-war period.
Submarine Volk of this type scored the largest success during World War I. A graduate of St.Petersburg Polytechnic Institute B.M.Malinin, the future Chief Designer of the majority of Soviet submarines designed within the period from 1926 to 1940, became the builder of this submarine.
The design of submarine Mayor-General Bubnov was developed. The plan was to build 24 submarines of this type but in January 1918 the Soviet of People’s Commissars banned the military ship construction.
The Baltic Shipyard that earlier belonged to the Marine Ministry was nationalised and became subordinated, together with the Submarine Department and its Technical Bureau, to civilian structures of the Supreme Council of National Economy. The design of new submarines was carried out either as a personal initiative of the Submarine Department’s engineers or in the Submarine Section of Scientific Committee of the People’s Commissariat of Naval Issues with involvement of the same engineers from the Baltic Shipyard.
Because of the absence of the submarine construction orders the Submarine Department functions were assigned to the Technical Bureau of the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Baltic Shipyard.