Alleged photographs of the Russian BS-64 nuclear-powered submarine equipped with payload cradle were published on the Russian social network VK. While the veracity of the images couldn't be independently verified, the photos were deleted several hours after their publication on social media. According to the maritime news oriented outlet Covert Shores, the payload cradle looks similar to the one designed for the Project 18270 Bester deep sea rescue vehicle, a Russian development registered in 2016 and allegedly used as a part of the Iceberg arctic seabed research project.
New intelligence: #Russia 'Special mission' #Submarine BS-64 seen with cradle on back for payload. In this case most likely DSRV submersible. https://t.co/YVyFoMT5md #GUGI for seabed warfare. Possibly relates to ICEBERG project pic.twitter.com/yjwbWLIPq0— H I Sutton (@CovertShores) May 29, 2018
Bester is a deep sea rescue vehicle which can be used for various purposes, including rescuing submarines crews trapped underwater. The cradle itself is used to ensure safe passage from the Bester to BS-64, even while submerged.
The BS-64 nuclear-powered submarine was decommissioned in 1999 and after years of repairs it was redesign to hold scientific equipment and serve as a mothership for midget submarines, such as the Paltus or Losharik, which are used for deep oceanographic research.