Table of contents:
- Finding American pilots
- Crew of a seaman barge
- Hopeless drift in the middle of the ocean
- American admiration
In the early spring of 1960, the crew of the American aircraft carrier Kearsarge discovered a small barge in the middle of the ocean. On board were four emaciated Soviet soldiers. They survived by feeding on leather belts, tarpaulin boots and industrial water. But even after 49 days of extreme drift, the soldiers told the American sailors who found them something like this: help us only with fuel and food, and we will get home ourselves.
Finding American pilots
On March 7, 1960, a half-submerged barge with people on board was discovered by American pilots several thousand kilometers from the nearest island. The aircraft carrier Kearsarge headed to the ship, which was not intended for going to the open sea. After negotiations, American servicemen evacuated the Soviet crew of the barge - four Soviet soldiers drifted on the ship for more than a month and a half. The heroes of the Pacific Odyssey, who soon became famous throughout the USSR, turned out to be employees of the construction battalion from the Iturup Island. Ml. Sergeant Ziganshin, along with privates Poplavsky, Kryuchkovsky and Fedotov, were not listed as sailors.
Barge T-36 was not a naval, but an army craft. Even in the last days of 1959, due to persistent bad weather, all barges were pulled ashore. But a large ship with meat approached the island, for the unloading of which the T-36 had to be launched. Usually the barges were equipped with an emergency supply of food for 10 days, but this time the rations remained on the shore, since the servicemen were relocated to the barracks several months ago.
Crew of a seaman barge
On January 17, the day of the incident, the element played out stronger than usual. A sharp gust of wind tore the barge off the mooring and carried it into the ocean with great speed. Desperate attempts by the crew to cope with the bad weather led nowhere. After the storm, the search began for the T-36, which had disappeared beyond the horizon. After the wreckage of the barge and lifebuoys were found, the military command concluded that people were killed and the ship sank. It never occurred to anyone to look for a barge thousands of kilometers away in the open ocean. The relatives of the soldiers were informed that they were missing while fulfilling their military duty. But they nevertheless decided to observe the housing of the guys: suddenly desertion was involved in the case. And at this time, the four who were considered dead from the T-36, floated farther and farther across the Pacific Ocean.
The soldiers found themselves in an almost hopeless position. The fuel ran out, the radio broke down in the heavy rain, a leak formed in the hold, and the ship itself was not designed for long-distance swims. The soldiers had at their disposal a loaf of bread, a couple of cans of stew, a handful of cereals and potatoes soaked in black oil. A drinking water tank overturned during a storm, partially filled with seawater. Also on the ship was a stove-stove, wet matches and "Belomor".
Hopeless drift in the middle of the ocean
But the troubles did not end there. Sergeant Ziganshin stumbled upon a fresh newspaper in the wheelhouse, which reported that training missile launches were planned in the area of their stay, so that the entire square with a margin for some time was declared unsafe for navigation. The soldiers understood that until the missile tests were over, they would not be found. Preparations began for serious strength tests. Fresh water was found in the engine cooling system, it was decided to collect rainwater as well. The food was a stew with stew, fueled potatoes and a minimum of cereal.On such a meager food, the crew had to not only morally stay afloat, but also to take care of the barge: to chop off the ice from the sides in order to avoid its overturn, to pump out the water seeping through the hole.
We slept, so as not to freeze, on an improvised bed made of scrap materials, hugging each other. As the days passed, weeks began to replace one another. Food and water were running out. It was the turn to cook "soup" from leather belts, then the strap from the radio, boots, leather with an accordion found on board were used. Things were much worse with water: everyone got a sip once a day. The pangs of hunger and thirst were supplemented by hallucinations and fits of fear. The comrades supported and reassured each other as best they could. At the same time, as the soldiers recalled after the rescue, for all the days of the unprecedented drift, there was not a single conflict in the team. Even dying of hunger, no one stooped to animal behavior, did not break away. The guys agreed: the last survivor will leave a record of what happened on the barge before his death.
Several times the prisoners of the barge noticed ships passing by on the horizon, but they failed to attract the attention of their crews. On a happy day on March 7, 1960, a staircase descended from an American helicopter onto a barge. Physically exhausted, but with the last of their strength, the Soviet servicemen, who were maintaining discipline, refused to leave the ship. After some negotiations, the crew accepted the Americans' help and agreed to board the foreign ship.
For weeks, the guys who had not seen normal food did not pounce on treats, knowing what it was fraught with after a long fast. The American sailors, discouraged by the resilience of the Soviet military, sincerely tried to do everything possible for their comfort. Everyone was amazed at how young children, unprepared for extreme survival, managed to withstand such difficulties. The crew members of the barge were asked to give a short press conference right on board the aircraft carrier, after which their story spread throughout the world. On the 9th day after the rescue, the Soviet "Robinsons" were solemnly greeted in San Francisco by the employees of the Consulate General of the Land of the Soviets. And Khrushchev, without delay, sent a welcome telegram to the United States.
In the USSR, the guys were greeted in the same way that only cosmonauts were later greeted. Moscow was decorated with posters "Glory to the brave sons of our Motherland!" Even the censorship was not connected, allowing the rescued soldiers to say whatever they saw fit. During a restorative holiday in Gurzuf, servicemen were offered study at a nautical school. So in the future, all but one tied their lives with the Soviet fleet.
It may sound wild, but the so-called. "Robinsons" can be not only on the islands. But also underground. So, the last watch of the fortress Osovets spent almost 9 years of his life there.