Table of contents:
- Nuclear submarine K-27
- Submarine K-8
- Nuclear submarine K-219
- Submarine K-278 "Komsomolets"
- American "submarines-Chernobyl"
Video: Underwater Chernobyls: Sunken nuclear submarines, which today pose a threat to the world's oceans
2023 Author: Richard Flannagan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 05:58
Until the middle of the 20th century, 2 types of power plants were used in all submarines. For movement on the surface, submarines used powerful diesel engines, and for underwater navigation - electric traction from batteries. Thus, the reserve of autonomy of the submarines was severely limited. Everything changed in 1954. It was in this year that the United States built the world's first nuclear-powered submarine, Nautilus. Very soon - just 3 years later, the submarine "atomic-powered" appeared in the Soviet Union.
Before the collapse of the USSR in 1991, due to all kinds of malfunctions and emergencies, 4 Soviet nuclear submarines sank. They still rest on the seabed and pose a real threat to the entire world's oceans.
Nuclear submarine K-27
In the USSR, all nuclear submarines were classified according to projects. At the beginning of April 1962, the only submarine "Project 645" K-27 was launched, which NATO immediately assigned the code designation November. The uniqueness of this submarine was that liquid metal acted as a coolant in its 2 nuclear reactors. However, from the very beginning of its operation, the nuclear power plant showed its imperfection.
Emergency situations on board the K-27 occurred so often that the navy gave the submarine a stinging nickname - "Nagasaki". For some time, the crew managed to cope with emergency situations. So far, design flaws and miscalculations in the RM-1 reactors have not become the cause of a real tragedy. It happened in 1968, on May 24, during routine tests of the power plant.
The submarine was in the Barents Sea when, as a result of test checks of the operating modes of the reactors, a failure occurred in the heat exchange of the core of the nuclear installation. As a result, part of the fuel elements (fuel rods) simply melted under the influence of high temperatures. A strong release of radioactive elements occurred on the boat, due to which the entire crew of the submarine - 105 people, received different doses of radiation.
Most of the radiation was taken by those crew members who were in the immediate vicinity of the damaged reactor. Twenty people received doses in the range of 600-1000 roentgens, which is thousands of times more than the maximum allowable. As a result of such radiation loads, 9 crew members died on the spot. The hull and insides of the submarine were also heavily contaminated with radiation.
Despite this, the K-27 submarine was operated for another 11 years and was excluded from the Soviet Navy only on February 1, 1979. The radiation pollution of the submarine after the 1968 accident was so strong that it was decided to mothball it and then forcibly flood it. The "engine" compartment, where the reactors were located, was filled with almost 300 tons of bitumen, and in September 1981 the submarine was sunk at a depth of 75 meters in the Kara Sea.
Back in 2012, after examining the condition of the submarine and various analyzes, it was decided to raise the K-27 to the surface for its further complete disposal. These works are planned for the next year, 2022.
Like the K-27 submarine, the K-8 submarine was equally unsuccessful in terms of the reliability of the nuclear power plant. On board the boat, which was part of the Project 627A "Kit", over 10 years of operation since its launch in 1960, a number of emergencies occurred. As a result, their crew members received significant radiation doses. However, on the fatal day for itself, April 12, 1970, it was not a nuclear reactor that became the reason for the death of the submarine.
In the spring of 1970, the USSR conducted one of the largest tactical military exercises for its fleet, Ocean-70. The submarine K-8 also took part in them. During the planned ascent from a depth of 150 meters, a fire broke out in the hydroacoustics compartment, which was caused by a short circuit in the electrical circuits of the equipment. The fire began to spread rapidly throughout the boat, reaching, including the reactor compartment. To prevent a nuclear catastrophe, the personnel of the power plant, at the risk of their lives, extinguished the fire. The submarine surfaced safely and the evacuation of the crew began.
However, on the surface of the Bay of Biscay in those days, a storm raged, the strength of which reached 8 points. Due to the rough sea, as well as damage caused by fire, the submarine has lost its stability. Despite all the sailors' attempts to carry out the order of the USSR military command and to save the submarine at any cost, 4 days after the fire, K-8, together with Captain V. Bessonov and 52 crew members (out of 104), sank.
Currently, the submarine, together with 2 nuclear reactors, as well as 4 torpedoes with nuclear warheads, is located at the bottom of the Atlantic, 500 kilometers from the coast of Spain at a depth of 4,680 meters. So far, humanity does not have any technical capabilities to safely lift the dangerous nuclear remains of the K-8 submarine from the bottom of the Bay of Biscay.
Nuclear submarine K-219
At the beginning of February 1972, the nuclear missile cruiser of the project 667A "Navaga", the submarine K-219, entered the Soviet Navy. depressurization of the missile silo # 15, water mixed with the components of the propellant of the missiles - a dimer of nitrogen dioxide, formed nitric acid. As a result, an explosion occurred in the mine and it was flooded.
After the incident, the emergency mine was shut down, and the submarine continued to operate normally. In 1975, the K-219 was upgraded already according to the 667AU "Burbot" project, and in 1980 it underwent a complete overhaul. Until the early fall of 1986, the submarine, armed with 15 nuclear-armed ballistic missiles and 20 torpedoes (2 of which also had a nuclear charge), was regularly on alert.
During a tactical maneuver for checking the presence of tracking, in which the submarine makes sharp changes in course up to a turn of 180 degrees (the Americans call this maneuver of the Russians Crazy Ivan - "Crazy Ivan"), on board the K-219 missile and launch silo No. 6 was depressurized. Due to the sharp flooding, the submarine "failed" to a depth of 300 meters. The water continued to stay and it was proposed to urgently surface in order to fill the mine with water and push the damaged missile overboard.
However, the explosion happened earlier. As a result, not only the hull was damaged, but also the shells of the warheads of the plutonium-containing missiles. A few hours after the explosion, the right-hand reactor began to overheat greatly, which could lead to its detonation. At the cost of his life, 20-year-old Sergei Preminin, a sailor, a bilge operator of the movement division of the electromechanical warhead of a submarine, manually lowered the compensating grids in the reactor compartment. Thus preventing a nuclear catastrophe in the Gulf Stream.
The Soviet civilian ships that came to the rescue of the submarine in distress were able to evacuate most of the submariners. Only the captain and members of the so-called "emergency party" of the crew remained on the submarine. As for the dead, there were 4 of them directly on board. The same number of crew members died a little later. It was decided to tow the submarine to the Murmansk port.
At the stage of towing, the cable could not stand it and broke off. The water was constantly inside the submarine compartments. In the afternoon, October 6, 1986, K-219 on an even keel went to the bottom of the Antarctic. Today, the remains of a strategic missile submarine lie at a depth of 5 and a half kilometers.
Submarine K-278 "Komsomolets"
On Victory Day, May 9, 1983, the only submarine of Project 685 "Plavnik" - K-278 "Komsomolets" was launched in the USSR. In the NATO classification, this Soviet nuclear submarine was listed under the codename "Mike". During the construction of Komsomolets, Soviet engineers used unique titanium alloys, which made the submarine's hull especially resistant to the high pressure of the ocean depths.
It is the K-278 that holds the dive record for combat submarines, which has not been broken to this day. In August 1985, "Komsomolets" was able to go to a depth of 1 kilometer and 27 meters and safely float to the surface. However, in less than 4 years, the record-breaking submarine will launch its last military campaign - on April 7, 1989, the K-278 will sink in the Norwegian Sea.
On board the Komsomolets, which at that time was on alert and moving at a speed of 8 knots at a depth of 380 meters, a fire started. Until now, the reasons for its occurrence have not been established. All attempts by the crew to extinguish the fire were unsuccessful, but the boat was able to safely float to the surface. All this time, the fire intensified, turning from local to volumetric.
The corps of the nuclear submarine began to roll to the left side and stern, after which the commander of the Komsomolets, Captain 1st Rank E. Vanin, gave the order to evacuate the crew. Literally a few minutes after this, the submarine, having completely lost its stability, began to plunge rapidly into the cold waters of the Norwegian Sea. Of the 69 crew members, 42 people were killed. Including the captain of the submarine.
Currently "Komsomolets" rests at a depth of about 1.7 kilometers. The location of the sunken submarine is known to scientists and researchers. Both Norwegian and Russian specialists are constantly monitoring radioactive isotope contamination throughout the adjacent Norwegian Sea.
The latest research in 2019 showed that although there is no visible threat to Norway or the continental part of the Russian Federation yet, the radiation background at the bottom near Komsomolets is already 100 thousand times higher than the permissible level.
In addition to four Soviet nuclear submarines, there are also two American military submarines at the bottom of the world's oceans. In the spring of 1963, the submarine USS Thresher sank in the waters of the North Atlantic during test maneuvers. As a result of the disaster, 129 people died. Among them were not only crew members (112 submariners), but also 17 engineers (civilians).
The remains of the submarine rest on the bottom with a depth of more than 2.5 kilometers, although the reactor of the submarine was never found when research vehicles dived to it.
Another American nuclear submarine, USS Scorpion, sank with a crew of 99 on May 22, 1968 in the same Atlantic Ocean while returning to Norfolk from the Mediterranean Sea. The cause of sinking is the sudden destruction of the boat's hull under the influence of strong hydrostatic pressure.
Most likely, one of the torpedoes exploded on board the submarine. The exact location of the remains of the "Scorpion" (except for the depth, which is more than 3 thousand meters), the American authorities are still keeping a secret. As well as the state of the reactor and the nuclear combat arsenal of the submarine.
The danger posed by sunken nuclear submarines is very real. After all, each of them can become a full-fledged new Chernobyl in the world's oceans. And this is a real threat to the future of all biological life on planet Earth.
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