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Submarine Casualties

Submarine Losses

The Soviet Navy lost at least five submarines during the Cold War, with another being scuttled at sea following a reactor accident. Since the end of the Cold War, the Russian Navy has lost one submarine.

  1. K-129, a Golf-I class ballistic missile submarine, sank with all 98 hands lost in 08 March [some report sometime in April] 1968 in the northern Pacific Ocean (1390 kms northwest of Oahu harbor). The collapse of the hull was detected by the American SOSUS acoustic system. Part of the sub was later raised by the Glomar Explorer in 1974, which recovered some of the nuclear torpedo warheads. It nuclear missiles remain on the ocean floor.
  2. K-27, a November class nuclear submarine, experienced a reactor problem which released radiation contaminating the entire submarine with radiation exposure up to 2,000 roentgens/hour on 24 May 1968. K-27 was equipped with a liquid-metal cooling system. Of the crew, 6 died immediately, 4 died later, and 12 suffered serious radiation sickness. It was finally scuttled (deliberately sunk) in the Kara Sea in 1981.
  3. K-8 [some sources report K-9], a November class nuclear submarine, had a fire in two compartments on 08 April 1970. He was scuttled off Spain in the Bay of Biscay, along with 52 crew [the accident was kept secret until 1991].
  4. June 23, 1983 - K-429, a Charlie I class submarine, sank in the Savannaya Bay in the Bering Sea during a damage-control drill as water poured through an open missile silo. There were 13 crew lost, and the boat was salvaged in 1983. The boat was raised and returned to service, but sank again in 1985.
  5. Oct. 3, 1986 [some report 06 October 1986] - The K-219 Yankee class strategic nuclear submarine (again) had a problem off Bermuda when a missile silo leaked. Four crewmen were killed. The sub later sank off Bermuda taking 16 ballistic missiles, 36 nuke missile warheads and 8 nuke torpedo warheads to the bottom. K-219 is currently the largest stockpile of unsecured nuke warheads. It is rumored that the fire on the submarine broke out due to collision with a US submarine. Following the K-219 incident, the Soviets blamed the loss on a collision with the USS Augusta.
  6. K-278 (Komsomolets), a Mike class nuclear submarine with a titanium hull, sank on 07 April 1989 south of the Bear island in the Norwegian Sea. A total of 41 crewmen, including the commander, were killed.
  7. K-141 (Kursk), an Oscar II type 949 SSGN) commissioned in 1995, sank on 12 August 2000 in the Barents Sea, presumably due to two explosions in the torpedo tubes.

Other Casualties

The book K-19: The Widowmaker ended with a list of Soviet and Russian Navy incidents involving surface ships, submarines and especially its nuclear ships. It listed 58 incidents involving ships. Here are some of the more serious ones:
  1. Oct. 13, 1960 - SSN K-8 suffered a reactor steam generating tube problems, returned to base with 13 crew seriously irradiated.
  2. July 4, 1961 - K-19 suffered a reactor accident. Its #2 reactor lost cooling water, and it raced towards a Chernobyl explosion until its crew rigged the installation of an emergency cooling water pipe. It returned to power, 13 crew died of radiation poison, and many of the survivors received radiation poison treatment. Afterwards, the Soviet Navy installed an emergency back-up system to cool reactors, and K-19 was retrofitted and returned to service.
  3. 1965 - K-11 suffered a reactor accident involving an uncontrolled power surge. The repair crew had 7 men who suffered serious irradiation.
  4. Sept. 8, 1967 - K-3 Leninsku Komosomol suffered a fire in the first two compartment that killed 39 crew while under polar ice.
  5. April 10, 1968 - K-172 suffereed contamination with mercury vapors. The entire crew was poisoned (number of dead is unknown).
  6. Nov. 15, 1969 - K-19 (again) had a collision with the USS Gato. No casualties, and it returned to port.
  7. Jan. 10, 1970 - A Foxtrot diesel sub collideed with an Italian sub in the Bay of Naples. The Foxtrot lost half of her bow, including 4 nuclear armed torpedoes.
  8. 1970 - An Alpha-class submarine suffered a reactor meltdown. It was cut in pieces, and its reactor section dumped into the Kara Sea. The number of casualties are unknown.
  9. Feb. 24, 1972 - The K-19 (yet again) suffered an accident. This time, a fire in two compartments after the reactor. It returned to port after 24 days, with 12 crew trapped in the 10th compartment.
  10. Aug. 31, 1973 - The K-219 suffered a leak in one of its missile silos. It ejected the missile into the sea (which was later recovered). It limped to port.
  11. Sept. 5, 1973 - An Echo nuke submarine was hit by artillery during an exercise off the coast of Cuba.
  12. Sept. 8, 1977 - The K-171 suffered a problem in a missile silo, and jettisoned a missile into the ocean, which was later recovered.
  13. Dec. 28, 1978 - The K-171 (again) suffered a failure of its steam generator tubes. Three crew died, and the reactors were dumped in deep ocean.
  14. Aug. 21, 1980 - An Echo-class sub had a fire near Okinawa. The sub was towed to port, 8 crew died, and 50 were evacuated wearing while cloaks.
  15. Nov. 30, 1980 - The K-162 suffered an uncontrolled power surge while in shipyard, that destroyed the reactor's primary cooling loop. Casualties are unknown.
  16. June 1983 - A Victor-III sub had a collison with a Chinese Han-class sub. The Victor-III returned with parts of the Han's propeller blades and rudder imbedded in its bow. The Han sank with loss of its entire crew. A survey revealed the waters surrounding the site measured 1,000 roentgen/hour within 5 mile radius.
  17. May 13, 1984 - The Severomorsk missile storage shore complex was destroyed, with 200 lives lost.
  18. June 18, 1984 - The K-131 had a fire, and 13 crew were lost. The sub sank, but was later salvaged.
  19. Aug. 10, 1985 - The K-431 was refueling at port, and a fuel rod assembly was accidently lifted, causing an explosion and fire after the reactor cover was blown off. Ten crew were vaporized. The reactors were removed, and the sub was decommissioned.
  20. K-429 [again!], a Charlie I class submarine, sank alongside the jetty on 13 September 1985. The incident led to the loss 16 lives and the imprisonment of the submarine commander.
  21. Oct. 20, 1986 - The nuclear powered K-279 had a collision with the USS Augusta (probably a deliberate crash).
  22. Nov. 1, 1988 - The icebreaker Rossiya had a reactor meltdown in Murmansk when the secondary cooling loop failed.
  23. April 26, 1989 - K-278 Komosomelets suffered a fire and sank in the Norweagian Sea, taking 42 crew.
  24. Feb. 11, 1992 - A Sierra-class sub had a collision with the USS Baton Rouge.
  25. March 20, 1993 - A Delta-IV had a collsion with the USS Greyling.
  26. Aug. 12, 2000 - The new K-141 Kursk exploded and sank. Initially, the Russians blamed a collision with a western sub. Only recently they admitted its loss was due to hydrogen-peroxide powered torpedoes.



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