Key point: The truth behind the accident was kept secret so the Kremlin could save face. If you’re a sailor on a Russian submarine that sinks in the middle of the ocean, don’t expect much sympathy from the Kremlin. Judging by the reaction of Soviet leaders to the accidental sinking of a Soviet nuclear missile sub 30 years ago, you’ll be lucky if you’re not shot by a firing squad. Just how hard-nosed the Kremlin can be is shown in the transcript of a Politburo meeting on the maritime disaster, published by the National Security Archive. On October 3, 1986, the Soviet Yankee-class ballistic missile submarine K-219, equipped with 16 R-27 nuclear missiles was on patrol in the North Atlantic, about 700 miles off the coast of Bermuda. A seal in the hatch cover of Number 6 missile tube failed, which allowed seawater to leak into the tube and mix with missile fuel (rumors that K-219 collided with a U.S. Navy submarine have been denied by both the U.S. Navy and the K-219’s captain). Seawater combined with missile fuel to produce heat and toxic gases. Despite a crewman venting the tube, an explosion erupted in the silo, ejecting the missile and… Read full this story
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