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The Soviet Submarine K-19 accident

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K-19 Accident-010:01

K-19 Accident-0

The Soviet's K-19 Accident.

Background to the eventEdit

The USSR felt left behind in the de facto submarine race and rushed trough many poor desinges and commisioned several subs that were too dagerouse to deserve to be used of the test range.

It was built in 1959 and scrapped in 1990. It had a complement of 125-139 officers and men. It was built at Severodvinsk shipyard.

A late 1950s Soviet 658 class (NATOreporting name Hotel-class submarine) could stay submerged for up to 60 days, only limited by both the need for food and the crew's physical/mental health. It carried some of the newly devised R-13 SLBMs.

The sub was to be known for it's early accidents and even saw 10 ship-builders die in the dock that made it.

The locationEdit

On the 4th of July, 1961, the sub was on exercises in the North Atlantic close to Southern Greenland, under the command of, Captain First Rank Nikolai Vladimirovich Zateyev, when it developed a major leak in it's reactor coolant system, causing the water pressure in the aft (rear) reactor to drop to zero and thus causing failure of the coolant pumps. A separate accident had previously disabled the long-range radio system.

The accidentEdit

The Soviet navy's submarine K-19's reactor accident was caused by a major leak in it's reactor coolant system, causing the water pressure in the aft (near the rear) reactor to drop to zero and thus causing failure of the coolant pumps. A separate accident had previously disabled the long-range radio system. This ment making any drastic decisions on there own.

The reactor temperature still rose uncontrollably due to decay heat from the fission products created during normal operation, even after the control rods were inserted via a SCRAM mechanism eventually to reaching 800 °C (1,470 °F). The poorly designed reactor continued to heat for want of a backup cooling system.

The engineering crew managed to knock together a make-shift secondary coolant system out of stuff at hand and kept the reactor from a meltdown. They then go the temperature down over time, but the team took heavy radiation poisoning in doing so.

The planed patrol exercise was canceled and all the small arms thrown overboard except for five pistols distributed to his most trusted officers to prevent a mutiny. A Soviet diesel submarine, the S-270, (not to be confused with the American diesel submarine, the SS-270/USS Ranton), picked up K-19‍ '​s low-power distress transmissions and joined up with it as it moved south in search of help. The S-159, S-268 and the destroyer Byvaly then joined in the rescue of K-19's radiation poisoned crew.

Some American warships nearby had also heard the transmission and later offered to help, But the K-19's Captain was afraid of accidentally reveling Soviet military secrets to the West and refused American help. He then evacuated the crew and had the boat towed to its home base.

After its return to it's home port, the vessel contaminated a zone within 700 m (2,300 ft). Over the next two years, repair crews removed and replaced the damaged reactors. The repair process then also contaminated the nearby environment and the repair crew. The Soviet Navy dumped the original radioactive compartment into the Kara Sea, as per normal soviet reactor dumping procedure.

The AftermathEdit

The incident irradiated the entire crew, most of the ship, and some of the ballistic missiles on board.

All 7 engineers and their divisional commander died of radiation exposure within the next month and 15 more sailors died over the next 2 years.

A total of 22 crew members would die from radiation sickness as a result in the following two years.  

The sub was also nicknamed "Hiroshima".

On 6 August 1961, 26 members of the crew were decorated for courage and valor shown during the accident.

It's then mostly uneventful service life finaly clocked up a total of 332,396 miles (534,940 km) during 20,223 operational hours.

Also seeEdit

  1. Atomic accidents and disasters
  2. The sinking of Soviet submarine K-27
  3. The reactor explosion on-board Soviet submarine K-431
  4. USS Thresher (SSN-593)
  5. Soviet submarine U 137



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