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K-429 is one of the most powerful nuclear submarines but has the most fateful fate in the history of the Soviet Navy.
Submarines rarely sank to the second time. Because once the sea is submerged, the sea floor becomes its grave. Although a submarine could be brought to the surface after being wrecked, its life cycle was considered to be over soon after. However, there are exceptions. The K-429 submarine that survived the first crash had a chance to return to operation, but fate did not smile at it.
The nuclear submarine K-429 was recruited for the Soviet Navy in 1972. A year later, it had to undergo the first overhaul. But the real problem is still ahead.
In June 1983, the crew of this submarine received an order to mobilize the ship to sea to participate in exercises. This decision shocked the sailors because the ship’s structural remodeling was still incomplete. The practice of fighting content with such a ship has never happened in world naval history, because it is too dangerous. The commander of the Pacific fleet did not want to hear any explanation. Military commanders wanted all ships and submarines to gather immediately in the open sea while the K-429 fleet was difficult to implement a combat training plan.
Officers on the K-429 submarine complained about the problem but were in vain. “Are you afraid, heroes?”, Admiral Oleg Yerofeev told Alexey Gusev – one of the officers on board. The submarine K-429 was not technically prepared for this journey and soon after that tragedy happened.
On June 24, 1983, K-429 made its first dive in Sarannaya Bay, off the Kamchatka Peninsula, one of the ship’s chambers was flooded by water during the process of moving, causing 14 sailors. inside killed. K-429 then sank to the bottom of Sarannaya Bay, at a depth of 40m. The severity of the disaster was reduced somewhat by the unmanned ship in the open sea, which was 10 times deeper, so the remaining 106 sailors on the ship still had a chance to survive.
The sailors were trapped in the ship with very little rescue equipment. More frightening, despite having enough food and drinks, no one in the navy knew about the disaster. Due to damage, the ship cannot broadcast radio beacons to report an emergency situation to the surface. Two sailors were sent to the surface via narrow torpedo roads. Luckily they met the patrol ship and soon the rescue ship was in the K-429 area in distress. After the divers delivered the breathing apparatus to the sailors on the ship, they began to leave the submarine via the torpedo line and the seventh chamber had not been submerged.
“You can’t imagine the feeling of wearing a snorkeling device in the dark to crawl through a submerged torpedo area, only 53cm wide and 9m long. At that time you thought you would never get out of this iron pipe. The fear made all movements slow, filling up your mind and paralyzing your will, ”recalled submarine captain Nikolay Suvorov.
Two more sailors were killed in the rescue process, bringing the total number of K-429 submarine victims to 16. At the trial that took place shortly afterwards, the captain Suvorov was considered a “criminal”, taking full responsibility for the case and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. However, he was pardoned in 1987. Until his death in 1998, he tried to overcome a great shock in life but also failed.
The nightmare has not ended
The last sailor left the submarine to close the submarine’s remaining hatch. So this chamber is not submerged and this helps the ship to be lifted to the surface.
The K-429 submarine salvage operation involved 24 battleships with 152 divers being mobilized from various areas of the Soviet Union. In just 40 days – a record short time with such activity, K-429 was lifted and pulled back to base. The submarine K-429 underwent a few years of remodeling with a budget of over 300 million rubles.
However, on September 13, 1985, K-429 suddenly sank at the repaired port area when the repair process was completed to 80%. This incident is caused by negligence of workers. Fortunately, there were no victims at that time.
K-429 is no longer used as a submarine function but as a training ship. A few years later, the ship was dismantled and forgotten as a nightmare.