Freak Accident of Chemistry Sunk Russia’s Aircraft-Killer Submarine

    Kyle Mizokami


    We explain what happenned. 

    Kursk had suffered two massive explosions and sank in 354 feet of water at a twenty-degree vertical angle. An explosion had ripped through the front of the hull, tearing a terrible gash along the upper bow. Still, at least twenty-three of the 118 crew had survived the sinking, as a note penned by one of the ship’s senior officers, Lt. Capt. Dmitri Kolesnikov, indicated. The note was dated exactly two hours after the initial explosion. Rescue efforts by Russian—and later British and Norwegian—teams failed to rescue the survivors.

    In 2000, a Russian submarine designed to sink aircraft carriers became a victim of its own arsenal. The cruise-missile submarine Kursk suffered a massive explosion and sank after an onboard torpedo accidentally detonated. The accident was the worst naval disaster suffered by post–Cold War Russia.

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    The Soviet Union’s greatest adversaries at sea were the aircraft carriers of the U.S. Navy. With their versatile air wings, American carriers could frustrate the Warsaw Pact’s plans wartime plans, doing everything from escorting convoys across the Atlantic to bombing Soviet Northern Fleet bases above the Arctic Circle. They also carried nuclear weapons, making them exceptionally dangerous to the Soviet coastline.

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