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Hostile Waters - The Death of Soviet Submarine K219

Hostile Waters - The Death of Soviet Submarine K219

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Published by: laksmana on Mar 27, 2009
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broken until pressures inside the two compartments were roughly

equal. The door would not operate.

The doctor felt the need to do something. He found the kas/rtan

hanging by the hatch and dialed Kapitulsky. "This is Kochergin in

five. Are there any casualties forward?"

"We're all right," said the busy propulsion engineer. "But I'm get-

ting some strange readings from four."

"Strange?"

"Radiation. Make sure you're protected before you go in."

The doctor hung the mike back up and looked at the security of-

ficer. There were no antiradiation suits in compartment five.

"Where's Voroblev? We need him. What do we do?" the doctor

asked the security officer.

"Take your pulse, Doctor, and calm down. There are procedures

for this. We'll follow them." Pshenichny was the senior officer in com-

partment five; maybe, depending on who was still alive, the ranking

officer in the entire rear half of the boat. Even though he was a KGB

man, Pshenichny had completed submarine training and earned the

honor of being a qualified watch officer. He'd served aboard several

Gadzhievo submarines and the crew respected him in a way it did not

respect Zampolit Sergiyenko. That he shared their disdain for him and

made no attempt to hide it only left Pshenichny more popular with

the crew.

"There's radiation," said Kochergin.

"We'll follow procedures, but we'll follow them fast. Agreed?"

The doctor swallowed. "Agreed."

The gauge on the bulkhead now showed zero. Britanov's calming

voice boomed over the intercom. "Pressures in four and five are equal-

ized. Open the hatch and evacuate those inside to sick bay. Look for

Petrachkov."

"You're ready?" asked Pshenichny. "What's your pulse?"

IDD

HUCHTHAUSEN, KURDIN & WHITE

"Offscale," said Kochergin. He reached for the bar that would un-

lock the hatch. He noticed the silver glint from the security officer's

open collar. A chain. From that chain dangled one of the three keys

necessary to launch K-219's missiles. Britanov had one and so did

Sergiyenko. Nuclear missiles meant to destroy people Kochergin didn't

know, men and women he didn't have anything against, really. Those

overaged, obsolete, dangerous damned missiles. They were why they

were here. Why, the doctor was now quite sure, men on the other

side of the steel barrier were dead and dying. He swung the lock bar

down and opened the hatch.

Sergei Voroblev, the damage control officer, nearly fell through the

opening. He was staggering under the weight of a body in his arms.

He was wearing his OBA, at least. The doctor only gradually recog-

nized the body as Markov, the sub's communications officer. Markov

was not wearing any protective gear at all. His face and uniform were

flecked with green foam. Five more men of the missile crew followed

them, all of them wearing masks.

"Take Markov to sick bay!" Kochergin shouted through his OBA

mask.

Beyond the open hatch, compartment four was dim, filled with a

thick brown mist and eerie with the sound of dripping water. There

was a sizzling hiss Kochergin could not quite identify. Like meat

frying in a cast-iron pan. He turned to Pshenichny. "I'll take the mid-

deck. You go up. Petrachkov is there someplace."

Together they gingerly stepped inside the damaged space. Kocher-

gin was first. Not two steps in he stumbled against something soft on

the deck. He looked down, shining his explosion-proof lamp to see

what it was.

He'd stepped on a sailor lying on his back, his fingers clutched

tightly against his throat as though he were trying to rip away the

skin. His mask was partly on, but all around it oozed a flood of bright

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