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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

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Published by: laksmana on Mar 27, 2009
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11/14/2012

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the first time since diving off Gadzhievo, Britanov breathed the sweet,

salty smell of fresh ocean air. The sky was filled with the first gray

light of the new day.

Single file, the two climbed out into the exposed bridge, turned aft,

and switched on their portable lamps.

Water sloshed over the missile deck. As each wave cleared, it parted

like a curtain around the place where silo six's hatch should be.

"Mother of God."

The hatch was gone and a shiny streak of gouged metal ran aft

from it. Something heavy and sharp had cut the rubber coating that

plated the missile deck, ripping away the hatch and exposing the un-

derlying metal.

"Captain," said the chief engineer. "It doesn't look so much like a

simple explosion."

"What are you saying?"

"It looks like we hit something. Or perhaps something hit us. I've

seen damage like this before, but only after a collision."

Britanov swept the dark sea with his lamp. There was nothing out

here to hit. Nothing, he thought, except for another submarine.

"Captain!" called up Aznabaev. "New message from Fleet."

"Let's go below," he said to Krasilnikov. "We'll have Pshenichny

photograph this when it gets lighter."

Back in the close confines of central command, Britanov read the

newly decoded message from Northern Fleet headquarters. Three

merchant ships were changing course to render assistance to K-219.

Help from a freighter. He was about to comment on how quickly

the situation had changed when the damage control officer called in

on the intercom.

"I've just completed the damage survey, Captain," said Voroblev.

"I started in four and worked all the way aft to ten. There are traces

of gas as far as seven."

"Gas is in seven? You're sure?"

110

HUCHTHAUSEN, KURDIN 8 WHITE

"Yes, sir. It's bad in four and five, but it's spreading through the

boat. There's an electrical problem in four as well. We may have lost

some wire bundles in the explosion."

"Which bundles, Voroblev?"

"It's too hot to go down and see. But the reactor control cables run

right through the worst area."

"All right. We're going to close everything up and pump some air

into four."

"Understood, Captain."

Britanov was about to tell him to check again when the planesman

shouted. Everyone in central command stopped and looked at him as

he pointed at the overhead ventilator grill.

A thin wisp of brown mist emerged from it, carrying the sweet

smell of almonds, of fuming nitrogen tetroxide, of death.

FLEET OCEAN SURVEILLANCE INFORMATION CENTER.

NORFOLK. VIRGINIA

The submariners run the show. They know

everything and get everything on a platter.

If you're not in the club, you don't

get anything from them. Nothing.

Lieutenant Commander Gail Robinson, USN

The morning intelligence brief with Admiral Ted Sheafer was half an

hour away. Lieutenant Commander Gail Robinson was staring up at

the wall-sized chart of the Atlantic Ocean, putting together the overall

picture to give the deputy chief of staff for intelligence. She focused

on the three Redfleet missile patrol boxes right off the U.S. shore; the

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