Experiment in the Black Sea
Tried to take "weakly"
With the coming to power of Mikhail Gorbachev, there appeared a real opportunity to end the rampant arms race, reducing the number of nuclear weapons. The era of detente began. The first steps were taken towards the limitation of nuclear weapons. However, negotiations between the USSR and the USA on the “50% strategic offensive arms limitation” were stalled.
The US side rejected earlier agreements reached during the Soviet-American summit in December 1987 on sea-based cruise missiles, because, according to US officials, "there are currently no effective means of controlling this type of weapon."
It was an attempt to bring this type of weapon beyond the framework of the negotiation process, and at the same time to test the possibilities of the scientific and technical potential of the USSR. The fact is that sea-based cruise missiles (SLCMs) of the Tomahawk type are one of the most dangerous types of modern weapons, the main type of armament deployed on submarines and surface ships of the US Navy. The Tomahawk SLCM in normal or nuclear (200 kt) equipment can hit sea targets with high accuracy at a distance of up to 500 km, and ground targets - up to 1500 km. The low flight altitude (30 – 300 m) and small dimensions (length - 6,1 m, weight - 1300 kg) make it low vulnerable for air defenses.
Prominent scientists of the USSR and the USA, having expressed deep concern about the problem, stated that there are technical means of monitoring and detecting nuclear weapons. The Soviet side represented by Academician E.P. Velikhova came up with a proposal to conduct a joint Soviet-American experiment to test the effectiveness of the technical means of control available to Soviet and American scientists. The experiment was scheduled for early July 1989. According to analysts of the time, the success of such an experiment was truly historical value. The disarmament process was further developed, and close cooperation and friendly interaction of Soviet and American scientists contributed to the relaxation of international tension.
It is obvious that the disarmament process implies the availability of reliable technical means of controlling nuclear weapons. Soviet scientists, engineers and designers have been working on this problem since 1978, and in 1988 the USSR Navy, its 6th Directorate, received a special technical complex for detecting nuclear weapons - the code name “Advisor”, which could be used in helicopter, ship and automobile options. At the same time, for the maintenance and operation of the complex, the formation of a special unit began, the first special technical control brigade in the USSR Navy, on the basis of military unit 20553 of the Black Sea fleet.
The complex STK "Advisor" - the development of the Institute of Atomic Energy (IAE) named after I.V. Kurchatov Academy of Sciences of the USSR (at present - the National Research Center "Kurchatov Institute"), which was awarded the State Prize in 1987 and is a state-of-the-art computerized technical complex. IAE scientists, having created in 1949 year under the leadership of I.V. Kurchatov Soviet atomic bomb, put an end to the US monopoly on the possession of atomic weapons, thereby depriving the United States of military superiority over the USSR. It is symbolic that the scientists of this institute were able to contribute to the process of detente of international tension, to the process of disarmament, by creating an effective means of control over nuclear weapons.
In preparation for the experiment, a group of STK brigade officers headed by the brigade commander underwent special training at the beginning of 1989, at the Navy closed training center. Having passed the exam for “good” and “excellent”, I received permission to work with the equipment of the “Advisor” complex. Then, already at the Black Sea Fleet, the acceptance, assembly, installation, and practical development of the equipment STK were carried out. Accelerated pace, fully using the daytime, without rest and weekends, practical skills were worked out when working with the complex, interaction with the base ship (APSHERON PSK) and the Ka-27 helicopter with STK Sovetnik. At the end of June 1989, the head of the STK brigade reported to the head of the 6 division of the fleet about the readiness of the brigade officers, crew and pilots of the helicopter to use the “Advisor” complex for its intended purpose.
FOREIGNERS IN SEVASTOPOL DIDN'T GET
In 1989, Sevastopol was a closed city. To allow foreigners to the main base of the Black Sea Fleet to conduct an experiment, that is, specialists with electronic photo and video equipment, would be the height of carelessness even during the period of detente of international tensions. Therefore, the venue of the experiment, on the recommendation of the KGB of the USSR and the decision of the leadership of the Navy, was chosen water area of the seaport of Yalta, which was an open resort for foreign tourists to visit.
To accommodate participants in the experiment, representatives of the press and TV (120 people), the leadership of the fleet selected the floating Yenisei hospital, which was moored at the Yalta pier. It also deployed a command post and an experiment headquarters. The object of research as the carrier of a nuclear weapon was the Slava missile cruiser, in one of the eight twin launchers of which the cruise missile of the Basalt complex with a nuclear warhead was deployed. Where the missile with a nuclear warhead is located, in which particular launcher, the experiment participants were not aware of. It had to be discovered by means of STK. The search and rescue ship Absheron anchored in the place determined by it according to the plan of the experiment. Onboard were the Ka-27 helicopter and the equipment of the Sovetnik complex, as well as a group of officers from the JCC, headed by the brigade chief V.A. Medvedev. The group included officers A.M. Alyabyev, D.N. Okhotnikov, Yu.V. Shamliev, S.V. Persyuk, V.V. Isaev and K.G. Kebkal
The experiment also tested the complex STK "North", located on a large landing ship (BDK), and the complex "Agat", located on a truck and designed to detect nuclear weapons on ships stationed at the pier. These two complexes are the development of the Institute of Geokhim named after VI. Vernadsky Academy of Sciences of the USSR. The “Rosa” complex was also tested - developed by the Institute of Physics of the Earth named after O.Yu. Schmidt Academy of Sciences of the USSR.
On the American side were presented complexes of contact equipment STK in combination with laptops for information processing. The leadership of the USSR Navy allowed to conduct research directly on the SLCM launcher with a nuclear warhead, and all the contact complexes represented by the USSR and the USA were placed on the Slava RK. The “Sovetnik” complex is an STK remote complex, it could detect nuclear weapons at a distance.
The significance of the joint Soviet-American non-governmental experiment is also indicated by the composition of its participants. On the Soviet side, prominent scientists from the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, academicians A.P. Alexandrov, E.P. Velikhov and V.A. Barsukov (scientific leadership of the experiment), as well as research staff of the IAE, IHP, GEOCHEM of the USSR Academy of Sciences, employees of foreign policy departments and agencies (Main Department of External Relations of the USSR Academy of Sciences, Information Directorate of the USSR Foreign Ministry) Karpov. The officers of the 6 Navy Directorate, headed by G.E. Zolotukhin coordinated work on the preparation and conduct of the experiment. The forces and facilities of the Black Sea Fleet were supervised by the Chief of Staff of the Black Sea Fleet V.Ye. Selivanov. Representatives of the Soviet media, journalists, TV reporters, photo journalists (TASS, APN, Pravda, Moskau-News, Izvestia, International Affairs, Red Star, Flag of the Motherland, and others) were present.
Scientists and specialists from the Massachusetts Institute, Stanford and Maryland Universities, the Brookhaven National Laboratory, the US National Laboratory (Brooklyn) and the group of environmentalists from the US Conservation Committee arrived on the experiment from the American side. A working group led by U. Arkin, director of the US National Security Program, prominent physics scientists headed by T. Korhan, a group of congressmen led by Armed Forces member of the US House of Representatives J. Spratt, representatives of Circular Corporation (Philadelphia) as well as foreign journalists, cameramen, photojournalists (ABC TV agencies, CNN, Italy TV, EF Spain, Knado-Tsusin, Asaki (Japan), Philadelphia (USA), New York Times ”,“ News Week ”,“ Los Angeles Times ”,“ Spiegel ”(Germany),“ Kuan-Minzhibao ”(China).
The essence of the experiment was that the Ka-27 helicopter with the equipment of the Sovetnik complex, having risen from the board of the Absheron PSS, flew in accordance with the flight mission over the Slava RK and came back. The equipment of the “Advisor” complex at the moment of cruiser fly-by in the automatic mode made the necessary measurements of the radiation field simultaneously with photo and video filming. Comparing the value of the ship’s radiation field with the natural background radiation, the “Advisor” revealed an anomalous, peak value in the area of one of the SLCM launchers on the starboard side of the RK “Glory”, which actually contained, as it turned out, the SLCM with a nuclear warhead. After computer processing of measurement results, the presence and location of nuclear weapons was documented by photographic, video materials and printouts from the computer "Advisor". The results were reported to the Yenisei HS, the headquarters of the experiment, the head of the 6 division of the Black Sea Fleet, Captain 1, rank A.Z. Gulo.
The commander's boat, launched from the RK "Glory", the documents with the results of the experiment were sent to the headquarters of the Yenisei HS. The participants in the experiment from the American side with admiration appreciated the results of the work of the STK “Advisor” equipment. Each of them asked for a souvenir to print from the computer "Advisor" in memory of the Soviet-American experiment conducted on the Black Sea.
The results of the experiment, which was widely reported in the domestic and foreign press of that time, showed that the STK methods and apparatus proposed by Soviet and American scientists can be used to create a reliable system for controlling sea-based nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons on ships can be detected at a distance of 50 – 100 m, and then, if necessary, identification of nuclear weapons can be carried out by contact CTC.
Six months later, off the coast of Malta on board the Maxim Gorky motor ship, the next stage of the summit negotiations on limiting the deployment of SLCMs with nuclear weapons took place. As Mikhail Gorbachev said: “The process has begun” and “We have taken the gun away from the temple of Russia”. So the officers of the Brigade of the JCC of the Black Sea Fleet contributed to the process of disarmament and detente.
THE DANGER OF CATASTROPHE HAS NOT DISAPPEARED
Years go by. You can’t stop time. The disarmament process has played a role in history. Cruise missiles with nuclear weapons have been withdrawn from the US Navy, but the new generation Tomahawk SLCM with a conventional charge has even greater accuracy and range, and it does not take much time to equip them with nuclear warheads.
The Soviet Union collapsed. The “evil empire,” as the Americans called it, disappeared from the world map. Having survived the collapse and separation, the fleet is gaining its former strength. RK "Glory" renamed the Guards missile cruiser "Moscow" and became the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet. Crimea and Sevastopol returned to Russia. New priorities, new threats have appeared in the world: global warming, flying comets, natural disasters.
But this is all in the future. And in the present? Has the danger of a nuclear catastrophe disappeared? By no means. This is not about the Third World (Atomic) War. It is clear that there will be neither winners nor losers in it, there will simply be the end of earthly civilization. Apocalypse. But the danger of local fights and terrorist acts with the use of nuclear weapons remains and even increases. Islamic fanatics, various extremists, are striving for nuclear weapons. As a result of hostilities or terrorist attacks, nuclear power plants can be destroyed. An atom, even a peaceful one, is always fraught with global danger. The danger of nuclear and radiation terrorism has arisen. This danger is around us, it really exists in real time, as long as there are nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants, which means the further development and improvement of the JCC tools will be continued.
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