On Sunday, 9 in April at 10.00, the commander of the hydrographic vessel "Elton", became the duty officer of the division. Already in the afternoon, an understanding came: something happened in the sea. In the evening, the task was set to pick up a vessel that has a hydrological cable of at least 2000 meters in length and capable of reaching full autonomy tomorrow.
Almost all vessels with oceanographic equipment were in the base. These primarily included the oceanographic research vessels (OS) of the 850 project and the hydrographic vessels of the 862 project. These were ships of sufficiently large displacement and unlimited seaworthiness, and performing oceanographic research was their main purpose. The corresponding equipment on these vessels was guaranteed to be available. There was only one problem: the actual readiness to go to full autonomy. Everything was explained simply. These ships went to sea on 60-90 days of no more than 2 once a year, each time performing the required pre-navigation measures according to the annual plan of oceanographic research. The rest of the time the ship was moored, the crew was on vacation and the accumulated time off. It was very difficult to prepare the unit for unscheduled access to the sea for full autonomy in less than a day.
There were also universal hydrographic vessels (gis) of 860 and 861 projects. Their versatility consisted in the ability to perform both oceanographic research and pilotage (delivery of supplies to lighthouses, maintenance of coastal lights and floating warning signs). But the readiness of these vessels was very high. Most of the crew was always on board. Going to sea was planned weekly plan, and then it happened suddenly. From among the smaller part of the crew that did not live on board, many did not go ashore in order to have a good rest before another departure to the sea. It was also much easier to replenish the stocks of these vessels, since their displacement was one and a half to two times less. Seaworthiness was also unlimited. Doubt caused only the state of oceanographic equipment, since it was used relatively rarely on these vessels.
Somewhere in the sea was a hydrographic vessel 861 of the Kolguev project, but it was re-equipped to search for submarines and was currently performing combat service tasks. The command, obviously, knew better how to dispose of them.
After some deliberation, the commander of the Elton on duty in the division came to the conclusion that there were only two options: Boris Boris Davydov and the Elton proper GIS.
At the Elton hydrological winch, the cable was exactly more than two kilometers. As recently as last year, the vessel carried out hydrological work in the Greenland Sea for 60 days. The officer on duty in the division did not believe in the opportunity to prepare for the release, but the commander of the Davydov was on board, who suddenly announced his readiness to carry out any command of the command. The command apparently also had doubts about the readiness of the Boris Davydovs, and the task of preparing the ship for sailing was put to the commander of the Elton, removing him from duty on Monday morning two hours before the shift.
The exit was scheduled for 15.00. By lunchtime, the crew was on board. Missing were notified and arrived on time. The fuel and water reserves were replenished to full standards from neighboring vessels by 14.00 p.m. We decided the issue of baking bread. In the division, it was customary to freeze bread in large quantities for the future, however, it was already impossible to get bread. Useful experience of the commander of the "Elton" on the Black Sea navywhere the bread was baked into the sea, receiving flour for the whole trip. The expeditionary staff of the Northern Fleet Hydrographic Service arrived aboard. The purpose of the campaign was still not entirely clear.
Finally, in 17.00, a go-ahead was received for sailing into the Sayda Bay, and the vessel departed from the berth of Mishukovo. In 19.45, Elton moored in Yagelnaya Bay. By midnight, RCBZ specialists arrived on board with the instruments. It became clear that they would do most of the work. At the same time, it became known for certain about the death of the Soviet K-278 nuclear submarine Komsomolets. The point of death of the submarine designated "K-3", the commander of "Elton" reported approximate coordinates. On 7 in the morning of April 11, the Elton departed from the pier with the task of following the Greenland Sea.
At the point “K-3” “Elton” arrived on April 12, at 22.00, and immediately began the selection of air, water on different horizons and soil samples. The results of radiation measurements were immediately transmitted to the fleet headquarters. In parallel, a visual observation of the water surface was established. The coast guard ship in Norway was already in the area. He was contacted by VHF and handed a proposal to stay away. Soon he departed in a southerly direction.
A day later, on April 13, our destroyer approached K-3. "Elton" got close to him on voice communication. From the destroyer the last command instructions and the specified coordinates were transmitted. In the very first days, overflights of the ship began to be carried out by the base patrol aircraft aviation The United States Navy type "Orion", once Norwegian helicopter flew. On April 15, Elton replenished fuel and water from the Dubna tanker. Almost all the time it was stormy. The excitement subsided to five points, then intensified to seven.
April 22 to the point came NIS "V. Berezkin ”The USSR Hydrometeorological Service has been brightening up Elton’s loneliness for almost a week. Storm close to each other, the vessels exchanged navigational information. The determination of the coordinates of the vessel in the area was not very good. At best, according to the SNC “Tsikada”, it was possible to get one observation in an 4 hour. From time to time I had to take on a sextant.
Specialists of the GS SF, who were on board, tried to “hang” on such rare observations of the depths in the area that it was very poorly combined with storm tacks and maneuvering to perform the main task of monitoring the radiation situation. The task to perform the survey was set in connection with the expected arrival of the vessel of the carrier of the deep-sea apparatus. The commander of "Elton" for a couple with the first mate (and both of them were officers-hydrographs) went the other way. From the very beginning of the location in the area, each observation of the SNA was applied to a previously prepared tablet in the projection of the Mercator 1 scale: 25000. The measure was compulsory, since there simply did not exist maps for this region that were larger than the 1: 500000 scale. All the maneuvers of the vessel for the month of navigation on such a map could easily be closed with an 1-penny coin. At each observation, the commander ordered the depth of the depth finder to be fixed. In the end, the entire tablet was covered with depths, which made it possible to conduct isobaths. With the seconded hydrographs, everything was done correctly, but on three sheets of thin tracing paper with rare random tack gauges, which we managed to hook on at least two observations. Using it for navigation purposes was almost impossible. Therefore, when the Perseus of the Baltic Fleet arrived in a point with a deep-water vehicle on board in mid-May, the commander of the Elton handed over his map to the Perseus, which he himself had maneuvered for about a month. I must say, the commander of the Perseus appreciated the work of the Elton navigators and, as he could, expressed his gratitude.
Immediately after the meeting with Perseus, Elton received an order to proceed to the base and in 04.00 16 May was moored in the same Yagelnaya Bay. Specialists from the RCBZ who monitored went off the board. Excess of the natural background of the radiation situation has not been identified. Before lunch, managed to replenish food and water. It was 1989 year. There was simply no water in Mishukovo at that time, but there were problems with getting food. After lunch, “Elton” left the Yagelnaya Bay and, two and a half hours later, moored in Mishukovo at the 4 berth with the 2 body to the same type “Kolguev”. The crews of both vessels were impressed by the recent tragic events in which they somehow had to take part, and of course immediately began a lively exchange of information.
So what did the Kolguev sailors really see? Look at the events of April 1989, through the eyes of the commander of the "Kolguev".
Part of 2. Kolguev
On April 7, at 10.00, the commander of the hydrographic vessel Kolguev, as usual, was on the bridge and routinely peered at the monotonous picture of the Greenland Sea along the course. Recently, in accordance with the campaign plan, he gave the command to lie down on a course of 180º. The ship on the 6-node course gently rocked. The excitement was no more than 4 points, which could be considered a lull.
The only midshipman in the crew went up to the bridge, and this could only mean one thing: another telegram from the command was received. This time, the fleet headquarters warned that the Kolguev course was the area for maneuvering the Soviet submarine K-278. The Kolguev search equipment could detect the “trace” of the boat, so the commander was warned. The area was located on the border of the Greenland and Norwegian Seas.
In 11.15, a mark appeared almost directly on the course on the “Don” radar screen. According to calculations, the goal of the move was not. Soon she was able to see visually - it was a submarine on the surface. The commander made the decision to get as close as possible to identify the boat. If it is "alien", it was necessary to prepare a report. It could have been “its own”, since it was already the area mentioned in the telegram. In any case, it is strange why the boat is on the surface. With conversations on VHF also did not want to shine ahead of time.
Shortly before noon, they got close to the submarine. In the distance around the cable train, voice communication was established. The boat was Soviet, and the submariners clearly had some problems. On the upper deck was part of the team, but there seemed to be no signs of an accident. The commander of the Kolguev through a megaphone asked if help was needed. The response from the boat commander was negative, Kolguev was offered to follow its course. Well, okay, you never know what the submariners decided to do in the open sea ...
The Kolguev entered the Norwegian Sea and continued to move away from the nuclear-powered submarine south to the south with the same 6-knot junction. However, soon negotiations began to be tapped on VHF - the boat interacted with the fleet aviation. It was difficult to understand anything concrete; perhaps these were teachings. Reason to change course was not. It all started around 16.30. From what was heard by VHF, it has already become clear that there was an accident on the boat, alarming notes were growing in the negotiations. The commander of the "Kolguyev" ordered to lie on the reverse course and choose the towed device. A minute later the midshipman with a telegram rose to the bridge. The text contained an order to follow the emergency course to the emergency boat, the telegram was signed more than an hour ago ... A few minutes later the same order was duplicated through the battle command channels (remember, remember!).
In 5 hours, the ship 6-hub managed to move away from the boat by about 30 miles. This means that with the maximum possible stroke this distance can be overcome in about 2 hours. We chose the towed devices to 17.00 and soon went into full speed mode, and after a few more minutes the revolutions were brought to 225 per minute, which corresponded to the most full speed and 16 nodes. 232 revolutions per minute were not allowed even on the measuring line, only on running trials after repair — this was the maximum possible course, and the mechanics gradually came to this mode. The vessel with the speed of 17 nodes was rapidly approaching the scene of the accident.
At the meeting point with the submarine "Kolguev" arrived about 19 hours. Boats on the surface of the ocean was gone. Rescue operation deployed in time, "Khlobystov." He arrived almost an hour earlier, and he managed to save many submariners. Kolguev was destined to lift only four dead sailors from the water. The bodies were handed over to Khlobystov and for another day they plowed the area with tacks, lifting everything from the surface of the water that could be related to the catastrophe ...
All of us were hard at what had happened to the Komsomolets submarine. In the press, one after another, they began to publish articles describing the chronology of events and attempts to understand the causes of such dire consequences. Mention was also made of the inadequate training of the crew for rescue operations, and the lack of necessary rescue equipment in the fleet in adequate readiness, and the lack of interaction with the Norwegian Navy. But never once was it mentioned that the hydrographic vessel Kolguev was located at the side of the emergency submarine Komsomolets almost immediately after the boat had risen to the surface and could have taken submariners that were not involved in the struggle for survivability. "Kolguyev" could simply be located at the side of the emergency submarine or nearby in the area of the accident, but did not receive such an order ...
Many years have passed since then. The rescue training of crews of ships and ships of the Navy has reached a qualitatively new level. It is not fast enough, but still modern rescue equipment arrives at the fleet. In readiness for rescue actions are specially designated fleet forces. Even with the Norwegian Navy, joint exercises are held from time to time.
And yet, along with purely technical reasons and insurmountable forces of nature, the notorious human factor continues to play its ominous role.
Eternal memory to the sailors who died in the ocean!