In late spring 1983, K-429 returned to base after a successful six-month voyage in the waters of the Indian Ocean. The crew was allowed to go home, and the boat was put up for repair, due to malfunctions of a number of equipment. Work was supposed to begin in the fall. But the headquarters of the second flotilla, with the permission of the headquarters of the Pacific Fleet, left it in the composition of the ships having the status of "constant readiness". This meant that in case of unforeseen circumstances, in spite of the existing malfunctions, the boat was allocated less than a day for training. At the same time, an order came from Moscow to appoint Captain First Rank Nikolai Suvorov, one of the most experienced commanders in the entire Kamchatka Navy with 25 years of experience, a senior teacher of tactics in St. Petersburg. Together with his wife, he began to prepare for departure. But on June 20, a divisional commander called Suvorov and ordered him to gather at sea on K-429 to conduct training firing and other activities to repel an enemy’s conditional attack. The combat training plan was not carried out in the flotilla, so any measures were used to maintain the approved number of combat-ready forces. Suvorov, of course, expressed his dissatisfaction with the decision of the chief, as it was clear to everyone that the submarine was not ready for sailing. But his commander silently invited the chief of the political department into the office and again repeated the order. Seeing that the situation was hopeless, Suvorov reluctantly signed an order. The remaining submariners learned about the emergency departure only in a couple of days, as the crew had to be collected from everywhere. The cries of the leadership, the threats to take away the party card and put him on trial led to the fact that on June 23 people were driven to the submarine from five different boats. The staff was fully understaffed only three hours before going to sea. Most of the sailors had "not kept the boat" for a whole year. Instead of honing their skills and training, people were used in chores - digging ditches, digging potatoes. Not only that, at the last moment they took another 14 trainees. A total of 120 people. It is clear that there was no three-day basic check of the operation of systems and mechanisms. A leakage test was not carried out; the boat's transmission and reception was purely symbolic. But the authorities did not embarrass this, and on June 24, 1983 the submarine K-429 sailed from Krasheninnikov’s bay to the sea.
Rear Admiral Yerofeyev, who was in charge of the duel firing, offered to immediately go to the exercise area. But Suvorov did not agree. Give it back here, “K-429” could perish in the ocean depths. In Sarannaya Bay, where the depth is not more than 60 meters, it was decided to trim, that is, the ability of the boat to sink and float. In 23 hours 18 minutes, the dive began. Having filled out the main ballasts, except for the middle group, the captain listened to the reports that there were no comments. Then in three steps they began to fill the middle group. The depth gauge of the central post at the same time showed zero depth. And then in the fourth compartment on the ventilation system gushing water. Immediately the emergency protection of the reactor began to work, the main lighting went off, and the pressure in the hydraulics systems was gone. As it turned out later, the weight of the submarine was extra 60 tons, and the depth gauges were disabled. That is, all were “blind” at the central control station. The boat commander decides to blow the main ballast tanks. During this procedure, compressed air is supplied to the tanks filled with water under enormous pressure, having previously closed the valves of the ventilation system. The air must force the water out and the boat float. But the remote control responsible for closing the ventilation valves did not work correctly. Instead of displacing water, the air came out, leaving the ship. And the body, respectively, quickly became filled with water. A few minutes later, K-429 was already at the bottom at a depth of 35 meters. After the command to stop blowing was sent, they contacted the compartments by phone. Disappointing reports came from the first, second, third that water was pouring from the ventilation system. It was possible to stop its flow by closing the bulkhead clinkers of the ventilation system. But by this time, the entire team of the fourth compartment was already dead. Sailors fulfilled their duty, following all the basic requirements of the main document for the submariner - guidelines for the struggle for survivability. None of the fourteen people left the compartment. The sailors battened down the bulkheads, which saved the lives of the personnel of the third compartment, and also tried to manually close the ventilation. Twenty minutes later the water filled the room. When people got into the compartment much later, the first thing they saw was that all the dead sailors were in their places. The commander of the compartment, a mighty man, was barely able to tear off the manual control of the vent shaft valve, with which he fought until his last breath.
When the battery of the third compartment exploded in the 4 hour of 55 minutes from the water that entered it, it became clear that K-429 alone would not emerge on its own. Deadly gases appeared in the air, the entire personnel of the compartment moved into the second. It was not possible to issue emergency buoys, which give signals about the disaster, because in order to avoid accidental separation, all the buoys were tightly welded to the boat hull. This was a common occurrence in most domestic submarines. Similarly, a pop-up chamber welded to the metal hull of the vessel, prepared to evacuate the crew in an emergency, was welded to the metal hull. However, the sailors could not use the camera in any case - the winch device did not work either. When it became clear that help would not come, Suvorov decided to send two sailors to the surface through a torpedo tube. The physically strong and highly experienced midshipmen Lesnik and Merzlikin were chosen. They were never heroes in the classic sense of the word, consistently violating discipline, often sitting on the “lip”. In 8 hours 30 minutes, meticulously observing the order of decompression, midshipmen appeared on the surface. Not finding any ships nearby, according to a predetermined plan, they sailed to the shore. By pure chance, they stumbled upon an anti-submarine BC OVR, which seriously decided that they caught foreign submarine saboteurs. Even when the submariners were taken to the deck, they did not believe their stories about the sunken submarine. As a result, the captain requested his superiors, who in turn contacted the command of the Kamchatka Flotilla. So in the fleet headquarters they learned that a huge nuclear submarine was lying at the bottom.
A few hours later, rescue ships began to arrive at K-429: Tactical missile patrol "Watchdog", SS-83 and SS-38, BM-117. A submarine of the same class as K-429 arrived. In it, the rescued were to undergo a decompression procedure. By the end of the third day all the rescue forces of the Kamchatka fleet, headed by the commander-in-chief of the Navy S.G., gathered over the sunken submarine. Gorshkovym. However, inside the submarine things were getting worse. In some compartments, the pressure increased, the temperature exceeded 50 degrees, the air ended. There were no lamps, food, emergency breathing apparatus, nothing at all was necessary. On the second day, the battery in the first compartment jerked. The bulkhead leading to this room was closed and jammed. After the specialists in the SK-59 rescue bell could not dock to the K-429 hatches, they decided to take the submariners out of four torpedo tubes. It was the maximum that allowed one torpedo tube. Rescuers could only support the lives of people, conducting ventilation compartments, sending the missing ammunition to the submarine, meeting sailors exiting the torpedo tubes and accompanying them on their way to the surface. Despite the fact that the crew of 50 percent were excellent students of combat training, and more than half of the people were specialists of the first and second classes, many sailors did not know how to use individual life-saving equipment for the banal reason for the lack of training.
The rescue divers, too, are not all stuck. Some of the cartridges they supplied through the torpedo tube were empty, they had been looking for cables for a long time, compressors were not functioning. “For the sake of all that is holy,” the Morsech sailors in the hull of the submarines encased in the bowels of the submarine beat out. “Just don’t touch anything, we ourselves ...”
It is even difficult to imagine what it means to crawl in a diving outfit on a submerged torpedo machine a nine-meter-long segment and a half-meter width in pitch darkness. Fear restrains movement, presses the will. One of their young sailors died from a heartbreak already at the very exit. Another submariner, who was the first to leave the seventh compartment with a cable in his hands, got entangled in it, and of course, he didn’t have a diving knife, which necessarily included in the rescue set of things. Four days went rescue divers. 23-year-old Vasily Baev, who had gone through a school of deep-sea divers in the Black Sea Fleet, leaving last on the flooded stern, one managed to repair and close the exit hatch, stopping the flow of water. It was thanks to this that the submarine was subsequently raised. For his feat, Vasily received only the Order of the Red Star. In 20 hours 31 minute 28 June, the last of the 104 people was saved.
Lifting from the ground on the pantones
After the K-429 was lifted from the bottom, Captain Suvorov climbed the whole ship in search of the cause of the accident. The fault was in the logical block of the remote valve control system. For a regular submarine mechanic, this defect was not unusual. During the dive, he always put the observer in the fourth compartment, who controlled the result of the “looped” command. But that day he was not on the boat ... The K-429 lifting operation was carried out on its own, because at that time foreign rescuers were not even thought about. From everywhere they gathered the most experienced divers, boatswains, scaffold riders. For a month and a half after the accident, having broken all records, the submarine was raised and sent to the dock for resurrection. But on the night of September 13 1985, the submarine sank again, this time right at the wall of the ship repair yard. After that, they gave up on it, reworking it into a training ship, and in 1990 they finally wrote it off.
The investigation was conducted in a peculiar way. The investigative documents were embroidered and sewn together again, but already without some sheets, the trim magazine, which the captain personally carried with him, was lost. Suvorov turned into the main culprit of the incident.
“If such a catastrophe happened far from the base,” said Admiral Sorokin, the head of the Main Political Directorate of the Navy, “everyone would have been awarded high government awards.” And here they drowned so close. Ugly somehow.
The investigation dragged on for a year and a half. The wife of the captain, having collected all the necessary documents, went to seek the truth in Moscow. She did not understand that the decision had been made long ago and the whole process had been adjusted. As a result, Suvorov was given ten years, taking into custody right in the courthouse. In addition, the commander was asked to pay damages to 20 millions for reducing the combat readiness of the country's submarines. 10 September 1987 of the year by the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Suvorov was pardoned. A few years after his release, he passed away. A little later, twelve admirals appealed to the court demanding the posthumous rehabilitation of the captain of the first rank. The chief of staff of the flotilla, Oleg Yerofeyev, later headed the Northern Fleet. Subsequently, in his 1989, the nuclear submarine Komsomolets was killed. Seamen who were killed in the fourth compartment were very eager to give rewards. But the documents, as always, were lost in the headquarters. Only on the basis of nuclear submarines of the Pacific Fleet in the village of Rybachy there is a monument on which the names of the sixteen K-429 crew members killed in Sarannaya Bay are stamped.
We lost K-429 in 1983, K-219 in 1986, and K-278 in 1989. Plus, you need to remember about the explosion of the reactor on a submarine in Chazhma in 1985. Suvorov, as if he was looking into the water, saying his last words at the trial: "You will not tell anyone the truth, you will not teach others the hard way, there will be accidents to you, there will be human casualties."
Alas, but it is necessary to recognize that our commanders did not extract anything from this catastrophe. All that bothered the authorities at the time was to cover their asses, to shift all the blame on the crew and its commanders. And after eleven and a half years 12 August 2000, the Kursk died.