Military Review

PL B-31. Submerged fire

In 1967, the so-called "six-day war" broke out in the Middle East between Israel and the Arab group. The war was raging not only in the desert, but also in the Mediterranean. The Arab and Israeli ships were burning. The American reconnaissance ship Liberty attacked by Israeli planes burned. Somewhat later, a monstrous fire broke out on the Soviet submarine B-31. There were victims. For the first time after the war, our sailors were buried in the sea, lowering their bodies, wrapped in sheets and with ballastins attached to their feet, into the depths of a kilometer depth ...

PL B-31. Submerged fire

What happened in the hot summer of 1967 in the Mediterranean? I managed to find participants in those dramatic events — Senior Assistant to the B-31 Commander Captain-Lieutenant (now the Captain of the 1 rank), Golubev, Assistant Commander Vasily Andreyevich Viktorov, Motor Commander Vladimir Vladimirovich Stefanovsky. Here is what they told:

Golubev: "We went to the usual military service in the Atlantic from our home base in Polar. Everything went on as usual, and suddenly there was an order from Moscow: to follow the surface position to Gibraltar, force the strait under water and secretly move forward to the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. that the war began in the Middle East, they did not tell us on the radio. They simply turned us around without explaining the situation.

Later it became known that the Soviet government did not expect such a rapid development of events in the Sinai Peninsula. Moscow immediately began to ship all the nearest to the hot region. And a large diesel submarine "B-31" with nuclear torpedoes in the nose devices was deployed heading east. However, she was not destined to arrive in the designated area.

After midnight - only the watches were changed - somewhere in 0-10, the foreman of 2 article Vlasov, the commander of the bilge division, went to smoke in the diesel compartment. The boat was under the RDP (device for diesel operation under water) and the sailors were allowed to smoke in the fifth compartment, where there was a powerful flow of air to the diesel engines in the PAD mine (air supply to diesel engines). There, in a legalized place for smoking, a common-use lighter was hung on the shelf. Vlasov struck, flashed a spark, but the light did not catch fire — gasoline ran out. The foreman took off the lighter and headed to the central post, where a gas canister stood in the latrine enclosure. Officially keep gasoline on submarines is prohibited. But the mechanical engineer took gasoline for long voyages. Often, the electric motor of the economist and other aggregates were filled with seawater, and then there was no better means for washing the rotor than the mixture of gasoline and acetone. Washed, of course, on the surface ...

Type gasoline in a small lighter was uncomfortable. Vlasov poured over his knees, shoes. But the lighter is filled. The foreman unwittingly struck - check whether it will burn. He did not even have time to think anything. It was a reflex, familiar to very many smokers. I took the lighter and my fingers worked - the teal ... Gasoline knees immediately flashed. Vlasov jumped up in horror and knocked over the canister. Flames shot up to the ceiling of the latrine. The watch officer saw a living fireball jump out of the enclosure and rush into the second compartment through the open bulkhead door. The central post was instantly clouded with smoke.
- Boatswain, pop up! - Commander Captain 2 rank Oleg Bochkarev managed to shout.

The first mate was in the fourth compartment - in the radio room. Listened news. Hearing the alarm signal, immediately rushed to the central post. There already a mechanical engineer blew ballast tanks. In the fever, everything was immediately blown away - the boat resurfaced and swayed.

Then began a chain of large and small misadventures - the law of harm worked in full. Roll out the IDP view (air and foam fire extinguishing boat), but the foam supply tap turned out to be clogged with cork dust. They turned on the pump to bring down the flames, but the bilge in a hurry incorrectly shut off the valve, and it began to swing at itself, like on exercises for fighting for survivability. Soon it became impossible to be in the compartment even in the IDA devices (isolating breathing apparatus). The fire was gaining strength - gasoline was burning, paint was burning layered on the bulkheads, spindle oil was burning, which filled the hydraulics systems, the navigator's wooden door was burning ...

The commander gave the order to leave the compartment. He hoped to strangle the fire, sealed the central post. All those who were near the mine shaft, rushed upstairs to the bridge. A mechanic with a mechanic jumped into the fourth, and the commander, political officer and assistant Viktorov - in the second. So the crew was torn in two ...

- Check - is there anyone left in the center! - shouted the chief mechanic. He pulled the rubber mask, dived into clouds of smoke and flame. He was not long, and Golubev was worried. He threw heavy canisters on his chest and climbed into the flaming compartment. Immediately collided with a mechanic. Returned to the fourth.
- Checked?
“I checked ...” the gasped mechanic exhaled to the end.
- No one?
- No one ...

Alas, there were still four sailors left in the center ... They learned about their fate when the assistant Viktorov and his group entered the emergency compartment for reconnaissance. At the same time, no one missed the boatswain, two bilge and the commander of the radiometrist department. In the stern they thought that they had time to go to the nasal compartments, in the nose they thought that the guys managed to climb the bridge, on the bridge they believed that everyone had left the central post. There was no connection between these three groups separated by fire and sea. Golubev tried in vain to call an emergency telephone in the nasal compartments, but the telephone cable, like other communications, was damaged by fire.

The situation is awful: a semi-flooded submarine is deprived of control - it rolls over on the waves like a big pontoon. The worst thing is that any surface vessel could have run into it in the darkness of the night, especially since the traffic in the Strait of Tunis is quite intense. And in the nose - torpedoes with nuclear combat charging compartments.

Here in the terminal - the seventh - compartment crammed the most people. The air in the adjacent compartments was gassed to a life-threatening standard. Some have already swallowed carbon monoxide and lay in their beds. The worst thing was that the air in the feed began to deteriorate rapidly. Even healthy was difficult to breathe, that talk about the poisoned. Golubev glanced anxiously at the lifeless bodies that rolled in their bunks to the pitching rhythm. Oh, how needed a doctor. But he stayed in the nose compartment ... It would be possible to remove the emergency hatch. But who could guarantee that he is not under water? Suddenly, the steps of someone's thunder rattled overhead. Lazy iron. Then everything calmed down.

Golubev: “We immediately understood that the feed was above water. The hatch was separated, but the lid only slightly lifted. The air went, but sometimes a wave overwhelmed the gap. They wanted to press the lid off with a sliding stop. But they didn’t find anything to rest on the hatch shaft ... Then the thought came to blow the fuel-ballast tanks. This would allow raising the stern above the water. But it turned out that there was nothing to blow. Compressed air blew away all the time when they surfaced ... There was a reserve - the commander group. managed to float - sour the purge valves. " Suddenly the boat abruptly slipped on the nose and fell on the starboard side. What happened? Drown? Someone jumped?

On the bridge, too, noticed that the boat abruptly slipped into the water. In this case, the torpedo-loading hatch in the nose superstructure, through which the commander managed to escape, went under water. Captain 2-th rank Bochkarev took his place on the bridge, but what's the use. None of his teams could be executed. There was no connection with the compartments. And here is the report of the signalman:
- Left forty - goal. Bearing does not change. Moves to us.

Everyone who was on the bridge, anxiously stared at the red-green navigation lights that appeared on the left side of the board. Directly on the boat was someone's ship. Bochkarev shouted to the signalman:
- Give the red rocket!

Over the night sea flashed and crumbled into three red stars flare. However, the ship went without changing the course - right on the boat.
- Give one more!

And the second rocket had no effect. An incomprehensible ship stubbornly went to the ram. It was a military time, and someone could easily get into the head to ram an unknown submarine. However, it could also be a sentinel, who spotted on his radar a large immovable object of unknown purpose.
- Shoot him right in the room! - ordered Bochkarev.

The signalman fired a rocket into the oncoming ship ...

Bow compartment
Viktorov: "In the second compartment, we kept the defense until after the days of opportunity. When the concentration of carbon monoxide gas became deadly, we moved to the first compartment ..."

After leaving the central post, the commander of the boat, the deputy for political affairs Nikolay Myasoedov, the assistant to the captain-lieutenant Viktorov, the head of the RTS, the ship doctor, senior lieutenant of the medical service Sergey Smirnov, torpedoists and electricians were here. Separated torpedo loading hatch leading upward. As soon as Bochkarev and Myasoedov managed to get out through it onto the nasal superstructure, the boat sagged heavily with a trim on the bow and a roll on the starboard. Luke instantly battened down. Now, no one could enter or exit. One misfortune does not come. The fire in the central post entailed many unpredictable other misfortunes. So, the ventilation valve of the ballast tank №3 spontaneously opened, it was instantly filled, and the boat was thrown down. The valve worked because the pressure dropped in the hydraulic system, heated and, apparently, damaged by a fire in the central post. The already difficult situation worsened even more.

Unknown watchdog abandoned his intention to ram a submarine. The fifth rocket, fired almost into the windshields of the wheelhouse, forced him to turn away ... It had passed! The navigator, Senior Lieutenant Nikolai Yurchenko, caught himself in the very first minutes: there was a track map on the padding table! And he rushed into the thick of the central post to save an invaluable document. He made his way into the burning wheelhouse, grabbed a map from the table, hid it like a banner in the bosom, and climbed the bridge over the 10-meter shaft, burning his palms on the heated handrails.

The ninth compartment resembled a gas chamber. It was possible to hold out, breathing half-poisoned, densely breathed air, in a matter of hours. The emergency hatch leading to the top did not open, something stuck at the top, and this was another trick of the law of harm. But Golubeva at this moment was worried about another misfortune: a neglected pump continued to work in the central post. She was catching water in the hold, and the boat was heavy picking up new tons of deadly ballast. Who knows what other tank will spontaneously fill with water? And then a deadly dive into the depths ... Fortunately, the connection with the nasal compartment itself was restored. Golubev asked Assistant Viktorov to sneak into the central post and turn off the switchboard №1, from which the pump was powered.

“We tried to open the bulkhead door and exit to the second compartment,” says Vasily Viktorov. - But the washbasin door fell between the rack and lid. No matter how they fought, they could not get out. It was possible to open us only from the outside, in the same way as the prisoners of the seventh compartment. Our situation was complicated by the fact that the foreman of 2-th article Vlasov, the culprit of the fire, smelled chlorine. This we just did not have enough! But poisonous gas could be released only in one case - if sea water got into the accumulator pits of the second compartment. But the second was absolutely sealed, I was sure of that. However, others began to sniff and talk about chlorine. It was a kind of mass psychosis - it was enough for one to utter a terrible word, as well as to others it seemed that they, too, smell the smell of gas. It took a tremendous effort of will to stop the imminent panic. There is no chlorine and can not be!

To solve the problem with the air, Golubev and the mechanic decided to switch the fan, sucking the air for diesel engines through the shaft of the RDP to the compartment, and throw away the spoiled air through the gas-guiding gander. Tried - it turned out. In the musty stench of the seventh compartment went marine ozone. People breathed, cheered up ... Golubev decided to enter the central post. Apparently the fire died down there. He put on an IDA machine and went through three compartments in a difficult way, dedicating himself with an emergency lantern. The fire in the central has indeed ceased. From above, from the bridge, even the upper hatch was removed. But as soon as the Chief Officer approached the "chestnut" - inter-compartment intercom, like a charred "chestnut", unable to withstand a light touch, he collapsed on the deck, raising a swarm of sparks. Upstairs it was decided that the fire had resumed and had the hatch secured. Golubev returned to the stern. The main thing in which he was convinced was that the pump did not drive the water into the hold, but pumped "the sea into the sea." He stopped her, knocking out the switchboard.

Bow compartment
Viktorov: “By morning, the situation was so stabilized that the miner Senior Lieutenant Valery Khristenko came down to the central post from the bridge. He freed the door jammed and released us from the trap. I went to reconnaissance to the central post. shock: Vladimir Skvortsov, a foreman of 2 article, was lying in the doorway of the radiometry crews. His head was badly burned ... A little later, descending into the hold of the central post, I saw the bodies of three more of our sailors, boatswain Sergei Uvarov, of young bilge Dima Mincia and foreman of 1-th article of George Avvakumov. All of them rushed here in a fire, hoping to hide in a large refrigerating chamber where meat is usually stored. But the camera was locked with a padlock ... Carbon monoxide was harder air, the first thing he poured into the hold ... The bodies of the dead were transferred to the torpedo compartment. It is the coolest on the boat. "

At dawn 16 July, the submarine "B-31" surfaced in a cruising position, vented the compartments and was able to give a little turn. It was found out why the inhabitants of the aft compartment could not open the hatch to the end. It turns out that the watch officer Miner Khristenko, when the stern of the boat came out of the water, decided to open the emergency rescue hatch from the outside. While he was trying to do this, a stray wave washed him overboard. At the same time, he left the fencing cover raised, and she jammed the hatch. By incredible happiness, the second wave threw Khristenko onto the hull of the boat, and he wisely hurried to escape from such adventures on the bridge. Immediately they began to contact Moscow by radio, but found that the shifter, which fed the transmitter, was filled with hydraulics oil. In addition, the scale on the equipment strongly faded from carbon monoxide - it was impossible to distinguish the numbers of frequencies. Telegraphs attempted to go on the air on a low-power emergency transmitter. After many attempts, a Soviet ship relayed the signal from the B-31 to the central communications hub, and Moscow learned of the night tragedy. We were instructed to wait at the designated point for a surface ship, to mark our place for passing ships in batches of five red missiles. But the stock of missiles was pretty much spent during the "duel" with an unknown guard. It was necessary to save signal cartridges. The senior mate is almost blind, swallowing smoke. I could barely see through the binoculars the silhouette of a ship going for help.
- Cruiser?

But it was a big anti-submarine ship. Exchanged information - what's what. From towing refused. Follow him as leader. BOD led to the island of Lampedusa. There, on the anchor bank, stood the native mother ship Magomet Hajiyev. First of all, they began to decide what to do with the bodies of the dead. "Hajiyevites" said that delivery to the Union is possible only in one case, if the corpses are put in formalin. But there is no formalin in such quantity. So, it is necessary to bury in the sea ... The bodies of the dead were in the first compartment. In the heat of a subtropical summer, they have already begun to decompose. The stench went such that the watch of torpedoes with nuclear warheads refused to stand on duty. On the third day of the dead sailors were transferred to the floating base, and "Magomet Hajiyev" was removed from the anchor. Send with a lowered flag in the open sea, and there, as it is necessary on naval ritual, betrayed bodies sewn up in one-time sheets the depth. For the first time after the war, sailors were buried at sea ...

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  1. svp67
    svp67 22 May 2013 10: 21 New
    Yes, once again I’m convinced that for often someone’s feat becomes the result of someone’s stupidity. Sorry for the guys ... the grave is the whole ocean.
    1. Misantrop
      Misantrop 22 May 2013 11: 03 New
      This is most often the case. The fire of the 9th compartment on the K-19 was also the fault of the personnel. 28 people ... And how many there were, similar cases ...
  2. bubla5
    bubla5 22 May 2013 11: 11 New
    Yes, in life it’s so constant, one laxity pulls and reveals the more severe ones, sorry for the sailors
  3. pensioner
    pensioner 22 May 2013 12: 54 New
    Yeah ... It's sad to read all this. But we have to. Recently I read a good book by Shigin (?.?.) "Compartments on fire" on this topic. About the not very famous disasters of the Soviet submarine fleet. Many materials were published there for the first time (from the words of the Author).
  4. Vovka levka
    Vovka levka 22 May 2013 22: 59 New
    Heroism is almost always a consequence of gouging.
    1. Misantrop
      Misantrop 22 May 2013 23: 09 New
      Quote: Vovka Levka
      Heroism is almost always a consequence of gouging.
      Very often - a stranger.
      1. Vovka levka
        Vovka levka 23 May 2013 20: 26 New
        Fact, fact.
  5. Oddyrash
    Oddyrash 26 May 2013 18: 20 New
    Sorry guys!
  6. wheel
    wheel 26 May 2013 22: 11 New
    and what happened to the culprit of the accident?
  7. slacker
    slacker 22 June 2013 22: 19 New
    They say correctly: smoking - harm your health!