The Hunt for Pink October, starring the late nice Sir Sean Connery, was an enormous hit with movie critics and moviegoing audiences alike. K-19: The Widowmaker, starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson, was not as profitable with both critics or on the field workplace, however nonetheless stays an entertaining and memorable movie a few Chilly Conflict-era Soviet nuclear submarine. A giant plus concerning the latter movie is that it’s based mostly on a true story.
In equity, sure, the late nice Tom Clancy additionally did base his original bestselling novel very loosely upon a real story, however in that real-world instance, the Storozhevoy was a floor ship, not a submarine, and what’s extra, the mastermind, Valery Sablin, was a dyed-in-the-wool Communist, not a freedom-seeking defector.
Nonetheless, as is typical of Hollywood, even after they inform a “true” story, they embellish it for leisure functions. With that in thoughts, let’s take a deeper dive (dangerous submarine pun meant) into the actual story of the Okay-19 and see the place the filmmakers deviated from actuality.
Harrison Ford bears a fairly passable resemblance to the real-life skipper of the Okay-19 through the vessel’s 1961 maiden voyage, and the rank of Captain 1st Rank (the equal of an O-6/Captain within the U.S. Navy) was right. However the real-life Captain’s title was Nikolai Vladimirovich Zateyev, not Alexei Vostrikov. Zateyev was thought of to be an formidable and succesful officer by his superiors, as affirmed by his early promotion from Marshall Georgy Zhukov (then-Protection Minister of the us) on the younger age of 32.
Capt. Zateyev’s revealed memoirs did the truth is function a part of the supply materials for the film. Furthermore, the usually closely fact-oriented National Geographic Society was concerned within the manufacturing of the movie. NatGeo even employed one of many nation’s main specialists on Chilly Conflict submarines, retired U.S. Navy Capt. Peter Huchthausen, as a technical adviser. Capt. Huchthausen additionally authored the
However that didn’t cease the filmmakers from taking some liberties. For one factor, while The Widowmaker might have been a catchy movie subtitle, and whereas the real-life crew of the Okay-19 did certainly take into account the boat to be cursed, their actual nickname for it was “Hiroshima.” I suppose the use of “Hiroshima” because the film’s subtitle may’ve confused audiences into pondering it was a WWII movie.
As well as, as famous by Chicago Tribune columnist Michael Kilian, “However Hollywood couldn’t resist a couple of elaborations. In a protracted sequence, the producer and director have a U.S. destroyer, shadowing the surfaced Okay-19, launch a helicopter to try it shut up. Stealing a scene from ‘Braveheart,’ they’ve the Russian crew naked their behinds to the chopper to point out contempt (is that this going to turn into a cliche of all warfare films?). Nice, however for one factor: U.S. destroyers in 1961 didn’t carry helicopters…’I informed them we didn’t have helicopters on destroyers in 1961, however they stored it,’ Huchthausen stated. ‘We depicted every little thing we knew had occurred. The one departures from the actual reality are what the film’s director and producer thought they needed to do to make it somewhat extra sensational.’“
Certainly, lots of the real-life survivors of the Okay-19 incident were unhappy with the movie’s script, and fairly a couple of of their countrymen complained that the timing of the movie – launched in 2002 – was exploitative of the Kursk tragedy that had transpired two years earlier – a key distinction, after all, being the truth that not one of the Kursk‘s crew lived to inform their story.
The Story Behind the Story
Since Capt. Hutchhausen’s guide isn’t out there on Kindle and due to this fact I don’t have it useful for reference on such brief discover, allow us to as an alternative flip to sources resembling a declassified NSA analysis – which nonetheless has a number of redactions – for some goal details.
The Okay-19 was the primary boat within the Soviet Navy’s Projekt-658 class of submarines, which got the NATO reporting title of Lodge-class submarines. In flip, the Lodge class was the us’s first technology of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). The Lodge-class subs have been roughly 350 ft (106.68 meters) lengthy and 30 ft (9.14 meters) vast, with a floor displacement of 4,095 tons and a submerged displacement of 5,080 tons. They’d a max velocity of 15 knots surfaced and 26 knots submerged and have been powered by two pressurized water nuclear reactors able to producing 70 megawatts.
Okay-19 had her keel laid within the Severodvinsk shipyards on the White Sea on 17 October 1958, was launched on 8 April 1959, and commissioned on 12 November 1960. Within the Soviet hierarchy’s rush to get their first SSBN operational, they reduce corners by way of security inspections and high quality management, as was already evident through the sea trials: “An omen of dangerous issues occurred in February 1961 when an unexplained lack of stress occurred within the first containment system of one of many reactors.”
This might come to a head through the sub’s first operational tour, which happened from June to July 1961. On the 4th of July – sure, the birthday of the Soviet Union’s “capitalist” rival nation, of all days – one of many pipes that regulated the stress for the coolant system of certainly one of Okay-19′s two reactors burst. Because the declassified NSA report continues, “An engineering oversight had put the pipe in an inaccessible spot. Nobody might attain it and restore the leak. (Different studies declare that the port-side pump that offered cooling for the warmth exchanger broke down.) The crew needed to jury-rig a system for cooling the reactor. The radiation that leaked out was estimated to be about 5 roentgens an hour – any crewmen working within the space would obtain a harmful dose after that point.”
By the point the crew was lastly rescued by one other Soviet sub taking part within the coaching train, eight of Okay-19’s 139-man crew had perished, with 15 extra sailors dying over the following two years. The sub herself would proceed to be plagued with bad luck till her decommissioning in 1990. The surviving crew have been sworn to secrecy and unable to lastly inform their tales till 1991, the ultimate 12 months of the Soviet Union’s existence. Capt. Zateyev handed away from lung illness on 28 August 1998, on the age of 72. Seven-and-a-half years after his passing, Capt. Zateyev and his crew have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, whose glasnost (“openness”) coverage had made it lastly attainable for the Okay-19‘s crewmen to share their tales within the first place.
Christian D. Orr is a former Air Power officer, Federal legislation enforcement officer, and personal navy contractor (with assignments labored in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon). Chris holds a B.A. in Worldwide Relations from the College of Southern California (USC) and an M.A. in Intelligence Research (focus in Terrorism Research) from American Army College (AMU). He has additionally been revealed in The Daily Torch and The Journal of Intelligence and Cyber Security. Final however not least, he’s a Companion of the Order of the Naval Order of the United States (NOUS).