Daily Event for April 7

April 7, 1989 off the Norwegian coast the Russian submarine Komsomolets K-278 sank after a fire started on board. The fire, though contained behind a bulkhead, managed to spread to the rest of the boat through the cables that ran through the bulkheads. After the reactor shut down the boat had no propulsion, the tanks were blown and she came to the surface. The freezing waters of the Barents Sea did not offer the crew much of a chance of survival and most who abandoned the boat froze to death awaiting rescue.

The captain and five others remained on the boat even after she began to sink. Making what ever attempt they could to save the submarine but, it was to no avail. They finally decided to take to the escape pod which, if it worked properly, offered them a better than average chance of escape from a sunken submarine.

What happened is unclear. Some accounts say that the captain and at least one other crewman died before reaching the pod from the gasses while others say the pod was filled with the poisonous gas and all but 1 died in the pod. What is for sure is that only 1 man in the pod was still alive when it reached the surface.

The Soviet ship Alexander Khlobystsov arrived on the scene almost 90 minuets after the submarine went down picking up 25 survivors and 5 who had died. Forty two of the crew had died, 4 in the submarine and the rest in the water.

© 2006 Michael W. Pocock