Friday, August 21, 2015

Fullbore Friday

One man can make a difference; a calm professional with perspective and a firm grasp of the larger story around him.

Regardless of which side of the Cold War you were on - everyone on this planet should know the name Vasili Arkhipov, Vice Admiral, Soviet Navy.
Above them, the U.S. navy were 'hunting by exhaustion' - trying to force the Soviet sub to come to the surface to recharge its batteries.
They had no idea that on board the submarines were weapons capable of destroying the entire American fleet.

Gary Slaughter, a signalman on board the USS Cony battleship, said: 'We knew they were probably having trouble breathing. It was hot as hell in there, they were miserable.

'Frankly I don't think we felt any sympathy for them at all. They were the enemy.'
The Americans decided to ratchet up the pressure, and dropped warning grenades into the sea. Inside the sub, the Soviet submariners thought they were under attack. 
Valentin Savitsky, the captain of B59, was convinced the nuclear war had already started.

Savitsky hadn't counted on Arkhipov. As commander of the fleet, Arkhipov had the last veto. And although his men were against him, he insisted that they must not fire - and instead surrender. 

It was a humiliating move - but one that saved the world. The Soviet submariners were forced to return to their native Russia, where they were given the opposite of a hero's welcome. 
Historian Thomas Blanton told the Sun: 'What heroism, what duty, they fulfilled to go halfway across the world and come back, and survive.

Four decades passed before the story of what really happened on the B59 sub was discovered. It was after Arkipov had died in 1998 from radiation poisoning. 

But to his widow Olga, he was always a hero
She said: 'He knew that it was madness to fire the nuclear torpedo. In Cuba, in honour of the 40th anniversary of the crisis, people gathered. 
‘They said that the person who prevented a nuclear war was the Russian submariner Vasili Arkhipov. I was proud and I am proud of my husband always.’
Why did he die of radiation poisoining?

Most of you know about the Soviet's first SSBN, the Hotel K-19? Well;
In July 1961, Arkhipov was appointed deputy commander or executive officer of the new Hotel-class ballistic missile submarine K-19. During its nuclear accident, he backed Captain Nikolai Vladimirovich Zateyev during the potential mutiny. While assisting with engineering work to deal with the overheating reactor, he was exposed to a harmful level of radiation. This incident is depicted in the American film K-19: The Widowmaker.

Take some time to give a nod to a professional.

PBS gave him justice in an hour long documentary. Here is the preview:

Watch the full video here.

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