Chernobyl At Sea: When A Soviet Submarine Created An Atomic Disaster

Kyle Mizokami

Key Point: Soviet nuclear reactors, particularly on their submarines, were reguarly faulty.

In 1985, a Soviet submarine undergoing a delicate refueling procedure experienced a freak accident that killed ten naval personnel. The fuel involved was not diesel, but nuclear, and the resulting environmental disaster contaminated the area with dangerous, lasting radiation. The incident, which remained secret until after the demise of the USSR itself, was one of many nuclear accidents the Soviet Navy experienced during the Cold War.

Otto Hahn discovers the nuclear fission of the heavy element uranium, the scientific and technological basis of nuclear energy.

The first episode of television series The Simpsons, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", airs in the United States.

The Soviet Union’s nuclear war planners had a difficult time targeting the United States. While the United States virtually encircled the enormous socialist country with nuclear missiles in countries such as Turkey and Japan, the Western Hemisphere offered no refuge for Soviet deployments in-kind.

One solution was the early development of nuclear cruise missile submarines. These submarines, known as the Echo I and Echo II classes, were equipped with six and eight P-5 “Pyatyorka” nuclear land attack cruise missiles, respectively. Nicknamed “Shaddock” by NATO, the P-5 was a subsonic missile with a range of 310 miles and 200- or 350-kiloton nuclear warhead. The P-5 had a circular error probable of 1.86 miles, meaning half of the missiles aimed at a target would land within that distance, while the other half would land farther away.

Read the original article.