Little Bits of History

All Hands Lost

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 27, 2015
Soviet whiskey-class submarine, S-80

Soviet whiskey-class submarine, S-80

January 27, 1961: The Soviet submarine S-80, sinks. It was a whiskey-class submarine which were known in the USSR as Projects 613, 644, and 665. S-80 was of the first Project type and laid down on March 13, 1950 and launched on October 21 of the same year. The sub was delivered to Baku on the Caspian Sea on November 1 for tests and then transferred north along inland waterways. She was commissioned into the Northern Fleet on December 2, 1952. The Northern Fleet has been a unit of the Russian Navy since 1703, when it was used in service of the Russian Empire. From 1917 to 1991 it was part of the Soviet Union and since then part of the Russian Federation. Today, the Fleet has 39 warships and 45 submarines included.

S-80 served with the Northern Fleet until July 1957 when the sub was overhauled at Severodvinsk. At that time, she was converted to Project 644 (Whiskey-Twin-Cylinder) and given the ability to launch guided missiles when two SS-N-3 Shaddock anti-ship missile tubes were added externally. She was ready to return to sea by April 1959. On this day, S-80 was operating in the Barents Sea located north of Sweden and Finland as well as north and west of Russia. The water is surrounded by the Arctic Ocean to the north, Kara Sea to the east, and the Greenland and Norwegian Seas to the west. The sub was at snorkel depth and using its diesel engines. A submarine snorkel is a device which makes it possible for a sub to operate submerged while still taking air from above the surface.

Weather conditions showed a sea state of 6 (waves 13 to 20 feet or “very rough”) and a temperature of ⁰F 23. At 1.27 AM the sub dropped below snorkel depth. This should have activated an automatic snorkel valve shutoff, preventing water from entering the system. The de-icing system which should have warmed the valve with hot water from the diesel engines had been shut off and the valve became jammed with ice. Seawater flooded the air intakes of the engines and they immediately failed. The machinist in the compartment was unfamiliar with the valve system and did not shut the ventilation flapper valve quickly enough. By the time he found the correct valve, the force of the incoming water had bent the handle and made it inoperable. The compartment filled and the sub became uncontrollable.

As the up-angle passed 45⁰ the boat slowed, then halted, and then fell backward and sunk until it was grounded. Three more compartments were crushed when the sub hit the seabed. Twenty-four crewman survived in the after compartments and made an attempt to escape using IDA-51 apparatuses – a rebreathing system permitting carbon dioxide to be absorbed so the air can be recycled. All 68 people aboard the sub died and their fate remained unknown for over seven years. The wreckage was discovered on June 23, 1968 and was eventually able to be raised.

I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea. – H. G. Wells

Our film examines the heroism, courage and prowess of the Soviet submarine force in ways never seen before. – Kathryn Bigelow

In the long course of history, having people who understand your thought is much greater security than another submarine. – J. William Fulbright

This is no job for a UN committee. It needs the same kind of unwavering dedication and the kinds of people that got us the first nuclear submarine and the first man on the moon. – Wilson Greatbatch

Also on this day: Globetrotters – In 1927, the Harlem Globetrotters played their first game.
Guy Fawkes’s Trial – In 1606, Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were brought to trial.
Apollo I Fire – In 1967, during a test flight the capsule of Apollo 1 burns, killing three.
It’s All Greek – In 1870, Kappa Alpha Theta was formed.
Young Liberals of Norway – In 1909, the political party formed.

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