Skip to comments.Freak Accident of Chemistry Sunk Russia's Aircraft-Killer Submarine
Posted on 06/24/2018 7:41:31 AM PDT by Eddie01
Kursk had suffered two massive explosions and sank in 354 feet of water at a twenty-degree vertical angle. An explosion had ripped through the front of the hull, tearing a terrible gash along the upper bow. Still, at least twenty-three of the 118 crew had survived the sinking, as a note penned by one of the ships senior officers, Lt. Capt. Dmitri Kolesnikov, indicated. The note was dated exactly two hours after the initial explosion. Rescue efforts by Russianand later British and Norwegianteams failed to rescue the survivors.
A Russian inquiry into the accident concluded that one of the Kursks Type 65-76A torpedoes had exploded. A faulty weld in a torpedo or damage to a torpedo during movement had caused it to leak hydrogen peroxide. Like many torpedoes, the Type 65 used hydrogen peroxide as an underwater fuel. Unfortunately, hydrogen peroxide becomes explosive when it comes into contact with a catalyst, such as organic compounds or fire. A similar accident is thought to have sank HMS Sidon, a Royal Navy submarine, in 1955.
Conspiracy theories regarding the sinking of the Kursk are rife on the Russian Internet. Many allege that nearby American attack submarines sank the Kursk with Mark 48 torpedoes. While technically possible (in absence of the evidence of an internal torpedo explosion) there is no remotely plausible motive for such an attack during a period of good U.S.-Russian relations. Why attack the Kursk? Why was only the Kursk sunk, and not the Kuznetsov and Pyotr Velikiy? Why would the Russian government cover up the attack?
In the end, the sinking of the Kursk appears to have been caused by a simple, freak accident of chemistry. The tragedy only reinforces how dangerous life aboard a submarine really is, and how important safety is in the underwater realm. Finally, the rush to conspiracy is a warning that, had this incident occurred during a genuine crisis, such an accident could cause a dangerous escalation that could lead to war.
God rest the souls of those not rescued and grant comfort to their families
Guess the collision with a US sub theory has been forgotten
No such thing as a “freek accident of chemistry”. You mix the right chemicals and boom! Hydrogen peroxide has quite a safety record. The Meshershmit ME-163 used it as a propellant. At least one had a tank rupture and dissolved the pilot.
Interesting hull shape.
“Guess the collision with a US sub theory has been forgotten”
not only that theory- there were letters penned by the surviving crew... no mention of an attack (by the U.S. navy or other sub)
I used to work with missiles (MGM-52 Lance) fueled with UDMH (unsymmetrical dymethylhydrazine) and a IRFNA (Inhibited Red Fuming Nitric Acid) oxidizer. Crazy stuff. Explosive and poisonous as hell. Even rust would set it off.
Posted for reference.
My sentiments exactly.
I guess I should have paid attention in chemistry class. There a lot of stuff out there that makes the mentos in Diet Coke look pretty tame.
I expect we will soon here from someone causing a hydrogen explosion by trying to home brew the ‘hydrogen enriched’ drinking water that’s all the rage these days.
That's what peroxide is.
So you have, in essence, a binary explosive. Combine the two ingredients and you get a "boom." Hopefully, it's a controlled "boom," but if not, you just set off a bomb in your submarine.
The torpedo was one from a group where 6 of 10 were failed for poor welds. The torpedo was never inspected as it was a practice torpedo with no warhead and was deemed unnecessary of inspection.
This was not to be blamed on chemistry but on human arrogance and economy.
Russia was the last remaining force to use HDP torpedos and promptly removed them from service after destroying a 1.2 billion dollar submarine with false economy saving a flawed torpedo.
One of my former students was aboard a sub that happened to be in the neighborhood when this happened. There were rumors at the time that his sub had to have repairs in Scotland afterwards, but naturally he had nothing to say about any of it.
I am struck by how serious depth in water becomes even over what seems a trivial distance. Not 400 feet deep and rescue was impossible.
Wow, that brings back memories.
I haven't heard of the "Lance" missile since I was a kid, and was crazy about rockets and missiles. I used to get up early on Saturday mornings to watch The Big Picture on TV. I had a poster showing all the Army's rockets (Honest John, Sergeant, etc.).
I'm glad you made it through that experience without being injured or maimed. The Army must have given you guys extremely good training (which probably included scaring the bejeezus out of you with ghastly films), although I've heard of a few horrific accidents (one in particular having been caused by a static discharge).
Could just have easily been the C-Stoff that dissolved the pilot, their nastiness mutually exceeded each other...
$1.2 billion and they couldnt put a tow hook on it?
You must be referring to the Pershing accident in Germany. Killed two, IIRC.
Strangely, solid fuel rockets are much safer to store, stage and fire.
Look up a blueprint. It’s a double hull design. Very tough. Speculation is that one could survive a single torpedo hit.
I'm not sure what the missile type was, but I think it was a Nike.
This story was told to me by an older co-worker who worked on the test box, many years ago.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.