On Monday, July 8th, Russian and American submariners will hold a meeting in the St. Petersburg Club of Submariners. All of them used to be crewmen of the K-19 and USS Gatow submarines, which collided in the White Sea in 1969.
The collision was followed by a chain of mutual accusations. Now, thirty-two years later, the meeting has gathered not politicians, but direct witnesses of the accident.
According to Igor Kudrin, the spokesman for the Submariners' Club, Barry Merrill, a Gatow liaison officer, has arrived in St. Petersburg from the United States. Barry Merrill lost his carrier because of open criticism of the Gatow's espionage mission. The information about this accident spread by the mass media triggered a political scandal and forced the authorities to establish control over US Navy covert operations, Kudrin added.
The Russian side will be represented by about 40 sailors who served on-board the legendary K-19 at different times. Those who witnessed the 1969 collision will also be there.
Participants in the event will see the Judgement Day Submarine film shot by the Canadian Cinenova company with consultations and co-production by the St. Petersburg Submariners' Club.
The documentary dwells on the July 4th, 1961 tragedy when the first nuclear reactor malfunction occurred on-board the K-19, which was the first such an accident in the history of the Soviet Navy.
The K-19's history, the first Soviet submarine guided-missile cruiser, includes many emergencies, which was the reason why sailors nick-named it "Hiroshima." Several sailors died during its construction. In 1961, there was a serious radiation leak on board: many crewmen were exposed to high dozes of radiation, 8 sailors died. In 1969, the sub collided with the USS Gatow, in 1972 - the sub was on fire, which claimed 28 human lives. The K-19 is currently being processed at the Nerpa shipyard - the facility where the Kursk nuclear submarine, which sunk in the Barents Sea in August 2000, is also being processed.