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How Russian submarine collided with ice-berg

Rear-admiral Vitaly Fedorin, chief of Central testing ground for Russian Navy missiles, told PRAVDA.Ru reporter about an unknown accident of the Russian Navy.
Reporter. There are many legends about you. They say you were the most junior commander of submarine in the Russian Navy – you had military rank of lieutenant commander. Meanwhile, you obtained such a burden of responsibility! Wasn’t it scary for you to have this on your plate when you were so young?

Rear-admiral Fedorin. I was not scared at all. However, after becoming a submarine commander I encountered some funny situations. I was appointed the submarine commander when I had the rank of lieutenant commander. My deputies were having higher military ranks than myself.

First mission at sea for me as submarine commander. Before leaving for the mission, we arrive at Polyarny port for submarine inspection. We received the order on the radio: on submarine’s arrival at Polyarny, commander (me) and commander senior aide were supposed to visit the commander of the submarine brigade deployed there. I wear my full-dress uniform with one star on the shoulder straps, and our sub moors to the pier. The pier crew headed by lieutenant-commander, meets us. I was the first to go down the ship’s ladder. Our sailor on duty gives the command “Attention!” The commander of the pier crew says to me, “Get out of here, man, I am going to meet a commander now”. And he rushes to my senior aide to greet him and report to him. The senior aide politely corrects him, “You are mistaken, lieutenant commander, here is the commander, in front of you, on the pier!” The lieutenant commander could not believe it.

Since that time, I entered the pier only in a special parade uniform having the word “commander” on the breast-pocket.

Reporter. Have you ever experienced deadly risk?

Rear-admiral Fedorin. I will remember one episode all my life. In 1983, being at the depth of 190 meters, К-279 atomic submarine (project 667B) hit the ice-berg. The submarine speed reduced, the sub lied over up to 20 degrees and began going down. The submarine and its crew were on the brink of death, but a wonder happened. The sailor at the wheel was pushed forward when the collision took place, and he was holding the handles of operating horizontal wheals. When the sailor leaned back, he pulled the handles to lift the sub. Very experienced officer, lieutenant captain Oleg Samokhvalov was sitting near the sailor. The officer managed to make emergency pumping of the bulk ballast tanks. As a rule, the maneuver is not very efficient at a big depth, but that time it succeeded, and the submarine began to go up. It went up to the surface from the depth of 300 meters.

I was the commander aide on that sub, and at the moment of the collision I was going along the sub and was examining its compartments as an officer on duty. I opened the door from the turbine compartment to the reactor compartment, and… The blow was so strong that the sailor having a rest, fell down from their bunks.  By the way, the entire supplies of the bottles of wine got broken. Submariners were very frustrated about this, and the commander reproached me for bad storing bottles of wine. Having a hole in the submarine rostrum outer surface, we were on the mission at sea for 2 more months. Later the Navy command approved the actions of the crew at that extreme situation, and introduced the recommendations to beware of ice-bergs whose edges can be at the depths even below 200 meters.

Reporter. Did you feel sorry about anything in your life and career in military?

Rear-admiral Fedorin. I don’t feel sorry about major things. I chose the right direction in my life. I am a little sorry that I did not implement all my plans. I wanted to go on 25 autonomous missions, but had only 16 of them. However, I have an excuse for this as after 1993 submarines go to sea quite seldom. I believe that submarine must be at sea as much as possible to be on guard of our Motherland.

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