Show of Power Over Maintenance (01:22)
In October 1986, nuclear powered K219 carried 16 ballistic missiles in the Atlantic 1000 miles east of New York. One was leaking liquid fuel but antiquated equipment and faulty alarm systems were routine in the Soviet navy.
Leaking Soviet Missile (02:22)
Unable to jettison the missile, the crew drained fuel through the submarine disposal system. An explosion would sink the ship and release a radioactive cloud that would reach New York and Washington.
Submarine Flash Fire (05:56)
Despite a KGB official's orders to stay submerged, Captain Britanov decided to surface to work on the leaking missile. Learn the course of events that led to an explosion on K219.
K219 Discovered (02:38)
Soviet officers discuss how to handle the missile fire and possible radioactive leak. A crew fights the fire U.S. surveillance detects the surfaced submarine; hazardous fuel remains in a flush tube in danger of reigniting.
Struggle to Prevent Disaster (03:37)
The submarine crew makes a final attempt to flush the missile tube under threat of explosion. A faulty fire detection system complicates matters; the KGB official accuses Britanov of poor judgment but he was denied maintenance requests.
Nuclear Threat (02:28)
The first mate recommends scramming the reactors to avoid a meltdown and releasing a radioactive cloud. All but one shut down automatically.
Submarine Time Bomb (02:02)
A nuclear reactor on K219 overheats. An explosion would sink the ship and release 30 tons of uranium; the control rods must be lowered by hand but extreme conditions prevent engineers from completing the task.
K219 Submarine Hero (05:17)
Soviet engineer Preminin shuts down the nuclear reactor under extreme conditions, but is unable to open the pressurized hatch and suffocates.
Final Days of K219 (02:26)
Salvage teams were unable to stop engine room flooding and the submarine sank. Preminin was posthumously awarded the Red Star. Britanov was discharged from the Navy—scapegoated for the disaster that resulted from the Nuclear Arms Race.
Credits: October Fire: Disaster (Series 1) (00:40)
Credits: October Fire: Disaster (Series 1)
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