Nuclear submarines sunk - all hands lost at sea


Naval losses of nuclear submarines, sunk at sea





Launching a nuclear submarine, is like flushing 90+ lives and $billions of tax dollars down the drain. It does though make great headlines for politicians who want the public to think they are safe.







This article relates only to nuclear submarines. Many more diesel submarines have been lost at sea in peacetime. No matter what the propulsion, any submarine is a target to neutralize in the case of war or first strike - especially if carrying nuclear weapons.


Eight nuclear submarines have sunk as a consequence of either accident or extensive damage: two from the United States Navy, four from the Soviet Navy, and two from the Russian Navy. Only three were lost with all hands: two from the United States Navy and one from the Russian Navy. All sank as a result of accident with the exception of K-27, which was scuttled in the Kara Sea when repair was deemed impossible and decommissioning too expensive. All of the Soviet/Russian submarines belonged to the Northern Fleet. Although the Soviet submarine K-129 (Golf II) carried nuclear ballistic missiles when it sank, it was a diesel-electric submarine and is not in the list below.

Of the 8 sinkings, 2 were due to fires, 2 were due to explosions of weapons systems, 1 was due to flooding, 1 was weather-related, and 1 was sunk intentionally due to a damaged nuclear reactor. In 1 case, the cause of sinking is unknown. All of the subs are in the Northern Hemisphere, and there are none in either the Indian or Pacific Oceans.




All of the subs lost are in the Northern Hemisphere






Thresher (SSN-593), the first submarine in its class, sank April 10, 1963 during deep-diving trials after flooding, loss of propulsion, and an attempt to blow the emergency ballast tanks failed, causing it to exceed crush depth. All 129 men on board died. Location: 350 km (190 nmi) east of Cape Cod.

Scorpion (SSN-589), a Skipjack-class submarine, sank May 22, 1968, evidently due to implosion upon reaching its crush depth. What caused the Scorpion to descend to its crush depth is not known. All 99 men on board died. Location: 740 kilometres (400 nmi) southwest of the Azores.



K-27: The only Project 645 submarine, it was irreparably damaged by a reactor accident (control rod failure) on May 24, 1968. 9 were killed in the reactor accident. After shutting down the reactor and sealing the compartment, the Soviet Navy scuttled her in shallow water (108 ft (33 m)) in the Kara Sea on September 6, 1982, contrary to the recommendation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

K-8: A Project 627 November class submarine was lost April 11, 1970 while being towed in rough seas following a fire on board. The submarine was initially evacuated, but 52 reembarked for the towing operation. All hands on board were lost (52), while 73 crewmen survived on the rescue vessel. Location: Bay of Biscay, 490 kilometres (260 nmi) northwest of Spain in the North Atlantic Ocean.

K-219: A Project 667A Yankee I class sub was damaged by a missile explosion October 3, 1986, then sank suddenly while being towed after all surviving crewmen had transferred off. 6 crew members were killed. Location: 950 kilometres (510 nmi) east of Bermuda in the North Atlantic Ocean.

K-278 Komsomolets: The only Mike-class sub built sank due to a raging fire April 7, 1989. All but 5 crewmen evacuated prior to sinking. 42 perished, many from smoke inhalation and exposure to the cold waters of the Barents Sea. A total of 27 crew members survived.

Soviet submarine K-429 sank twice, but was raised after each incident



K-141 Kursk: The Oscar II class sub sank in the Barents Sea on August 12, 2000 after an explosion in the torpedo compartment. See Russian submarine Kursk explosion. All 118 men on board were lost. However, all except the extreme bow section was later salvaged.

K-159: The hulk of the decommissioned Soviet-era November class submarine sank in the Barents Sea on August 28, 2003, when a storm ripped away the pontoons necessary to keep it afloat under tow. 9 men perished in the accident.









Seawolf, wolf pack network submarine countermeasures













INNOVATION - Nuclear submarines are considered by many superpowers to be a covert delivery system and thus immune to detection. Hence, an insurance policy against first strike. That was so until the concept of the Seawolf autonomous delivery system for the Predator hunter-killers (or similar weapon). Predator mini-subs are capable of taking out any submarine covertly. A pack (grid) could neutralize a fleet of submarines simultaneously. Once the wolf-pack acquires a target, it passes that information between a network of autonomous ships, each one having the capacity to launch a Predator (or similar weapon), to sink any nuclear submarine while submerged. Once a target is acquired, it is passed between the network and continuously tracked until countermeasures, or first strike is/are deemed necessary. The hunter becomes the hunted. A study of a global deployment strategy that will work is long overdue.







SPORT - Nuclear submarines may soon be the sport of new navies armed with ZCC HKs. It's will be much like a modern computer game - in fact frighteningly so. Though this game uses similar programming to a game, the hardware that tracks the subsea targets is under development - meaning that the lifetime of existing submarines could be limited. That in itself is part of the game that is modern warfare: Keeping up with developments and trying to stay ahead of the game.











Submarine Warfare

List of sunken nuclear submarines




Alvin DSV - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

HMS Astute 1st of Class BAE Systems

HMS Vanguard- Trident

INS Sindhurakshak - explosion & sinking

Lusitania - Torpedo attack

Nuclear submarines lost at sea

Predator - Covert submarine hunter/killer

Seawolf - Autonomous wolf pack deployment of Predator mini-subs

Torpedoes - UUV anti submarine weapons

U20 - Kapitan Leutnant Walther Schwieger

USS Bluefish WWI submarine

USS Bluefish - Nuclear submarine

USS Flying Fish

USS Jimmy Carter - Seawolf class fast attack nuclear submarine

USS Nautilus - 1st nuclear submarine & subsea north pole passage

USS Scorpion - Lost at sea - all hands





      Das Boot, a film by Wolfgang Petersen



FICTION Operation Neptune - An advanced nuclear submarine is hijacked by environmental extremists intent on stopping pollution from the burning of fossil fuels. The extremists torpedo a number of oil wells as part of a campaign to cause energy chaos, with bigger plans to come. If you enjoyed Under Siege or The Hunt for Red October, this is a must for you.




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