Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Here begins a series of blog entries, extracts with commentary from the book: "K-19, The Widowmaker" by the American author Peter Huchthausen. Peter a retired American naval Captain and an acknowledged anti-submarine warfare expert.
I recommend this book  highly and without reservation or qualification. Pertinent to many unrevealed aspects of submarine operations during the Cold War. Chock full of interesting tidbits probably not found elsewhere.
"Drawing on Zateyev's own outspoken diary, author Peter Huchthausen, a former U.S. Navy antisubmarine expert, tells the story of the K-19 and as he does, he also presents a capsule history of the U.S.S.R's desperate race to keep up with American submarine technology."
K-19 of course the story of which has been made into a movie. A near nuclear meltdown on the Soviet atomic powered submarine, crew members subjected to dangerous levels of radiation, those charged with containing the disaster even receiving lethal doses.
This book to a degree reminds me of the Penkovskiy Papers from forty years earlier.
"During his entire career Zateyev kept a meticulous diary which in his later years he used to compose a memoir. He regularly recorded his thoughts and feelings about the navy, the system, and detailed his experiences. His insights into the life of naval officers, specifically the navy culture, are unique. That most valuable parts concern his experiences during the crucial formative years of the atomic submarine force."
"'We had to try to drain the reactor compartment lower-level sump., The main stripping pump for Compartment Eight had failed; it was out of order. We decided to drain the sump with the main drainage pump for the central post . . . I felt my gorge rise. I went off to my cabin and lay down on my berth. Thoughts of all kinds were racing through my head. I knew I had to take action. The problem was how to save the crew and the ship. My main worry was the men.'"
To a degree I am surprised that Captain Zatayev maintained a diary/journal during his long military career. That sort of thing I would have thought strictly forbidden during the Soviet era.
But there it is!