They're dead. They're all dead.
August 19, 2000 8:44 AM   Subscribe

They're dead. They're all dead. Buf if the rear section has been flooded with high pressure water, and if the British mini-sub latches on and opens the hatch, the mini-sub will instantly fill with water and the entire crew of the mini-sub will die. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Now I hope they can't latch on.
posted by Steven Den Beste (20 comments total)
Unless the mini-sub is compartmented, in which case only the guy in the rescue chamber will die. But will the mini-sub be able to surface when it's full of water?Divers might have to go down and attach cables to it so it can be pulled to the surface if it can't get enough bouyancy to surface on its own.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:49 AM on August 19, 2000

That looked like an Onion headline.

"Russian Navy Kursk Crew Probably Dead by Now"
posted by muffin at 9:50 AM on August 19, 2000

They reckon that the rear section of the Kursk won't be totally flooded and so they'll have a go at docking with the rear escape hatch.Having said that, the LR5 crew seem to have a few reservations about their own safety in this story from the BBC.Steven; the LR5 is compartmented.
posted by williamtry at 10:31 AM on August 19, 2000

Steven, I doubt the Brits will put themselves in unnecessary danger. They're experts, they practice submarine rescues all the time, and while there is certainly risk in this operation, there is probably no one better qualified.

Many reports have said that the escape hatch may only be opened from the inside. (Keep in mind that this is a military vessel: you don't want enemy frogmen flooding your ship.) Anyway, there are ways to tell if the space beyond contains air or water: acoustics, for one.
posted by dhartung at 11:09 AM on August 19, 2000

Jesus Steven can you be anymore dramatic? Lots of people die everyday, but why worry about them, they're not surrounded by a multi million dollar nuclear powered war machine. So unglamorous.
posted by skallas at 1:38 PM on August 19, 2000

I always say, regardless of how many people die a day, regardless of what manner they die in, regardless of who they were, dying of anything but old age is rather tragic, and it's ok to feel for these people and be upset and get a unpleasant feeling in your stomach... regardless of how many other people died in 'worse' ways.
posted by Satapher at 4:59 PM on August 19, 2000

Hey, skallas....step off. If this situation does not warrant a little drama, I like to know one that does. That drama does not come from the fact that they're in a big, flashy piece of military equipment. It comes from the fact that one hundred and fifty young men have died in a most horrifying manner. Probably feeling utterly alone and hopeless, and wishing for one last glimpse of their wives, girlfriends, and babies. Dramatic enough for ya, kid?
posted by Optamystic at 6:12 PM on August 19, 2000

I do think that Steven's operatics were somewhat unnecessary, given that the expectation since Day One should have been no survivors.

Yes, it's a horrible way to die, but soldiers and sailors know this from the get-go. The world just isn't always a safe place. I'm more disturbed by the personal-danger-as-entertainment trend than I am by the mere fact that men in a dangerous job have died.
posted by dhartung at 8:46 PM on August 19, 2000

does anyone see the tragedy that young men and women are doing this dangerous job at *all*?

and it's a horrible way to die. not my top most horrible way to die, but well into my top ten.

posted by rebeccablood at 10:48 PM on August 19, 2000

I'm not of the anti-military mindset, so I couldn't address your concern that people do this job at all... however, I'm interested in learning exactly what the cause of the explosion was -- faulty mechanics? an exploded torpedo? a collision? Doubtful that the Russkies will tell us the truth if it was a mechanical problem due to poor engineering or some other failing in their process. It was wholly unsurprising for them to immediately mention the presence of the American sub in the vicinity when news first broke of the situation; if there's any way they can blame it on the US, they will. Looks like many Cold War traces are still pretty strong.

To take an anti-military stance, I'd also have to counter with an anti-police stance and ask why we force people to go into problem-resolving situations (i.e. domestic situations) knowing they might likely be injured or killed in some fashion in doing so. I'm guessing that the anti-military mindset would imply that countries shouldn't resort to military to solve their differences, right? So thus the anti-police stance would imply that we shouldn't have to send innocent people in to deal with situations that should be able to be resolved by the participants?

Sorry, this is going off on some whole other tangent from the original topic... and I fear my latter point is rather convoluted anyway.
posted by evixir at 11:51 PM on August 19, 2000

how dare any of you living (key root : ALIVE) folks try to justify how 'tragic' a means of death is... how completely fucking selfish and overly oblivious... its never a big deal until it happens to you - unfortunately, once it does happen to you, you wont be able to see the errors in your ways
posted by Satapher at 12:18 AM on August 20, 2000

Keep in mind that they are sending divers in to be sure that the water won't fill up the LR5 when they open things up. That's why they are going down to check the pressure inside the Kursk. Subs aren't built so that the minute you open a door, everything floods. I am pretty sure that the hatch opens into compartment that you go into and then you can get into an airlock and the LR5's skirt can pump the water back out before either door of the big or little sub is opened, so nobody will get hurt.. I don't know exactly how it works, though, because I'm not much into military/naval stuffs. They wouldn't just go and sacrifice the lives of the LR5 crew too, though. They're trained to do these kinds of rescues and they've worked on this kind of sub before. To this extent of damage? Probably not, but they still know what to encounter.
posted by karaleah at 6:29 AM on August 20, 2000

Evixer: From what I've been reading, the best guess is that a torpedo went off, and then there were secondary explosions as all the rest of the torpedos in the forward torpedo room went off. There exists seismographic date showing two different explosions, with the second being worse than the first. There's still an outside possibility that the first explosion was caused by a collision with a WWII mine, but that's considered unlikely. A torpedo warhead going off is the most likely reason right now. It's possible that the second seismographic blip is the front part of the sub collapsing from the damage; at those depths that is a very rapid and loud process and the crew in those sections would have died instantly.

Considering how unbelievably shitty the maintenance and repair record of the Russian navy has been in the last few years, that's not at all implausible. They haven't had the money to do it right. The majority of the old USSR navy is sitting rusting away at anchor because Russia simply doesn't have enough money to maintain and operate them.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:16 AM on August 20, 2000

There are Russian newspapers stating that a US sub "limped its way" into Norway and that it is possible that the two subs collided. I haven't seen anything else about this other than a couple televised newscasts where the Russian Govt brought this up earlier in the week (not specifically our sub, but that it may have collided with another sub). If it were our sub that it hit, though, wouldn't we have said something?
posted by karaleah at 9:27 AM on August 20, 2000

The US Government has categorically denied that there was a collision. The "collision" theory has largely been discredited among the Russians as well; it was mentioned early but later pretty much fell by the way side and never got mentioned again. For a while the Russian admirals were mentioning all kinds of strange possibilities.

There was no collision.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:48 AM on August 20, 2000

Satapher, blaming anybody in this thread isn't going to save anyone's lives. I think we all here are concerned; we may simply be expressing that concern in different ways. If you meant me, well, I simply have a grim acceptance that survival is extremely unlikely. I've read several submarine-warfare books lately, sort of a tangent, and my prognosis was set on hearing the very first report.

The thing is, in situations like this, men die -- and there's little chance of saving them after the fact. The energy spent on this rescue operation will probably turn out to be most important in helping determine the accident's cause and preventing a repeat.
posted by dhartung at 11:19 AM on August 20, 2000

The thing *I* thing is amusing is that no one on this thread seems to have considered the idea that some of the hits in Matt's logs may end in .ru.

On a related topic, the book was "Blind Man's Bluff", the sub was the Hiroshima, K-19, the sailor's name was Kulakov, and while wading into the hot plumbing room cost him his hands and feet, they apparently saved him from leukemia by full-body transfusions, and he actually lived to tell about it.
posted by baylink at 8:02 PM on August 20, 2000

Here in Minneapolis, TNT was broadcasting "The Hunt for Red October" this afternoon. How eerily timely was that? The situations are not exact parallels but the interplay between the Soviet ambassador and the American national security advisor sure sounded familiar.

To paraphrase one exchange that stuck in my head for those of you unfamiliar with the film:
A Soviet sub has just gone AWOL and the Russians want to sink her as she is the pride of their fleet on her maiden voyage, filled with nuclear missiles, by the way. The Soviet ambassador meets with the US national security advisor to tell him of the situation, but doesn't go into specifics, stating instead that they have "lost" a sub.

The national security advisor is well-aware of what actually transpired with the sub but instead innocently says "Oh, that's terrible. How can we help? Perhaps a joint rescue mission?" and the Soviet ambassador looks uncomfortable for a few minutes and then says uneasily "Thank you for your offer, but right now we're doing everything that can be done."
posted by evixir at 8:28 PM on August 20, 2000

Yeah, but the book was so much better.

posted by baylink at 6:47 AM on August 21, 2000

Well, I see Matt has changed the parsing again...

I'm not sure there's *any* way to do simulated HTML, now; let's try this again:

posted by baylink at 6:49 AM on August 21, 2000

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