Russia Has a Dead Nuclear Submarine That Was Never Recovered (Armed with Nukes)
Unfortunately, the loss of power onboard and the difficult weather conditions were too much for the crew to overcome. On April 12, K-8 sank with some forty crew members aboard, coming to rest at a rough depth of 15,000 feet. The depth made any effort at recovering the submarine, and the nuclear torpedoes, impractical.
K-8’s mission was similar to that of the German U-boats she shares the bottom with: the severing of the trans-Atlantic lifeline that kept the United States connected with Western Europe. She used different weapons and could operate at greater ranges than those boats, but her core purpose was the same. Later on, Soviet submarines would adopt a variety of different mission profiles, from anti-submarine warfare to cruise missile launch to (eventually) land attack. The loss of K-8 (along with the several accidents that afflicted her sisters) undoubtedly helped the Soviet Navy learn important lessons about distant operations, if only at extraordinary costs in human lives. And her nuclear torpedoes remain at the bottom, an enduring monument to most dangerous missions of the Cold War.
Robert Farley, a frequent contributor to TNI, is author of The Battleship Book. He serves as a Senior Lecturer at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky.
This first appeared last year.