Talk:Soviet submarine K-19

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The Range given for K-19 seems odd, namely 35,700 miles at 26 knots but only 32,200 miles at 24 knots (80 percent power). Wouldn't range increase using lower power? Moriori 23:17, Nov 17, 2003 (UTC)

Isn't the K19 Nuclear-powered? Why the "short" range? NiceDoggie 12:02, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

It's not the fuel that limits the range, it's the amount of food - 50 days worth. 50 days at 26knots = 35,700 miles but at only 24 knots is 32,200 miles. dbdb 12:02, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

Purchase of K-19[edit]

Found this today: [1] What's the truth about it and should this be included?


I suggest to change "collided with USS Gato" to "collided with submarine USS Gato" JanSuchy 19:49, 23 October 2006 (UTC)

If you think that it makes it more clear, sure, be bold and do it - but what else would K-19 be colliding with, except a submarine, at 60m depth? Pawl 20:00, 23 October 2006 (UTC)

Nuclear reactor explosion possibility[edit]

Article says: "Even though a nuclear reactor accident cannot produce a nuclear explosion under any circumstances," -- OK, I understand this, but is it not true that a nuclear reactor that goes out of control can explode? Maybe it's not a nuclear explosion in the sense of a hydrogen bomb, but more like a so-called "dirty bomb". Like what happened in Chernobyl. I can imagine the submarine's captain being worried that a reactor explosion could be detected and spark a nuclear war, especially in the absence of radio contact with his superiors. --Smithfarm not logged in.

However, the worst that would happen is a large relese of radiation into the sea, that would hardly consitute a nuclear explosion. Because of this, I doubt that the captain would even be concerend about the reactor exploding and would be more concerned about the safety of his crew. The point is, reactors, while they can become large dirty bombs, will not become nuclear bombs and would not be considered as a nuclear bomb.
When a nuclear reactor "explodes", such as in the case of Chernobyl, it's due to a prompt- critical power excursion (see SL-1 for more information on that). In that situation, the chain reaction passes supercritical as large portions of the fuel undergo fission at the same time. The resulting release of energy in the form of heat causes the coolant to flash from liquid to gas instantaneously, and the pressure built up causes the reactor vessel (the part containing the core) to rupture. That was what happened at Chernobyl. The coolant flashed to steam fast enough to blow the reactor's closure head clear out of the containment building housing the reactor, and the highly reactive and radioactive graphite moderator caught fire from the heat and pressure shortly thereafter. There isn't any explosion like a nuclear bomb, per se, but radioactive materials are spread from the breach. As K-19 had already suffered an inisolable fast leak from the primary system, it's unlikely there was much (if any) coolant left circulating through the core to flash to steam. The main danger was the fact that Russian reactors operate with a positive coefficient of reactivity, meaning that as the temperature of the core rises, the fission rate is going to rise proportionally. While a prompt critical event would have occurred, it wouldn't have had any other effect than raising the already lethal background radiation levels even higher. The quickest and safest way to avert that problem would have been to evacuate and scuttle the boat; seawater is a natural moderator of neutrons, and would have slowed the chain reaction to the point where it would not have been able to sustain itself any longer past a certain point. I'm guessing that the decision to save the boat had more to do with politics and how the Northern Fleet would have handled the loss of one of its new nuclear submarines more than any percieved danger of starting World War III. Tspencer227 01:08, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

it was a submarine equipped with nuclear warheads. there was the danger that the warheads could explode, not just the reactors. this easily could have provoked the us troops with possible causalities on that nato base.-- (talk) 17:01, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

A nuclear warhead is not capable of detonating with any kind of nuclear yield, unless it has been properly armed because of the extreme timing requirements of an implosion reaction (the Little Boy Hiroshima bomb and other gun type bombs being the exclusion). Therefore there was no risc of a nuclear explosion.Schr75 (talk) 21:20, 24 October 2012 (UTC)

Purchase of K19[edit]

This is again a misrepresentation by the press. K-19 is scrap, however it is quite possible that other submarines of the Hotel Class are intact and could be made to represent K-19.

Contradiction with National Geographic article[edit]

On the NG site linked to the article, it says eight sailors died shortly after the return to port, not seven.--Cancun771 (talk) 16:40, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Inconsistencies in article[edit]

A couple of inconsistencies should be addressed in the article as it stands right now. Unfortunately, I am not knowledgeable enough to do so, nor can I read the Russian source for one.

1) How many died in the aftermath of the 1961 incident? The "Nuclear accident" section (fourth paragraph) says "seven men ... within a week, and twenty more within the next few years..." The "Crew" section says "... these seven men died between one and three weeks after the accident... other crew members had ... fewer health problems." I would say that dying would be a pretty serious health problem (ahem), therefore the "Crew" section is saying that only seven of the crew died as a result of the incident.

2) When did the seven most contaminated men die? See excerpts quoted above - within a week or in one to three weeks? (A quibble, I admit.)

3) When did the nickname "Hiroshima" get attached? In the "Construction and commissioning" section, it states that "During its completion, commissioning, and preparations to get underway ... leading to the K-19's nickname Hiroshima." In the "Nuclear accident" section it states that after repairs were complete (1963?), "K-19 returned to the fleet, now having acquired the additional nickname "Hiroshima"."

It is not an article inconsistency, but the section "Crew" really isn't about the crew of the submarine as a whole, just those who lost their lives immediately after the 1961 incident. It should be expanded or retitled. (If the latter, it should be made a subhead under the "Nuclear accident" section.)

Pawl (talk) 18:17, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

  • Ok I imprroved an article a bit. In before sorry for my poor English but this has to be done I think. What about time when the boat first gained it's nick name - it's hard to find out. I never meet any mention about it in literature I have been read. But for my own opinion it is very probable that it gained it's nickname after the accident in 4 July. Anyway it brought so much deaths that this nickname could be given to it anytime, especialy because it was unofficial. Yegor (talk) 01:01, 18 February 2009 (+5 UTC)

Timeline part of this article is in bad english and needs an overhaul[edit]

I suspect it has been translated quickly from russian to english and there are lots of typos and sentences that doesn't look like proper english. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:14, 1 February 2009 (UTC)

There is at least one discrepancy between the timeline and the rest of the article. The timeline says that K-19 was converted to the Hotel II standard in December 1961, but the replacement of the entire reactor compartment took at least two years (as the article also states later), making the conversion date (recommissioning) at least mid 1963.Schr75 (talk) 21:32, 24 October 2012 (UTC)

Small arms question[edit]

Article says "Worries about a potential crew mutiny prompted Zateyev to have all small arms thrown overboard except for five pistols distributed to his most trusted officers." Could any one provide a verification link for this claim, please? Alex Row (talk) 21:03, 22 February 2009 (UTC)

Requested Sources[edit]

The section for the accident is completely unsourced, so it's unclear if the information really comes from verifiable sources (or just from the movie). There are some Russian sources which may give a clue, but I can't read them. It would be great if there were some english-language sources available. Even if not, it would be good if someone could attribute the facts at the right Russian source. Averell (talk) 13:10, 3 April 2009 (UTC)

Chemical vs. radiation suits[edit]

“Since the ship carried chemical suits, instead of radiation suits, they were certain to be lethally contaminated. But the repair team was not aware of that, believing the suits they wore would protect them from contamination.”

This statement as well as the situation created in the enjoyable but inaccurate movie deserves discussion.

In the 1960’s the Soviet radiation garment (“Womble”) consisted of canvas with rubber vulcanized onto it. The purpose was not to shield the user from scintillating radiation but served two important purposes

1. Prevent physical contamination of the wearer from radioactive particles as well as shield the user from Alpha and Beta particles.

2. Limit contamination of safe areas by providing a garment that can easily and safely be taken off during decontaminating procedures.

The suits were never designed to shield the wearer from scintillating radiation. The technology was simply not present in the 1960’s.

This was no different from the radiation suits worn by the US military. When I was working on Nuclear Weapons, our radiation suits were made of close-weaved cloth. It has only been relatively recent that suits that provide protection from scintillating radiation have become practical.

The Soviet chemical protection suit in the 1960’s consisted of a butyl-rubber suit and respirator. In construction and basic design, it resembled the US M-3 chemical suit.

Properly worn, the butyl-rubber Soviet Chemical suit would provide as much if not more protection from radioactive particles than the Soviet Radiation suit. The major difference would be user comfort.

Since neither suit would provide any protection from the scintillating radiation from the reactor, it makes no practical difference whether the crew of the K-19 was issued chemical suits or radiation suits when it comes to providing protection from scintillating radiation. Throckmorton Guildersleeve (talk) 18:54, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

Yup, I second that. Will edit. Can't believe it took 3 years for someone else to notice.--Yannick (talk) 18:44, 21 May 2012 (UTC)
Not to mention that even if you had a piece of lead the thickness of your thumb, it would be effectively useless with wavelengths as short as those produced by nuclear fission. This isn't your dentist's x-ray machine! The biggest avoidable danger is just the alpha/beta radiation and internal contamination that can expose you to them long after you head home from work.
Oh, it doesn't seem to be edited yet. It's not clear from reading it that there is no such thing a protection from 'gamma' radiation. Not to confuse people but gamma just means photons and depending on your frame of reference, they all are gamma rays even if you required that high a frequency in your definition.  ;) (talk) 09:40, 9 June 2013 (UTC)

Contradiction Tag[edit]

A contradiction tag was put in the article with the following reasoning: "This article or section appears to contradict itself about when the sub was first nicknamed The Widowmaker. ..." I pray this was taken care of at another time in the history as the only other reference to the name "Widowmaker" in the article is a reference to a 2002 movie and NOT to when the actual submarine was nicknamed. I've removed the contradiction tag. If you still feel this article is in contradiction, please feel free to add a new tag and discuss the tag on this page. Thanks. Kjnelan (talk) 00:41, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

List of crew who died following the reactor accident[edit]

Why is it that radiation dose for one crew member, Boris Korchilov, is listed in rem, whereas for the others, dosages are listed in röntgen? Jedikaiti (talk) 06:09, 14 August 2009 (UTC)

The reason is probably due to the Wiki poster copying from the source material. One REM is equal to 1.07185 röntgen. This would make Boris Korchilov's exposure 5788 (5787.99) röntgen. If you feel it is important enough to edit the main article, Gopher it!

If anyone cares about the very small difference between a REM and röntgen, The units REM and röntgen used to be the same, but was changed so that "100 rem equal 1 sievert (Sv); the sievert is the recommended SI derived unit, and in many cases is the legally prescribed unit" Throckmorton Guildersleeve (talk) 16:00, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Two additional inconsistencies[edit]

1. The last sentence in the following paragraph is extremely dubious, as Nobel Prizes are not awarded posthumously. It also carries no citation:

"On 1 February, 2006, former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev proposed in a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee that the crew of K-19 be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for their actions on 4 July 1961.[3] In late March 2006, Nikolai Zateyev was formally nominated for the award."

2. Compare the following: A. "August 2003 The crew makes its last visit to the boat in Polyarny city after which the hull is scrapped save for the sail left for the purpose of forming a burial site for fallen crew members." B. "In 2006, the K-19 was purchased by Vladimir Romanov, who once served on the sub as a conscript, with the intention of "Turning it into a Moscow-based meeting place to build links between submarine veterans from Russia and other countries." So far, the plans remain on hold, and many of K-19's survivors have objected to them.[5]" —Preceding unsigned comment added by Emandel (talkcontribs) 18:07, 25 December 2009 (UTC)


The article claims:

On 1 February 2006, former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev proposed in a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee that the crew of K-19 be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for their actions on 4 July 1961.[3] In late March 2006, Nikolai Zateyev was formally nominated for the award.
  1. There is no such thing as "formal nominations" for the Nobel Peace Prize. A vast number of people (such as any parlamentarian of any country, any Norwegian professor etc. etc.) are allowed to submit proposals (hundreds of people are proposed each year), they are not considered "formal nominations", but only proposals. Stalin and Hitler have also been proposed as candidates in the past.
  2. The Nobel Committee doesn't comment on the proposals it receives, it doesn't make the list of proposals public, and it doesn't confirm or deny whether someone has been proposed.
  3. The Nobel Peace Prize is never awarded posthumously, so a nomination of dead people is not a serious nomination as it will not be considered.

Gorbachev is free to send a letter to the committee and propose dead people for the award (although he is certain to be aware that the committee doesn't consider such proposals), and he is free to tell the press that he sent such a letter. But there is nothing "formal" about that. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:12, 18 November 2010 (UTC)

radiation suits[edit]

are completely useless in an incident like this since gamma rays and neutrons are cutting through basically anything than multiple inches of lead.-- (talk) 16:09, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

Link To The Cuban Missile Crisis - Removal?[edit]

I think the section that discussed the Cuban missile crisis should be removed from the article. It should be included in the article discussing Arkipov himself, but its inclusion in the K-19 article seems out of place. (talk) 00:15, 28 January 2016 (UTC)

Good catch. Agreed this should be removed. Kendall-K1 (talk) 02:04, 28 January 2016 (UTC)


The infobox says it has two reactors, 70 MW each, but only 29 MW at the shafts. Where did the other 111 MW go? Kendall-K1 (talk) 12:11, 26 May 2016 (UTC)

Without further research, I'd guess the second reactor is a backup; so the other 41 MW is used internally. — btphelps (talk to me) (what I've done) 08:16, 28 May 2016 (UTC)