Vsevolod Bessonov

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Vsevolod Bessonov
Born (1932-10-07)October 7, 1932
Ivanovskoye, Rylsky District, Kursk Oblast, USSR
Died April 12, 1970(1970-04-12) (aged 37)
Bay of Biscay
Allegiance  Soviet Union
Service/branch Soviet Navy
Years of service 1951-1970
Rank Captain 2nd Rank
Commands held Soviet submarine K-8
Battles/wars Cold War

Hero of the Soviet Union Order of Lenin

Vsevolod Borisovich Bessonov (Russian: Все́волод Бори́сович Бессо́нов) (1932–1970) was a Soviet Navy submarine commander and a Hero of the Soviet Union. He died during the sinking of the Soviet submarine K-8.


Bessonov joined the Soviet Navy in 1951. He was a torpedo specialist in the submarine arm of the Soviet Northern Fleet and was awarded the order of the Red Banner for taking part in tests on the nuclear armed torpedo near Novaya Zemlya.

In 1968 Bessonov was appointed 2nd in command of the nuclear-powered submarine K-8. He was made Captain 2nd Rank and commander of this boat in 1970.

In 1970 during the large-scale "Ocean-70" naval exercise, K-8 suffered fires in two compartments simultaneously on 8 April 1970. Due to short circuits that took place in III and VII compartments simultaneously at a depth of 120 m, a fire spread through the air-conditioning system. Both nuclear reactors were shut down.[1]

The captain ordered his entire crew to abandon ship but was countermanded once a towing vessel arrived. 52 crewmen, including her commander, re-boarded the surfaced submarine that was to be towed. This was the first loss of a Soviet nuclear-powered submarine, which sank in rough seas as it was being towed in the Bay of Biscay of the North Atlantic Ocean. All hands on board died due to CO poisoning and the flooding of the surfaced submarine during 80 hours of damage control in stormy conditions. 73 crewmen survived. K-8 sank with four nuclear torpedoes on board to a depth of 4,680 m approximately 490 km northwest of Spain.[2]

Bessonov was posthumously awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union.


  • This Article incorporates material translated from Russian Wikipedia
  1. ^ Inventory of accidents and losses at sea involving radioactive material, International Atomic Energy Agency 2001, online pdf version
  2. ^ Richard Tykva and Dieter Berg (2004). Man-made and Natural Radioactivity in Environmental Pollution and Radiochronology. p. 136. ISBN 1-4020-1860-6.