Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cold War Stories - Indonesia Nearly Loses a Submarine

From the memoirs of Kaptain 2nd Rank Aleksandr Iosofovich Ostrovskiy, "We Deployed":

Excerpt from the chapter, "Was There a Cold War?" -

December, 1961. After finishing the Academy, I was assigned to project 613 (Whiskey class) submarine "S-290", 19th Brigade of Submarines, 6th Squadron, Pacific Fleet which was based in Bukhta Malyy Uliss, Vladivostok.

Kaptain 2nd Rank A.A.Kodes was the commander. The boat was assigned to support combat training by surface ships of the 10th Squadron of the Pacific Fleet at the end of December.

This incident happened at the end of December. A Project 56 (Kotlin class) destroyer, the winner of seven battle stars for training, was preparing for deployment and had to complete several training serials. S-290 was tapped for support.

We took up a position in training area #47, located to the south of Askhold Island. The depth in the area is more than 5000 meters. We came up in voice comms with the commander of the destroyer. The commanders agreed on a scheme of maneuver. The sub dove and began to maneuver according to fleet doctrine determining the course of action during exercise support.

After the completion of each maneuver, we surfaced and came up in voice to determine the next serial. That day the destroyer was unlucky. Whether it was bad acoustic conditions or bad sonar men, the destroyer couldn't attack our boat once.

Understanding the complexity of the situation, K2R Kodes suggested that the CO of the destroyer set up so they could attack the sub and complete the task. The commander of the destroyer indignantly rejected our suggestion. We submerged and began to carry out the maneuver scheme.

It was noon. The watch officer gave the order to feed the crew. During lunch the commander ordered a change of depth from 40 to 80 meters. Literally two or three minutes later we heard the sound of a torpedo, similar to a whistle. The first to hear it was the sonar man, and ship's doctor, Kapitan Yu. Volkov, upon hearing it, commented that at last the surface guys finished their task and that we could go home.

The whole crew could hear the "torpedo whistle". The sonar man made a recording of it and the Officer of the Deck logged it the moment the torpedo passed above the conn.

After surfacing, the CO of the boat and the CO of the destroyer conferred and returned to base.

This incident would have been forgotten were it not for a clarification that the CO received after flying to Vladimir Bay in January, 1962, where the boat was moored in its winter roadstead. He told us that he took the recording of the torpedo to the 6th Squadron intelligence officer, K2R A.T.Shtyrov, who, after analyzing the situation explained:

- The destroyer never made a practice torpedo firing during her exercise with us,
- Intelligence showed that there was an American sub in the area of Peter the Great Bay where the destroyer vs. sub ex occurred, and
- It was probably an American torpedo. If the torpedo had hit our boat, the boat would have been destroyed and she would have sank in water more than 5000 meters deep, making it impossible to determine the cause of the loss.

Later that year, S-290 was prepared for eventual transfer to Indonesia, where it served in Sukarno's Navy as the Cakra.

K2R Ostrovskiy retired in Riga in 1985. After the break up of the Soviet Union, he retained his Russian citizenship. He currently resides with his wife in Carmel, Israel.

K2R Ostrovskiy also believes that the loss of the Kursk was due to a possible collision with (or even attack by) an American nuclear submarine.


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