He surfaced from 1000 meters and believed in God: How a midshipman miraculously escaped from the submarine “Komsomolets” The story of a surviving officer about his rescue from the sinking submarine “Komsomolets” 07/07/2024, 08:01

The first miracle

The USSR Navy was proud of the Komsomolets nuclear submarine. The ship broke world records in many respects, but sank on April 7, 1989. This morning, a fire suddenly broke out in the seventh compartment of the boat. The cause has not yet been determined.

“Komsomolets” was later found 980 km from its own shores, at a depth of 350 m, and became the grave of 42 crew members, and the survivors remembered this day forever. Among them was officer Viktor Slyusarenko, who independently surfaced from a depth of 1 thousand meters. His rescue is so amazing that it requires a separate detailed story.

“I was resting after the fire started. When I heard the alarm, I ran to the mast. I was a navigation technician and my responsibilities included detecting malfunctions, fires or other complications in emergency situations. The crew began to disperse to different compartments to complete their tasks. Nine people entered the fifth compartment. And suddenly a valve in one of the units broke and hot oil under pressure spurted in all directions and then ignited from the high temperature. Some sailors were seriously burned, others caught fire. The officer who closed the valves found himself in an isolated area and therefore did not get burned. He ran to extinguish the flames of his comrades but was soon engulfed in flames himself. The rescue team, including me, arrived in time. “After fighting the fire for an hour and a half, we were able to get out of the compartment and pull out our burning comrades. This was the first time I could have died,” Slyusarenko told a meeting of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 2017, a recording of which was posted on YouTube.

The team was working with special suits and breathing apparatus at the time. They had enough oxygen for 40 minutes. Second Lieutenant Slyusarenko was almost finished.

“The situation is critical, as the device cannot be removed. It was necessary to escape to natural air through three compartments in the dark. The problem was that the entire submarine was completely cramped. Considering the enormous size of the boat (8 meters in diameter and 120 meters in length), there was very little room for people; everything was jam-packed with machinery, equipment and supplies. I can’t explain how it happened but I still ran out of the compartments, almost losing consciousness. God gave me seconds to take off my mask and with a clouded mind realize that a miracle had happened. Something similar happened to me in this fire. But I was lucky: suffocating from the smoke, I saw the apparatus on the ground and managed to put it on, but as soon as I got out of the compartment, the oxygen in it ran out. Apparently, it had already been used and thrown away by someone, but for a few minutes it was enough to save me,” the surviving officer shared.

“All. We will be crushed now”

The fire in the fifth compartment was quickly extinguished, but the crew did not know what was happening in the sixth and seventh compartments. It was decided to go in there and find out the situation, but this was not possible. Then the sailors began to take secret documents and equipment to the top.

“Instead of going with them, I went to the cabin to get my personal belongings. I went so far that I did not hear the command to leave the boat. I left the cabin, and there was no one in the compartment. And the boat itself settled down on its tail. Then I hurried to my fighting position and began to look for a life jacket. While I was looking for it, the boat gradually sank, the “bow” rose. I quickly moved towards the exit. At this moment the boat turns into a vertical position and begins to sink. Literally in a second I managed to grab the ladder, but a column of water fell on me from a height of eight meters. It was terrible. The thought flashed: “This is it. The end”. And suddenly the water stopped flowing – later I learned that they miraculously managed to close the hatch through which the water flowed,” Slyusarenko told about what was happening.

Other survivors helped him climb into the exit room, where there were already four people. “Now there were five of us in this titanium tomb,” Slyusarenko said. According to him, a moment later, muddy, dirty water poured into their cell from somewhere and began to fill the hatch. Then one of the officers had to quickly close the door.

“While we were lingering there, we began to notice that the water flowing through the cracks in the room began to bubble, as if it were boiling. It turned out that the water filling the boat was pushing the compressed air towards us, which had nowhere to go. Soon, more than five atmospheres of air pressure was formed in our room. I have been in such an environment many times during the exercises, and I know that at five atmospheres the timbre of the sound changes and some unusual sensations arise. At that moment, no one paid much attention to it; there was a struggle for life, because it was still impossible to close the hatch,” said an eyewitness.

At that moment the boat began to collapse, sailors heard the sounds of compartments bursting from pressure, equipment explosions, and fuel tanks.

“It was scary because we understood: only a thin lid separates us from this hell. The boat on which we gave five years of our lives was being destroyed before our eyes, threatening to drag us, who loved it, who believed in it, into the depths of the sea. The most tense moments came. Our task was to separate the exit chamber from the dying submarine as quickly as possible. We knew that the hull and the camera were designed to survive at depths of up to a thousand meters. The commander made calculations and said that there was 1,650 meters of water above us. Our camera could not withstand such pressure for a long time; the sea was about to crush it,” Slyusarenko said.

They decided to disconnect the camera using compressed air – this was the only way out. To do this, you had to find and press special valves. While they were doing this, an explosion occurred on the boat. A thought flashed through Slyusarenko’s mind: “That’s it. Now we’ll be crushed.” But as it turned out, the batteries exploded. Water got on them and the release of active hydrogen began.

“This explosion saved us by cutting the camera’s connection to the boat. At that moment, a voice was heard in the cell: “Everyone join IDA. (personal breathing apparatus)” Later I thought about this moment for a long time and came to the conclusion that it was the voice of God, and not of any of us. We were taught a lot about how to put on the apparatus, but then I was in such a hurry that I managed to put it on incorrectly: I was holding only a mask and a breathing bag in my hands. This later saved me,” the sailor noted.

The camera began to float through the air at a tremendous speed, and due to the pressure changes, one of the single-latch covers was torn off. One of the crew members was thrown through the cover into the air.

“He flew at a height of about 20-30 meters above the sea surface, and then from this considerable height he fell into the water right on the breathing bag. The air in the breathing bag has nowhere to go, it does not enter the cylinder – there are five atmospheres there, and therefore the air was thrown into the lungs. As the autopsy later showed, [мичман Сергей] “Chernikov died from a severe rupture of the lungs. The device destroyed it, and it did not allow the body to suffocate. What saved me was that I was not near the hatch,” Slyusarenko said.

“Feeling good” turns out to be self-deception

Slyusarenko himself was pulled up in the same way as his dead comrade, but managed to drop the breathing bag from his hand before repeating Chernikov’s fate:

“I was left alone on the surface of the sea. No one was visible nearby… So I found myself in the cold water. Doctors would later say that in such cold water people die in 15-20 minutes. I was in the water for about 40 minutes. He did not take off his clothes because he understood: even wet material retains some heat and blocks the cold. But he pulled me down so hard that I quickly lost my strength. The waves were not pleasant. There are high waves that surround you. And at that moment the waves became like “lamb” and drowned, took my breath away, made it difficult to stay on the surface. Also, diesel fuel and oil from the submarine were floating around, so I swallowed both water and fuel and lubricants. But then a big wave appeared, throwing me into the air, and I saw ships on the horizon. For some reason I was sure that they came only to save me. At that time I did not know that others were also rescued, that a raft full of people was 300 meters away from me, and a rescue team was approaching us.”

A total of 30 people, including Slyusarenko, were captured alive from the civilian fish processing ship Komsomolets. Everyone felt differently: some needed almost no medical care; they were only warmed and fed in the steam room; some were given injections and medicine by doctors; several sailors later died in hospital. The midshipman had a high fever for a day, he could not feel his legs due to hypothermia.

“The police officer lying next to me had two heart attacks. Some were brought up from mental shock. There was such a case. After the sauna and lunch, two officers and a sailor, feeling very well, went on deck and asked for a cigarette to relieve nervous tension. They each took a puff and died immediately. Their bodies were exhausted by the struggle for survival, their strength was “zero”, and the sharp transition from acute criticality to relaxation killed them. Doctors did everything possible, but they could not be saved. “It turned out that the feeling of ‘feeling good’ was a self-deception of a struggling but weakening body,” the ensign concluded.

Since then Slyusarenko, who was an atheist all his life, believed in God. He is sure that he would not have been able to escape from the submarine without the help of higher powers.

What are you thinking?

On April 7, 1989, the Soviet nuclear submarine Komsomolets sank in the Norwegian Sea under strange circumstances. Less than half of the 69 crew members survived. One of those who miraculously survived was officer Viktor Slyusarenko, who believed in God after the incident. socialbites.ca recalls its history on the Day of the Worker of the Sea and River Fleet.

Source: Gazeta


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