The Kursk catastrophe shows how tough it is to mount a rescue in the ocean’s depths
Those who pray for the stricken Titanic submarines can be both cooled and encouraged by the lessons of history.
No one can forget the terrible fate of the 118 crew members aboard the Russian naval submarine Kursk, which sank 23 years ago between Russia and Norway.
They were all dead when divers finally arrived eight long days later. And the Kursk was a relatively modest 100 meters down.
Yet there is also cause for hope – thanks to the astonishing story of the Pisces III in August 1973.
With a similar scale and function to the Titanic craft, it plunged to 1,500 feet below the surface. It had 80 hours of air, similar to the reported 96 hours in the Titanic submarine.
The Russian nuclear submarine ‘Kursk’ (pictured) sank on August 12, 2000 due to an explosion on board, killing 118
Despite the crushing pressures outside the Pisces III, or inside if there were leaks, the constant depletion of oxygen levels, and the deadly danger of carbon dioxide rising from their exhaled air – plus scarce drinking water – both crew members were rescued unscathed.
Brits Roger Mallinson, 35, and Roger Chapman, 28, had been working to lay a telephone cable under the Atlantic Ocean 150 miles southwest of Cork, Ireland.
After the submarine was towed to the surface, a faulty hatch to a self-contained compartment broke, water poured in and the 12-ton sub sank straight down at 40 mph, breaking the connecting cable along the way.
Mallinson and Chapman stacked cushions at the end to cushion the imminent impact on the sea floor. As the 20-foot submarine approached the bottom, Mallinson shouted “Bite on a rag,” to keep them from biting their tongues in the collision.
Pisces III remained impaled in the sea floor. Leaving through the hatch, even if it could have been opened with a quarter of a mile of sea pressing on it, would have meant instant death.
The experienced submariners did as little as possible to maintain their air supply, but had to replace carbon dioxide filters every hour. Had they both continued to sleep, their exhaled carbon dioxide would have quickly turned the six-foot-wide cabin into a deadly gas chamber.
They had two clockwork timers as alarms. Chapman said, “We put them down before we went to sleep and prayed that one of us would wake up.”
The Pisces III (pictured) sank 1575 feet below the surface in August 1973 with only 80 hours of air
Roger Mallinson (left) and Roger Chapman celebrate after being rescued from their crippled mini-submarine, Pisces III
Freezing cold, with condensation from their breath making matters worse, they spooned to ward off hypothermia.
Food poisoning from a meat and potato pie Mallinson had eaten in a pub the day before didn’t help. Plastic bags became toilets.
But they did have voice contact with the team above.
And on the face of it, a huge effort — since described as “one of the most astounding rescue missions ever undertaken” — was underway.
Three submarines, several ships, two aircraft and several helicopters were involved.
Sister submarines Pisces II and Pisces V were flown to Cork from Aberdeen and Canada respectively, with an additional unmanned submarine from California.
Seeing the lights of their rescuers, Chapman and Mallinson opened the lone can of lemonade they were saving – but the lifting proved frantic.
They were tossed about as in “a horrible big bear gone mad” as their makeshift toilet exploded over them, and they finally made it – and had their only row of the ordeal as they battled to be first get through the hatch.
“Neither of us really thought we’d get out,” Mallinson.
Remarkably, they went back to work a week later. And Chapman, who died three years ago at age 74, developed the use of unmanned submarines.
A 1999 file photo shows the Kursk nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea near Severomorsk, Russia
A general view of the wreckage of the nuclear submarine Kursk in dry dock in the northern Russian port city of Roslyakovo, Monday, October 29, 2001
All three crew members of the Pisces III survived after it sank off the west coast of Ireland
Roger Chapman (second from left) waves as he is taken to the Vickers Voyager, after being released from the crippled miniature submarine Pisces III
The Daily Mail’s coverage of the rescue of Roger Mallinson and Roger Chapman from the stricken Pisces III in 1973
It meant he was on hand to offer advice in 2000 when the Kursk plunged into the icy Barents Sea.
The 20,000-ton, 500-foot-long, 750-pound craft sank like a rock when a faulty torpedo exploded, sending several more in a blast discovered in Alaska.
Most of the crew died instantly, but 23 were alive in three sealed compartments when it hit the bottom 350 feet down.
Tragically, newly installed Russian leader Vladimir Putin, eager to keep his secrets and proud, hesitated before asking the West for help.
The Kursk had an access hatch, which meant it could be entered from a deep submarine rescue vehicle – but by the time divers arrived eight days later, all hands were lost.
In 1939, the US submarine Squalus sank 240 feet off the US East Coast. Thirty-three 33 men were brought out via a diving bell, a few at a time, in a 13-hour process, but 26 others drowned.
The Royal Navy has a system for submarines to escape and swim to the surface in ‘free ascent’ – and in training this has been done from almost 500 feet down. But that’s a fraction of today’s depths. All they can do now is wait.
In the depths of the ocean, where the pressures are immense and the challenges seemingly insurmountable, the Kursk catastrophe serves as a poignant reminder of just how tough it can be to mount a rescue mission. The tragic events surrounding the Kursk submarine highlighted the extraordinary courage and dedication of those who venture into the abyss to save lives. Much like the unpredictability of the ocean’s depths, the world of online gaming offers its own set of challenges and thrills. One such excitement is the allure of “Slot Gacor,” a term that resonates with avid gamers, symbolizing not just luck but also skill in navigating the digital realm’s depths. Just as submariners brave the unknown to rescue those in peril, gamers seek their fortune in the world of slots, hoping for their own version of a successful rescue—a big win.