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Soviet submarine K-219

The Yankee-I class submarine[?] K-219 (SSBN) sank in the Atlantic, 680 miles northeast of Bermuda, on October 6, 1986, after suffering an explosion and fire. The seal in a missile hatch cover failed, allowing seawater to leak into the missile tube and react with residue from the missile's liquid fuel.

Three sailors were killed outright and a fourth, Sergei Preminin, an enlisted seaman, died after successfully securing the nuclear reactor by hand, trapped in the engine compartment. The captain was ordered to have the ship towed back to her home port, some 7000 kilometers away, while keeping the crew on board. After subsequest poison gas leaks into the final aft compartments and against orders, the captain ordered the crew to evacuate onto the towing ship. The captain remained aboard until he also was forced to evacuate the sinking vessel. He was imprisoned in Moscow until May 1986 when he was freed by a new Soviet administration.

The submarine was rumored to have been scuttled by the captain when attempts to tow it failed. However, both American and Russian governments deny this. The captain of the K-219 will not comment on the ultimate demise of his submarine. Preminin was posthumously awarded the Red Star for his bravery.

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