A Brief History
On January 27, 1961, the Soviet Navy proved how dangerous the lives of submariners can be, when the Whiskey class submarine S-80 managed to sink with all hands without any outside help, what we call an “Oops moment.”
The S-80 was in a prolific class of submarines with 236 built between 1950 and 1960. About 249 feet long with a normal crew of 52, the subs were powered by the familiar diesel-electric combination motors.
On the fateful day, S-80 was patrolling the Barents Sea using its snorkel to allow the use of the diesel engines while submerged. Someone forgot to engage the anti-icing feature on the snorkel valve, which froze, allowing water to rush down the snorkel when the sub dipped a bit too deep.
The onrushing water warped the shutoff valve, and the sub was doomed, flooding and taking all 68 men aboard to a watery grave. The wreck remained undiscovered until 1968.
Question for students (and subscribers): Have you ever been on a submarine? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Glissmeyer, Mark. Soviet Attack Submarines: Cold War Operations and Accidents. Gradina Books, 2023.
Polmar, Norman and KJ Moore. Cold War Submarines: The Design and Construction of U.S. and SovietSubmarines, 1945-2001. POTOMAC BOOKS, 2005.
The featured image in this article, a photograph of a “Whiskey Twin Cylinder” submarine, is a work of a sailor or employee of the U.S. Navy, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, it is in the public domain in the United States.
You can also watch video versions of this article on YouTube.