Nuclear Wars (that Almost Happened) Part One

The Beginning

In 1945, a man joined the Soviet Pacific Fleet and served as a minesweeper during the Soviet war with Japan. His name? Vasiliy Arkhipov. His destiny? To save the Earth from near annihilation.

Arkhipov began studying at the Baku Naval Acadamy and graduated in 1947. This allowed him to join the submarine arm of the Soviet Pacific Fleet and become an officer on the Soviet sub K-19.

The War

The event took place on October 27, 1962. It was the Cuban Missile Crisis and eleven United States Navy destroyers and the aircraft carrier USS Randolph had trapped a nuclear (and armed) Soviet submarine (B-59).  They began to attempt to force the submarine to come to the surface by dropping practice depth charges.

Valentin Savitsky, the sub’s captain, believed that a war had already begun and started preparations to launch nuclear torpedos in retaliation. But the only way to launch the arms was if the three officers aboard agreed, unanimously, to do so. Arkhipov was the only individual who did not believe it to be the right choice and an argument broke out between them. Finally, he convinved the others to resurface and wait for orders. Averting the presumed nuclear war for yet another day.

The Aftermath

Unrelated to the incident of that day, Arkhipov was promoted to rear Admiral in 1975 and became the head of the Kirov Naval academy. He was finally promoted to Vice Admiral in 1981 before dying in 1999.

He was only recognized for his efforts three years later at a conference commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Robert McNamara revealed to the public the truth, that nuclear war had been so much closer than people knew.

a guy called Vasili Arkhipov saved the world.

-Thomas Blanton, Director of the National Security Archive

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