The K-19 was one of the many Soviet nuclear submarines. Originally constructed as a Project 658 ("Hotel I") boat, it was later converted to the Project 658M ("Hotel II").
Construction Begun: 10/17/1958
Decommissioned: 1991 (now in storage in Polyarny)
July 4, 1961: The cooling system for the nuclear reactor fails during operations in the Norwegian Sea. The crew created a temporary cooling system that would keep the boat operational long enough to complete its mission. Between eight and twenty-two (reports vary) crewmen died from exposure to fatal doses of radiation absorbed from the reactor while repairing the cooling system. As a result of the accident, the reactor compartment was completely removed and replaced. During this time the boat was also converted from the Hotel I to Hotel II specification. It appears that it was out of the water for 4-6 years.
November 15, 1969: The USS Gato (SSN-615) pursues the K-19 in the Barents Sea. The two boats collided. Neither boat sank and no fatalities were reported. Both boats left the area under their own power and returned to port for repairs.
February 24, 1972: Another accident occurs while K-19 is cruising back to port. Reports vary on the type of accident. Some indicate a fire damaged control hydraulics; others indicate that there was an explosion in the nuclear missile compartment in conjunction with or as a result of the fire. It took some thirty Soviet ships and more than forty days to recover the boat and it was towed back to port. Twenty-eight crewmen were killed.
The events of July 4, 1961 are now the setting for the Harrison Ford/Liam Neeson movie "K-19: The Widowmaker" due for release in the US on 07/19/2002. The sub K-77 (Juliet Class) was used for filming.