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The Soviet Officer Who Stopped Nuclear War During the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962

Updated on February 10, 2015
The man who prevent a nuclear exchange in 1962
The man who prevent a nuclear exchange in 1962
The sub finally surfaced and taken into custody
The sub finally surfaced and taken into custody
Today, you can see it in San Diego
Today, you can see it in San Diego

His name is Vasili Arkhipov. After all these years before he died, Vasili revealed how close the world was to a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and America during the Cuban missile crisis.

It was on October 27, 1962, when the commander of the B-59 nuclear submarine was given the order to launch its nuclear torpedoes. Distrust and tensions between the two countries were at an all-time high and the B-59's captain, Valentin Savitsky, was under attack by the USS Beale's depth charges. At the time, the B-59 did not know that the depth charges being dropped were only practice depth charges and non-lethal- they made a lot of noise-. The USS Beale had been ordered to drop them in order to force the nuclear submarine to the surface. The hunt for B-59 was joined by other US destroyers dropping non-lethal depth charges. But, to the Soviet crew below, they seemed real. Faced with what seemed like the end and thinking a real doomsday had occurred between the countries, the commander ordered his 10-kiloton nuclear torpedoes armed. Soviet radar had placed its sights upon the American aircraft carrier, USS Randolf, which led the naval task force.

Inside the Soviet sub was the decision that could cause a nuclear exchange. To do this, all three Soviet officers had to be in agreement. Once fired, the USS Randolf would have been sunk. It would highly likely, President Kennedy, would have ordered some of the American nuclear arsenal launched at their planned targets in Russia and of course, Russia would launch their missiles. Millions might have been killed. However, in order for the fire order to occur, the sub commander, its political officer and Arkhipov would all have to agree to fire. The sub commander and the political officer were in agreement, but Arkhipov was unsure what the hell the Americans were doing or trying to do. At the time, he stated to the others that maybe the Americans are just trying to force us to the surface.

As the booms got louder, a heated debate was argued with Arkhipov simply saying, nyet, disbelieving that the Beale was trying to destroy them. At some point, there was a realization that what the Beale was trying to do was to force them to surface. But this was a considerable time after the heated debate between the three Soviet officers.

Arkhipov died in 1998 from radiation posioning that had occurred in 1961 during a mishap aboard the B-59. He was the man that prevented a nuclear exchange.


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