Sunday, March 8, 2009

A somber and sobering anniversary...

If you’re like me, you most likely enjoy a good conspiracy theory. Here’s one hell of a conspiracy for you.

What if, once upon a time, a small cabal of hard-line Soviet Communists wanted to take care of two of their rivals at once and sent an eleven-man KGB Osnaz commando unit to take over a ballistic missile submarine, sail it to an exact point 350 miles from Hawaii, surface the boat, and launch a missile at Pearl Harbor? The range and characteristics of the launch would have fit in with a scenario the Americans were worried about, which was a nuclear attack by alone rogue…from China. Ostensibly, the U.S. would nuke China in retaliation, and a surging Red Chinese threat on the Soviet border would be eliminated, and American naval power in the Pacific would be utterly crushed.

Sounds like a hell of a conspiracy, huh? Stuff of novels and films, you say?

It happened.

Read this book.

I’ve been reading Ken Sewell’s book Red Star Rogue, and it scared the hell out of me. I urge you to read it too. You’ll be sucked in by the story of a crew of professional sailors, military men serving their nation, who were pawns in a sinister plot, and ultimately met their demise when those eleven extra crewmen took over the submarine K-129 and tried to unleash nuclear Armageddon.

I say “tried”, because a failsafe mechanism on the missile caused it to explode in the tube, and the resulting aftermath sunk the sub and killed everyone aboard it, including the unwitting crewmen who had nothing to do with the plot.

As a military veteran myself who has a number of friends in the submarine community, I feel a tremendous amount of sympathy for those men who were performing their duties and got killed for it without being willing participants. That’s why today I want to make mention of the crew of K-129 and honor their memory. As for the Osnaz team, well, they were KGB “wet-work” killers and they knew the deal. I got nothin’ for ‘em.

The thing is, though, we already knew that K-129 had sailed, but not exactly where she was at the time. We knew enough of the Soviet Navy’s movements and ships that we wouldn’t have fallen for the ruse and would have retaliated against Moscow, not Beijing.

But why mention it now? Because the K-129 sank exactly 41 years ago yesterday, on March 7th, 1968, about 15 months before I was born. Had the plan succeeded, I might not be here now. Neither would you, possibly.

The world may never know the full story. Most of the chief conspirators are dead, like their pawns. Rest in peace, sailors of K-129. Fairs seas and following winds.

The Soviet Navy's Golf-II class of ballistic missile sub was a modified follow-on design based on the German Type-XXI U-Boats

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