It is a well-known fact that American aircraft carriers are among the largest warships ever built and have the capacity to overtake the fastest submarines in the world.
So an enemy force capable of sinking one of these behemoths would certainly send ripples through the entire US military. And that’s exactly what a Soviet submarine attempted to accomplish during the height of the Cold War.
It was March 1984, when the eighty thousand ton carrier strike group USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) – carrying more than eighty planes and eight escort ships – entered the East Sea for take part in a huge joint U.S.-Korean Naval Exercise.
According to defense writer Blake Stilwell of We Are The Mighty, “the carrier’s eighty planes and eight escorts were so engaged in the exercise that they failed to detect a Soviet submarine chasing the Kitty. Hawk in the area. The submarine, K-314, was noticed by the transporter much later than it should have been. The Kitty Hawk ignited its engines to outrun and outsmart the Soviets.
Chase is activated
“The five thousand two hundred ton Soviet Victor I class attack submarine chased the US aircraft carrier for about a week until the Yellow Sea started to get pretty dirty weather,” Stilwell said. . “K-314 would eventually lose sight of and all contact with the Kitty Hawk and other American ships. The captain of the submarine, Captain Vladimir Evseenko, decided to climb to the depth of the periscope and assess the situation ten meters below the surface. What he saw surprised him: the US carrier strike group was only four or five kilometers from his ship.
Evseenko eventually ordered an emergency dive, but it was indeed far too late: the Kitty Hawk struck the submarine at full speed.
“The first thought was that the turret had been destroyed and the body of the submarine had been cut to pieces,” recalls Evseenko.
“We checked the periscope and the antennas, they were in order,” Evseenko continued. “No leaks were reported and the mechanisms were in good condition. Then suddenly another strike! To starboard! We checked again, everything was in order. . . . We were trying to figure out what had happened. It became clear that an aircraft carrier had struck us. The second hit hit the propeller. The first, most likely, bent the stabilizer.
Captain David Rogers, who was on deck at the time of the incident, told reporters that “we felt a sudden thrill, a pretty violent thrill. We immediately launched two helicopters to see if we could assist them, but the Soviet submarine did not appear to have sustained significant damage. ”
Stilwell noted that “the aircraft carrier crashed into the stern of the submarine, a Victor I-class point where the submarine’s sonar is blind due to the noise of its own engines. It turns out the submarine did not turn on its navigation lights.
The Kitty Hawk, meanwhile, suffered no damage.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based science and technology writer who has held positions at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV. Follow him or contact him on LinkedIn.
Image: Wikimedia Commons