HOSTILE WATERS by Peter Huchthausen


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 A riveting account (with an introduction by Tom Clancy) of a hell-and-high-water incident toward the Cold War's end, in which a missile-bearing Soviet submarine sank within a few hundred miles of North Carolina. Drawing on interviews with survivors, declassified archival material, and other sources, Huchthausen (coauthor of Echoes of the Mekong, 1996) and his collaborators (White is the author of a forthcoming thriller, Siberian Light) offer a dramatic log detailing the last voyage of the USSR's K-219. The oceangoing equivalent of a rattletrap, the aging nuclear-powered vessel left its Barents Sea base early in September 1986. One month later, the sub was on station between Bermuda and America's East Coast. In maneuvering to evade the US Navy submarine shadowing it, the K-219 suffered irreparable damage to an already leaky missile silo. Seawater poured into the rupture, mixing with liquid fuel to create clouds of lethal gas. The craft went into a near-fatal dive, but Captain Igor Britanov managed to get it to the surface. Dead in the water, with both her reactors out of commission, the K-219 was on fire belowdecks. Moscow directed Britanov to salvage his moribund sub, thus risking an explosion that might have carried deadly radiation all along the East Coast. But the skipper (who got all but four of his crew out alive) disobeyed orders and scuttled the K-219 under the watchful eyes of American forces; the 10,000-ton hulk now lies some three miles below sea level; her nuclear-tipped missiles have presumably been swept away by the Gulf Stream. A stranger-than-fiction saga in which men who must battle the sea and stand lonely watches inside enemy lines are betrayed by the technology assumed to be their motherland's salvation. An HBO movie with the same title will air this summer. (First serial to Reader's Digest)

Pub Date: July 26th, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-16928-0
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1997


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