This Week in EUCOM History: November 12-18, 1969
At 7:13 a.m. Nov. 15, 1969, K-19 collided with the attack submarine USS Gato in the Barents Sea.

November 15, 1969 -- Soviet K-19 nuclear submarine collides with USS Gato

At 7:13 a.m. Nov. 15, 1969, K-19 collided with the attack submarine USS Gato in the Barents Sea (in the Arctic Ocean, north of Norway and Russia) at a depth of 60 m (200 ft).

The K-19 was able to surface by means of an emergency main ballast tank blow. The impact completely destroyed the bow sonar systems and mangled the covers of the forward torpedo tubes.

K-19 was the first generation of Soviet nuclear powered submarines.  Both ships carried nuclear ballistic missiles.

This was the first major accident between US and Soviet nuclear powered ships, both carrying nuclear weapons. At the height of the Cold War, the possibility of nuclear war between the US and Soviet Union was a very real threat.

As a result of the collision and already high tensions, EUCOM was put on alert.

Both boats left the area under their own power and returned to port for repairs.
 

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