Soviet submarine K-33

The K-33 was a Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 nuclear powered Project 658 class submarine (NATO reporting name "Hotel II
Hotel class submarine
The Hotel class is the general NATO classification for a type of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine that was originally put into service by the Soviet Union around 1959. The Soviet designation is Project 658.-Design:...

"). She belonged to the Soviet Northern Fleet and carried the identification number 921. In 1977, she was renamed K-54.

K-33 was built at Factory No. 902 in Severodvinsk
Severodvinsk is a city in the north of Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia, located in the delta of the Northern Dvina River, west of Arkhangelsk. Administratively, it is incorporated as a town of oblast significance . Municipally, it is incorporated as Severodvinsk Urban Okrug. The city was founded as...

, Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, as a Hotel I class submarine, launched on 6 August 1960 and was commissioned on 5 July 1961. In 1964 the K-33 was repaired and modernized into "658M"-standard (Hotel II), by installing a new missile complex giving her capability to fire missiles while submerged. She was decommissioned in 1990.

K-33 was involved in two incidents.

Kattegat incident

On 12 April 1963 the K-33 collided with the Finnish
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 merchant vessel M/S Finnclipper in Kattegat
The Kattegat , or Kattegatt is a sea area bounded by the Jutland peninsula and the Straits islands of Denmark on the west and south, and the provinces of Västergötland, Scania, Halland and Bohuslän in Sweden on the east. The Baltic Sea drains into the Kattegat through the Øresund and the Danish...


The M/S Finnclipper, which was owned by Enso Gutzeit was on its way to the United States with a load of 6,000 tons of paper. When they reached Kattegat, there was a mist. The crew heard engine noise on their port side at 11.05 am and a submarine emerged. The Finnclipper steered heavily to starboard to try to avoid a collision, but to no avail.

The Finnclipper immediately stopped and returned to the submarine to see if it needed help. Two Russian officers on board told the Finnish captain that the side had received large structural damage and that the side had been pressed in and had become deformed. The Soviet officers did not reveal their nationality, but told that it was a Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

 submarine. The Finns could however read the number 921 clearly on the side of the submarine.

The K-33 had been on its way to a patrol in the North Atlantic. The Finnish vessel managed to cross the Atlantic ocean although she had sprung a leak. The K-33 limped to Murmansk
Murmansk is a city and the administrative center of Murmansk Oblast, Russia. It serves as a seaport and is located in the extreme northwest part of Russia, on the Kola Bay, from the Barents Sea on the northern shore of the Kola Peninsula, not far from Russia's borders with Norway and Finland...

 although she was severely damaged. The captain of the Finnish vessel, Runar Lindholm, gave a maritime declaration when arriving in New York, but the report was labeled secret for over 44 years. The Soviets claimed that it was not a nuclear submarine, although she had been clearly identified. It has been speculated that the incident was held secret due to the Soviet-Finnish YYA-treaty, where the Soviets would have forbid the Finns to report this in the news media or even to research the incident.

On 4 April 2007, the Finnish captain and maritime author Jaakko Varimaa, who at the time was Second Mate
Second Mate
A second mate or second officer is a licensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship. The second mate is the third in command and a watchkeeping officer, customarily the ship's navigator. Other duties vary, but the second mate is often the medical officer and in charge of maintaining...

 on the Finnish vessel, published his book Sukellusvene sumussa ("Submarine In The Mist") revealing the accident.

However, according to some Russian sources at the time of this collision the K-33 was on overhaul in the Russian Northern Fleet, which lasted from October 25, 1962 through December 29, 1964. Later in this article it says that the K-33 was enroute to a patrol in the Atlantic.

Arctic incident

In 1965, the K-33 was involved in a radiation emergency in the Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

, involving dehermeticity of fuel elements.


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