Farewell K-429

January 15, 2008
By David Cheng, Brooklyn, NY

The prestigious Captain Sergei Izorkhov, of the Soviet nuclear powered submarine K-429 Kursk, was on his last mission before retirement. The assignment given was simple enough even for the most amateur naval personnel. It called for an inspection of the Marianas Trench, a few hundred miles east of the Philippines. A sailor’s worst nightmare is to be stranded at sea. This nightmare became a reality for Captain Izorkhov and his seventy-six crew members.

“Dive to three hundred meters!” shouted the Captain.

“Diving, diving!” the helmsman replied as he veered the ship downwards.

A distinct alarm went off briefly, a sound that Izorkhov heard for the last time. The Captain noticed half his crew was missing. Sergei walks down the pale gray halls to the mess room.

“Surprise!” everyone bawled clapping.

It was his retirement party. Sergei grinned and giggled for a split second, something the crew had seen in ages. A tear or two secreted from his eyes. He thanked his men for the support he so deserved. Suddenly a large jolt shooked the Kursk.
The men disbanded and returned to their stations.

“Report!” Captain Izorkhov demanded.

“Radar is picking up a destroyer right above us! It’s the Americans!”

Another jolt from the depth charge caused Izorkhov to lose his balance. The Captain had no choice but to position his submarine below four thousand feet, beyond the limit of the Kursk’s water pressure tolerance.

“Diving, diving!” said the helmsman.

Small pins had begun shooting out from their sockets as the pressure compressed on the ship’s hull. The captain wiped his sweaty brow with his handkerchief. The helmsman reported that he had lost vertical control of the ship from the last explosion. The crew members looked at the Captain Izorkhov, traumatized, waiting for his next order. The bravest sight in the world is to see a great man struggling against adversity.

Izorkov paced back and forth. Being the audacious man that he was, the captain devised a brilliant yet precarious plan involving a purposely executed explosion below the Kursk. Such an explosion would create enough momentum to lift the Soviet vessel to the surface. The rupturing of the hull was most feared but was overlooked. The hope of getting back home reinvigorated the crew as they prepared themselves for the risky experiment that was about to take place.

“Missile bay one is prepared to fire!” said the weapons officer. The captain ordered the launch. The explosion blew away tons of rock embedded on the ocean floor. As predicted, the tremendous force from the missile detonation carried the steel monstrosity to safety.

“Three hundred feet.. Two hundred feet.. One hundred feet. Zero. Congratulations sir!” the helmsman called out.

Captain Izorkhov opened the hatch to see the big bright yellow sun along with the silhouettes of at least ten men with guns pointed at him. The Americans arrested the seventy-seven Soviets. Two years later, after the conflicts between the countries died down, Izorkhov and his crew were released. The captain officially retired thereafter at the age of sixty-seven. The Kursk was put to rest, lying on the ocean floor of the Pacific to this day.

The captain gave his long awaited farewell address.

“As we sail through life, don’t avoid rough waters, sail on because calm waters won’t make a skillful sailor,” Izorkhov said saluting to the men of the K-429 Kursk.

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