From Jeanette de Beauvoir:
The man who saved the world… 50 years ago, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, second-in-command Vasilli Arkhipov of the Soviet submarine B-59 refused to agree with his Captain’s order to launch nuclear torpedos against US warships and setting off what might well have been a terminal superpower nuclear war.
The US had been dropping depth charges near the submarine in an attempt to force it to surface, unaware it was carrying nuclear arms. The Soviet officers, who had lost radio contact with Moscow, concluded that World War 3 had begun, and two of the officers agreed to ‘blast the warships out of the water’. Arkhipov refused to agree – unanimous consent of three officers was required – and thanks to him, we are here to talk about it.
His story is finally being told – the BBC is airing a documentary on it.
Raise a glass to Vasilli Arkhipov – the Man Who Saved the World.
The Second is Stanislau Petrov
From BBC (you can find the full article here:
Thirty years ago, on 26 September 1983, the world was saved from potential nuclear disaster.
In the early hours of the morning, the Soviet Union’s early-warning systems detected an incoming missile strike from the United States. Computer readouts suggested several missiles had been launched. The protocol for the Soviet military would have been to retaliate with a nuclear attack of its own.
But duty officer Stanislav Petrov – whose job it was to register apparent enemy missile launches – decided not to report them to his superiors, and instead dismissed them as a false alarm.
This was a breach of his instructions, a dereliction of duty. The safe thing to do would have been to pass the responsibility on, to refer up.
But his decision may have saved the world.
“I had all the data [to suggest there was an ongoing missile attack]. If I had sent my report up the chain of command, nobody would have said a word against it,” he told the BBC’s Russian Service 30 years after that overnight shift.
Mr Petrov – who retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel and now lives in a small town near Moscow – was part of a well-trained team which served at one of the Soviet Union’s early warning bases, not far from Moscow. His training was rigorous, his instructions very clear.
The day of remembrance for Petrov is September 26. BBC also produced a documentary on his life.
I wonder if any Americans were ever confronted with an existential question about our nukes?