Saturday, January 07, 2006

Red Star Rogue – by Kenneth Sewell and Clint Richmond

Did Russia try a sneak nuclear attack on Pearl Harbor in 1968 ?


On the night of March 7,1968, K-129 : a “Golf class” diesel-electric submarine, armed with three nuclear missiles, and two nuclear torpedos , surfaced quietly in the darkness at Latitude 24 degrees North; 163 degrees West – a mere 350 miles from the US Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.


The sub was hundreds of miles away from its assigned patrol area, had not checked in with Soviet naval headquarters for almost a week , but had aroused no official curiosity : a circumstance that would itself be viewed as extremely curious . Russian submarine crews were rigidly disciplined ,almost fanatically loyal , and quite unlikely to go off on a “free lance” mission – especially with a KGB zampolit (Political Officer) aboard.


The location was in “direct line” with the Chinese submarine bases.
The procedure of launching from a fixed navigational point was consistent with Chinese launch doctrine; as was surfacing in order to launch missiles. The fissile material in the missiles and torpedos was of Chinese manufacture.


The authors believe a small group of Stalinist holdovers in the Kremlin and the KGB – led by Mikhail Suslov : a shadowy figure who had been Stalin’s blood-stained right hand, and Yuri Andropov: a Suslov protégé, who was head of the KGB, orchestrated this attack in order to bring about a nuclear exchange between the United States and China.


The United States , already bogged down in the Vietnam conflict , would have been substantially weakened. China would have been devastated , and an easy conquest when Russian troops (already poised on the border) rolled in “to restore order.”


What the plotters did not know – according to the authors – was that Russia had seen the wisdom of accepting a top secret offer from President Eisenhower of fail safe devices : little bombs that could be built right into a nuclear warhead , and that would destroy the warhead –and anything else nearby-if an unauthorized launch was attempted.


According to the authors , a rogue crew –probably highly trained KGB Spetsnaz troops assigned to KGB’s Executive Action Department - aboard the K-129 attempted to launch one of the 1 megaton missiles at Pearl Harbor ; but perished in the attempt ,when the failsafe blew the warhead apart, and exploded a second missile still in its tube. The combined explosions blew the bottom out of the boat, and sent her to the bottom.


There was a second thing the plotters did not know: US sub tracking capabilities were light years beyond anything envisioned by the Soviets,and K-129 had been under more-or-less continuous remote surveillance since it left its home base in Avachinskaya Bay. It had been tracked and identified by underwater SOSUS arrays, kept under watch by satellites, and pinpointed by its one micro-burst transmission.


There was no way the United States – which even had a photographic record of its exploding missile tubes – would have mistaken K-129 for a Chinese boat.


Had the attack on Pearl Harbor succeeded , approximately 500,000 Americans would have died. Pacific fleet headquarters would have been vaporized – and – given the information the US had at its disposal, the retaliation against the USSR would have plunged the two nations into no-holds-barred nuclear war.


How the United States gathered evidence about this event, and how it used the evidence make for some very interesting reading : If the authors are correct, our view of Cold War history – and the role some of our political leaders played – are overdue for significant revision .


Whatever your political education and orientation , I think you will be in for some unsettling surprises when you read “Red Star Rogue” !

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