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K-19: The History

June 1961: Into the First Mission

K-19 at sea

Mission map

June 18, 1961, 1600 hours: K-19 departs on its first mission, a monthlong war game in which it will play the role of a U.S. attacker.

The sub is ordered to enter the Atlantic without being detected by NATO forces and wait for a signal from Moscow. Then it is to head under the sea ice back into the Barents Sea and “attack” Mother Russia in a practice missile strike.

 The Crew
K-19 crew image

K-19 Petty Officer 2nd Class Yevgeni Kashenkov
Photograph courtesy Historical Museum of the Northern Fleet, Murmansk, Russia
Captain Zateyev, commander of the K-19 since before its construction, undertakes one of the tougher challenges of command in a vessel: forging an experienced, war-ready submarine crew from the disparate personnel assigned.

Zateyev is assisted by acting Executive Officer Vladimir Yenin. By all accounts the two share an excellent working relationship.

The sub has a total of 139 men aboard, including missile men, reactor officers, torpedo men, doctors, cooks, stewards, and several observing officers who were not part of the standard crew.

Next: Day 14—All’s Well >>