The story of K-129
The following scenario was described by author Kenneth Sewell utilizing declassified
documents from the United States and Soviet Union, and from interviews with
intelligence personnel from the CIA, DIA, and KGB. This is not fiction, but a theory
based on several facts.
China develops nuclear technology and detonates its first atomic bomb.
Soviet Union delivers a Golf I model submarine to Communist China. The Golf I
ballistic missile submarine was required to surface to fire its three missiles. China
copied this design with minor improvements and deployed their own. Russia modifys
its existing Golf I class submarines to Golf II, which has the ability to launch its
missiles while submerged.
Soviet Union delivers (7) R-11 'Sark' Naval ballistic missiles to communist China,
without warheads. These missiles have a 350 mile range and are launched from the
Golf class ballistic missile submarine. China quickly adapts its nuclear technology to
fit onto the Chinese copy of the R-11 missile. Russia has begun deploying the newer
R-13 'Seb' missile with 800 mile range.
February 24, 1968
Records show that the submarine, K-129, had returned from a previous cruise only
weeks before and was not due to sail again for 6 months. Shortly after shore leave
started, the submarine was ordered back to sea.
K-129's crew was augmented by an additional 11 men just prior to sailing. This was
highly unusual as the already cramped submarine would have been hard pressed to
support the additional crew members.
While enroute to its patrol zone, K-129 did not issue two mandatory radio
communications to headquarters, nor did it respond to requests from headquarters
to immediately report.
March 7, 1968
A Soviet Golf II class ballistic missile submarine sank 350 miles north of Hawaii.
This submarine, K-129, was over 400 miles from its normal mission box of operation.
Positive identification of this subs identity was obtained by tracking via the SOSUS
system, heat sensative satellite surveillence, and tracking by American attack
submarines, and later by physical recovery of parts from the submarine.
American Satellites detected a large heat plume at this location. Analysis of the heat
signature was consistent with the burning of Soviet missile fuel, however, no follow
on heat trail that would have indicated a missile launch was detected after the initial
plume so no launch warning was issued to NORAD, but it was recorded.
March 21, 1968
Soviet Navy launches a 40 ship search for K-129 but in the area of its normal mission
box, not at the location later identified as the point where K-129 actually sank.
A few weeks later, A U.S. Oceanic research vessel, R/V Teritu, detects an oil slick.
Analysis of this oil slick determined high levels of radiation from Chinese fissionable
material* and high grade diesel oil of the type used in Chinese and Soviet
*Soviet warheads prior to 1965 were sometimes manufactured using fissionable
material obtained from China before the breakdown of friendly relations.
USS Halibut, A United States Spy submarine, located the wreckage of K-129 and
began taking detailed photographs of the damage to the sub, 3 miles below the
oceans surface. Damage to K-129's conning tower, where the launch tubes were
located, was clearly seen. The missiles were visible and clearly a non nuclear
explosion had occurred in #1 missile's warhead which detonated fuel in missiles #1
and #2. This fuel detonation caused a break in the sub K-129's keel and blew a hole
out of the bottom of the sub and in the conning tower, causing it to sink rapidly .
The majority of the bodies were found in section 2 of the submarine, Senior officers
quarters and ward room. No escape hatches existed in this section and only a few
crew members would normally have been in this location during normal operation of
the submarine. This would have been the last place a crewman would go if the sub
A Russian Osnaz squad consists of 11 men. The Osnaz is a highly trained group
chosen from highly dedicated members of the Soviet Spetsnaz and are under the
authority of the KGB, not the Army or Navy. The identity of the 11 additional sailors
on board K-129 has never been revealed.
The explosion on K-129 was consistent with a fail safe detonation of the
warhead in the R-13 missile. This fail safe will only detonate during an unauthorized
launch attempt and is caused by an invalid launch code being entered. This fail safe
system is a near duplicate to the fail safe designed in the United States because this
information was given to the Russians for the same reason we used it, To prevent
an unauthorized attempt to launch, and to destroy the platform if such an attempt
Nearly all of the crew of K-129 was located in the middle two compartments. It is
possible they were being held there by a KGB Osnaz team.
Russian launch codes required authorization sections from the Navy, Politburo, and
KGB before being considered valid from the missile. It is possible that the Captain of
K-129 gave an invalid code to prevent a launch or the Osnaz team failed to disable
the fail safe devices prior to the attempted launch.
But why would a Russian submarine attempt to launch a missile in the first place?
Russia considered China a larger threat then the United States in 1968.
Some other interesting facts behind the sinking of K-129:
The explosion of K-129 was on the surface. If the missile exploded during an
attempted launch then why didn't the explosion occurred underwater? The Golf II
class had an underwater launch capability.
Why was the submarine 350 miles North West of Hawaii? If the target was Hawaii,
the K-129's R-13 missiles could reach it from 800 miles away.
The Golf II submarine was an upgrade to the Golf I. There is no external difference
between the two submarine classes.
The Chinese were using a copy of the Golf I given to them by the Soviet Union.
The Golf I cannot launch underwater.
The R-11 missile, copied by the Chinese, only has a range of 350 miles.
The warhead contained in the R-13 missiles in the K-129 were made with material
obtained from China.
It is theorized that members of the KGB foresaw the collapse of the Soviet Union
economy and attempted to start a nuclear war between the United States and
China. Such an attack would have destroyed China and left the United States
severely weakened. Russia would have been able to complete the occupation of
China with nearly 1 million Soviet troops and have had access to the raw materials
located in that country as nearly all nuclear targets would have been along the
Pacific coast, away from the Russian homeland.
Scary to think about.