Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev nominated the crew of the ill-fated Soviet nuclear submarine K-19, which suffered a loss of coolant accident on July 4, 1961, for a Nobel Peace Prize this week.
“Through the courage of the heroic sailors, a reactor explosion and a consequent environmental catastrophe in the ocean were averted,” Mr. Gorbachev wrote.
“An explosion on board the K-19 could have been taken for a military provocation or even an attempt to launch a nuclear strike on the North American coast. An immediate response by the United States could have triggered a Third World War,” he wrote.
All information about the 1961 accident was kept secret in the USSR until 1990, he said.
See “Gorbachev Proposes Soviet Sub Crew for Nobel Peace Prize,” Interfax News Agency, translated by the DNI Open Source Center, Feburary 1, 2006.
Mr. Gorbachev’s statement (in Russian) may be found here.
The K-19 incident was recently the subject of a National Geographic feature film starring Harrison Ford called “K-19: The Widowmaker.”