USS Toledo incident: Revisiting Kursk submarine disaster

Twenty years ago, I watched the News services and followed the "Western" reports of the sinking of the Russian Federation submarine, KURSK. The reports centred along the lines of Russian incompetence, poor workmanship, obsolete equipment [torpedoes] and Russian disquietude regarding matters of security which prevented assistance being given to "survivors".

The US/NATO narrative has been widely circulated and absorbed by the majority of "Western" readers. Go to that great organ of Western totalitarianism and disinformation, Wikipedia, and you can easily discern the bias in the article; views put forward by the Russian Navy are dismissed out-right with condescending comment.

"On Monday 14 August, Fleet Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov stated the accident had been caused by a serious collision with a NATO submarine, although he gave no evidence to support his statement. Senior commanders of the Russian Navy repeated this false account for more than two years after the disaster. Many who desired a continuance of negative relations between Russia and the West supported this scenario.

During the original exercise, the Russians required each of their submarines to stay within a specified area. This protocol was intended to eliminate the possibility of a collision and to allow surface ships to detect the presence of a Western spy sub.

On 29 or 30 August 2000, an official government commission tasked with investigating the disaster announced that the likely cause of the sinking was a "strong 'dynamic external impact' corresponding with the 'first event'", probably a collision with a foreign submarine or a large surface ship, or striking a World War II mine. They said that the exercise had been monitored by two American Los Angeles-class submarines-USS Memphis and Toledo-and the Royal Navy Swiftsure-class submarine HMS Splendid. When the exercise was cancelled due to the accident, these vessels put in at European ports".  Wikipedia.

There is no way that this Wikipedia article is unbiased or written in a neutral, informative tenor. "although he gave no evidence to support his statement". Like the Western statements are all given with supporting evidence???  Not likely: we are to accept them as truth, straight from the mouth. However, it does indirectly confirm many other articles that are available if one is to do some research.

I recall that immediately after the KURSK indecent on 12th August 2000, there were various reports that two US submarines were sighted ON THE SURFACE, proceeding at slow speed and made harbour in the North of Scotland, supposedly for emergency repairs to hull damage which was visible on one of the submarines. Now the whole reason to make a submarine is to keep it invisible - submerged. Submariners are disgraced if they are forced to surface.   The only reason the two submarines were on the surface was because one of them had sustained mortal damage and could not submerge for it was in imminent danger of sinking. The other was there as immediate support.   One only needs to consider what happened to the USS Toledo in the three days before it was observed in Scotland? By official reports it was noted as being in the Barents Sea along with the USS Memphis and the HMS Splendid. There is only one logical explanation as to where the damage occurred - in the Barents Sea!

So, let's start painting the picture here. Russia was going to test fire a new missile - SQUALL I seem to recall was the NATO reporting name. The US /NATO were extremely interested in obtaining intelligence on this new weapon with no analogue in the West.  Three NATO submarines were dispatched to closely monitor the KURSK, the submarine chosen to test fire this missile.

Traditionally, there has been a "cat and mouse game" played out in the bowels of the oceans of the world, between US/NATO submarines and Submarines of the USSR and subsequently, the Russian Federation. At the start of the Cold War, the US/NATO forces were convinced that they had a major advantage in SONAR; so much so, that the Reds could never catch up, given their "backward" systems and lack of sophistication. The Western Block concentrated their efforts in establishing supremacy in SONAR and the Russians did what they do best - and thought of alternative methods of bridging the gap. 

The Soviets/Russia developed systems of detection which US/NATO experts said were "impossible" methods such as;

  • Wake detection
  • Zinc particles in the water from the waste water outlets
  • Temperature differential from coolant exhaust
  • Trace elements from anti-fouling
  • Etc.

The huge advantage of these methods are; one, they are passive and the Russian submarine could remain quiet and two, the US/NATO did not suspect that such systems could possibly exist.

A submarine, to mask its noise, endeavours to follow the wake of the submarine it is tracking. But Russia had made major improvements in the noise control of their submarines and current versions are as quiet as the ambient ocean.  The KURSK was a leading submarine in its day and the US/NATO submarines had to be right up its backside in order to track it and not lose it. On 12th August 2000, that job rested with the USS Toledo.

Russian submarines have an anti-tracking manoeuvre, I believe it is called 'The suicide move". Russia backs its strength of its submarines over the US/NATO and they carry out a manoeuvre whereby they turn a tight circle and proceeding back on their original heading.  Any tracking submarine must take emergency evasion action to avoid a collision. 

I believe that such an action was carried out by the KURSK and either the USS Toledo failed to take evasive action quickly enough or, failed to hear that the KURSK had changed course. This resulted in a major collision, inflicting serious damage to the USS Toledo.  The USS Toledo sister ship, the USS Memphis, recorded the noise of the collision and possibly a distress call - and assumed that the USS Toledo had been attacked by the KURSK.

If you look at the various reports of the seismic shock waves created by the attack on the KURSK, you will see that there are THREE. The first being very small in magnitude compared to the other two. ARCES, Finnmark, Norway, recoded three distinct events, the first hardly registered and is only marked on the seismic chart as "Small Event", followed a short time later by two major "peaks", one immediately after the other. This clearly fits the notion that the KURSK rammed the USS Toledo, and the USS Memphis fired a torpedo at KURSK which exploded and then cause a secondary explosion on-board KURSK.  Any unbiased look at the situation can only come up with this scenario.

Further evidence of this scenario can be seen in the US forgiveness of a very large Russian Sovereign debt by Bill Clinton. No country pursues its debt like the US does, they are hard-minded and Shylock in nature, demanding their pound of flesh. At a time when the US especially, wanted to destroy Russia once and for all, they could have economically crippled Russia, which was still struggling from the 1998 Rouble crises by demanding the loan payments. But it was forgiven! Recall that there were also many telephone calls between the Kremlin and the Whitehouse at this stage.  I believe the presidents negotiated a price for the KURSK. 

It suits both Russia and the US to have this matter conveniently swept under the carpet - there is embarrassment on both sides. And so, the false narrative of how and why the KURSK sank, will never be revealed - well, not in my life-time anyway.


David Hambling wrote in Popular Mechanics October 23, 2017 that the "Soviets" were vastly superior to the US/NATO countries in submarine detection and this is evidenced by recently declassified 45 year old CIA documents - his article can be read here.

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Author`s name Jim Jones