Cry from the Deep: The Sinking of the Kursk

Cry from the Deep: The Sinking of the Kursk

by Ramsey Flynn

On August 12, 2000, during one of the most important military demonstrations in post-Soviet history, an enormous explosion sank Russia's most prized nuclear submarine, the Kursk. When Vladmir Putin's men failed to rescue the 118 young submariners trapped under the icy Barents Sea and refused timely help from "foreigners" for four days, the Russian president


On August 12, 2000, during one of the most important military demonstrations in post-Soviet history, an enormous explosion sank Russia's most prized nuclear submarine, the Kursk. When Vladmir Putin's men failed to rescue the 118 young submariners trapped under the icy Barents Sea and refused timely help from "foreigners" for four days, the Russian president assured his angry nation that all the men had died within minutes of the blasts. An earlier rescue would not have changed anything.

Two months later, recovery divers brought up the dead submarine's first twelve bodies, one of which had a soggy note clinging to the burned remnants of his breast pocket. Addressed to his wife, it read:

There are twenty-three of us here ... None of us can get to the surface. Let's hope someone will read this. Don't despair. — Kolesnikov

The "Kolesnikov Note" became the cry from the depths of Russia's tormented soul, as an anguished people confronted their government about what matters more — guarding secrets and pride or protecting human life.

What were Russian officials thinking when they waited forty-eight hours to acknowledge that their most treasured submarine was in trouble? Why did they track the desperate tapping noises that seemed to be coming from the sub without sending an international SOS?

For a world community still mystified by deadly Russian deceits surrounding the Kursk submarine disaster, Cry from the Deep solves the riddles once and for all. What emerges from Flynn's exhaustive reporting is the definitive account of this pivotal moment in Russia's rocky emergence into the community of free nations.

By turns thrilling, heart-wrenching, and absorbing, Cry from the Deep exposes the truths behind an event that riveted the world, devastated and enraged the Russian people, and ultimately defined a new era of Russian politics.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A gripping and gruesome tale, this book is a superb account of the loss of the Russian submarine Kursk off northern Russia in August 2000. Long-range torpedoes fueled with hydrogen peroxide exploded in succession, which sank the submarine; a fifth of the crew of 118 survived the explosions, but probably did not last more than another eight hours. The Russian Northern Fleet failed to recognize the signs of an accident, failed to take any sort of constructive action with its limited resources, failed to inform political superiors, and didn't allow any cooperation with the efficient rescue gear of the NATO navies. Russian officials were then caught by the independent Russian media in several outright lies, which made for further scandal. Not that Western authorities were much more on the ball-the American and British embassies were left in the dark for several days-but the whole tragedy of errors profoundly embarrassed the newly elected Putin regime. Flynn has researched exhaustively in already crowded territory, interviewed widely and written clearly, leaving very little room for rumor, innuendo or propaganda (he definitely rules out any collision with a NATO submarine, for example). Agent, David Black. (Dec.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This popularly written book about the Kursk disaster that shocked the world in 2000 strikes a timely nerve and requires little historical background on the part of the reader. Award-winning journalist Flynn (former editor in chief, Baltimore magazine) does a credible job portraying the tragedy of the Russian submarine whose entire 118-man crew died under mysterious circumstances. He claims that this portrayal is more than 90 percent factual, and the rest is "informed scenario." Flynn did hundreds of interviews, acknowledging that the truth always appeared to be "a moving target" in which "even those closely involved routinely resorted to speculation about what had happened." He used firsthand sources both named and unnamed. The postscript deals with current Russian politics that would be perhaps best left to other sources. Flynn's extensive endnotes add authority to his research. Recommended for public libraries.-Harry Willems, Southeast Kansas Lib. Syst., Iola Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Story of the sorry, ideologically stultified efforts to rescue the sailors on the Russian submarine Kursk. In August 2000, during naval exercises in the Barents Sea, the mammoth, nuclear-powered submarine Kursk suffered a tremendous explosion when one of its notoriously temperamental torpedoes exploded while still in its launch tube. In drumming, daily reports, journalist Flynn reconstructs what he can of the fate of the sub. The physical end of the men was dreadful enough, but their plight as creatures in the political-military flux of early-Putin-era Russia created a nasty little piece of theater. It was the long-standing policy of Russian officers not to deliver any bad news to the higher ranks for fear of demotion or dismissal. ("All agreed that Russia's military culture remains hard-wired to Soviet-era thinking.") So critical hours were lost as fleet commanders failed to report that something dreadful appeared to have happened to one of its boats-which would have been hard to miss, considering that the blast registered 4.2 on the Richter scale. Exacerbating the situation was the gutting of the Russian navy during the years that Boris Yeltsin was in power, so that experienced sailors, decently maintained ships, and rescue boats were in short supply. Despite Putin's pedigree as the son of a submariner and his inclination to look favorably on the military's needs, Flynn explains that there was still considerable suspicion between officers and politicians. The military avoided alerting Putin for ever-more-critical hours, and their cult of secrecy led them to spurn offers of help from NATO nations (who were all over the area to see what they could see of the exercise) until it was toolate to help the men who survived the first few days. Power politics, vestiges of the Cold War, and the economic collapse of Russia sealed the submariners' destiny as surely as they were sealed into their deathtrap. A deeply depressing account, sharply etched and sensibly dissected. (16 pp. b&w photo insert, not seen)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.01(d)

Meet the Author

Ramsey Flynn, the winner of a National Magazine Award for reporting, is a former staff writer for the Washingtonian and chief editor of Baltimore magazine. His stories have also appeared in Esquire, Reader's Digest, Men's Journal, and Philadelphia. He lives outside Baltimore with his wife and two young sons.

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