Saturday, November 5, 2011

Vasili Arkhipov: The Other Man That Saved The World From Nuclear Holocaust

We've all heard of Stanislav Petrov, the man that helped avoid global nuclear warfare, (If not, you should read about him here) but what about Vasili Arkhipov? The man that both figuratively and physically had a button in front of him that could potentially start World War 3 in a split moment? What about that guy? Well worry not, we're going to discuss this handsome man right, now.

Pictured: Vasili Arkipov
At the time, Vasili Alexandrobich Arkhipov was probably another run-of-the-mill Soviet naval officer working in nuclear-armed submarine. No, I don't mean a submarine with cartoon arms that spell "nuclear". I mean a full-blown submarine with nuclear weapons on-board. Thankfully, the submarine was oceans away from America, and posed no threat to anyone. It's also a surplus that war was not imminent and that tensions were at ease as ever. Oh wait, it was right next to Cuba, (Near Florida) during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

On October 27, 1962, eleven United States Navy destroyers along with an aircraft carrier, trapped a mysterious foreign submarine near Cuba. The little brigade of ships decided to drop practice depth charges near the submarine to force it up to the surface for identification. Hopefully, this little submarine would comply and simply float up to the surface, identify itself as a Soviet submarine, and receive a kind escort back to the Soviet Union with a fun tea party afterwards.

"Hurray for communism!"

Down under the ocean, a little 2,515 ton submarine and it's crew began to prepare for the worst, literally. The captain of the ship, Valetin Savitsky, induced that World War 3 had just begun and that the United States Navy must have horrible aim from all the cinematic explosions outside of their hull. Since the three officers on-board were already authorized to launch their nuclear-tipped torpedoes upon unanimous agreement, Savitsky wanted to launch their torpedoes as soon as possible despite being informed that practice depth charges were being used.

Shortly after, the other officer on board, Ivan Maslennikov, the political officer, agreed to launch the torpedo. All that was left to prevent the first nuclear attack against the United States of America and essentially NATO, was Arkhipov.

On the other hand, you have another hand.

An argument eventually broke out among the officers, leaving Arkhipov the only man against the launch. This narrowly prevented the launch of their nuclear-tipped torpedoes, effectively preventing World War 3 from occurring before our a majority of our births. After Arkhipov "vetoed" the "start nuclear apocalypse" idea, he convinced the captain, Savitsky, to surface the submarine and await orders from Moscow/hope for the best. As you can see kids, not falling into peer pressure can also save humanity. (Sometimes.)

If Arkhipov decided to agree with the other officers and used the nuclear torpedo, a nuclear war would have followed shortly after. Taken as a direct attack, the United States and it's allies would have most likely retaliated with an a much larger scale nuclear attack, which would have been responded with the Soviet Union's nuclear attack, leading to mutual assured destruction.

After the incident, Arkhipov moved on his Naval career and reached the rank of Vice Admiral in 1981 until he settled down in Zheleznodorozhny, Moscow Oblast, where he eventually died on 1999 at a ripe age of 72.

Sadly, Arkhipov's story isn't very well known today, and his legacy of saving the world still remains a passing story in history class even though he is responsible for stopping one of the biggest threats to humanity during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

If it wasn't for Arkhipov, modern 2011 would be a 1988 video game