The Russian Sub Museum

Juliett 484 News

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Although the actual cause of the sinking will have to await a formal investigation, we believe that the combination of astronomically high tides, the wind pounding in from an unusual direction (east), the heavy rain and the storm surge (exacerbated by the closing of the hurricane barrier just upstream) caused the sub to ride high on its mooring lines and shift in its normal berth.

When the Providence hurricane barrier is closed, large pumps discharge the river flow directly at the stern of the submarine. One of our duty officers, a former US Navy submarine officer, observed: " I know from personal observation that considerable flow from these pumps is 'trapped' inboard between the sub and the shore and tends to push the stern out from the pier when the pumps are operating."

We theorize that the flow from the pumps (later confirmed to be 1.8 million gallons per minute) helped caused the stern to swing outboard. With the strong winds pushing the higher-profile bow into shallow water, the stern would have dropped as the tide went out with the bow aground.

The sub had been modified in Finland. Tourist access openings were cut, allowing access to the pressure hull via the forward and aft torpedo compartments. These hatches were weather-tight but not waterproof--the oval surface ship type that could be dogged shut.

Under the conditions described above, the access hatch to the aft torpedo room eventually started to slowly flood. Sub crew members wanted to go aboard to to start pumps or turn on compressors, but public safety officials would not allow anyone to go aboard.

Progressive flooding ensued, and the sub filled up compartment by compartment, eventually sinking about 30 hours after the initial alert.

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