“A guy called Vasili Arkhipov saved the world.” - Thomas Blanton in 2002 (then director of the National Security Archive)
Last month, October 27, 1962 marked the 50th anniversary of an event too important in world history for it to get lost amid the Halloween and other “trivial” holiday-related notifications. I therefore chose to wait until they were over to pay due honor to this truly great and heroic gentleman who is sadly almost unknown outside his mother country: Vasili Arkhipov.
At the nail-biting height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, second-in-command Vasili Arkhipov of the Soviet submarine B-59 adamantly refused to follow his commanding officers’ order to launch nuclear torpedoes against USA warships which had been dropping depth charges near his submarine in a attempt to force it to surface.
What the USA military intelligence agency failed to make those warships aware of was that Arkhipov’s Soviet submarine was armed with nuclear torpedoes that – had those torpedoes been launched – might well have resulted in a terminal superpower nuclear war!
The Soviet officers, having lost radio contact with Moscow, wrongly concluded that World War 3 had begun. At that point, two of the officers agreed to “blast the warships out of the water.” It was then that Arkhipov made his heroic decision to refuse to agree. Thankfully, according to Russian military law, the unanimous consent of three officers was required to activate that decision.
Thanks solely to the bravery and genuine humanitarian concerns of Vasili Arkhipov we are all here today to talk about this pivotal event in 20th Century history, and thanks to the BBC’s documentary ‘Vasili Arkhipov: the Man who Saved the World’ his full story is finally told for all the world to hear!
I will keep you abreast of news regarding it’s air date/time in the USA. When it is aired, all I ask is that wherever you are please join me in raising a glass of vodka in salute to Vasili Arkhipov: THE MAN WHO SAVED THE WORLD!