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11/24/2017 4:44:23 PM
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Posted: 9/3/2004 1:11:21 AM EST
Soviet submarine captain wins Hollywood payout

By Andrew Osborn in Moscow
01 September 2004

A Soviet submarine captain whose nuclear-powered vessel sank off the coast of Bermuda in 1986 has won substantial damages from the Hollywood studio that made a film based on the event.

Captain Igor Britanov said the film, Hostile Waters, made in 1997, starring Rutger Hauer, Martin Sheen and Max von Sydow, did not portray the events accurately and made him look incompetent.

He also said that the makers, Warner Brothers, did not seek or secure his permission to use his story or his character. In the film, Hauer took the role of Captain Britanov, Von Sydow played a Soviet admiral and Sheen played the skipper of a US submarine.

Captain Britanov hired an American lawyer for the case and, after three years of hearings, a US court found in his favour and awarded the naval veteran significant moral damages. He is unwilling to say how much he was awarded but Russian media reported yesterday that the figure ran to tens of thousands of dollars.



The real-life incident event resulted in Captain Britanov being expelled from the Communist party and shamed the Soviet navy. His submarine, K-219, was on patrol 680 miles off the Bermuda coast when disaster struck. An explosion rocked the vessel and a fire broke out in a missile tube dangerously close to the boat's nuclear reactor. To make matters worse, the seal in a missile hatch cover failed and seawater began to leak into a missile tube reacting with residue from the missile's liquid fuel. Parts of the boat later began to fill with poison gas.

Three sailors were killed in the explosion and a fourth died after the nuclear reactor was made safe.

The Soviet Union alleged that the leak in the missile tube hatch was caused by a collision with an American submarine, USS Augusta, a claim that Washington denied.

Captain Britanov was ordered to allow the stricken submarine to be towed by a Soviet freighter back to her home port of Gadzhievo, about 4,350 miles away. But he ignored Moscow's orders and evacuated his crew to transfer to the freighter.

Moscow then stripped him of his command and ordered the crew to return to the vessel. But the submarine sank before that could happen. Some believe Captain Britanov scuttled the boat to save his crew. He was initially charged with negligence, sabotage and treason but the case was quietly dropped and his reputation was restored.

Captain Britanov said yesterday that although he was flattered to be played by Hauer, the plot was not true to real events. "A submarine with open hatches would sink to the bottom like a stone and I'm already sick of explaining to my submariner colleagues that I did nothing of the sort and that I was not a consultant on the film," he said.


Soviet submarine captain wins damages from Hollywood studio

01.09.2004 1.00pm - By ANDREW OSBORN
MOSCOW - A legendary Soviet submarine captain whose nuclear-powered vessel sank off the coast of Bermuda in 1986 in hair-raising circumstances has won substantial damages from the major Hollywood studio that made a film based on the event.

Captain Igor Britanov said that the 1997 film, "Hostile Waters" starring Rutger Hauer, Martin Sheen and Max von Sydow, did not portray the events accurately and made him look incompetent.

He also said that the makers, Warner Brothers, did not seek or get his permission to use his story or his character.

Dutch actor Hauer played Britanov, Von Sydow a Soviet admiral, and Sheen an American submarine captain.

Britanov hired an American lawyer to fight his corner and after three years of hearings said a US court had finally found in his favour awarding the naval veteran significant moral damages.

Britanov is unwilling to say exactly how much he was awarded but Russian media said yesterday that the figure ran to tens of thousands of dollars.

The real event occurred at the fag end of the Cold War and saw Britanov expelled from the Soviet Communist party and the Soviet Navy in disgrace.

His submarine, K-219, was on patrol 680 miles off Bermuda when disaster struck.

An explosion rocked the vessel and a fire broke out in a missile tube dangerously close to the sub's nuclear reactor.

To make matters worse, the seal in a missile hatch cover failed and seawater began to leak into a missile tube reacting with residue from the missile's liquid fuel.

Parts of the sub later began to fill with poison gas.

Three sailors were killed immediately in the explosion and a fourth, Sergei Preminin, died later after making the nuclear reactor safe.

The Soviet Union alleged that the leak in the missile tube hatch was caused by a collision with an American submarine, the USS Augusta, a claim that Washington denied.

Britanov was ordered to allow the stricken submarine to be towed by a Soviet freighter back to Gadzhievo, her home port, some 7000 kilometres away.

Britanov disobeyed Moscow's orders, however, and evacuated his crew on to the freighter.

Moscow then ordered that he be relieved of his command and that the crew be transferred back to the vessel but, before that could happen, the submarine sank.

Some believe that Britanov scuttled her to save his crew's lives.

He was initially charged with negligence, sabotage, and treason but the case was quietly dropped later and his reputation rehabilitated.

Britanov said yesterday that, though he was flattered to have been played by Hauer, the plot was unfaithful to real events.

"For example to put out a fire in a nuclear reactor the captain (in the film) decides to open the missile tube hatches so that sea water puts the fire out.

But only the suicidal would behave in such a fashion," he told Isvetya.

"A submarine with open hatches would sink to the bottom like a stone and I am already sick of explaining to my submariner colleagues that I did nothing of the sort and that I was not a consultant on the film."
Link Posted: 9/3/2004 12:53:45 PM EST
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