This recording is of hydrothermal vents and surrounding chemosynthetic life deep on the ocean floor. Hydrothermal vents are one of the greatest discoveries of the twentieth century. They are theorized to be the originators of life on earth. This recording was made by the MIR submersibles that travel with their mothership RV Akademik Mstislav Keldysh, an oceanographic research vessel. The submersibles can reach depths of 6000 meters (almost 20,000 feet).
This recording is a documentary account of the survey conducted with the aid of the Mir submersibles of the sunken Russian nuclear submarine Komsomolets. The recording begins with an at sea memorial for sunken vessel. Next are shots of a map of the Komsomolets with certain areas marked in red, possibly where samplers and beacons will be left during the submarine dives to record radioactive leakage. Following this are dives to the sunken vessel in the Mir 1 and 2 submersibles. During the dives, Mir’s mechanical arms take parts and samples and leave samplers and other objects in and around the Komsomolets. The K-278 Komsomolets, a Soviet nuclear submarine, was launched May 9, 1983 and was lost April 7, 1989 in northern Europe in the Arctic Ocean. The submarine had an operating depth of 1000 meters and was designed with the ability to dive to 1500 meters. Aboard the vessel were torpedoes including two nuclear warheads. The submarine’s demise was caused by a fire; it sank to a depth of around 1500 meters. There were 25 survivors and 42 fatalities. The controversy surrounding the loss of this vessel has to do with radioactive contamination from the nuclear reactor and nuclear torpedoes. Leakage could potentially contaminate drinking water, affect fish population and the ecology. Several expeditions to the Komsomolets have been undertaken to probe the area. Although earlier tests showed no signs of dangerous leakage, later tests revealed this was not so. The Komsomolets has since been buried in mud to seal fractures and contain radioactive leakage.