About the tragedy with the ship "Victory" that occurred in the early autumn of 1948, the years almost never mentioned. Information immediately hid under a signature stamp "confidentially". But there was a man, who years later still managed to thoroughly unwind this tangle of mysteries, — naval historian, captain II rank October Bar-unsociable persons.
The correspondent of "MK" has a chance at life Oct Petrovich to meet him. He spoke in detail about what was able to learn about this fiery disaster.
For starters — the facts. July 31, 1948 "Victory", serving international line Odessa—new York, went from the shores of America for the return flight. On Board — more than 300 passengers and several dozen crew members. The voyage lasted a month, and in the end it was an emergency.
On 1 September the ship was a large fire. The flames spread so quickly that the sailors didn't even have time to signal SOS. Coast guard raised the alarm only almost a day later, when the ship at the appointed time appeared in Odessa. Rescue ships reached the scene only on the morning of 3 September. By this time the sailors of the ship and passengers have managed to neutralize the fire. However, from the flames and smoke killed dozens of people. Including "the great traveller" — a Chinese Marshal Feng Yuxiang.
Competitor of the Great helmsman
In the years of revolutionary upheaval in China and fight the Japanese aggressors, this man has gained immense popularity among compatriots. Military commander since the mid-1920s "have sinned" policy, and in 1924 even committed a coup and seized Beijing, at the head of loyal troops. After that, the future Marshal for some time, defected to the Kuomintang party and actively supported her head Chiang Kai-shek. However, with the beginning of active military counter Japan occupied part of China, Feng changed his political colors and the mood of rapprochement with the Chinese Communists (which caused considerable anger of the American administration). In addition, the politician Marshal straps adhered to the Pro-Kremlin positions and has repeatedly said in public speeches that the Soviet Union is and will remain a "true friend of the Chinese people."
The end of world war II ended with Japan's surrender and the liberation of China from invaders, found a fan in America. Meanwhile, his homeland was still a civil war, which clearly outlined the success of one of the warring parties led by the Communist people's liberation army thug loyal to the bourgeois Kuomintang troops. It was already clear that in the near future in the most populated country in the world will create a new government that would unite the nation. But who will be the head of it?
# 1 candidate, it seemed, it was Mao Zedong. But the last word was sounded from the Kremlin: China is too heavily dependent on military support of the USSR. So the main "fixer" was Stalin. And the Generalissimo, though patronized Mao, but still not to the end was sure. Probably, clever "leader of the people" kept in the sleeve and another card for drawing of the Chinese party.
Such a map could be Marshal Feng Yuxiang. At least, his journey in 1948 from America to China by a circuitous route through the USSR suggests that the Soviet capital was the intended "bride" of this policy before to solve the question of his possible arrival on the most important state post in China.
Did it Mao Zedong? Certainly knew. If he feared competitor? It would be foolish not to fear. So the sudden death of Marshall has been very beneficial to the future Great helmsman. So best that makes you wonder: not rigged if a fire emergency on Board the "Victory"?
To draw any conclusions, let's restore the chronology of the tragedy with the help of facts gathered Bar-Biryukov.
At the time, October Petrovich has explained to the correspondent "MK" on how he was able to connect to this theme: "In 1949, after graduating from the Caspian higher naval College, I got an appointment in Sebastopol. Saw "Victory". Badly burned, she stood at anchor, waiting their turn for repairs. Later, after the employees of the shipyard had a chance to meet with participants in the events — members of the crew of the ship. Learned from them the details of this incident. And then was lucky enough to get to some paperwork..."
Cinema — an obstacle to the guardhouse
That's what happened on Board the "Victory," according to the official version.
Day September 1, the airliner passed through the beam of Novorossiysk, and the captain was transferred to the black sea shipping company of the corresponding radio message. However, after that communication with the vessel suddenly disappeared.
At the same time one of the crew members, the radio Kovalenko, who concurrently performed the duties of the projectionist decided to prepare its cinematic economy to a speedy arrival in port. Among the urgent tasks is to rewind the bobbin and packaging in tin can films that Kovalenko was shown in recent days. All movies made in voyage, was kept in a small room near the cabins in the Central part of the liner.
Here is an interesting fact. Some of the team members, on the "Victory" was a special storeroom for the storage of films and work with them. It is located on the upper deck near the cabin, where twisted films. However, by order of the shipping company's premises shortly before the fatal voyage was converted into the ship's brig. Remaining in the "homeless" box with the movies and took them on the flight over 40 — I had to put in absolutely not fit for the cramped little room.
So, it was necessary to wind up viewed the movies in their "native" bobbin. Kovalenko instructed to do this dedicated to help sailor Skripnikova. The job is simple: know twist the handle of the machine! But at some point, the sailor, apparently, overdid it. Hurrying quickly to perform the tedious task, he too quickly pulled the film. And it was made by the then technology, from highly flammable material. From increased friction when fast forwarding the tape heated up, and suddenly broke out! The flames instantly spread to lying next to a rolls. However, according to another version, the sailor, violating safety rules, Smoking in the back and overlooked for smoldering cigarette...
Whatever it was broke out fire in a matter of seconds engulfed the room. On Skripnikova's clothing caught fire. Losing consciousness from the choking smoke, he barely had time to jump into the corridor.
The element of fire carousing in the pantry, broke free and followed him. The flames ran up on carpet, wood paneling. After a few minutes the fire entered the ladder to the deck above then attacked the bridge.
Very quickly the flames engulfed the entire Central part of the liner. Burned located here cabins, chartroom and steering cabin. "Red cock" had penetrated to the radio — watch radio operator Vedeneyev was caught off guard by the fire and to save his life, ran out of the room through the window. A telegram about the outbreak on the ship fire or an SOS signal he sent to the broadcast did not. A replacement radio are also failed: it burned down in the chart room. Therefore, the vessel in distress and didn't tell anybody about raging on Board the tragedy. To shore services and other vessels, the "Victory" turned for a few hours in the Ghost ship. But this "flying Dutchman" was on fire.
Finally on the ship sounded the fire alarm. By the time the flames had already spread quite widely — not only upwards but also downwards: the fire came to the engine room. However, there were sailors, barely entered the first compartment of smoke, immediately batten down all doors and hatches of the neck, not allowing the flame to penetrate inside. From fire in the adjacent bilge areas of the metal walls of the compartment heated so that the paint began to swell bubbles. Had those bulkheads to pour from the hoses seawater. In the end, the "heart" of the ship managed to defend.
After the announcement of the fire alarm, the crew of "Victory" have acted with dignity. Part of the team launched the boat and organized the evacuation of passengers, others entered the fray with fire. Sailors also helped many men from among the passengers. Unfortunately, not all regular extinguishing media can work. For example, a portion of a larger fire extinguishers "sour". During further investigative testing revealed that these red balloons someone was smuggling: the body of the extinguishers were filled convolutions of the fashion in those days imported Panne...
Still, the fire has been contained. And before help arrived.
Final disposition of the fire and check the status of the compartments was occupied for almost a day. After this disaster, the liner surrounded by the military and rescue ships of their own to get 5 September the port of Odessa. Passengers of "Victory" was delivered on a different ship — "Vyacheslav Molotov".
Alas, the incident on the liner was not without casualties. Killed two crew members (one of them — the sailor Skripnikov, which is rewinding film). And in addition to 40 passengers. Including 19 women and 15 children.
Ended up in this sad list and Feng Yuxiang.
Among the passengers on Board the ship, there were many "elite". Including the Ministry of foreign Affairs and the Ministry of foreign trade, returning with their families home after a long overseas trip. And some of the best cabins was occupied by a Chinese Marshal, his wife, son and daughter.
However, at some point, the ship was literally crowded with very different "ranking". When "Victory" came to Gibraltar, the captain got out of the steamship radiogram: go to the Egyptian port of Alexandria and to take on Board 2000 immigrants-Armenians returning to their historical homeland. The result is living space on the ship was Packed with people beyond all rules. But all Armenian families were safely delivered to Russian shores and landed in the port of Batumi. It happened a couple of days before the tragedy.
As it turned out during the investigation, most of the victims on the parade choked with smoke. As for the Chinese Marshal, he uninjured in the first minutes of the fire, then showed real courage, actively assisting the sailors to fight the fire. At some point, Feng Yuxiang found that among evacuees from the zone, attacked by the flames, not his daughter. The man rushed to the cabin that she had occupied, and tried to get inside. Subsequently, he was found lying there on the floor: obviously, the Chinese man died after inhaling carbon monoxide. Died and his daughter...
About the incident on the ship "Victory" was immediately reported to Stalin. Apparently, his "go-ahead" came through the day of official publication of this tragedy. On the last page of "red star" in small print — the brief TASS report entitled "an Accident on the ship "Victory":
"...In early August from new York came the ship "Victory", following to Odessa... journey on the boat was on fire due to careless handling of films, which caught fire. There are casualties. Among the dead Marshal Feng Yuxiang and his daughter... under investigation".
This is certainly consistent with the Kremlin's text, published at a time when the embers in the compartments of "Victory" still hot, you have already specified the reason of state of emergency. It was hard to expect that the Commission of inquiry, which worked a few months later, I would venture to nominate any other version. And so it happened.
In early 1949, the trial of several members of the crew of "Victory". However, the man considered to be the main culprit of the tragedy — the sailor Skripnikov, was already dead. A number of other sailors of the ship "under the hand" got 5 people. Stricter all condemned senior assistant Nabokina responsible for fire safety on the ship: he was sentenced to the maximum possible, then the term — 25 years in the camps. The captain of the "Victory" of Paholok and projectionist Kovalenko was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Assistant captain for political Parshukova was given 10 years and the operator Vedeneeva, which has not broadcast an SOS — eight.
Death by "disinfection"
Now it's time to mention the fact that left behind official findings of the investigation. That state of emergency on the ship "Victory" could be a result of the attack. Here are just a few facts, which are learned Bar-unsociable persons.
It turns out that the fire onboard was preceded by a very mysterious event. For example, shortly before sailing from new York on the request of port authorities, the Americans suddenly started on the ship disinfection. All the while they were held almost two days! — the crew of the Soviet ship lived in the hotel, and the "Victory" hosted by some American experts. They would have to leave behind somewhere in a secluded corner of the huge ship?.. To conduct a thorough inspection we returned on Board the Soviet team didn't have the time: the established time schedule of the departure was getting close.
There is specific evidence pointed to by the survivors of the tragedy to "Win": according to them, many of the interior furnishings, carpets, curtains, wardrobes, tables, even the bulkheads of the cabins are treated by the Americans as some kind of "disinfectant" solution, during the fire ignited, literally with jet speed.
Suspicious episode happened when boarding passengers in the port of new York. In front of numerous witnesses, the wife of one of the Soviet diplomats suddenly said he did not want to return to the USSR. After that, the woman managed to escape from the ship ashore, where she was taken under his wing representatives of U.S. intelligence. And the whole Luggage double remained on "Victory." The contents of these several suitcases and boxes somehow, none of the marine superiors didn't think to check. They safely sailed to Odessa, being together with other baggage in one of the rooms in the Central part of the ship. Some of the crew members later claimed that the fire started not from the back room with the films and from the adjacent compartment. And folded the cargo there some reason burned, scattering around bright sparks like huge sparklers...
Backfire fire could "invasion" on the ship 2000 Armenian immigrants in the port of Alexandria. Where is the guarantee that this crowd was not the agents that, once on the ship, held a "preparatory activities" for a future emergency, and then, without attracting attention, together with the Armenian families went ashore in Batumi? Batumi after unloading the crew members in different places of the ship found a strange "Souvenirs", most likely left one of these passengers, pieces of a substance resembling ore. The stories of some sailors when the "ore" tried to set fire, it flashed a bluish flame, creating a high temperature...
All these strange and suspicious episodes were ignored by the result — at least in the official conclusions. Although it is possible to find indirect evidence that the version with the terrorist attack on the "Victory" was seriously considered at the highest state level. Only one of the arguments in favor of this: a few days after the tragedy off the coast of Crimea, on September 14, 1948, issued a decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR for the immediate curtailment of the program of repatriation of Armenians.
By the way, escaped during the fire, the son of Feng Yuxiang subsequently did not hide that he considers the death of his father-Marshal pre-planned diversion.
"The island of bad luck"
Collected Bar-Biryukov facts and evidence still did not help him develop the mystery of the fire on Board the ocean liner.
Most of the victims were then buried in Odessa. At one of the cemeteries appeared memorial with the inscription: "the Sailors and passengers of m/V "Victory", was tragically killed on 1 September 1948". Well the coffins of Feng Yuxiang and his daughter was sent by plane to Moscow, where they were cremated in accordance with the wish of the widow of Marshal. Later, the ashes of the commander was buried with military honors in China.
As for the "Victory", after repairs, she continued to work on the lines of the black sea shipping company until the late 1970s.
Most interesting: the ship, whose history is marred by such a tragic mystery, is familiar to almost every adult citizen of Russia. The fact is that during the filming of the famous Comedy of Leonid Gaidai "diamond hand" in the role of a cruise ship "Mikhail Svetlov", on Board of which unfold many of the events of the film, starred two of the black sea ship — "Victory" and "Russia". The scene in which the hero of Andrei Mironov sings a song about the Isle of bad luck, was shot on the upper deck "Victory" — where 20 years before this raging fire that destroyed dozens of lives...
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