After World War II was the era of spying in the ongoing political rivalry between the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, and their respective allies in what was called the Cold War, although the beginning and end of this Cold War were up for debate, many agreed that it ended with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. This, however, did not really just end the tensions that were built up over the past 45 years. The US, for instance, was still keen to know the nitty-gritty details of the fallen union, and so the spying continued.

Spying Never Stopped

Although Russia fell into a political and financial whirlwind after the Soviet “hammer and sickle flag lowered for the last time over the Kremlin” on December 25, 1991, and Mikhail Gorbachev stepped down as the Soviet Union’s president, among the many changes in the country, one thing that did not change was their strong military forces. Their Navy, in particular, was still as powerful and deadly as it was. The United States wanted to know the movement and communications of their Navy, so they set out what was known as “Operation Holy Stone,” where they basically listened for vessels and tapped into the communication cables of the Russians on the seabed to get the juiciest of information.

Part of these intelligence-gathering operations was the USS Baton Rouge, a US Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine deployed near the Russian port of Severmorsk in February 1992 to either collect or place listening devices on the seabed.

The Baton Rouge (SSN-689) cruises the ocean on a calm day. (Public domain, US Navy photo)

The USS Baton Rouge knew better than to cross the Russian territory of waters, so they were about 12 miles from the shore, which the US considered international waters, when their submarine suddenly rocked, clearly colliding with something. Upon checking, they found out that they crashed with a Russian B-276 Kostroma submarine, a huge 9,000-ton Sierra-class nuclear-powered vessel.