Which Soviet Navy officer saved the world from nuclear holocaust in the 20th century?
Vasily Alexandrovich Arkhipov (30 January 1926 – 19 August 1998) was a Soviet Navy officer credited with casting the single vote that prevented a Soviet nuclear strike during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 2002, Thomas Blanton, who was then director of the US National Security Archive, said that Arkhipov "saved the world".
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, a group of eleven United States Navy destroyers and the aircraft carrier "USS Randolph" located the nuclear-armed Foxtrot-class submarine B-59 near Cuba. Despite being in international waters, the Americans started dropping signaling depth charges, explosives intended to force the submarine to come to the surface for identification. The captain of the submarine, Valentin Grigorievitch Savitsky, decided that a war might already have started and wanted to launch a nuclear torpedo.
Unlike the other subs in the flotilla, three officers on board B-59 had to agree unanimously to authorize a nuclear launch: Captain Savitsky, the political officer Ivan Semonovich Maslennikov, and the flotilla commodore Arkhipov. Typically, Russian submarines armed with the "Special Weapon" only required the captain to get authorization from the political officer to launch a nuclear torpedo, but due to Arkhipov's position as flotilla commander, B-59's captain also was required to gain Arkhipov's approval. An argument broke out, with only Arkhipov against the launch. Arkhipov eventually persuaded Savitsky to surface and await orders from Moscow.