With Kursk the latest deepwater disaster to be dramatised on screen, we plunge into a history of claustrophobia, creaking hulls and deadly phallic warheads

Hot on the heels of HBO’s five-parter about the Chernobyl catastrophe comes another story of a tragic accident sparked by cost-cutting and exacerbated by political prevarication. In August 2000, during a Russian naval exercise in the Barents Sea, north of Murmansk, a faulty torpedo exploded in the Kursk – a nuclear-powered submarine named after the Russian city that also lent its name to the largest tank battle in history.

Stop reading now if you want to avoid real-life spoilers. The blast instantly killed all crew members in the front two compartments of the submarine, which was sent to the bottom of the sea. Two minutes later, although the nuclear reactor shut down safely, elevated temperatures from the fire detonated as many as seven more torpedos in an explosion…

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