Investigation continues into Russian submarine accident that killed 20

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Library picture of an Akula class submarine
Image: US Dept. of Defense.

On Saturday, twenty people were killed and twenty-one injured by the fire fighting system aboard a submarine of the Russian Pacific Fleet. Further details about the incident were confirmed by Russian officials yesterday, as a formal investigation continued. The incident occurred aboard K-152 Nerpa, a newly built Akula class nuclear submarine, during sea trials in the Sea of Japan. The victims include both sailors and shipyard workers.

The submarine had 208 people aboard—three times the normal crew—when the fire fighting system was triggered by an unknown cause, flooding a forward compartment with Freon gas which is used to extinguish fires by removing oxygen from the atmosphere. Seventeen of the dead are reported to be employees of the Amur Shipbuilding Enterprise, the constructor of the vessel, and three Russian Navy sailors.

The vessel returned to port undamaged, with the injured being conveyed to Vladivostok by destroyer. Russia planned to lease the Nerpa to the Indian Navy in 2009, according to unconfirmed Russian and Indian press reports.


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