Fire on highly secretive Russian sub kills 14

Image: Russian Ministry of Defence
Image: Russian Ministry of Defence – A Russian submarine believed to be Losharik (No clear official photographs of Losharik are known to exist.)

Fourteen Russian Navy sailors were killed after a fire broke out on the research submarine on which they were deployed on Monday, July 1.

The incident on the Project 210 submarine Losharik occurred at around 20:30 local time as the crew were taking measurements of the sea floor in Ura Bay just off Murmansk Oblast.

Local fishermen reported seeing the submarine surface in the waters of Ura Bay at around 21:30. Two tugs and a navy ship then arrived at the scene and towed the submarine to port in Severomorsk, the headquarters of Russia’s Northern Fleet.

The crew were able to extinguish the fire but the resulting toxic fumes ended up killing 14 of Losharik‘s occupants and injuring several others.

The injured occupants were rushed to hospital upon the submarine’s arrival in Severomorsk.

In a press conference on Tuesday, July 2, President Vladimir Putin said that the 14 fatalities included Losharik‘s captain, seven senior officers with the rank of captain first rank, and two recipients of the Hero of the Russian Federation award, Russia’s highest honorary title.

The Russian Navy has since launched an investigation to determine the cause of the fire.

Although Losharik is officially designated as a deepwater research and rescue submarine, not much else is known about the vessel outside of official Ministry of Defence publications. This has led to some observers surmising that the submarine may have also been used for highly secretive missions.

The BBC had earlier quoted some US officials as saying that Losharik may have been designed to cut undersea fiber-optic cables.

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