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November 09, 2008

It seems that the initial reports that one of our submarines was missing were not completely accurate


More than twenty people have reportedly died aboard a Russian nuclear submarine due to the accidental activation of a fire extinguishing system. While the vessel was reportedly undergoing sea trials in the Pacific, details regarding its name and class have yet to be released.

My question: Was it the Nerpa, set to be the INS Chakra come January 2009? If so, this is a tragedy with strategic implications. The following was published last Saturday: how many nuclear submarines does the Russian fleet have undergoing sea trials out of Vladivostok this week?

Batches of Indian naval personnel are to shortly leave for the Russia's far eastern port of Vladivostok to train on board the Chakra, (formerly the Nerpa) a Russian Akula-2 nuclear powered attack submarine which is to be transferred to India on a 10-year lease next year.

The Nerpa was launched at the Komsomolsk on-Amur shipyard in June this year after which she began harbour trials. Earlier this week, the shipyard announced that the submarine had been shifted out of the shipyard to a maintenance facility in the Primorye territory near Vladivostok for trials in the Sea of Japan.

The 12,000 tonne submarine, said to be the quietest and deadliest of Russia's attack submarines, has a crew of 100 personnel is currently being operated by the Russian Navy.

India is set to launch three of its own indigenously built nuclear powered SSBNs. Even if their ostensibly indigenous reactor design is inspired by the Russians, the Indians might consider training with the United States Navy instead.

Better yet, it seems to me some work accidents aboard the PLAN's nuclear fleet are in order. I can always stock up on jelly beans.

Update November 9: It is the Nerpa. The deaths appear to have been caused by the activation of the ship's freon gas fire extinguishing system.

... a source in the Amur shipyard administration named the submarine as the K-152 Nerpa, a nuclear-powered submarine of the Project 971 Shchuka-B type, or Akula-class by NATO classification, RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Related: Major Russian submarine accidents since 1991. Also, a BBC graphic illustrating the submarine accident.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at November 9, 2008 12:01 AM