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More than 20 killed in Russian nuclear sub accident

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More than 20 killed in Russian nuclear sub accident

Postby U-5075 » Sat Nov 08, 2008 8:25 pm

http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/ ... 8V20081108

At least 20 die in accident on Russian nuclear sub
Sat Nov 8, 2008 6:23pm EST

MOSCOW (Reuters) - At least 20 people died and 21 were injured in an accident on board a Russian nuclear-powered submarine from the country's Pacific Fleet, a Russian naval spokesman said late on Saturday.
The spokesman did not give the name of the submarine or specify where it was located, adding only that it was on exercises at sea and 208 people were on board.

"The reactor section (of the submarine) is working properly," he said by telephone. "The radiation levels on the ship are normal."

A Russian destroyer, the Admiral Tributs, was providing assistance and taking some of the injured crew from the submarine to port, the spokesman said.

He did not say where the ships were but the Tributs is normally based at Vladivostok, Russia's main Far Eastern naval port, according to Russian media.

President Dmitry Medvedev has been informed about the accident, Russian news agencies reported.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, writing by Michael Stott, editing by Michael Roddy)



http://news.theage.com.au/world/more-th ... -5kpa.html

More than 20 die in Russian sub accident
November 9, 2008 - 8:51AM
More than 20 people were killed when a firefighting system went off during sea trials of a nuclear submarine in Russia's Pacific Fleet, a senior navy commander was quoted as saying by the ITAR-TASS news agency.

"During sea trials of a nuclear-powered submarine of the Pacific Fleet the firefighting system went off unsanctioned, killing over 20 people, including servicemen and workers," Igor Dygalo said, without giving any details of the circumstances of the accident.

"The submarine is not damaged, its reactor works as normal, and radiation levels on the submarine are normal," Dygalo said.

The submarine was ordered to suspend the sea trials and return to port, Dygalo added.

Russia's Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov reported the incident to President Dmitry Medvedev who had ordered a "full and meticulous" investigation and "all possible aid and support to the victims' families," according to the report.



http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/stories/2 ... 437f60229e



At least 20 people have died and 21 injured in an accident on board a Russian nuclear-powered submarine.

Reports by Russian news agencies on Saturday have been confirmed by a naval spokesman.

No details have been given of the name of the submarine, or where it was located. All the Russian Pacific Fleet will say is that the submarine was not damaged and there have been no radiation leaks.

It says the submarine was on exercises at sea and 208 people were on board.

News agencies report that an anti-submarine ship, the Admiral Tributs, was providing assistance and taking some of the injured crew to port.

The Itar-Tass news agency reports there were 208 people on board at the time, 81 of whom were servicemen.

Reports say the incident occurred in the nose of the vessel. The nuclear reactor, which is in the stern, was not affected.

Previous incidents
Russia's worst submarine disaster happened in August 2000, when the nuclear-powered Kursk sank in the Barents Sea. All 118 people on board died.

The Kremlin was harshly criticised at home and abroad for its sluggish and secretive response to the disaster.

Nine sailors died aboard a K-159 submarine when it sank in the Barents Sea in August 2003 while being towed to port for decommissioning. Only one of the seamen on board was rescued alive.

In 2005, a mini-submarine of the Pacific Fleet got snared in a fishing net, leaving the crew trapped underwater with dwindling oxygen supplies.

A British rescue team using a high-tech mini-submarine managed to extract the Russian vessel and there was no loss of life.





http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hD_ ... WI3G3He4cw

More than 20 killed in Russian nuclear sub accident: spokesman
43 minutes ago

MOSCOW (AFP) — More than 20 people were killed and another 20 injured when a fire extinguishing system was inadvertently activated aboard a Russian nuclear submarine in the Pacific Ocean, the Russian navy said Sunday.

"During sea trials of a nuclear-powered submarine of the Pacific Fleet the firefighting system went off unsanctioned, killing over 20 people, including servicemen and workers," said Captain Igor Dygalo, the navy's spokesman.

Dygalo told AFP that President Dmitry Medvedev was being kept informed about the situation by Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and had already ordered a "full and meticulous" investigation of the incident.

The incident recalled the 2000 Kursk disaster, when 118 crewmen died when their nuclear submarine sank after an onboard explosion in the Barents Sea.

The Kremlin was harshly criticised at home and abroad for its sluggish and secretive response to the Kursk disaster, but seemed to be moving quickly to avoid a repetition this time.

Dygalo said Medvedev had also ordered the defence ministry to provide "all possible aid and support to the victims' families."

The accident did not apparently affect the submarine's nuclear reactor. "The submarine is not damaged, its reactor works as normal, and background radiation levels are normal," Dygalo stated.

The submarine was carrying out sea trials when the accident occurred and the stricken vessel was ordered to put in to a port on Russia's far east coast temporarily, he added.

The spokesman did not say exactly where the incident occurred or specify which port the submarine would return to.

Twenty-one people with varying degrees of injuries were evacuated from the submarine, Dygalo said.

A total of 208 people were aboard the submarine when the accident happened, but of those only 81 were servicemen while the others were naval technicians and specialists.

Fire suppression systems on submarines are relatively sophisticated and may rely on chemical liquids. It was unclear however how the accidental activation of the system on the Russian sub resulted in the deaths and injuries.

The submarine, accompanied by the destroyer Admiral Tributs and a rescue ship, the Sayani, was steaming towards a Russian Pacific Ocean port for temporary basing, Dygalo said.

Since the Kursk disaster in August 2000, Russia has seen a string of accidents and mishaps with its naval submarines.

Nine sailors died aboard a K-159 submarine when it sank in the Barents Sea in August 2003 while being towed to port for decommissioning. Only one of the seamen on board was rescued alive.

In 2005, a mini-submarine of the Pacific Fleet got snared in a fishing net, leaving the crew trapped underwater with dwindling oxygen supplies.

A British rescue team using a high-tech mini-submarine managed to extract the Russian vessel and there was no loss of life.
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Postby Wayne Frey » Sat Nov 08, 2008 11:58 pm

I have sent condolences to the St. Petersburg Submarine Club, and others inside Russia.
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Postby DavieTait » Sun Nov 09, 2008 6:35 am

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7718156.stm

This is the Akula II that was due to be leased to the Indian Navy
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Postby U-5075 » Sun Nov 09, 2008 8:58 am

Here and there, there are more bits and pieces of information.

News video
http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&q=sub ... a=N&tab=wn



http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,214 ... 31,00.html

Russia | 09.11.2008
Deadly Russian Sub Accident Recalls Kursk Disaster
At least 20 people were killed and 22 injured on a Russian nuclear-powered submarine when the ship's fire safety system was accidentally set off on board, a Russian naval spokesman said Sunday, Nov. 9.

The submarine's atomic reactor remained undamaged and radiations levels aboard the vessel were normal, the naval spokesman said.



"While carrying out sea trials of one of the nuclear-powered submarines in the Pacific Fleet, the firefighting system went off unsanctioned, killing over 20 people." Captain Igor Dygalo told Interfax news agency. "Among the victims were ship-building workers and servicemen."



Dygalo did not identify the submarine involved and did not explain how the accidental activation of the ship's fire extinguishing system resulted in the casualties.



Russian news agencies, however, reported the victims died as a result of inhaling freon gas released by the ship's fire safety system.




President Dmitry Medvedev was being kept updated on the situation, Russian news agencies reported Sunday. Medvedev ordered the defense ministry to investigate the cause of the accident and to provide "all possible aid and support to the victims' families," Dygalo said.



Sailors, citizens among victims



The Russian sub was ordered to dock at a port on Russia's east coast after the accident hit during sea exercises, Dygalo said. Dygalo did not specify the name or class of the vessel and gave no detail on its location at the time of the accident.



There were 208 people on board during the sea trials, but only 81 were servicemen while the rest were specialists from a ship-building company.



The injured were evacuated from the stricken submarine aboard an accompanying ship and were taken to a hospital on shore where they were being treated, the ITAR-TASS and RIA Novosti news agencies quoted officials as saying.



A high-ranking naval official was quoted by RIA-Novosti as saying that the accident struck the bow of the vessel.



The Russian Navy has seen a string of disasters since nuclear submarine Kursk sank in 2000 from an onboard torpedo explosion that killed all 118 crew members. The Kremlin was heavily criticized for not responding effectively to save lives in the tragedy.



Nine Russian sailors died in the sinking of a submarine in the Barents Sea in 2003 as the vessel was being brought in to be retired.


In 2005, seven sailors rescued by a British using hi-tech mini-submarines to ferry out the crew of a small Russian sub who had spent days caught meters deep in fishing nets.





http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 00566.html



Twenty die in Russian nuclear sub accident
By Guy Faulconbridge
Reuters
Sunday, November 9, 2008; 5:23 AM

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Twenty people died and more than 20 were injured in an accident aboard a Russian nuclear submarine in the Pacific Ocean, the navy said Sunday, in the worst submarine disaster since the Kursk sank eight years ago.

A Russian naval spokesman said 208 people were on board the submarine when an accident involving the activation of a fire extinguishing system occurred during sea trials. He said the nuclear reactor was intact and radiation levels were normal.

The death toll makes it the worst mishap for the accident-prone Russian navy since the Kursk nuclear submarine sank in the Barents Sea in 2000 with the loss of all 118 sailors.

Russian news agencies quoted the navy spokesman, Captain Igor Dygalo, as saying 20 people had died in the accident in the Pacific Ocean during routine testing when the fire extinguishing systems went off by accident.

He had earlier put the death toll at "at least 20."

Most of those killed were from the Amur Shipbuilding Enterprise which built the ship, Russian media quoted the shipbuilder as saying.

Dygalo told Reuters later that at about 10:30 a.m. Moscow time (2:30 a.m. EST) the submarine had returned to the naval base of Bolshoi Kamen in the Pacific.

"It returned under its own steam, under escort by the Sayany rescue vessel. It is being moored at the anchorage," Dygalo said. "The radiation levels on the ship are normal."

Dygalo did not give the name or class of the submarine or specify where it was located.

He said a Russian destroyer had brought the injured to Vladivostok, the main city on Russia's Pacific coast and headquarters of the Pacific Fleet.

President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the Defense Ministry to carry out a full inquiry into the causes of the accident, the Kremlin press service said.

Former Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin, who had been president for just a few months at the time of the Kursk disaster, was criticized at home for his slow reaction to that incident.

Russia's navy has suffered a string of fatal accidents, despite sharp increases in funding and Kremlin attempts to use its largely Soviet-era fleet to project an image of strength abroad and at home.

SUMBARINE TESTING

Russia's navy said the accident occurred in the Sea of Japan Saturday while the submarine was having its final trials by a group of navy sailors and staff from the construction company.

The submarine was supposed to enter full service with the navy at the end of this year. Russian news agencies said chemicals used by the submarine's fire extinguishing system were released by error, although it was unclear why.

A Russian anti-submarine destroyer, the Admiral Tributs, evacuated the injured from the submarine and brought them to Vladivostok for treatment.

"The injured have been brought to the coast where they are receiving qualified medical assistance in the naval hospital," Dygalo said.

Russian media quoted naval sources as saying the accident occurred aboard the Nerpa, a Project 971 Shchuka-B attack submarine, known inside NATO as an Akula-class submarine.

The Nerpa embarked on trials on the open seas late last month, according to local media. Construction of the Nerpa was started in 1991 but funding dried up in the chaos of the 1990s, media reports said.
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Postby U-5075 » Sun Nov 09, 2008 10:23 am

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/news/intern ... 1000&ty=ti

Below are selected abstracts from this article. With three times more than its usual crew present there could have been not enough of the portiable breathing gear available in the compartment having the problem. And with 17 civilian employees killed, versus 3 sailors, it could have been that the civilians weren't trained or knowledgeable enough to realize the threat and quickly put on the apparatus.

November 9, 2008 - 12:56 PM
Twenty die in Russian nuclear sub accident
By Yuri Maltsev

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Reuters)

Prosecutors investigating the latest incident said they suspected the victims died after inhaling a toxic gas used as a fire suppressant when the vessel's fire extinguishing systems went off unexpectedly.

It was not clear why the portable breathing gear usually issued to Russian submarine crews did not save them.

"Twenty people died," the Prosecutor-General's Office said in a statement. "Results of a preliminary investigation show that death occurred as a result of freon gas entering the lungs."

The navy said 208 people -- or nearly three times more than its usual crew -- were on board the submarine when the fire extinguishing system went off. Many of them were specialists from the vessel's manufacturer who were preparing to hand it over to the navy.

Seventeen of the dead were employees of Amur Ship-Building Enterprise and three were sailors, prosecutors said.

"One can assume that the submariners did not notice the release of the gas, and when they did feel it, it was too late," the source told the agency.

One military analyst said it was possible not all of those on board had breathing gear.

"It is possible that some of the people lingered (putting on the apparatus) or they did not have the apparatus at all," Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technology, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station.
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Postby aquadeep » Sun Nov 09, 2008 2:01 pm

My condolences to the St. Petersburg Submarine Club as well and to the Russian people.

Dave Amur Ship yard :cry:
"I like submarine comanders ,they don't have time for bull!!" and
"Don't tell me it can't be done!"

President Roosevelt

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Postby U-5075 » Sun Nov 09, 2008 9:30 pm

More information is coming out.

http://www.mercurynews.com/corrections/ci_10939625

selected sbstracts from......

Accident on Russian nuclear sub suffocates 20
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV Associated Press Writer
Article Launched: 11/09/2008 12:00:28 AM PST

Overcrowding may have been a significant factor on Saturday.

Igor Kurdin, a retired navy officer who heads an association of former submariners, told Ekho Moskvy radio that the high death toll probably resulted from shipyard workers who lacked experience in dealing with the breathing kits.

A siren warning the crew that the firefighting system was turning on also may have failed, RIA Novosti quoted an unidentified navy official as saying, so those on board might not have realized that Freon was being released until it was too late.

The submarine returned Sunday to Bolshoi Kamen, a military shipyard and a navy base near Vladivostok. Officials at the Amur Shipbuilding Factory said they built the submarine and it is called the Nerpa. Dygalo said it was to be commissioned by the navy later this year.

The U.S.-based intelligence risk assessment agency Stratfor said the Akula is an established design, with the Nerpa being the 11th ship of the class.

"Such a catastrophic accident calls into question the way the Russian navy has sustained its institutional knowledge in terms of design expertise, not to mention issues of quality control, both in fabrication and inspection," Stratfor said.

Despite a major boost in military spending during Vladimir Putin's eight years as president, Russia's military is still hampered by decrepit infrastructure, aging weapons and problems with corruption and incompetence.

Illarionov said the accident appeared to reflect the loss of crucial skills in conducting sea trials.



http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/1110/p04s01-woeu.html

selected abstracts from...

Russian sub accident points to Navy's shortcomings

At least 20 people died on the sub, which media reports say was to be handed over to India.
By Fred Weir | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
The malfunction of the firefighting system, which spewed deadly freon gas through the forward compartments of K-152 Nerpa, an Akula-II class attack sub undergoing diving trials in the Sea of Japan, has a little-known international twist. Though neither government has officially admitted it, both Indian and Russian media have been reporting for months that the 12,000-ton Nerpa was to be handed over to the Indian Navy early next year under a 10-year lease.

The acquisition would multiply India's military capabilities in the sensitive Indian Ocean, and raise questions about Russia's role in proliferating nuclear technologies. Indian news agencies reported last week that a team of 40 Indian naval specialists was slated to arrive later this month in Vladivostok to learn about the ship.

The Nerpa's patchwork history may have contributed to Saturday's disaster. "They are using bits of Soviet equipment and hardware, brushing off the rust and putting in new stuff," says Mr. Felgenhauer. "That's just not a good way to develop operational equipment."

Moreover, Russia's military establishment has a crushing shortage of qualified experts. "That submarine was being constructed over a period of 15 years, and was the only one being built at the Amur shipyard during that time," says Alexander Goltz, a military expert with the online newspaper Yezhednevnaya Gazeta. "How many of the original specialists and skilled workers would have stayed on during that period? Very few. Everything conspired to make that ship very vulnerable."

Initial reports indicated that the accident resulted from a malfunction of the Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) system, which is used to quickly suffocate a major fire with a stream of a freon mixture. The foam is only supposed to be released when a submarine compartment is engulfed in flames. Any contact with it will kill an unprotected person instantly. [????]

Videos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f22hPDjsNeo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nMPwmiEVdM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx5kkdNHFuo
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Postby U-5075 » Mon Nov 10, 2008 12:58 pm

Speculation..... Dying for a cigarette??

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5j3kN ... wD94C3TMG0

SELECTED ABSTRACT

Reports: Russian accident sub intended for India
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV

"Civilians were supposed to undergo training, but it usually is pretty informal," said Igor Kurdin, who heads an association of former submariners. He speculated the fire system could have been triggered by something as simple as someone smoking a cigarette near a safety gauge.


IGOR KURDIN'S BACKGROUND BECOMES MORE INTERESTING, THE MORE YOU RESEARCH IT

Igor Kurdinwas Executive Officer of Crew One on the K-219 (not to be confused with the K-19) from 1983 until September 1986. He lives in Russia.

He is a co-author for the book

Hostile Waters
by Igor Kurdin, R. Alan White, Peter Huchthausen
Softcover, St Martins Pr, ISBN 0312966121 (0-312-96612-1)

AND THINGS GET VERY INTERESTING WHEN YOU CHECK OUT THE HISTORY OF THE K-219 AND KURDIN'S BACKGROUND FURTHER. GO TO:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_submarine_K-219
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Postby U-5075 » Mon Nov 10, 2008 9:12 pm

SELECTED ABSTRACT

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/1 ... 372249.htm

The Moscow Times » Issue 4028 » News

Poor Preparation Blamed for Deaths on Sub
11 November 2008

"While older generations of submarines had fire safety systems that were activated on the captain's command, new submarines have systems that switch on automatically, said another former submarine captain, Nikolai Markovtsev, Kommersant reported.

An engineer at the shipyard in Bolshoi Kamen, in the Primorye region, where the submarine was being tested, told Interfax that the fire extinguishing system activated in the summer without cause, but the problem seemed to have been solved.

The Investigative Committee of the State Prosecutor's Office released a list of the dead on Monday. Among the three naval dead was the head of the submarine's chemical systems, Alexander Podbornov. The 17 civilians dead included the shipyard engineer in charge of the tests, Viktor Druzhinin."
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Postby U-5075 » Tue Nov 11, 2008 11:00 am

SURVIVORS' STORIES

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5g2e ... dtjOuBcyWg

Survivors recall panic on Russian submarine: newspapers
6 hours ago

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (AFP) — Survivors recalled the terrifying seconds after toxic gas was pumped into their nuclear submarine in an accident on Saturday in which 20 people were killed, Russian newspapers reported.

The submarine was overcrowded, cabin doors were locked and some of the crew were too dazed to put on their gas masks, they said, after the biggest naval disaster since the Kursk submarine sank in 2000, killing 118 sailors.

"I was lying down resting after being on watch. Suddenly the freon gas started coming down right above me. It was like a drug. I lost consciousness," Viktor Rifk, an engineer on board, told the popular Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.

Rifk and other survivors are at a military hospital near Vladivostok, Russia's main Pacific naval base. The area is off-limits to the media and the Komsomolskaya Pravda journalist was forced to sneak in through a fence.

Twenty-one people were also injured by the poisoning, which happened while the new submarine was being tested out in the Sea of Japan and was apparently caused by an accidental functioning of the fire extinguishing system.

"After the liquefied gas literally fell down on us, I heard an alarm and then a cry from the executive officer: 'Switch on your breathing apparatus!'" said Sergei Anshakov, another engineer on the submarine.

"Some people got the freon point-blank and they were immediately gone. Some people got confused and didn't manage to put on their gas masks. Others had put it to one side so that it wouldn't get in the way," Anshakov said.

Speaking to the Izvestia daily, Denis Koshevarov, a warrant officer, said the toll could have been much higher if the fire alarm system had sprayed gas throughout the submarine and the accident had happened at night.

"We were lucky. We were very lucky. First of all, it happened in the evening and not at night. There would have been more dead at night," Koshevarov said.

"The other thing is that the freon came down only in two sections, not in all six. It's frightening to think what might have happened," he added.

"Why so many dead? Some people were sleeping and didn't manage to wake up in time... We haven't seen this kind of thing in the navy for a long time."

Alexei Shanin, another officer on board the submarine, recalled the frantic collective effort by the crew to rescue sleeping men poisoned by the freon gas spraying out of the fire extinguishing system and stuck in locked cabins.

"Everything happened at 18.05. The fire extinguishing system suddenly came on. It was like a tap on a water pipe: one moment it's shut and the next it's bursting out with water," Shanin told the Tvoi Den newspaper.

"We had to smash down the doors of the cabins that had been locked. We took the lads out. Two breaths of freon and that's it. Some of them died on our way into the port. Everyone who felt okay helped out," he added.

Shanin said there had already been problems with the submarine during two previous trials and that the number of people on board was far greater than allowed.

"There were 224 people on board. And the usual size of the crew is 80, 90 people. We even had to take turns sleeping," he said.

"We went out three times on that sub. There were some problems before but we found them, then returned to the port and sorted them out. The accident happened on our third trip."

The Kommersant daily earlier reported the submarine was due to be leased to India.


The story above is in contrast to the following

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20081111/118250572.html

Fire safety system 'not to blame for Russian nuclear sub deaths'
RIA Novosti, Russia - 33 minutes ago
The source also said the submarine had the required amount of individual breathing kits on board, adding however that it was too soon "to make any final ...
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Postby Wayne Frey » Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:04 pm

Igor Kurdin, is indeed, an interesting man. A driving force in the day-to-day activitiies of the St. Petersburg Submarine Club in St. Petersburg Russia (of which I am a member by invitation).
This incident, and the Kursk, bring the Club as a go-to place for the familys of the crew, and others. They also aid the widows and orphans of the Russian submariners.
They have already responded to my condolences with thanks, and updated me.
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Sailor charged in deadly Russian nuclear sub accident

Postby U-5075 » Thu Nov 13, 2008 6:36 pm

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5iW4 ... xovd6fqm_w

Sailor charged in deadly Russian nuclear sub accident
17 hours ago

MOSCOW (AFP) — A Russian sailor has been charged for causing an accident where 20 people were gassed to death on a nuclear submarine in the country's worst tragedy since the 2000 Kursk disaster, officials said on Thursday.

"The suspect is one of the sailors of the crew, who for no reason set off the fire extinguishing system, as a result of which 20 people died and 21 were hospitalized," investigator Vladimir Markin told Vesti-24 television.

"This sailor has already testified to his guilt," said Markin, a spokesman for investigators probing Saturday's accident about the Nerpa submarine, which raised new doubts about the safety of Russian military hardware.

"In connection with this, the suspect faces charges... of negligence leading to the death of two or more people," Markin said, citing an article in Russian criminal law that carries a penalty of up to five years in person.

Markin said investigators were continuing to probe the incident, Russia's worst naval disaster since the sinking of the Kursk submarine in the Barents Sea in 2000, in which all 118 sailors on board died.

In Saturday's accident, 20 people died when the Nerpa's fire-extinguishing system was triggered as the submarine was being tested in the Sea of Japan, pumping Freon gas into the vessel and depriving them of oxygen.

Authorities said there was no fire aboard the vessel, a new Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarine.

Fatalities included three navy personnel and 17 civilians, many of them shipyard workers participating in the tests.

Independent defence experts said the sailor facing charges might end up being a scapegoat for what was a broader failure.

"It will be absolutely unfair if this sailor is designated the sole person to be guilty of what happened," Alexander Golts, a defence commentator at Yezhednevny Zhurnal magazine, told AFP.

"In Russia there is always a tendency to look for a scapegoat," said Pavel Felgenhauer, another defence expert. "The critical lack of qualified personnel in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union is the cause of most disasters."

An official charged with the oversight of law-enforcement agencies also criticised the investigation, the Interfax news agency reported.

"It is certainly troubling that the investigative committee found the guilty party so quickly," Anatoly Kucherena, head of the law-enforcement committee in the Public Chamber, a government advisory body.

Defective gas masks may have been responsible for many of the deaths on the Nerpa, the Russian tabloid Tvoi Den reported, citing survivors.

"I saw people in convulsions ripping off their masks. I also had a breathing apparatus on, but it only worked for seven to 15 minutes," the newspaper quoted warrant officer Yevgeny Ovsyannikov as saying.

"Some of the dead were found with their gas masks on. The breathing apparatuses simply didn't work," another survivor, Dmitry Usachyov, was quoted as saying by Tvoi Den.

Russian media initially reported that the Nerpa was to be leased to India, but officials later denied there were any negotiations with the Indian navy.

The disaster comes at a time when Russia has been flexing its military muscle around the world, with Russian warships due to participate in joint exercises with the Venezuelan navy in the Caribbean Sea later this month.
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Postby U-5075 » Mon Nov 17, 2008 9:49 am

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20081117/118352822.html

Crew member 'tampered with temperature sensor on Nerpa sub'
14:30 | 17/ 11/ 2008

MOSCOW, November 17 (RIA Novosti) - The deaths of 20 people on board the Russian nuclear submarine the Nerpa were caused by a crew member entering the wrong data into a temperature sensor, the Kommersant paper said on Monday. (INFOgraphics)

The business daily said, quoting a source close to the investigation, that sailor Dmitry Grobov is suspected of having entered the wrong temperature data for the submarine's living quarters, which caused the fire safety system to release Freon gas.

The source said that according to information obtained from the sub's Rotor data block, similar to an aircraft's black-box, "the temperature...increased sharply all of sudden and the fire safety system reacted as programmed."

The daily said that at the time of the incident Grobov was on a scheduled watch and the access code to the fire safety system was written in pencil on the surface of the equipment.

The tragedy occurred late on November 8 while the Nerpa was undergoing sea trials in the Sea of Japan. Three submariners and 17 shipyard workers died in the accident. There were 208 people, 81 of them submariners, on board the vessel at the time.

However, former Navy officers have told the paper they doubt that Grobov was solely to blame as it is impossible for one person to activate the system, which is protected from unauthorized activation by multiple levels of confirmation.

The submarine's reactor was not affected by the accident, which took place in the nose of the submarine, and radiation levels on board remained normal.

Investigators earlier announced that they had brought criminal charges against the crew member, and that he faced up to seven years in jail.

"Military investigators have determined the person who activated, without permission or any particular reason, a fire safety system on board the submarine. He is a sailor from the crew, and he has already confessed," Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Investigation Committee of the Prosecutor General's Office, said on November 13.

The incident is the worst for the Russian Navy since the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine in 2000 when all 118 sailors died.

The construction of the Akula II class Nerpa nuclear attack submarine started in 1991, but was suspended for over a decade due to a lack of funding. Akula II class vessels are considered the quietest and deadliest of all Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines.

Based in the Russian Far Eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, the Amur Shipbuilding Plant has built 270 vessels, including the Nerpa and another 55 nuclear submarines since it was established in 1936.
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Postby U-5075 » Wed Nov 19, 2008 6:46 am

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20081119/118396437.html

Experts blame computer glitch for Russian nuclear sub deaths


MOSCOW, November 19 (RIA Novosti) -- The deaths of 20 people on board the Nerpa nuclear submarine could have been caused by a computer glitch, not a crew member, a Russian daily reported on Wednesday. (INFOgraphic)

The tragedy occurred late on November 8 while the Nerpa was undergoing sea trials in the Sea of Japan. Three submariners and 17 shipyard workers died in the accident. There were 208 people, 81 of them submariners, on board the vessel at the time.

"We submariners are unanimous: a computer program failed. Previously, the submarine fire suppression system had always started manually on the commander's orders. Now it is launched electronically," Ensign Yevgeny Ovsyannikov, a technical specialist on the Nerpa, told Komsomolskaya Pravda.

He added that it was the first time this computerized system had been used on the submarine during the sea trials and that the computer had malfunctioned during tests in the dock.

An expert who requested anonymity suggested that a toxic form of Freon could have been used in the fire suppression system.

"A toxic additive, trichlorotrifluoroethane [C2F3Cl3], was used. It is cheaper than pure Freon. Possibly, they simply wanted to economize," he said.

He added that there were unmistakable signs of poisoning, which could not have been caused by Freon: "People were collapsing as though they had been shot."

Breathing Freon is generally safe, but if the concentration in the air is high then suffocation can result.

He said 46 people had been hospitalized, not 21 as officially announced.

It was previously reported that the deaths were caused by a crew member activating the fire safety system without permission or by the wrong data being entered into the temperature sensor.

Submariner Dmitry Grobov is suspected of having entered the wrong temperature data for the submarine's living quarters, which caused the fire suppression system to release the Freon gas.

However, former Navy officers have said they doubt that Grobov was solely to blame since it is impossible for one person to activate the system, which is security protected from unauthorized activation by multiple authentication levels.

The submarine's nuclear reactor was not affected by the accident, which took place in the nose section, and radiation levels on board remained normal.

Investigators earlier announced that they had brought criminal charges against the crew member, and that he faced up to seven years in jail if found guilty.

The incident is the worst for the Russian Navy since the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine in 2000 when all 118 sailors died.

The construction of the Akula II class Nerpa nuclear attack submarine started in 1991, but was suspended for over a decade due to a lack of funding. Akula II class vessels are considered the quietest and deadliest of all Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines.

Based in the Russian Far Eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, the Amur Shipyard has built 270 vessels, including the Nerpa and another 55 nuclear submarines since it was established in 1936.
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Postby U-5075 » Thu Nov 20, 2008 6:01 pm

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20081120/118424556.html

Suspect in Nerpa sub tragedy to have psychological evaluation

VLADIVOSTOK, November 20 (RIA Novosti) - A submariner suspected of causing the deaths of 20 people by mishandling a temperature sensor on board the Nerpa submarine will undergo psychological testing, an investigation spokesman said on Thursday.

The tragedy occurred late on November 8 while the Nerpa was undergoing sea trials in the Sea of Japan. Three submariners and 17 shipyard workers died in the accident. There were 208 people, 81 of them submariners, on board the vessel at the time.

"The suspect's psychological examination is prescribed by law," the spokesman said. "I cannot say how long it will take or where it will take place."

He added that a technical examination of the submarine and its systems would last at least a month.

Submariner Dmitry Grobov could face up to seven years in prison if found guilty of triggering the fire suppression system without permission.

Ensign Yevgeny Ovsyannikov, a technical specialist on the Nerpa, told Komsomolskaya Pravda that the tragedy could have been caused by a computer glitch, not a crew member.

"We submariners are unanimous: a computer program failed. Previously, the submarine fire suppression system had always started manually on the commander's orders. Now it is launched electronically," Ovsyannikov was quoted as saying in Wednesday's edition of the popular daily.

He added that it was the first time the computerized system had been used on the submarine during the sea trials and that the computer had malfunctioned during tests while docked.

An expert who requested anonymity suggested that a toxic form of Freon could have been used in the fire suppression system.

The incident is the Russian Navy's worst since the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine in 2000, taking the lives of all 118 on board.
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