Russian nuclear sub catches fire during repairs

Last Updated: Friday, December 30, 2011 - 23:14

Moscow: A massive fire that engulfed a
docked Russian nuclear submarine in the northern Murmansk
region and left nine people ill with toxic fumes was put out
on Friday, with authorities saying that there was no radiation
leak and announcing a probe into the incident.

The Yekaterinburg Delta-class nuclear submarine had
caught fire yesterday during repairs at a shipyard in
Murmansk.

"The fire has been contained," Emergencies Minister
Sergei Shoigu was quoted as saying by RiaNovosti news agency.
Officials said there was no radiation risk as the nuclear
submarine`s two reactors had been shut down.

President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the Prosecutor
General`s Office to thoroughly investigate the incident and
punish those responsible.

Besides, he instructed Deputy Prime Ministers Igor Sechin
and Dmitry Rogozin to take all necessary measures for the
restoration of the damaged submarine.

Nine people suffered from smoke inhalation while battling
the fire. Seven of them were servicemen and two others were
emergency ministry personnel, Russian media reported, adding
they had been hospitalised.

Russia`s Northern Fleet spokesman Capt. 1st Rank Vadim
Serga earlier said wooden scaffolding around the submarine
caught fire, which spread to the vessel`s outer hull.

Delta-class submarines have an outer skin of anechoic
rubber, designed to absorb sound from sonars to make the boat
harder to detect, but it could burn in a dry environment.

The K-84 Yekaterinburg nuclear submarine is one of the
seven Delta-IV class submarines in service, forming the core
of the naval component of the Russian nuclear triad in the
Northern Fleet. Each submarine can carry up to 16
inter-continental ballistic missiles.

Firefighters battled the blaze for nine hours after it
broke out.

Officials said there was no radiation leak because the
reactors had been shut down before repairs began.

Some crew members were reportedly still on board the
submarine, but their number was not immediately known.

Military investigators have opened a criminal case into
charges of "the destruction or damage of military property due
to negligence," a spokesman from the Investigation Committee
said.

Fire safety violations during routine maintenance works
are being seen as the most likely cause of the blaze at the
floating repair dock.

PTI



First Published: Friday, December 30, 2011 - 23:14

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