Sergei Shoigu investigates a fire on "Losharik"

On July 1, 14 sailors, including two Heroes of Russia, were killed in a fire on the deep-water apparatus of the Losharik complex. What is this complex and what could happen to it in the Barents Sea?
Origin source
On the afternoon of July 2, the Russian Defense Ministry reported the deaths of 14 sailors as a result of an emergency in the Northern Fleet. The message of the Ministry did not provide details of the PE.

“On July 1, a fire broke out in the Russian territorial waters on a research deep-sea apparatus designed to study the bottom space and the bottom of the World Ocean in the interests of the Russian Navy. 14 submariners died as a result of poisoning by combustion products, ”the Defense Ministry said.

From the message it follows that the fire center was eliminated by the actions of the team. Now the deep-water apparatus is at the naval base Severomorsk. The Ministry of Defense did not specify the type of deep-water apparatus on which the fire occurred.

The RBC source in the security forces reported that the emergency occurred on July 1 at about 20:30 on the descent vehicle of the nuclear project 10831 (also known as “Losharik”). Killed the crew of the descent vehicle, said the interlocutor of RBC. He added that the commander-in-chief of the Navy Nikolai Evmenov is based at Severomorsk in the morning of July 2.

What could do "Losharik"

On the evening of July 2, the Kremlin press service announced an unscheduled meeting between the Russian president and defense minister Sergei Shoigu. On it, Vladimir Putin called the deepwater apparatus an "unusual vessel." “We all know, this is a research vessel, a highly professional crew. In accordance with your preliminary reports, of the 14 dead, seven are captains of the first rank, two are Heroes of Russia. This is a big loss for the fleet, and indeed for the army in general, ”he said.

Captain I rank corresponds to the military rank of colonel. An officer with such a rank can command a ship. The commander of the nuclear submarine "Nerpa", in which in 2008, due to state of emergency, 20 sailors were killed, was in the rank of captain of the first rank.

A large number of senior officers at Losharik says that there were representatives of various units on board, “perhaps they were going to test something,” believes the expert of the Russian Council on International Affairs, the Navy specialist Ilya Kramnik.

“All submarines converted to work with“ Losharik ”are included in the structure of the General Directorate for Deep-Water Research. This is a unique structure - they are part of the Navy, but in fact they live their own lives. The main tasks that they face are listening to foreign underwater communication lines, lifting interesting weapons and military equipment from the depth, protecting our similar communications equipment - submarine cables from penetration, ”a source close to the Ministry of Defense explained to RBC.
It is worth noting that on July 2, the annual anti-submarine exercises of the NATO naval forces Dynamic Mangoose started off near the northern coast of Norway. In the exercises, which will continue until July 14, warships, submarines and anti-submarine patrol aircraft from Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Canada, Norway, Poland, the USA, Turkey and France are involved.

However, the episode with the state of emergency in the Russian apparatus is hardly connected with the NATO exercises, said Michael Kofman, a senior researcher at the American Center for Naval Analysis.

Because of what could start a fire on the device

The investigation of the causes of the fire at Losharik is led by the commander-in-chief of the Navy Nikolai Evmenov. Putin asked Shoigu to fly to Severodvinsk and “aim [the investigating emergency case] commission to unconditionally identify the causes of this tragedy.”

Director of the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Agency Per Strand said that, according to Russian officials, a gas explosion occurred aboard a deep-water apparatus in the Barents Sea region, reports Reuters. Abnormally high levels of radiation after the emergency with the Russian apparatus, the Norwegians did not record.

The most likely and frequent causes of fire on submarines are wiring and other technical problems, says Michael Kofman.

There are a lot of reasons for spontaneous combustion in case of technical breakdowns, said Viktor Murakhovsky, editor-in-chief of Arsenal of Fatherland magazine. “As with other military equipment, [at Losharik during a fire], oxygen is replaced by quenching compounds. If you are in the compartment where the fire protection systems have worked, you should wear an insulating gas mask (portable breathing device, remote control), which is provided for by all the instructions, ”Murakhovsky explained. He stressed that for a submariner this is a required element of equipment both when going to sea and at the base.

A portable breathing device allows you to breathe in the absence of oxygen for about 20–30 minutes; this is enough time to get to the isolated breathing apparatus, which should be in each compartment of the submarine. They can breathe for an hour and a half, Kramnik says.

What is the autonomous deepwater station "Losharik"

A deepwater vessel with an atomic reactor can carry out various works at a depth of a kilometer or more. It has not very great autonomy and, as a rule, is delivered on refitted submarines. The device docks with the carrier, and the submarine throws it to the point at which it should work.

“Losharik” is a Russian nuclear deep-water submarine that does not carry weapons on its board, the depth of its submersion can reach 6 thousand meters, according to the Military Review portal. "Losharik" was created in the 1980s by the designers of the Malakhit design bureau. The submarine is part of the Main Directorate of Deep-Sea Research of the Russian Ministry of Defense, which is better known as “underwater reconnaissance” and reports directly to the Minister of Defense, the portal reports.

The deep-sea descent module is attached to the submarine carrier below. The carrier is the K-129 nuclear submarine of the 667BDR Kalmar project, specially reworked for this purpose. The submarine K-129, according to the "Military Review", is listed as part of the Northern Fleet and is designated BS-136 "Orenburg."

This is the largest accident incident on the underwater vehicles of the Russian Ministry of Defense since November 2008. Then the accident on the Nerpa nuclear submarine, built but not yet accepted into the Navy, claimed the lives of 20 people, another 21 people suffered. The incident occurred during factory trials of the submarine in the Sea of ​​Japan. Because of the unauthorized operation of the fire extinguishing system LOC (bulk chemical boat), freon gas began to flow into the boat compartments.