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Russian Deep Diving Sub Suffers Fire

Losharik GUGI Russia Sub

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#1 Josh

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Posted 02 July 2019 - 1549 PM

The Russians had an accident in one of their deep diving titanium submersibles operated by GUGI. 14 reported dead and they are towing it back to base, which means they most likely scrammed the reactor. Losharik  is roughly equivalent to the old US NR-1 boat that has been retired; it gets carried to work by converted  Delta 3/4 boomers to do secret squirrel stuff on the bottom of the ocean - recovery, hydrophone emplacement, etc. The Russians are big on setting up hydrophones all over the Arctic ocean floor; they don't like US boomers or even attack boats being there. 14 dead represents about half or more of the total crew, though there may been a heavy crew for a training mission since this was is Russian waters on the continental shelf and its max depth is like 2500-3000 meters. Very odd that they are actually reporting on such an asset, given their history with such things and the nature of the asset. Makes me think it's some kind of lie or cover. RIP to the sailors.


Edited by Josh, 02 July 2019 - 1549 PM.

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#2 GARGEAN

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Posted 04 July 2019 - 0117 AM

Makes me think it's some kind of lie or cover.


??????
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#3 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 04 July 2019 - 0507 AM

Make of this what you will.

 

https://www.thedrive...guing-schematic

 

Some earlier reports from Russian media outlets, citing unnamed individuals, had suggested that one of the Russian Navy's other submarine motherships was involved some way in the incident on Monday. Those stories specifically named the modified Project 667BDRM Delfin-class ballistic missile submarine BS-64 Podmoskovye and the Project 09786 BS-136 Orenburg, a converted Project 667BDR Delta III-class ballistic missile submarine, both of which are understood to be special mission boats capable of performing this role.

Local fishermen reported seeing Podmoskovye surface in the Barents Sea near the town of Kildin around the time of the reported fire. The rapid surfacing was quickly followed by a lot of commotion on the large mothership submarine's deck. Soon after, two tugs and a warship met it and escorted it into the Kola Bay. Russian newspaper Kommersant, citing anonymous sources, also said that Losharik had been ascending from the seabed in order to dock with Podmoskovye in a Northern Fleet training ground to the west of Kola Bay when the fire broke out.

On July 3, 2019, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had visited Severomorsk, which is in the Kola Bay, where the still-unnamed damaged submarine is reportedly now pier-side. The day before, Russian President Vladimir Putin had met with Shoigu and ordered him to personally go to the base, which is home to the headquarters of the Russian Navy's Northern Fleet, to meet with officials and get briefed about the accident. A separate, unconfirmed report said that the Russian Navy had actually towed the damaged submarine to Gadzhiyevo, which is situated to the north of Severomorsk.

"It [the submarine] belongs to the highest level of classified data, so it is absolutely normal for it [the name] not to be disclosed," Putin's personal spokesperson Dmitri Peskov said on July 3, 2019, all but confirming that the submarine in question is one of Russia's shadowy special mission boats. The Russian President himself had previously described the sub as an "unusual vessel."

Speaking at an open meeting with officials in Severomorsk, Shoigu also described the submariners who died in the fire as "high professionals" and "unique experts." The highly specialized Main Directorate of Deep-Sea Research, a naval intelligence entity also known by the Russian acronym GUGI, operates the Russian Navy's fleet of special mission submarines, including Losharik and Belgorod. Previous reports had already identified seven of the 14 sailors who died as Captains of the First Rank, equivalent to U.S. Navy captains, including two who were Heroes of the Russian Federation, the country's highest honorary title. 

In addition, the Russian Defense Minister disclosed that a civilian expert from the country's state-run defense industrial complex had been on the submarine at the time of the accident. This might point to Losharik being involved in a test of new equipment during the mishap.

"The submariners acted heroically in the critical situation," Shoigu said. "They evacuated a civilian expert from the compartment that was engulfed by fire and shut the door to prevent the fire from spreading further and fought for the ship's survival until the end."

 

The few details we have seem to point to a possible scenario where Losharik was attached to its mothership when the fire broke out or its crew got the sub back to its mothership just before the fire overwhelmed them, with the civilian being saved before sealing-off a compartment—or possibly the entire submarine—to protect Losharik and maybe even the larger submarine it was attached to from being completely lost. It's also possible that eye witness accounts are inaccurate and that Losharik was operating independently and was able to make it to the surface intact. Whatever the situation was, the official narrative from the highest levels of the Russian military is that the highly-trained crew on the small, but extremely valuable submarine heroically died saving at least one civilian onboard. 

The exact cause of the accident, or the scope of the damage, remains unclear, as well. Unconfirmed reports have said that a short circuit or battery malfunction may have sparked the blaze. The Russian Ministry of Defense has denied separate reports that there had been an unspecified "gas explosion" onboard the submarine. The Kremlin has also said there was no release of dangerous radiation as a result of the incident. Losharik, as well as the various submarine motherships, are all nuclear powered.


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#4 Josh

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Posted 04 July 2019 - 1002 AM

Makes me think it's some kind of lie or cover.

??????

Sarcasm. Im thinking of the Kursk incident and how much more forthcoming the Russians are this time around.
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#5 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 07 July 2019 - 1125 AM

https://uk.news.yaho...-071812959.html

 

The families of the 14 Russian servicemen who died after a fire broke out on a nuclear submarine have reportedly been told that their relatives averted a “planetary catastrophe” before they passed away.

A high-ranking military official is said to have made the comment at a funeral for the crew in St Petersburgh days after the accident in the Barents Sea earlier this week.

The incident remains shrouded in mystery after the Russian government refused to reveal the submarine’s name and its mission, claiming them as state secrets.

However, the Kremlin has said the accident was sparked by a fire in the battery compartment of the submarine.

Defence minister Sergei Shoigu said earlier this week that the onboard nuclear reactor was “operational” after the crew took “necessary measures” to protect it.

His deputy Andrei Kartapolov also claimed the “hero” submariners sealed a hatch to contain the blaze.

The Kremlin has not revealed what exactly occurred, or whether a major incident was averted by the servicemen's actions.

Paying tribute to the crew at the memorial, the unnamed military official said the submariners had prevented a much bigger tragedy, Russian news outlet Open Media reported.

 

“Today we are seeing off the crew of a research deep water apparatus, who died while performing a combat mission in the cold waters of the Barents Sea. Fourteen dead, 14 lives,” he is quoted as saying. “At the cost of their lives, they saved the lives of their comrades, saved the ship, did not allow a planetary catastrophe.”


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#6 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 0229 AM

Speculation the bodies of the crew may have been buried in lead lined coffins.

 

https://www.nzherald...jectid=12248473

Speculation, however, remains rife. Much has been made on social media of footage showing the sailors' coffins, and their apparent weight on pallbearer's shoulders.

Were they lead-lined? Or was the double-handed poise pallbearers adopted simply a mark of respect?

Norway reported shortly after the incident that Russian officials had reported an incident aboard the submarine involving a "gas" explosion. Moscow quickly moved to deny this.

Since then, Norway has reported no trace of increased radiation levels on its northern border.


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#7 DB

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 0803 AM

They were obviously preparing to plant a doomsday device. Theirheroic sacrifice must have stopped it from going off before the President's birthday.
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#8 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 0809 AM

 :)

 

There is always a certain degree of hyperbole with Russian Navy accidents. I remember back in 1986 when they had a missile blow up in the tube, they cited one of the crew-members, (namely Sergei Premenin, deserved winner of the order of the red star), who died in the reactor compartment as 'the man who saved America'. Well he undoubtedly saved his fellow sailors, but its kind of overstating the point. They always do it, it takes the sting out of the losses for the families I suppose.

https://en.wikipedia...submarine_K-219

 

I guess if the boat doesn't return to service, we will know for sure it was a reactor accident.


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#9 Josh

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 0845 AM

It seems much more likely it was a hydrogen gas/battery issue like they say. If it was a reactor accident I think there would be some tells already. The fact they towed it back to port seems to indicate there is no radiation threat.


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#10 Panzermann

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 1122 AM

 

 

Makes me think it's some kind of lie or cover.

??????

Sarcasm. Im thinking of the Kursk incident and how much more forthcoming the Russians are this time around.

 

 

Back in 2000 Russia was much weaker and much more insecure about itself. And i guess old cold war cover up mentality was still strong. Probably disorganization in the leadership of the russian navy stopping quick decison making etc. etc. Though it has been a long time since I looked into the K-131 accident.

 

 

 

It seems much more likely it was a hydrogen gas/battery issue like they say. If it was a reactor accident I think there would be some tells already. The fact they towed it back to port seems to indicate there is no radiation threat.

 

Probably. roman had linked a few things in the because russia thread. But I think there was nothing yet as to reasons for the accident.


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#11 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 0402 AM

Report here it was a lithium ion battery fire, a replacement from ones previously sourced from Ukraine.

https://www.theguard...e-cause-reports


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#12 Josh

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 1258 PM

That's actually surprising in that I didn't realize any operational boats used lithium. The Japanese are to build their Soryu mk2s with them but I wasn't aware of anyone else employing it. Pure lithium is basically explosive in water; I imagine there are a lot of safety concerns with LiH on a submarine. Even bound to hydrogen I'd think there's a lot of very exothermic potential side reactions with salt water.


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#13 Panzermann

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 1604 PM

That's actually surprising in that I didn't realize any operational boats used lithium. The Japanese are to build their Soryu mk2s with them but I wasn't aware of anyone else employing it. Pure lithium is basically explosive in water; I imagine there are a lot of safety concerns with LiH on a submarine. Even bound to hydrogen I'd think there's a lot of very exothermic potential side reactions with salt water.

 

The sunk submarine is a research vessel for deep sea research. so i guess rebuilding that to a new battery type is easier than getting approval and certifications for changing the batteries on a big military submarine. And it was a fire of lithium-ion batteries. Jsut like in any mobile phone or Tesla car or battery powered drills. Which also sometimes burst into fire.

 

It is not a lithium based hydrogen stoarage like in the german class 212A submarines. wOuldn't make much sense to use fuel cells, when there is a nuclear reactor on board.


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#14 Josh

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 2200 PM

In general, you never what anything made with lithium exposed to water, most especially sea water. Perhaps the Russians made this sub that way, but I suspect they didnt do so with a lot of real world testing before hand.
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#15 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 25 July 2019 - 0128 AM

So what you are saying is, this would appear to have been rushed into service?


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#16 Josh

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Posted 25 July 2019 - 0654 AM

I wouldnt say rushed, but if it used lithium ion batteries, it seems to me it might have experimental. Perhaps the spherical hull sections put such a demand on spacing that lead acid batteries were unworkable. But it would have to be one of the first boats to use LiH batteries - the only other design Im aware of is the new Soryus that ditch AIP for increased battery space using LIBs. The reasoning there is a increased battery life and shorter charge time makes the styrling engines pointless.
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#17 JasonJ

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Posted 25 July 2019 - 0719 AM

LiBs can store more energy than LABs which not only means longer duration before having to surface to recharge, but also means greater energy discharge than LABs which can enable higher speed when using only batteries. They are also quieter to whatever amount than nuclear power generation from what I gather. AIP may still have some advantages over only-LiB but there is further development of LiBs going on so going to only-LiB in the Soryu sub probably is also as an investment toward having better LiBs in the future.


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#18 Josh

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Posted 25 July 2019 - 0830 AM

LIB can store more energy, which conversely means you would need less of them for a given requirement. I suspect that is what drove their usage in Lorshark, if that is indeed what it uses. But again, as far as I know this is a very new technology* that I don't think is employed by other boats in the water. As with all batteries, there are concerns with damage, maintenance, accidents, etc, but unlike LABs there is little to no operational experience with LIB.

 

*ETA: new tech with regard to submarines; obviously everyone here has a device with lithium ion batteries. But scaling that up to safe use in a boat is another matter; a battery overheating in a confined space at 1000meters is going to problematic to say the least and a water breach of a LIB battery compartment is pretty much going to be a bomb.


Edited by Josh, 25 July 2019 - 0832 AM.

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#19 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 25 July 2019 - 0835 AM

Judging by the problems they made for themselves using HP Torpedo's in the Kursk, you have to wonder why they would take a risk like that.


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#20 Josh

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Posted 25 July 2019 - 0957 AM

It might have been the only way to solve the engineering issue. Look at a cutaway of the boat; its pressure hull is seven spheres laid out in a row with roughly the room of a mid sized house that has to be shared with the entire crew and mission equipment. Miniaturizing the batteries by using LiH might have been the only practical way of having emergency battery power in the case of a reactor event.


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