A Russian nuclear submarine malfunctioned while on operations in the Barents Sea, and was trapped Monday on the ocean bottom, a navy spokesman said. The Oscar-class submarine was not carrying any nuclear weapons and there was no immediate danger, said Igor Dygalo, head of the navy press service. No radiation leaks were reported.
Rescue ships were rushing to the area to assist the stricken submarine, which was in radio contact with surface vessels, the spokesman said. The navy did not say when the incident happened or where in the Barents Sea the submarine was lying on the ocean floor. The Barents Sea is in arctic waters bordering the northwest coast of Russia and the northern tip of Norway. The submarine, named Kursk, was built in 1994 and went into service in 1995, making it one of the newest vessels in the Russian navy. It is a nuclear strategic missile submarine that can carry up to 24 nuclear ballistic missiles. The Kursk carries a crew of 107 personnel and weighs some 14,000 tons.
Russian nuclear submarines have been involved in a string of accidents in recent decades. The Izvestia newspaper reported recently that, according to the most conservative estimate, 507 submarine crew members have died during the 40-year history of Russian nuclear submarines.
Full article: The Associated Press, Mon 14 Aug 2000