On July 1, 14 Russian sailors—most of them senior officers with ranks equivalent to captain, commander, or lieutenant commander in the US Navy—died in an accident aboard a small nuclear-powered submarine designed for operations near or on the sea floor. The submarine Losharik (named after a Russian children’s book character who is a horse made of juggling balls) was operating in the Barents Sea when the accident took place.
According to a Russian Navy statement published by TASS, the 14 “died in Russian territorial waters as a result of inhaling combustion products aboard a research submersible vehicle designated for studying the seafloor and the bottom of the World Ocean in the interests of the Russian Navy after a fire broke out during bathymetric measurements.” The officers died while combating the fire.
In a statement delivered on July 3 from the Russian North Fleet’s base in Severomorsk, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that three crew members and a civilian aboard the sub survived the disaster. The crew members who died, he said, “acted heroically in the critical situation. 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.”