November 9, 2008
Russian death sub was intended for India
A Russian nuclear submarine aboard which 20 people died on Saturday was undergoing tests prior to being leased to the Indian Navy.
Though Russian state-controlled media are being fairly open (by Russian standards) about the circumstances of the accident, they are being much more reticent about the Indian connection--though it is all over the Indian media.
Three naval personnel and 17 civilian specialists died after inhaling chemical gases released when the firefighting system was erroneously activated as the submarine sailed through the Sea of Japan, off Russia's east coast, Moscow Times quotes Russian Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo as saying.
Dygalo said 208 people were aboard, including 81 sailors, when the accident occurred. Twenty-one further people were hospitalized after inhaling the chemicals and are all reported of danger.
According to Russian and Indian media reports, the submarine involved is the Nerpa, a Shuka-B attack submarine. In the west, the Shuka-B submarines are designated the Akula class. Indian sources say the submarine was to be leased for 10 years, starting next year.
According to one western source, the Akula class submarines were built by the Amur Shipbuilding Plant Joint Stock Company at Komsomolsk-on-Amur and at the Severodvinsk shipbuilding yard at a steady rate of one-to-two a year until 1995. Production stalled out at that time for lack of funding. In late October, Russia's state-controlled RIA-Novosti news agency reported that the Nerpa, an Akula-class built at the Amur shipyard, had begun sea trials.
Construction of the Nerpa began in 1991. Indian media report that construction was resumed with Indian funding after Russia agreed to lease the submarine to India for $650 million on completion, citing top Indian military officials. India plans to rename the submarine Chakra-2.
More on the Akula Class here.
Read The Times of India report here