A Russian special operations submarine powered by a nuclear reactor has suffered some kind of a fire/explosion/gas-producing casualty while submerged in Russian territorial waters.
The submarine, officially classed as the AS-12 “Losharik”, is designed for operation at extreme depths and is believed to be designed to cut or tap undersea communications cables. It is transported aboard a converted Delta IV boomer. The keel was laid down in 1988 but it wasn’t launched until 2003. Since then it has been maintained by the Russian Navy with all the horror that entails.
This is how the Russian Defense Ministry announced it:
On July 1 in Russian territorial waters a fire broke out on board a deep-water scientific research vessel that was studying the marine environment of the world ocean on behalf of the Russian navy. Fourteen submariners died as the result of smoke inhalation … Work is underway to establish the cause of the incident. The investigation is being conducted by the commander-in-chief of the navy.
But there are contradictory reports coming from other Russian media.
Russian North-West Region local media on Jul 2 reported explosion and fire on board of Russian Navy deepwater nuclear research station or submarine AS-12, known as LOSHARIK. Accident occurred on Jul 1. According to news, all staff on board, up to 14 people, died in explosion and fire.
— Voytenko Mikhail (@Maritime_Bullet) July 2, 2019
Right now, about all we can say is something bad happened to a Russian submarine that may or may not have been in territorial waters and the death toll of 14 is a floor, not a ceiling. We don’t know the fate of the submarine or the reactor. In short, if they are admitting this, the situation is undoubtedly worse.