Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Nuclear Near-Miss With Russian Sub Fire

Another nuclear near-miss, this time involving a Russian submarine fire that could have resulted in the cook off of 64 nuclear warheads. The Guardian goes into greater detail:
"Russian officials said at the time that all nuclear weapons aboard the Yekaterinburg nuclear submarine had been unloaded well before a fire engulfed the 167-metre (550 feet) vessel and there had been no risk of a radiation leak. But the respected Vlast weekly magazine quoted several sources in the Russian navy as saying that throughout the fire on 29 December the submarine was carrying 16 R-29 intercontinental ballistic missiles, each armed with four nuclear warheads. "Russia, for a day, was on the brink of the biggest catastrophe since the time of Chernobyl," Vlast reported. The 1986 disaster in modern-day Ukraine is regarded as the world's worst nuclear accident..... The fire started when welding sparks ignited wooden scaffolding around the 18,200-tonne submarine at the Roslyakovo docks, 1,500 km (900 miles) north of Moscow and one of the main shipyards used by Russia's northern fleet. The rubber covering of the submarine then caught fire, sending flames and black smoke 10 metres (30 feet) above the stricken vessel. Firemen battled the blaze for a day and a night before partially sinking the submarine to douse the flames, according to media reports. Vlast reported that immediately after the fire the Yekaterinburg sailed to the navy's weapons store, an unusual trip for a damaged submarine supposedly carrying no weapons and casting doubt on assurances that it was not armed. "K-84 was in dock with rockets and torpedoes on board," the magazine said, adding that apart from the nuclear weapons the submarine was carrying torpedoes and mines as well as its two nuclear reactors."
It's like nuclear powers are asking the world more often than than we might imagine or wish a'la Clint Eastwood, " Do you feel lucky?"

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