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Fire-damaged nuclear submarine in dock for repairs

August 29, 2012, 17:59 UTC+3

The "Yekaterinburg" is expected to return to the Navy in 2014

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ARKHANGELSK, August 29 (Itar-Tass) — The strategic nuclear submarine K-84 "Yekaterinburg" damaged by fire in December 2011 was put in a dockage facility of the Severodvinsk-based "Zvyozdochka" repair center, company spokeswoman Nadezhda Shcherbinina told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

"The submarine entered the Zvyozdochka water area in late June for scheduled restoration of technical readiness and elimination of the aftermath of the fire on board. Repair teams are now beginning an inspection of the sub for defects in its systems and mechanisms," the spokeswoman said.

"According to the workschedule, the Yekaterinburg is expected to return to the Navy in 2014, she added.

A fire at a dry dock of repair plant # 82 in the village of Roslyakovo, Murmansk region, where the submarine had been brought, occurred at around 16:20, Moscow time, on December 29, 2011. Reports said wooden scaffolding around the vessel caught fire and spread to hull insulation. To put out the blaze, the submarine had to submerge.

The fire was fully extinguished on December 30. Nine people were injured. The Investigative Committee opened a criminal case under Article 374 of Russia's Criminal Code /negligent destruction or damage of military property/.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said then the submarine would be fully repaired. "It can be repaired: technical solutions have been found; they allow for repairing it within the proper timeframe and returning it to the Navy. Also, solutions have been found to compensate for the Yekaterinburg defense capability. Therefore, the security of the Russian Federation will be compensated," the official said during his working trip to the Murmansk region.

The repairs will extend the submarine's active service life by at least five to six years. They are estimated to cost around 500 million roubles.

An inspection team reported that the fire had destroyed the hydroacoutsic set and the antenna, and seriously damaged the hull's rubber coating.

The fire was caused by gross violations of safety requirements during hot works on the submarine’s light hull in its nose section, following collision with a tow-boat as it moored at the Gadzhiyevo base, inspectors reported.

A defense sector official confirmed that the submarine had carried a full set of 16 intercontinental ballistic missiles Sineva with nuclear warheads, torpedoes and mines with conventional charges. The torpedo tubes were loaded and heated to 70 degrees Celsius during the blaze. "When submarines dock for small repairs, their armaments, including nuclear missiles, are not dismantled. Such was the procedure in the USSR; it continues today," the defense sector source said.

K-84 Yekaterinburg is a strategic nuclear-powered submarine of Project 667 BDRM "Delfin." It was built at the Sevmash shipyard and added to the Navy's arsenal on December 30, 1985.

The submarine is 166 meters long; its width is 12 meters, and displacement - 19,000 tons. It can carry 16 R-29RM ballistic missiles. Its cruising speed is 24 knots /approx 44 kilometers/. It has a crew of 140.

Zvyozdochka specializes in medium repairs of the nuclear submarines of Project 667 BDRM, the backbone of Russia's seaborne strategic nuclear forces. It modernized Yekaterinburg and handed it over to the Northern Fleet in 2003. Its service was extended by ten years. At present, Zvyozdochka repaired and handed over to the Navy the Novomoskovsk submarine. Its handover to the Northern Fleet completed the modernization of all the six submarines of this class. Earlier, the company upgraded K-51 Verkhoturye /1999/, K-84 Yekaterinburg /2003/, K-114 /Tula /2006/, K-117 Bryansk /2008/ and K-18 Karelia /2010/. The project to upgrade the Novomoskovsk was worth eight billion roubles.

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