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Kremlin: Navy submersible’s fire has no relation to shipping threats or nuclear reactor

On July 1, 14 submariners died in Russian territorial waters as a result of the fire

MOSCOW, July 8. /TASS/. There is no information to testify to any shipping threats in the Barents Sea where a Russian Navy submersible recently caught fire, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday.

Media representatives requested the Kremlin spokesman to comment on a statement by an anonymous military source who said that the actions by the crew of the Russian Navy’s fire-damaged submersible helped prevent a disaster of planetary scope. Journalists inquired about whether this could relate to the nuclear power unit’s security or threats to shipping in the Barents Sea.

"There has been no information to testify to the existence of any threats and, correspondingly, there is nothing to talk about," the Russian presidential spokesman said.

"As for the reactor, there are no problems at all. Everything is in the working condition and the defense minister reported about that to the head of state," the Kremlin spokesman said.

Fire on the submersible

Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement released on Tuesday that 14 submariners had died in a fire on a submersible in Russian waters on July 1.

"On July 1, fourteen submariners - sailors died in Russian territorial waters as a result of inhaling combustion products aboard a research submersible 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 ministry said in a statement.

The fire was extinguished "thanks to the self-sacrificing actions of the crew," the statement said.

The submersible is currently staying at Severomorsk, the main naval base of Russia’s Northern Fleet. The causes of the incident are being investigated.

On Russian President Vladimir Putin’s instruction, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Severomorsk on Wednesday where he held a meeting on establishing the causes of the deadly fire aboard the submersible. Shoigu noted that the crew had acted "heroically" and primarily rescued a civilian aboard the submersible after which they continued struggling for the vessel’s survivability.

All the dead sailors will be recommended for state awards posthumously while all the necessary assistance and support will be rendered to their families, the defense minister said.

Russia’s defense chief also held a separate meeting with representatives of the enterprise that had developed the research submersible and had given instructions to work out and implement measures within the shortest time possible to repair the submersible and bring it into service again.