Decommissioned Russian Nuclear powered Submarine K-159 Sinks Whilst Under Tow
The Russian nuclear powered submarine K-159 was decommissioned back on the 16th. of July 1989. Her weapons all removed, and the reactor shut down.
Her base had been in the town of Gremikha, and it was arranged to tow this submarine to a scrapyard in the town of Polarnye. K-159 was under tow on four floating hulls, and whilst in the Barents Sea a fierce storm struck on the 30th. of August 2003, she was ripped off these hulls to sink in 170 metres of water. Of her towing crew of 10, only one sailor survived, at the time of this disaster at 0400 ( 4 AM ) or at 1200 ( midday, Australian Eastern Standard Time) this boat was some three nautical miles north west of Kildin Island. Thus far only two bodies from the 9 who died have been found.
The worry for the future is the possibility of eventual leakage from this first generation of twin nuclear reactors, it is reported that the newer and more sophisticated design of nuclear power plants are more likely to withstand the ravages of time, but K-159 was virtually an antique.
It seems that in due course the corrosive effects of the salt water may well cause the reactor compartments and therefore the actual reactor vessel to fail, and large volumes of coolant and corroded fuel to leak out to contaminate the surrounding waters.
We all recall that only three years before on the 12th. of August, 2000, an explosion took the nuclear submarine Kursk to the sea bed of the Barents Sea, and all 118 Russian sailors died. That story is also on AHOY.
Once again, the Barents Sea has claimed yet another victim.
Russian Nuclear Submarines at Vidyayevo