How many nuclear submarines are at the bottom of the ocean?

Nine nuclear submarines have sunk, either by accident or by sinking. The Soviet Navy has lost five (one of which sank twice), the Russian Navy twice and the United States Navy (USN) two. Of the nine sinks, two were caused by fires, two by weapons explosions, two by floods, one by bad weather and one by subsidence due to a damaged nuclear reactor. Only the reason for the sinking of the USS Scorpion is unknown.

Eight of the submarines are submarine wrecks in the Northern Hemisphere, five in the Atlantic Ocean and three in the Arctic Ocean. The ninth submarine, K-429, was lifted and returned to active service after its two sinks. Unfortunately, the loss of power on board and the difficult weather conditions were too much for the crew to overcome. On April 12, K-8 sank with about forty crew members on board, resting at a depth of approximately 15,000 feet.

The depth made any effort to recover the submarine and nuclear torpedoes impractical. For example, in Andreyeva Bay, where 600,000 tons of toxic water leaked into the Barents Sea from a nuclear storage pool in 1982, spent fuel from more than 100 submarines was partially stored in oxidized containers under open air. Donors are discussing Russia's request to help finance the project, said Balthasar Lindauer, director of nuclear safety at the EBRD. The Soviets worked on a long-range nuclear torpedo (called the T-1), which could attack NATO naval bases from distances of up to 40 km.

With a draft decree published in March, President Vladimir Putin launched an initiative to lift two Soviet nuclear submarines and four reactor compartments from the silty bottom, reducing the amount of radioactive material in the Arctic Ocean by 90%. Although the Soviet submarine K-129 (Golf II) carried nuclear ballistic missiles when it sank, it was a diesel-electric submarine and is not on the list below. However, another nuclear submarine sank during the “damn month of August,” Russian newspapers wrote, but the incident caused little furor compared to the Kursk. Nuclear submarines are the weapons that must be used with great care, considering the likelihood of damage to nature and personnel caused by the nuclear reactor it transports.

The two nuclear submarines, which together contain one million curios of radiation, about a quarter of that released in the first month of the Fukushima disaster, will pose an even greater challenge. As long as the civil agency Rosatom is in charge of the cleanup, the Russian military has little incentive to stop this nuclear wave, says Nilsen. However, as in other countries, Soviet nuclear waste was also dumped into the sea, and now attention has shifted there. However, unlike the others, the K-8 was powered by two nuclear reactors and carried four torpedoes with nuclear warheads.

Although details remain scarce, there was apparently no opportunity to safely remove the four K-8 nuclear torpedoes and transfer them to the repair ship. Of the 8 sinks, 2 were due to fires, 2 were due to explosions of weapons systems, 1 was due to floods, 1 was weather-related, and 1 intentionally sank due to a damaged nuclear reactor. Novembers were too loud to plausibly find their way to a close enough proximity to a NATO port to fire a nuclear torpedo during wartime. The nuclear leak that occurred when the Russian special-purpose pocket submarine sank last year, increased concerns about its effects on nature.


Jerald Shiiba
Jerald Shiiba

Professional tv junkie. General zombie lover. Professional pop cultureaholic. Infuriatingly humble music scholar. Freelance travel maven.

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