List of sunken nuclear submarines

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See also: Nuclear submarine accidents

Eight nuclear submarines have sunk as a consequence of either accident or extensive damage: two from the United States Navy, four from the Soviet Navy, and two from the Russian Navy. Only three were lost with all hands: the two from the United States Navy and one from the Russian Navy. All sank as a result of accident except for K-27, which was scuttled in the Kara Sea when repair was considered impossible and decommissioning was too expensive. The Soviet/Russian submarines all belonged to the Northern Fleet. The Soviet submarine K-129 (Golf II) carried nuclear ballistic missiles when it sank, but as it was a diesel-electric submarine, it is not included in the list.

The location of sunken nuclear submarines in the Atlantic

Of the eight sinkings, two were caused by fires, two by explosions of their weapons systems, one by flooding, one by bad weather, and one by scuttling due to a damaged nuclear reactor. The reason for the eighth submarine's sinking is unknown. All of the wrecks are in the Northern Hemisphere; none are in the Indian or Pacific Oceans.

United States[edit]

  • Thresher (SSN-593), the first submarine in its class, sank April 10, 1963 during deep-diving trials after flooding, loss of propulsion, and an attempt to blow the emergency ballast tanks failed, causing it to exceed crush depth. All 129 men on board died. Location: 350 km (190 nmi) east of Cape Cod.
  • Scorpion (SSN-589), a Skipjack-class submarine, sank May 22, 1968, evidently due to implosion upon reaching its crush depth. What caused the Scorpion to descend to its crush depth is not known. All 99 men on board died. Location: 740 kilometres (400 nmi) southwest of the Azores.

Soviet Union[edit]

The location of sunken nuclear submarines in the Arctic
  • K-27: The only Project 645 submarine (a variant of the Project 627 November class with liquid metal cooled reactors), it was irreparably damaged by a reactor accident (control rod failure) on May 24, 1968. 9 were killed in the reactor accident. After shutting down the reactor and sealing the compartment, the Soviet Navy scuttled it in shallow water (108 ft (33 m)) in the Kara Sea on September 6, 1982,[1] contrary to the recommendation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).[2]
  • K-8: A Project 627 November class submarine was lost on April 11, 1970 while being towed in rough seas following a fire on board. The submarine was initially evacuated, but 52 reembarked for the towing operation. All hands on board were lost (52), while 73 crewmen survived on the rescue vessel.[1] Location: Bay of Biscay, 490 kilometres (260 nmi) northwest of Spain in the North Atlantic Ocean.
  • K-219: A Project 667A Yankee I class sub was damaged by a missile explosion on October 3, 1986, then sank suddenly while being towed after all surviving crewmen had transferred off. 6 crew members were killed. Location: 950 kilometres (510 nmi) east of Bermuda in the North Atlantic Ocean.
  • K-278 Komsomolets: The only Mike-class sub built sank due to a raging fire April 7, 1989. All but 5 crewmen evacuated prior to sinking. 42 died, many from smoke inhalation and exposure to the cold waters of the Barents Sea. A total of 27 crew members survived.
  • Soviet submarine K-429 sank twice, but was raised after each incident.


  • K-141 Kursk: The Oscar II class sub sank in the Barents Sea on August 12, 2000 after an explosion in the torpedo compartment. See Kursk submarine disaster. All 118 men on board were lost. All except the bow section was salvaged.
  • K-159: The hulk of the decommissioned Soviet-era November class submarine sank in the Barents Sea on August 28, 2003, when a storm ripped away the pontoons necessary to keep it afloat under tow. Nine men died in the accident.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Podvodnye Lodki Rossii (in Russian), Sankt Peterburg, 1996 (Published jointly by Ministry of Defense Central Scientific-Research Institute No. 1 and the Rubin Central Marine Equipment Design Bureau)
  2. ^