Russian submarine Losharik
|Launched:||13 August 2003|
|Class and type:||Project 210 submarine|
|Length:||60 m or 70 m (unconfirmed)|
|Propulsion:||1 nuclear reactor E-17|
|Complement:||25 (estimated), all officers|
Project 210, Project 10831 or AS-31 (Russian: АС-31), known also as AS-12 – but this number is assigned to another ship, nicknamed Losharik (Russian: Лошарик, IPA: [lɐˈʂarʲɪk]), is a Russian deep-diving submarine. "АС" stands for "Атомная Станция" from the official Russian naval term "атомная глубоководная станция", "nuclear deepwater station". On 1 July 2019, a fire broke out on the vessel while it was taking underwater measurements of the sea floor in Russian territorial waters.
History and features
The submarine was laid down in 1988, but it was not launched until August 2003 due to financial problems. It is designated for research, rescue, and special military operations and is operated by the Main Directorate of Deep-Sea Research (Главное управление глубоководных исследований), reporting to the military intelligence agency GRU.
The pressure hull of the submarine is believed to be formed from up to seven interconnected spherical elements; this limits space for living quarters and equipment, but grants increased structural strength. The vessel is powered by a nuclear reactor, and its exact operational depth is not in public information. It is known to have operated at about 2,000–2,500 metres (6,600–8,200 ft) depth in the Arctic Ocean in 2012 and is capable of being carried by a modified Delta III-class submarine.
The vessel has been described as a "spy submarine" that could possibly be used to tap into or sever underwater telecommunications cables. Russia has released little information about it officially and there are few photographs of it; the clearest is believed to have been taken inadvertently during a Top Gear Russia photo-shoot in Arkhangelsk.
The nickname "Losharik" comes from the vessel's multi-spherical hull and was taken from a character in the Soviet animated film Losharik, a toy horse consisting of small spheres. The name losharik is a portmanteau of Russian: "лошадь" ("loshad'"), "horse", and Russian: "шарик" ("sharik"), "small sphere". The NATO reporting name for this submarine is NORSUB-5.
A fire broke out on the vessel on 1 July 2019 while it was taking underwater measurements of the sea floor in Russian territorial waters. Fourteen of the crew were killed by inhalation of smoke or toxic fumes. Seven of those who died held the rank of first rank captain and two were recipients of the Hero of the Russian Federation award. Submarine commander Denis Dolonsky was among those killed. The presence of such a high-ranking crew on a single vessel may be an indication that the vessel was carrying out a high-risk task or testing a new capability at the time of the accident. In comparison, submarine Kursk had 118 crew members of whom only two held the rank of captain 1st rank.
The fire broke out at around 8:30 p.m. MT, reportedly at the depth of 300 meters (980 ft), and was extinguished by the crew. Fishermen in Ura Bay reported that they saw the submarine surface rapidly at around 9:30 p.m. and met a navy ship and two tugs. The vessel was later towed to the Russian Northern Fleet base at Severomorsk where five survivors were hospitalised with smoke poisoning and concussions. One civilian was present aboard the vessel at the time of the accident and survived after being moved to a less-affected part of the submarine. The incident was the worst loss of life on a Russian submarine since the 2008 K-152 Nerpa accident which killed 20 men. The commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy Nikolai Yevmenov launched an investigation into the cause of the fire, and President Vladimir Putin sent Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu to monitor the investigation and report on the incident. On 2 July, Shoygu reported on the fire to Putin, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces, at a meeting in the Kremlin. Initially, some media outlets complained that the Russian Government was attempting to cover up the accident, drawing parallels to the submarine Kursk disaster; some went as far as comparing the event to the Chernobyl disaster, even though the incident was reported to the public one day after it took place.
Some journalists speculated that the men who died had sacrificed themselves to save the vessel by sealing themselves into the compartment where the fire broke out. On 7 July 2019 at the sailors' funeral, Captain Sergei Pavlov, an aide to the Russian Navy head, proclaimed the crew "prevented a planetary catastrophe". The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority stated that they had been notified by the Russians of a gas explosion aboard the vessel, though Russian authorities denied this.
On 4 July, it was announced that the fire had originated in the battery compartment. Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu also said that the submarine was nuclear-powered, but that the reactor had been isolated from the fire. According to Shoygu, the submarine could be repaired and returned to service.
Captain 1st Rank
- Denis Dolonskiy, The commanding officer of the submarine, Hero of Russia, awarded two Orders of Courage (including one posthumously), Order of Naval Merit
- Konstantin Ivanov, awarded two Orders of Courage (one posthumously), Order of Military Merit
- Andrey Voskresenskiy, Hero of Russia (posthumously), three Orders of Courage, Order of Military Merit. He was a son-in-law of the Chief of Sosnovy Bor Naval Training Centre for Nuclear Submarine Crews Counter admiral Vladimir Bederdinov
- Konstantin Somov, Hero of Russia (posthumously), three Orders of Courage
- Denis Oparin, Hero of Russia (posthumously), Order of Courage. He was a son of the chief of the submarine division that included Losharik, Alexander Oparin 
- Vladimir Abankin, awarded two Orders of Courage (one posthumously)
- Nikolay Filin, test pilot of military deep-diving manned submersibles, Hero of Russia (2018), awarded four Orders of Courage (including one posthumously), Order of Military Merit
Captain 2nd Rank
- Alexander Avdonin, awarded two Orders of Courage (one posthumously)
- Dmitriy Solovyev, Hero of Russia (posthumously)
- Sergey Danilchenko, awarded two Orders of Courage (one posthumously)
Captain 3rd Rank
- Viktor Kuzmin, awarded Order of Courage (posthumously)
- Vladimir Sukhinichev, awarded Order of Courage (posthumously)
- Lieutenant Captain Mikhail Dubkov, awarded Order of Courage (posthumously)
- Lieutenant Colonel of Medical Service Alexandr Vasilyev, awarded Order of Courage (posthumously)
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- Project "Losharik", an Izvestiya article ‹See Tfd›(in Russian)
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- Top Gear Russia Magazine Accidentally Published An Image Of A Classified Submarine