Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics
22 January 2018
Video of what the Russian government claims is merely an “exercise” appears to show a submarine on fire.
The video, shot in the Russian fear eastern city of Vladivostok, shows a large fire and thick, black smoke close to several moored Russian Navy submarines. The Russian government says the fire was part of a planned exercise, but the fire and smoke look way too close to the submarines for comfort.
The video emerged yesterday on Twitter. According to Russia’s Pacific Fleet, the incident was part of “damage control exercises.” The video shows five submarines tied up at Vladivostok, with a raging fire close to the stern of one.
The submarine involved appears to be a Kilo-class diesel electric attack submarine. The Kilos dates back to the early 1980s, and has been the main Soviet/Russian non-nuclear submarine since then. Russia’s Pacific Fleet operates six Kilos and Improved Kilos, although it is unclear which submarine this is. The Russian Navy has used Kilo submarines based in the Black Sea to launch cruise missiles against targets in Syria.
In addition to Russia the submarines are operated by a number of countries, including India, Iran, Vietnam, and China. In 2013, the Indian submarine INS Sindhurakshak caught fire and sank portside in Mumbai. A fire in the forward weapons bay triggered explosions of torpedoes and cruise missile warheads in the fully stocked bay. The accident killed eighteen sailors and rendered the ship unrecoverable, and it was finally stricken from Indian Navy rolls in 2017.
The incident has gone quiet on the Internet in the last eighteen hours and is still a mystery. The large, raging fire is clearly too close to the submarine for comfort, and while it may not be directly on the boat the submarine itself is clearly in danger. If the incident began as an “exercise,” at some point it no longer was one and became a fire emergency.