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Soviet Sub Fire Blamed on Burst Pipe : No Injuries Reported in Reactor Mishap Off Coast of Norway

June 26, 1989|From Associated Press

OSLO — A fire that forced a Soviet nuclear submarine to limp toward port was caused by a pipe that burst, causing a reactor malfunction but no injuries, Soviet officials said today.

The sub billowed smoke today as it steamed under the power of back-up diesel engines.

Norwegian officials criticized Soviet officials for not informing them fully of the accident, the second involving a Soviet vessel off Norway in less than a week and the third in three months.

'It Is Unsatisfactory'

"It is unsatisfactory for us as a neighboring state not to be warned," Defense Minister Johan Jorgen Holst told a news conference.

No radiation leaks were reported aboard the vessel, which was of a class built in the 1960s to carry nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.

In Moscow, Soviet Defense Minister Dmitri T. Yazov said the accident happened on the sub's energy apparatus while the sub was submerged. A reactor pipeline burst and its seal was broken, the government newspaper Izvestia quoted him as saying.

Yazov said the sub switched to backup diesel engines, surfaced and took on water to cool the reactor. He said all crew members were safe and the accident did not damage the environment.

Yazov said another Soviet vessel will escort the ship east to Severomorsk.

Soviet media did not give the name of the Echo II class submarine or say whether it was carrying nuclear weapons.

A Norwegian Northern Defense Command spokesman said the submarine apparently caught fire at about 5 a.m. in the Norwegian Sea off northern Norway.

On June 20, the Soviet cruise ship Maxim Gorky was torn open by ice and nearly sank near Norway's Spitzbergen Island. No casualties were reported. On April 7, a Soviet Mike-class submarine caught fire and sank in the Norwegian Sea, killing 42 Soviet sailors.

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