Russian Navy

New figurants are charged of SSN Nerpa breakdown

New figurants are charged of SSN Nerpa breakdown 20.01.2010 Source: RIA Novosti, photo: SSN Nerpa (

Pacific Fleet Military Procuracy exhibited negligence charge to Dmitry Lavrentiev, commander of nuclear-powered submarine Nerpa, and Sergei Zakharchenko, ex-commander of 72d brigade of built and repaired submarines (Bolshoi Kamen, Primorsky Krai), informs Wednesday Kommersant referring to the source in security ministries.

On Nov 8, 2008 during first sea trials of Nerpa built at Amur Shipyard in Komsomolsk, as a consequence of inadvertent operation of firefighting system LOH (submarine, volumetric, chemical) freon gas started to enter compartments. 20 people died and 21 were intoxicated; criminal case was initiated. Totally, there were 208 attendants, mostly specialists of the shipyard and experts from Moscow and St. Petersburg. After repair, the sub has successfully passed all required phases of builder's and state trials and was commissioned late 2009.

After accident, contract seaman Grobov was charged of "involuntary manslaughter of two and more persons" (part 3 clause 109 of RF Criminal Code). According to investigators, that was he who activated firefighting system from local control post without permission. The system was allegedly primed with freon admixed with toxic tetrachlorethylene; that was the reason of crew death, writes Kommersant. Psychiatric examination found accused seaman as "absolutely sane". At present, the sailor still serves at Kamchatka, but on his own recognizance.

"Charge to Lavrentiev and Zakharchenko is "hardwired" with early findings of investigation when seaman Grobov was recognized a direct originator of the accident. According to investigators, his commanders did not provide required qualification of K-152 personnel what led to Grobov's unauthorized actions on board", said the source.

Ground for charge is part 3 clause 293 of RF Criminal Code ("Negligence, i.e. non-fulfillment or improper fulfillment of functions due to unconscientious or nonchalant attitude towards service resulted in death of two and more persons"). Clause sanction provides up to seven years of imprisonment.

"Firefighting system operated in normal mode when Grobov performed a certain sequence of procedures", reports Kommersant citing the source. All crewmembers of Nerpa knew how to activate firefighting system manually, said the source. "Grobov was aware what consequences his actions may have. Apparently, he did that because of curiosity multiplied by slackitude", thinks the officer.

Pacific Fleet HQ declined to comment charges to commanders of SSN Nerpa and 72d brigade.

"We never comment investigative activities", explained Capt 1 rank Roman Martov, the head of PF Information and Public Relations Service.

Dmitry Lavrentiev continues to exercise functions of K-152 Commander, although himself Capt 1 rank Lavrentiev desists from any comment of the accident since it happened, Martov added. All figurants of investigation signed gag orders.

It turned out to be impossible to contact Capt 1 rank Zakharchenko on Tuesday. It is known that he had been pensioned off late 2009.

RIA Novosti could not get official comment from investigators of PF Military Procuracy so far.

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