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Director Sacked after 2nd Shipyard Fire

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

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The director of a large Russian shipyard is getting axed after a nuclear submarine caught fire during maintenance operations, injuring 15 people.

The fire was the second in less than two years aboard a Russian sub undergoing maintenance.

On Sept. 16, welders ignited old paint and rubber insulation inside the main ballast tanks of Pacific Fleet K-150 submarine Tomsk, filling the inside compartments with smoke, according to United Shipbuilding Corporation, the owner of the Zvezda shipyard.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said he "gave instructions" that "must be fulfilled on Monday [Sept. 30]" to relieve the director of the shipyard, Vladimir Averin, of his duties, Ria Novosti reported.

According to preliminary reports, "the fire occurred as a result of violations of safety during hot work," USC said.

Zvezda shipyard fire
The Investigative Committe of the Russian Federation

The director of Russian shipyard Zvezda will be relieved of his duties after a nuclear submarine caught fire, injuring 15 people. Preliminary reports indicate that "the fire occurred as a result of violations of safety during hot work."

Zvezda shipyard is a large shipbuilding and engineering complex in the Russian Far East town of Bolshoi Kamen, located about 15 miles across a bay from Vladivostok on the Sea of Japan.

The submarine is powered by two nuclear reactors, and both reactors for the main propulsion system were in safe condition, according to USC.

Criminal Investigation Launched

The military investigations department of Russia's Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case against officials of the Tomsk on suspicion of "exceeding official powers," the committee announced on Sept. 17.

Although initial reports stated that no one was injured in the fire, 15 military men were hospitalized, the Investigative Committee said.

An investigation into the fire has been launched to determine the "nature of violations" and the "degree of guilt."

Forensic, fire and medical experts are conducting an investigation to determine the circumstances of the incident, as well as identify "the nature of violations and the degree of guilt of both military officials of the Tomsk nuclear submarine and the specialists of OAO Far Eastern works Zvezda (OJSC), whose actions caused the fire and let it spread," the committee stated.

Putin Wants Answers

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to prepare a report on how to avoid similar incidents, saying this is not the first time such incidents have happened in Russia, according to transcripts from Putin's office.

In 2011, a submarine in dry dock at the Roslyakovo shipyard was rendered unusable after wooden scaffolding next to it caught fire, spreading to the ship. Seven members of that crew were hospitalized for carbon monoxide inhalation.

Shoigu said that Tomsk was docked at the shipyard for repairs in 2009, and all of its weapons were removed at the same time.

Tomsk submarine /

Tomsk was docked for repairs in 2009, which should have been completed by 2011. At the time of the fire, only 80 percent of the work was complete.

According to Shoigu, it took just under nine hours for 13 firefighting teams from the Pacific Fleet and the Emergency Situations Ministry to battle the fire, which started at 4:30 a.m. Moscow time and was extinguished at 1:15 p.m.

According to The Moscow Times, Major General Anatoly Gulyayev told Shoigu that work on the submarine should have been completed in 2011 and only 80 percent of the repairs had been carried out.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Fire; Maintenance programs; Marine Coatings; Personnel changes; Shipyards; Welding

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