TASS: super-secret nuclear submarine Losharik soon back in service

By - March 14, 2024 The Independent Barents Observer

Five years after it caught fire during so-called “underwater research” activities off the coast of the Kola Peninsula, the Losharik is on its way back to service. According to TASS, the repair works are soon completed and the vessel will set out on sea trials from the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk this summer.

That is earlier than previously anticipated. Another source last year told the news agency that the submarine will be ready late 2024 and that it will need up to one year of sea trials and testing of equipment.

According to TASS, the titanium hull of the Losharik was not destroyed in the fire and the capacity to operate on depths down to 6,000 meters is preserved. However, a local social media source in the Kola Peninsula argues that the ship operators for security reasons hardly will dive to the extreme depth.

The sailors killed in the Losharik fire. Photo: Russky Podlav at VKontakte

The accident with the Losharik happened on 1st of July 2019. Fourteen sailors were killed, among them two highly decorated Heroes of Russia, seven 1st rang captains and three 2nd rang captains. The crew included some of the the most experienced men in the Russian Navy.

The submarine was about to return to its base in Oleniya Bay after training when fire broke out in the ship’s battery compartment.

The exercise was reportedly the last before an upcoming combat mission.

At the time of the accident, the sub was located in the Motovsky Bay, near the Peninsula of Rybachii, possibly only about 50 km from the border to Norway.

Smoke started to erupt from the vessel’s battery compartment as the special purpose sub was to connect with its far bigger mother ship, the Podmoskovie.

Reportedly, four of the 14 men killed were part of the crew of the Podmoskovie. The sailors joined the 10 men onboard the Losharik as they were trying to help them evacuate after all available breathing devices had been used up.


Russian Delta-IV submarine in the Barents Sea. Photo: Thomas Nilsen


In that phase of the incident, a powerful blast in the battery compartment is believed to have taken place, and that ultimately killed them all.

Two of the dead come from Murmansk. The remaining parts of the crew came from St. Petersburg.

Local fishermen were eye witnesses to the ship when it suddenly surfaced near the Ura Bay, about 100 km east of the border to Norway.

«We were heading towards Kildin, and then, about half past nine in the evening, a submarine surfaces. Suddenly and completely surfaces. I have never seen anything like it in my life. On the deck, people were running around and making fuss,» one of the fishermen told SeverPost.

The Losharik is normally based in Oleniya Bay, and operated by the Main Directorate for Deep Sea Research, nicknamed GUGI, a branch directly subordinated the General Staff of the Armed Forces.

The vessel is believed to be able to install – and remove – small installations and devices for military purposes on the sea floor. 

The Losharik is about 70 meters long and is normally carried by the Podmoskovie, a rebuilt Delta-IV class submarine. It has one nuclear reactor.

GUGI is an organizational structure within the Defense Ministry and is separate from the navy. From its base in Olenya Bay on the coast to the Barents Sea, it operates the 29th Special Submarine squadron. The unit includes several mini-subs and their mother ships, among them the Podmoskovie (BS-64) and Orenburg (BS-136).