Amanda Ripley

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Russian Sub Disaster

11th Nov 2008 posted in General

Saturday’s Russian sub disaster, which killed 20 people, is mystifying. Russian officials said that the Nerpa’s automatic fire-suppression system accidentally went off, releasing Freon gas and suffocating the victims. But submarine crews are normally trained to put on oxygen masks whenever this happens (and it is not all that uncommon). So what happened?

This Newsweek interview with Mikhail Barabanov, editor-in-chief of Moscow Defense Brief, speculates that this was a case of too many people onboard with too little training. Once again, the human factor matters most of all:

Besides the crew, there was a crowd of civilians aboard—127 of the people on board at the time were civilian port workers and engineers. That means the boat was overcrowded. And the civilian guests on the boat did not know what to do in an emergency situation

Thanks to Kaitlyn Andrews-Rice, master sleuth, for alerting me to this report.