MOSCOW, December 13 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s Emergencies Ministry plans to carry out a study in 2013 to see if the sunken Soviet nuclear submarine K-27 can be recovered from its resting place on the seabed in Russia’s Arctic waters, a ministry representative said.
“We have to check its condition and make a forecast of how the integrity of the hull might have been affected by corrosion in seawater,” the representative said.
Divers will carry out an engineering analysis of the boat and collect samples of metal from its hull, he said.
“No radioactive nuclides were detected from the K-27 when tests were made this year,” he added.
“Only after we have results from examining the integrity of the hull and the characteristics of the seabed will it be possible to devise options for raising the boat and removing its fuel,” he said.
The K-27 is lying in shallow water, just 100 feet (30 meters) deep on an even keel, and its main hull has no apparent breaches, he added.
The boat is one of 24,000 objects on a Russian government register of potentially dangerous sunken objects in Russian territorial waters, according to the Emergencies Ministry. Most of the objects on the list are in water over 1,500 feet (500 meters) deep, making their recovery extremely difficult.
The Project 645 vessel was a one-off design powered by a pair of experimental VT-1 nuclear reactors with liquid metal (lead-bismuth) cooling. The boat received two nicknames from its crew: “Golden Fish” (from a Russian folk tale) and “Nagasaki” following a series of fatal incidents involving onboard radiation leaks from the reactors.
K-27 entered service in 1962 and on April 21, 1964 she completed a record length and duration submerged cruise in the mid-Atlantic. On May 24, 1968 she suffered another catastrophic radiation leak affecting all the crew and killing nine of them.
The boat was only formally decommissioned from the Soviet Navy’s inventory on February 1, 1979 and her reactor compartment sealed up. She was then scuttled in September 1982 in the Kara Sea off northern Russia near the island of Novaya Zemlya.