Pence Trip Canceled: 14 Sailors Killed in Fire Aboard Russian Nuke Sub AS-12
The Russian Defense Ministry reports that 14 submariners have died after a fire aboard a nuclear powered research submarine believed to be capable of severing underwater communications cable and other disruptive capabilities. Russian news agency TASS released a statement Tuesday acknowledging the incident and the deaths of the 14 crew members.
“On July 1, fourteen submariners – sailors died in Russian territorial waters as a result of inhaling combustion products aboard a research submersible vehicle designated for studying the seafloor and the bottom of the World Ocean in the interests of the Russian Navy after a fire broke out during bathymetric measurements,” TASS reported the defense ministry statement read.
The Russian Navy’s commander-in-chief says the incident is under investigation.
News of the event sparked concern in cyberspace as it coincided perfectly with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence canceling a New Hampsire campaign appearance in order to remain in Washington D.C. and with Russian President Vladimir Putin canceling a cabinet meeting to enter into emergency consult with his Defense Minister and military brass.
Unconfirmed reports indicate the submarine involved is the Losharik AS-12, a deepsea research vessel believed to have the ability to sever undersea communication cables and other covert operations.
Concerns over a “Red October” event in which a nuclear missile submarine is commandeered by a rogue crew and directed in an unsanctioned attack against an enemy nation persisted Tuesday, as scant detail about the sub’s capabilities left some to imagine the worst.
There are no confirmed reports of linkages between the deadly fire aboard the AS-12 and the alteration of itinerary for either the Russian or American governments.