Russia: Nuclear reactor safe on fire-hit submersible

MOSCOW — The nuclear reactor on one of the Russian navy’s research submersibles was not damaged in a fire that killed 14 seamen, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Thursday, adding that the vessel would be put back into service after repairs.

The Defense Ministry said the 14 seamen were killed by toxic fumes from Monday’s blaze, the navy’s worst accident in more than a decade. It said some others survived the blaze, but there was no information on how many crew members have been rescued.

The ministry didn’t name the vessel, and the Kremlin refused to divulge any details about it, saying the information is highly classified. Russian media reported that it was the country’s most secret submersible, a nuclear-powered research submarine called the Losharik.


Replying to questions from President Vladimir Putin about the nuclear reactor’s condition, Shoigu said the vessel’s reactor is fully isolated and autonomous.

‘‘The crew also has taken all the necessary action to safeguard the reactor, and it is fully operational,’’ he said. ‘‘That gives us hope that the vessel could be repaired quickly.’’

Shoigupraised crew members for ‘‘heroic’’ actions, saying those who died sacrificed their lives to rescue a civilian expert and to save the ship.