Tonight, at 3:30 a.m. Moscow time, a sailor shot eight fellow crew members and then barricaded himself in one of the submarines compartments. The incident started when the sailor, who was on duty in the aft part of the Akula-class submarine, started a quarrel with a crew colleague. The sailor resolved the dispute by shooting his colleague with his Kalashnikov. He then went inside the submarine and killed seven other sailors, all conscripts, in their sleep.
The sailor, Aleksandr Kyzminikh, is an 18-year-old draftee from St. Petersburg. He is serving his two-year obligatory military service.
The submarine is moored at the naval base in Skalisty. According to the Northern Fleet press center, the submarine does not have nuclear weaponry on board.
This incident is quite extraordinary for the submarine fleet. Bellona's naval expert Aleksandr Nikitin, who served on nuclear-powered submarines, can remember only one similar case in history. In 1979, a private on a nuclear-powered submarine based in Nerpichya (Zapadnaya Litsa) shot a lieutenant who had been rude to him.
The Akula-class nuclear-powered submarines are the newest attack-submarines in the Russian Navy. The Northern fleet has seven Akula-class submarines in operation, and one more is under construction at the naval ship yards in Severodvinsk. The first Akula was put into operation in December 1984.
The Akula-class nuclear powered submarines are the newest attack-submarines in the Russian Navy. The Northern fleet has seven Akula-class submarines in operation, and one more is under construction at the naval ship yards in Severodvinsk. The first Akula was put into operation in December 1984.
The submarine has one single reactor (Model OK-650 b) generating 190 MW and a shaft power of 43,000 hp. The Akula can be fitted with RK-55 nuclear torpedoes, but it is unlikely that this submarine has nuclear weapons on board.
The naval base Skalisty, also known as Gadzhievo, is located west of the Murmansk fjord, some 120 kilometers (80 miles) from the Norwegian border. Nuclear submarines have been stationed here since 1963. In addition to the Akula class submarines, strategic Delta-III and Delta-IV-class boats are also situated there. There is also six laid-up submarines moored at Skalisty.
The social problems within the Northern fleet have been of great concern throughout the last years. The soldiers have been serving without salary since May this year, and the current collapse in Russias economy will not improve the situation for the soldiers in the north. Media reports have abounded in the last couple of weeks about lack of food at the Northern Fleet bases. On last Saturday, five sailors from the region of Dagestan killed a fellow guard at the nuclear test site on Novaya Zemlya and took 48 hostages, including dozens of schoolchildren. They were later overpowered and arrested. In August of this year, two soldiers were killed in a dispute with some other soldiers at the military camp Sputnik, close to the Norwegian border.