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BarentsObserver: Ex-Northern Fleet captain sues Russian minister of defence
Sergey Zhemchuzhnov, the Northern Fleet captain who headed the fatal towing operation of the K-159 submarine in August 2003, intends to sue Russian Minister of Defence Sergey Ivanov. Zhemchuzhinov was convicted by the Russian Military Prosecutor's office for having neglected sailing regulations resulting in the sinking of K-159 and the drowning of several sailors. Now, the captain intends to fight back against the Navy commanders and the Defence Ministry in a court case.
The court case against Sergey Zhemchuzhnov has dragged out, and in March this year the case was officially ended. Zhemchuzhnov now intends to clean his name and reputation in court. He stresses however that he is no longer interested in his job as submarine captain.
On 28 August 2003, K-159 and her pontoons were manned by ten Russian sailors and taken under tow to Polyarny. That crew kept the pontoons pressurized and the submarine hull pumped out, but during the early morning hours of 30 August they encountered a squall that ripped away from some of the pontoons. K-159 did not sink immediately, but was clearly in distress. Northern Fleet was notified at 0120, and Admiral Suchkov arrived at headquarters 20 minutes later. Suchkov made no attempt to rescue the submarine crew. By 0300 the wreck had sunk in the Barents Sea, 238 meters down, with nine of her crew and 800 kilograms of spent nuclear fuel containing some 20 petabecquerels (600 kilocuries) of radioactivity.
The Military Prosecutor General's office brought charges against Captain Second Class Sergei Zhemchuzhnov who was overseeing the towing operation. President of Russia Vladimir Putin removed Suchkov from service on the recommendation of Navy Chief of Staff Vladimir Kuroyedov.
October 17, 2013
A Moscow-based anonymous military informant provided the film to the reporters saying it was recorded during the Russian-British expedition to the sunken submarine back in 2007. The source further claims worrying increased levels of radioactivity are measured leaking from the hull of the wreaked submarine. Nothing is said about the levels of radioactivity.
The film shows a large hole in the bow of the submarine; open door to the sail; cables are visible through holes and the submarines outer hull is very rusty. The film also shows how an ROW takes measurements of radioactivity through the air-pressure holes on the deck of K-159. A lot of fish is swimming around the wreaked submarine. The Barents Sea is one of the most productive marine biological oceans in the world.
“If the information about leakages of radioactivity from K-159 is correct, it is of most importance that this information is made publicly available. It must be prepared a risk assessment plan for possible lifting of K-159. Russian authorities must also find financial means to an eventual lifting,” says Nils Bøhmer.