Fire on Russian Submersible Kills 14

14 crew members killed in fire on Russian military submersible

Vlaidmir Putin's government said the report included "classified information" - fuelling speculation around the blaze.

The fire was put out and the vessel returned to a military base in Severomorsk.

But unlike NR-1 that was created to dive to 910 meters (3,000 feet), the Losharik was built to go far deeper.

The plant that built the vessel declined to disclose any details about it, citing secrecy rules, Izvestia reported. The Kremlin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, on Wednesday told reporters that he could not identify the submarine because it was top secret. "[It is] within the law of the Russian Federation".

Experts such as Mr Polmar believe the submarine is of utmost strategic importance to Russia's military.

Putin said Thursday there had "recently been signs that Washington is beginning to consider resuming bilateral dialogue on a wide-ranging strategic agenda", despite its recent decision to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (or INF treaty) signed in 1987. "This is a great loss for the fleet, for the army as a whole".

Few images and details have emerged about Losharik, which took part in research meant to prove Russia's claim on the Arctic seabed in 2012, when it collected samples from a depth of 2,500 meters, according to official statements.

The tragic incident on the submersible occurred in the Russian territorial waters of the Barents Sea and was first acknowledged by the military on Tuesday. But Russia's Defense Ministry strongly denied that claim.

And another captain died on the mission, named as Nikolay Filin - who had also been awarded the Hero of Russian Federation. The Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that 5 sailors were being treated in Severomorsk's hospital. By Russian law, publishing names of servicemen engaged in conflict or special operations is illegal.

Normal submarines can not sink below 600 metres (1,970 ft). They are operated by the Russian military's Chief Directorate for Deep Water Research - the GUGI - often referred to as the country's "underwater intelligence service".

"The nuclear-power unit has been sealed off and all personnel have been removed", Shoigu told Putin.

"The crew was highly professional".

Putin said that seven of the 14 victims on board the submarine were Captain First Rank officers, the most senior officers in the Russian navy, and that two of them had been awarded the prestigious title of Hero of Russia.

Russia's president has sent minister Sergei Shoigu to investigate the incident and establish what happened to the submarine.

However, Kommersant said that as the sub remains part of a top-secret project, even military investigators have no access to the dock where the vessel is located and crew members can not be formally identified.

"This obviously means that this is a very high priority military research program", Schneider said.

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