Last updated: August 27, 2019
Topic: LawGovernment
Sample donated:




A Russian nuclear submarine named ‘Kursk’ built in 1994 sank above the Arctic Circle in the year 2000, killing more than 100 crew members.  Russia was blamed for not taking any help from other countries.  After this disaster, the focus once again shifted to the safety of sailors aboard such nuclear submarines.  Doubts where raised,  if Russia had the right equipment and proper training to handle such disasters. The authorities were severely criticized for not taking proper precautionary measures. This essay tries to focus on such disasters other than the Kursk, and what are the reasons and other factors contributing to such disasters.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now















Safety of Sailors






Safety of Sailors

Srika Prathipati

31 July 2007














Safety of Sailors


The tragic sinking of the ‘Kursk’ in 2000 killing more than 100 people was the most talked about incident. Many questions were raised about the capability of Russia to operate nuclear submarines. Russia was severely criticized for not accepting help from other countries. President Putin was also criticized for not cutting short his holiday at that time.


The drowning of the ‘Kursk’ was a serious issue at that time, the sub had reportedly hit an object which was similar to another submarine and slowly started sinking into the sand. After viewing the video footages of the sub, it was found that two explosions had taken place on the submarine.  And most of the crew were in that part of the sub which was worst hit. The Russian government was also condemned for not covering the rescue operation properly in the media. The President Putin was also criticized for not giving proper attention to the families of the crew, and also for not visiting the site of the submarine accident. (


There is also an argument that nuclear submarines are more disaster prone compared to other submarines, as they carry infinite amounts of power in little amounts and they are also supposed to function in difficult conditions than ordinary reactors. Even a small mistake in a nuclear submarine could

Safety of Sailors

create a big problem.  It was also found that Russia was suffering with a major financial crisis, with lack of much needed funds and with its military budget on a low.

Nuclear concerns usually operate guardedly and in fearful ways. Today many remains of the wreckages of different countries submarines lie in the ocean bed.  Many accidents have happened aboard the US, British, French and Russian submarines.  It was known that the Russian government had refused help form other countries, fearing of their countries pride, and added to this there was a delay in the assistance offered from the Norwegian and British countries, which further delayed the rescue operations.

According to sources many more disasters might take place in the highly depressed area of Murmansk and Severomorsk, if proper precautions are not taken. This area of the Kola Peninsula itself consists of thousands of nuclear fuel assemblage, and more than one-fifth of all the world’s nuclear reactors which lie in unsafe and failing surroundings. Most of these nuclear reactors are aboard submarines which are not working.                                                                              (

The Kursk was one of the latest submarines in the Northern Fleet of Russia, which had a greater threat to its security and environmental conditions.  The Northern fleet included around 100 decommissioned vessels,

Safety of Sailors

each of these vessels contained various nuclear materials, which were used in weapons and nuclear reactors which were radioactive.

Russia’s major problem with nuclear waste is the state in which its nuclear fleet is. The total budget of Russia is even smaller than the budget of  New York City, after the end of the Soviet Union.  With a budget of $4.5 billion for the  defense, compared to the $268 billion military budget of the United States. Even then Russia still is one of the world’s greatest nuclear power. Russia is not in a position to maintain its nuclear weapons, nor does it guarantee enough safety for the workers, who work close to the weapons. Other nuclear powers all over the world are ready to help Russia regarding its nuclear arsenal and safety, even before many such tragedies like the Kursk are experienced. (

The Russian navy had severe problems in the nuclear field, with more than 100 subs decommissioned and half of them were defueled.  This meant that more than 100 submarines were lying idle in the harbors with very few crew and nuclear reactors that were still working. The shut down of the security systems due to power cut at these places was a constant worry.

The other reasons for these disasters, that have came into light are that the Russian staff on the submarine are not properly trained and are paid very

Safety of Sailors

less wages. The military was also blamed for not taking proper precautions, and delaying the rescue operations.



The Russian Navy was equally blamed for not having proper technical knowledge in the operation of the equipments available. All these disasters could also lead to severe environmental crisis, as these are nuclear submarines, and they could emit radioactivity, which could destroy the surroundings. Proper precautions and sound knowledge in the technical aspects could have prevented these disasters. (


A K-159 nuclear submarine sank in the Barrent’s sea in 2003, killing at least 2 people. One crew member was alive and seven of them were missing.



Another Russian Prizi mini submarine was stranded in the Pacific Ocean in 2005, but it was rescued, as Russia asked for help form other countries.  What might be the reasons for   all   these continuous disasters involving nuclear submarines?  Not enough funds and no proper safety control and monitoring seem to be the main reasons behind all these disasters.


Safety of Sailors



Whatever the reasons the disasters have taken place and Russia should focus on giving proper training to the crew of such nuclear submarines, and should be more knowledgeable on the technical operation of the equipments, and should try to acquire enough funds for their future operations.  Even if an accident takes place, the authorities should immediately try to reach out for help from other countries and various organizations.  In the Kursk disaster, if only the Russian government had kept its ego aside, and asked for help, then maybe so many people would not have been sacrificed.















Russian Submariner’s Rescued, Retrieved 16 July 2007,

Kevin O ‘Flynn, Russian Sub Sinks with Crew Aboard, Guardian Unlimited, Retrieved 16 July 2007,,,1032695,00.html

Praful Bidwai, Playing with Nuclear Fire: Lessons from the Kursk Catastrophe

Peacework, Retrieved 16 July 2007,

Nuclear threats on Land and in Sea, Socialist Worker Online, Retrieved 16 July 2007,

James Clay Moltz, How Safe is Russia’s Navy? Find Articles, Retrieved 16 July 2007,

Commonweal, Hot Water, Find Articles, Retrieved 16 July 2007,

Russian Nuclear Submarine sinks in the Barent’s sea, Center for Russian Studies, Retrieved 16 July 2007,