The three decades-old Russian Orel nuclear-powered submarine that lost propulsion in the Danish waters recently was towed to safety with assistance from other vessels.
The incident occurred on July 30 in the busy waters east of Denmark’s second-largest city Århus. The Northern Fleet’s giant Oscar-II class submarine was sailing together with the navy tug Altay and the large anti-submarine missile destroyer Vice-Admiral Kulakov in an inter-fleet transit from St. Petersburg towards the Kola Peninsula. Orel soon began having problems with propulsion and started to drift.
In a Facebook post, the Danish Navy said Orel soon drifted 1.5 knots towards the Sejerø island.
The Russian Navy politely declined an offer for assistance provided by the Danish Navy. Radio communication did not take place directly with the submarine, but was answered by the crew aboard Russia’s Vice-Admiral Kulakov destroyer.
Russia then sent another Northern Fleet ship, Altay, closer to Orel and prepared ropes for towing the latter. After a while, the submarine managed to get going again and all the rigged gear for towing was taken down.
The Russian Navy has not posted any information about why the submarine lost proposition or if the incident was linked to the operation of the nuclear reactors or any other parts of the auxiliary systems.
Norway is closely following the incident.
In a statement to the Barents Observer, Major Elisabeth Eikeland, spokesperson of Norway’s Joint Headquarters, said “At first, the submarine sailed in surface position, but it has now submerged underwater. It is always worrying when a vessel of this type has problems with propulsion. But we also expect Russian authorities to contact us if they again have problems with this or other vessels in waters near Norway.”