Moscow, 31 August 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's defense minister and the commander of the navy's Northern Fleet declared today a day of mourning for the nine crew members who died when a nuclear submarine sank in the Barents Sea while being towed yesterday. The K-159 submarine was on its way to be stripped of its nuclear reactors when it began to sink during a storm yesterday. Rescuers saved one crewman and recovered two of the bodies.
Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said the submarine will be raised from the seabed "without fail." ITAR-TASS reports that Ivanov suspended the captain who was in charge of towing the submarine and President Vladimir Putin said there will be a thorough investigation.
The accident comes three years after the nuclear submarine "Kursk" sank in the Barents Sea, killing all 118 on board. The "Kursk" had active reactors, but the K-159's nuclear reactors were shut down in 1989 when it was decommissioned.