22 March 2007

Two killed in accident aboard HMS Tireless

From the BBC:
Two British sailors have died in an accident on a nuclear submarine.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed there had been an explosion on HMS Tireless during an exercise under the Arctic icecap at 0420 GMT on Wednesday.
One other member of the crew of the Devonport-based submarine was injured and is receiving medical treatment.
Failed air-purification equipment is thought to have caused the explosion. The MoD expressed its "deep regret" and said an inquiry would be carried out.

From the Scotsman:
The accident occurred when a chlorate candle, used to produce oxygen, exploded during a training exercise.


The accident took place at 4:20am yesterday, while the submarine was under the Arctic icecap during a joint British-US exercise, about 170 miles north of Alaska.

The MoD said one sailor was killed instantly by the force of the blast, while the other died after inhaling poisonous fumes.

Chlorate candles have been used to create oxygen on submarines since the Second World War, usually as an emergency measure if the vessel's rises to dangerous levels. According to the navy source, one such candle was ignited yesterday on board HMS Tireless, as a part of training.

He added: "Something went wrong. It's not clear yet what happened, and whether the ratings [non-commissioned sailors] died from the force of the explosion or from burns. The boat had to breach the ice cap, which its crew are trained for, and it was able to do so without any problem."

(Photo from 2004.)

Update 0823 23 Mar: The Royal Navy has released the names of the two sailors killed in the accident. The BBC has them here.

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