Highest state honors to sailors killed in Russia submarine fire

14 crew members killed in fire on Russian military submersible

Norway's radiation authority said on Tuesday that Moscow had informed it about a gas explosion on a Russian vessel.

Putin described the stricken vessel as "an unusual submarine" and said seven of those killed were high-ranking naval officers. Two were recipients of the Hero of Russian Federation award which is only handed out by the president.

It has not been named, but it is a deep-sea research vessel, which had been exploring the Arctic seabed, the Russian government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta says.

"The nuclear power plant on this unit is completely isolated and deserted". This organization's job is to monitor foreign underwater communications lines, recover equipment and weaponry from deep water and to protect Russia's own subsea communications cables. The nickname Losharik is from a Russian cartoon horse made up of balloon-like spheres.

Russian Federation has not said what caused the fire, but Norway's nuclear safety agency on Tuesday told Reuters it had been informed by Russian Federation that there had been a "gas explosion" on the submarine.

"The about 2000-ton boat can travel slung under the belly of a specially modified Delta III nuclear ballistic missile submarine, according to open source intelligence analysts".

"There has not been any formal communication from Russian Federation to us about this", Per Strand, a director at the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, told Reuters news agency when asked if it had been informed that the submarine was nuclear-powered.

Russia's defence ministry however said: "There were no notifications sent to the Norwegian side regarding the Russian science research deep water apparatus".

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed into law a bill on the suspension of a crucial arms control treaty signed by USA president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

"Thanks to their timely, dedicated and competent actions, the submariners extinguished the fire, and saved their comrades and the deep-sea vessel while sacrificing their lives, " the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. The vessel is now at the Russian Northern Fleet's base in Severomorsk on the Barents Sea, and an investigation has been launched to establish the cause, agencies Interfax, RIA and TASS quoted the ministry as saying.

The disaster happened in Mr Putin's first term as president and he was severely criticised for failing to cut short his holiday to address the tragedy.

Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu delivers a speech in Moscow last month.

In this file photo taken on Friday, August 5, 2005, a Russian mini rescue submarine, AS-34, called a Priz, left, is seen aboard the rescue ship Rudnetsky in the Barents Sea, Russia. Five years later the USS Scorpion sank killing 99 crew, a disaster blamed on an exploding torpedo, the same reason given for the loss of the Kursk.

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