What we know at the moment.
Spy Sub Down: How a Secret Russian Nuclear Submarine Caught Fire
A fire broke out on a Russian research submarine earlier this week, killing fourteen sailors in what is Russia’s worst submarine disaster since 2008.
Russian authorities have remained tight-lipped on the nature of the data being collected by the submarine and the circumstances of the fire. "On July 1, fourteen submariners - sailors died in Russian territorial waters as a result of inhaling combustion products aboard a research submersible vehicle designated for studying the seafloor and the bottom of the World Ocean in the interests of the Russian Navy after a fire broke out during bathymetric measurements," reads the Defense Ministry’s press release.
As of the time of writing, the Russian government and its official channels have abstained from naming the submarine in question; however, it is widely believed to be the Project 210-- also known as AS-12, with “AS” referring to “nuclear deepwater station”-- Losharik special missions submarine. Losharik is speculated to be a pillar of Russia’s deepwater intelligence gathering program, headed by the Main Directorate of Deep-Sea Research, or GUGI.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has since spoken on the matter, but only to express his condolences. Putin added that the submarine was an “extraordinary” vessel, manned by “a highly professional crew.” Seven of the fourteen sailors held the rank of captain and two were “heroes of the Russian Federation” (Russia’s highest honorary title), corroborating the speculation that Losharik occupied a high-level role within GUGI.