That burning Russian submarine

You do have to slightly wonder about things in Russia, even now.

Fire brigades are still struggling to put out the fire which quickly engulfed the submarine\’s rubber-coated outer hull.

OK, nuclear sub, missiles, rubber coating on hull, all terribly advanced technology.

Russia\’s Defence Ministry said there has been no radiation leak from the fire, which began last night on wooden scaffolding.

Err, what? Propping up a billion or more\’s worth of technology with wooden scaffolding?

13 comments on “That burning Russian submarine

  1. Just like we used to do at AFD60, I’m afraid, and, I expect, still now do at the Faslane shiplift. Much less likely to damage the hull. Or the tiles.

    Although various reports have also said wooden dock or wooden decking. Wooden decking inside a sub, except of course in their sauna (we don’t have them) would be dangerous strange.

  2. They use wood because it’s less likely to get nicked than steel scaffolding. What with security on nuclear sub bases being what it is.

  3. A similar incident happened on the new Vladivostol Bridge a few weeks ago: welding causing wooden something or other to catch fire. This is basic safety which they’re not doing, but then anyone who has seen Russians welding on a building site will know they employ the local farmer who usually applies his skills in the mending of gates.

  4. Surely it’s the rubber that caught fire not just the (easily dismantled) wooden scaffolding?
    Rubber is quite hard to set alight (except with a welding rod) but bloody difficult to put out once it starts, so we may not have seen the end of this. The lying will go on for a while yet.

  5. not just the (easily dismantled) wooden scaffolding?

    Wooden scaffolding is not easily dismantled when it is holding up a 12,000 tonne nuclear submarine.

    Excuse the ascii art, especially in the absence of a preview function:

    (_) <- metal & plastic submarine
    / ^ \ <- wooden props and stand

  6. The Chinese use bamboo for scaffolding. Also because it’s cheaper and hence not subject to being nicked.

  7. Wood is still widely used in ship yards. Why not? It is cheap and people understand its use well. It does not rust either.

    For submarines I would have thought bringing two dissimilar, or even similar, metals together in a wet environment was asking for corrosion problems and even worse.

  8. Wooden blocks are easier to move around when positioning the ship, too. Closer to neutral buoyancy than plastic or metal.

  9. As somebody who ran a scaffolding company in the construction and maintenance of an LNG plant in Russia, trust me when I say British Standard tube-and-fitting scaffolding is ten times safer and better than wood, bamboo, or any other type.

  10. I could be mistaken about what they’re talking about but -

    If yoiu’re talking about out holding the sub *up*, it will be supported by keel blocks, which here in the US are also wood since its strong enough to support and light enough to be easily repositioned underwater by divers as the drydock is drained or for different types of ships.

    And it may be a matter of the new not knowing terminology, but keel blocks aren’t scaffolding.

    Once the vessel is in place and the dock dry, scaffolding is erected around and on the vessel to allow workers access to the hull since otherwise the keel would be 4 or more feet off the bottom of the dock.

    Wooden scaffolding for maintenance work would not be out of place in Russia.

  11. A funny part of this story is that the Chief of the General Staff apparently lead a team of senior military officials in the emergency response.

    Over here the fire would have been under control by the time word got to the squadron CO.
    Of course, over here, we would have had a firewatch in place and cleared the hot areas of flammables before hotwork started and the fire probably would never have happened.

  12. Billion dollars worth ?
    It might have cost a billion dollars equivalent to design and build, and it might be worth a bilion dollars to a purchaser, but it doesn’t bring in any cash, it is a huge cash drain instead. Regardless of the sunk cost of the sub, there is nothing to be gained by being lavish on the maintenance.

  13. Robbo – “Regardless of the sunk cost of the sub, there is nothing to be gained by being lavish on the maintenance.”

    With submarines sunk costs are what you get if you don’t do your maintenance.

    I take your point, but surely that depends on whether you want to have the option of using them or not, no? If they are just for display, then it doesn’t matter. May as well scrap them all. If you actually think you may need them one day, then it helps if they work. On that day they will be priceless.

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