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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Admiral Says Navy Hid Fatal Sub Accidents

A retired Russian admiral has accused navy officials of covering up fatal submarine accidents from the Soviet era in order to hide their incompetence, a newspaper said Tuesday.

Former vice admiral Yevgeny Chernov, 65, decided to speak out after his son-in-law Alexander Nikitin was imprisoned for 10 months on charges of treason and espionage. Nikitin was arrested for describing the hazards of Russian nuclear submarines in a report published in 1996 by the Bellona Foundation, a Norwegian environmental organization.

Chernov cited two fatal accidents, Izvestia reported. In both instances, he blamed Admiral Oleg Yerofeyev, now the Russian Northern Fleet commander.

Chernov said Yerofeyev was at fault for a 1983 accident involving a K-429 nuclear submarine, which sank in the Far East. Sixteen crew members died, out of a total of 114, after one of its officers ordered the ship to submerge while its ventilation system remained open.

Chernov also blamed Yerofeyev for an accident on the Komsomolets nuclear sub, which sank in April 1989 after catching fire near Norway. Forty-two of the 69 sailors aboard died.

Chernov said both accidents resulted from Yerofeyev sending ill-prepared crews on missions, in violation of standing instructions.

Admiral Valery Alexin, the Russian navy's chief navigator, dismissed Chernov's account as inaccurate.

"It's packed with factual errors and is wrong in suggesting there was a single culprit -- Yerofeyev,'' he said Tuesday. "The reasons were far more complex.''