First reports reaching DEBKAfile’s military sources say that a US submarine intercepted a Russian nuclear sub in American waters opposite Alaska. The Russian sub escorting the nuclear submarine responded with a Balkan 2000 torpedo and scuttled the US vessel. Urgent consultations in both the White House and the Kremlin were taking place on Tuesday night. US Vice President Mike Pence called off an appearance in New Hampshire after being recalled to Washington for a conference called by President Donald Trump without explanation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin cancelled an engagement and headed for the Kremlin to confer with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and military chiefs, after learning that 14 submariners died in a fire that broke out on a nuclear-powered “experimental submarine in Russian waters.” This account carried in Russian media varies in most respects from the first reports reaching this site and may refer to a separate incident. They report between 14 and 17 members of an AS-12 nuclear powered submarine died of poisonous fumes caused by a fire aboard the vessel. The submarine was described as experimental and unarmed but often used in spy missions. It is unclear how many of the 25 crew survived. Local media suggest four or five are receiving treatment in Severomorsk’s military hospital for poisoning and concussion injuries. Another news account said the majority of the officers died in or on their way to hospital. These reports do not cite the cause of the fire.