Russian nuclear sub lightly damaged in collision

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A Russian nuclear-powered submarine suffered light damage to its hull after being hit by a fishing boat in the Pacific and is undergoing repairs in port, naval officials said Thursday.

No one was injured or radiation released in the accident, which occurred on the southeastern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula facing the Bering Sea, news agencies quoted regional navy sources as saying.

"The submarine suffered insignificant damage to its external hull," an unnamed source told the RIA Novosti news agency.

"There was no release of radiation," another Russian Pacific Fleet source told Interfax.

The Svyatoy Georgiy Pobedonosets, a Delta III class submarine built for the Soviet Union in 1980, is equipped to carry 16 nuclear missiles.

But Russian naval craft are only equipped with weapons when they go out for planned exercises or other missions, or in cases of heightened alert.

Navy sources said the submarine, which was anchored at bay, was hit by a fishing vessel that itself had ben trying to manoeuvre out of the way of another ship in tight quarters.

The incident came less than five months after a Russian atomic-powered icebreaker developed a nuclear leak in the frozen seas of the Arctic before limping to port near Murmansk, near Norway.

In Russia's deadliest naval accident, 118 sailors were killed in August 2000 when the Kursk nuclear-powered submarine sank after catching fire and being hit by a series of powerful on-board explosions in the Barents Sea.

© 2011 AFP

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