Ex-Northern Fleet captain sues Russian minister of defence

Publish date: June 28, 2005

Sergey Zhemchuzhnov, the Northern Fleet captain who headed the fatal towing operation of the K-159 submarine in August 2003, intends to sue Russian Minister of Defence Sergey Ivanov, the Barents Observer reported.

Zhemchuzhnov was convicted by the Russian Military Prosecutor’s office for having neglected maritime regulations, which resulted in the sinking of K-159 and the drowning of 9 of the decommissioned subs 10 crew members. Zhemchuzhinov intends to fight back against the Navy commanders and the Defence Ministry in a court case.

Zhemchuzhnov headed the Ostrovnoy division of retired nuclear submarines at Gremikha, from where the K-159 departed on August 29th, 2003 to the Nerpa shipyard outside Murmansk for full dismantlement. The sub sank, with 800 kilograms of spent uranium nuclear fuel on board in 280 metres of water off the coast of Kildin Island in the Barents Sea.

Gennady Suchkov, commander of the Northern Fleet, was also convicted for negligence in the accident. He received a four year suspended prison sentence. He was later hired as an advisor to minister of defence, Sergey Ivanov, the Barents Observer reported.

The court case against Sergey Zhemchuzhnov has dragged out, and in March this year the case was officially closed. Zhemchuzhnov now intends to clear his name and reputation in court. He stressed however, that he is no longer interested in resuming his post as a submarine captain, said the paper.