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Russia tests nuclear submarine after accident

RUSSIA has successfully tested a nuclear submarine nine months after 20 sailors were killed during a failed sea trial, RIA news agency reported today.

A fresh sea trial of the Soviet-designed Nerpa submarine began on July 10 in the Sea of Japan and was completed successfully, RIA quoted a source at the Amur shipyard, where the submarine was built, as saying.

"The first stage of the test was completed successfully," the source was quoted as saying. "The craft is in base... to prepare for the second stage of the test."

During testing of the Nerpa last November, 20 people died and 21 were hospitalised when the fire extinguishing system was turned on in error, releasing freon gas that asphyxiated the victims.

The submarine accident, the worst to hit the Russian navy since 118 sailors died in 2000 when the Kursk nuclear submarine sunk in the Barents Sea, exposed the gap between the Kremlin's ambitions and its military capabilities.

The Nerpa is codenamed Akula, or shark, by NATO. The submarines have been in service since the mid-1980s and are armed with torpedoes, cruise missiles and can carry underwater missiles.

Indian media has reported that New Delhi is interested in leasing nuclear submarines including the Nerpa.

An official at the Amur shipyard declined to comment on the reported test. The navy could not be immediately reached for comment.


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