Monday, May 3, 2010

Multibeam image of the wreck of a Russian submarine sunk in the Barents sea

On 30 August 2003, the nuclear submarine K-159 sank in a restricted military area in the Arctic circle during stormy weather while being towed to the shipyard in Snezhnogorsk, Murmansk Oblast for scrapping (K-159 was decommissioned in 1987).
K-159 was found and investigated by Russian deep-sea vehicles the same day in the point 69°22.64'N, 33°49.51'E (Barents Sea, 2.4 miles from Kildin Island) at a depth of 248 m.
K-159 performed 9 missions and passed 212,618 miles since June 1963.
The nuclear submarine renamed B-159 on 1989 was under tow to a facility to have its two fully fueled reactors removed. In heavy weather a disastrous sequence of events led to the vessel sinking by the stern.
Three of the 10 skeleton crew escaped but only one survived.
Forensic archaeological analysis, together with the limited contemporary reports available, showed that the submarine sank stern first and stuck 12m into the seabed.
The hull then snapped at the aft end of the internal pressure hull and crashed to the seabed, leaving 8.5m of the outer casing, including the propellors, still buried vertically in the seabed.

It is unlikely that there has been any fishing in the area since the 2nd World War and wildlife is abundant.
At the start of the survey lead by ADUS in 2007, the noise of the multibeam system (Reson 8125) and the ROV thrusters, together with the lights for the videos and cameras, attracted thousands of large atlantic cod.
The multibeam survey had to be stopped at intervals and the ROV dropped onto the seabed. Everything was then turned off to allow time for the fish to disperse before resuming the survey.

Links :
  • Wired original article (05/2010)
  • other image with fish noise (courtesy of Salvage and Marine Operations, MoD)
  • NATO Submarine Rescue Service Intervention ROV used as a platform for the survey of the B 159 (multibeam sonar located in the frame bolted beneath the ROV)
  • B-159 in Gremikha Bay of Barents Sea, 28 August 2003, ready for towing to the shipyard for scrapping
  • another submarine wreck (German U-735 sunk by R.A.F. in 1944 near Horten, Norway) Olex 3D image rendered from real Simrad EM3000 multibeam soundings fitting 'NUI Explorer' Hugin II AUV

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