List of sunken nuclear submarines
Eight nuclear submarine
Nuclear submarine
A nuclear submarine is a submarine powered by a nuclear reactor . The performance advantages of nuclear submarines over "conventional" submarines are considerable: nuclear propulsion, being completely independent of air, frees the submarine from the need to surface frequently, as is necessary for...

s have sunk as a consequence of either accident or extensive damage: two from the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, four from the Soviet Navy
Soviet Navy
The Soviet Navy was the naval arm of the Soviet Armed Forces. Often referred to as the Red Fleet, the Soviet Navy would have played an instrumental role in a Warsaw Pact war with NATO, where it would have attempted to prevent naval convoys from bringing reinforcements across the Atlantic Ocean...

, and two from the Russian Navy. Only three were lost with all hands: two from the United States Navy and one from the Russian Navy. All sank as a result of accident with the exception of K-27, which was scuttled in the Kara Sea
Kara Sea
The Kara Sea is part of the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia. It is separated from the Barents Sea to the west by the Kara Strait and Novaya Zemlya, and the Laptev Sea to the east by the Severnaya Zemlya....

 when repair was deemed impossible and decommissioning too expensive. All of the Soviet/Russian submarines belonged to the Northern Fleet
Northern Fleet
The Red Banner Northern Fleet is a unit of the Russian Navy that has access to the Barents and Norwegian Seas, the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, and is responsible for the defense of northwestern Russia. It was established in 1937 as part of the Soviet Navy...

. Although the Soviet submarine K-129 (Golf II)
Soviet submarine K-129 (Golf II)
K-129 was a Project 629A diesel-electric powered submarine of the Soviet Pacific Fleet, one of six Project 629 strategic ballistic missile submarines attached to the 15th Submarine Squadron based at Rybachiy Naval Base, Kamchatka, commanded by Rear Admiral Rudolf A...

 carried nuclear ballistic missiles
Ballistic missile
A ballistic missile is a missile that follows a sub-orbital ballistic flightpath with the objective of delivering one or more warheads to a predetermined target. The missile is only guided during the relatively brief initial powered phase of flight and its course is subsequently governed by the...

 when it sank, it was a diesel-electric submarine and is not in the list below.

Of the eight sinkings, two were due to fires, two were due to explosions of weapons systems, one was due to flooding, one was weather-related, and one was sunk intentionally due to a damaged nuclear reactor. In one case, the cause of sinking is unknown.

United States

  • Thresher (SSN-593)
    USS Thresher (SSN-593)
    The second USS Thresher was the lead ship of her class of nuclear-powered attack submarines in the United States Navy. Her loss at sea during deep-diving tests in 1963 is often considered a watershed event in the implementation of the rigorous submarine safety program SUBSAFE.The contract to build...

    , the first submarine in its class
    Thresher/Permit class submarine
    The Thresher/Permit-class was a class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines in service with the United States Navy from the 1960s until 1994. They replaced the class...

    , sank April 10, 1963 during deep-diving trials after flooding, loss of propulsion, and an attempt to blow the emergency ballast tanks failed, causing it to exceed crush depth. All 129 men on board perished. Location: 50 km (27 nmi) east of Cape Cod.
  • Scorpion (SSN-589)
    USS Scorpion (SSN-589)
    USS Scorpion was a Skipjack-class nuclear submarine of the United States Navy, and the sixth ship of the U.S. Navy to carry that name. Scorpion was declared lost on 5 June 1968 with 99 crew members dying in the incident. The USS Scorpion is one of two nuclear submarines the U.S...

    , a , sank May 22, 1968, evidently due to implosion upon reaching its crush depth. What caused the Scorpion to descend to its crush depth is not known. All 99 men died. Location: 740 kilometres (399.6 nmi) southwest of the Azores.


  • K-27
    Soviet submarine K-27
    The K-27 was the only submarine of Projekt 645 in the Soviet Navy. Project 645 did not have or need its own NATO reporting name. That project produced just one test model nuclear submarine, one which incorporated a pair of experimental VT-1 nuclear reactors that used a liquid-metal coolant ,...

    : The only Project 645 submarine, equipped with a liquid metal cooled reactor
    Liquid metal cooled reactor
    A liquid metal cooled nuclear reactor, liquid metal fast reactor or LMFR is an advanced type of nuclear reactor where the primary coolant is a liquid metal. Liquid metal cooled reactors were first adapted for nuclear submarine use but have also been extensively studied for power generation...

    , was irreparably damaged by a reactor accident (control rod
    Control rod
    A control rod is a rod made of chemical elements capable of absorbing many neutrons without fissioning themselves. They are used in nuclear reactors to control the rate of fission of uranium and plutonium...

     failure) May 24, 1968. 9 were killed in the reactor accident. After shutting down the reactor and sealing the compartment, the Soviet Navy scuttled her in shallow water of the Kara Sea
    Kara Sea
    The Kara Sea is part of the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia. It is separated from the Barents Sea to the west by the Kara Strait and Novaya Zemlya, and the Laptev Sea to the east by the Severnaya Zemlya....

     on September 6, 1982, contrary to the recommendation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
  • K-8
    Soviet submarine K-8
    K-8 was a November class submarine of the Soviet Northern Fleet that sank in the Bay of Biscay with its nuclear weapons on board on April 12, 1970...

    : A Project 627 November class submarine
    November class submarine
    The Project 627 class submarine was the Soviet Union's first class of nuclear-powered submarines. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization used the standard radio communication phonetic alphabet to denote submarine classes...

     was lost April 11, 1970 while being towed in rough seas following a fire on board. The vessel was initially evacuated, but 52 reembarked for the towing operation. All hands on board were lost (52), while 73 crewmen survived on the rescue vessel. Location: Bay of Biscay
    Bay of Biscay
    The Bay of Biscay is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea. It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Cape Ortegal, and is named in English after the province of Biscay, in the Spanish...

    , 490 kilometres (264.6 nmi) northwest of Spain
    Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

     in the North Atlantic Ocean.
  • K-219
    Soviet submarine K-219
    K-219 was a Navaga-class ballistic missile submarine of the Soviet Navy. She carried 16 SS-N-6 liquid-fuel missiles powered by UDMH with IRFNA, equipped with an estimated 34 nuclear warheads....

    : A Project 667A Yankee I class sub
    Yankee class submarine
    The Yankee class is the NATO classification for a type of nuclear-powered submarine that was constructed by the Soviet Union from 1968 onward. 34 units were produced under Project 667A Navaga and Project 667AU Nalim...

     was damaged in a missile explosion October 3, 1986, then sank suddenly while being towed after all crew had transferred off. 6 crew members were killed. Location: 950 kilometres (513 nmi) east of Bermuda
    Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

     in the North Atlantic Ocean.
  • K-278 Komsomolets
    Soviet submarine K-278 Komsomolets
    K-278 Komsomolets was the only Project 685 Плавник nuclear-powered attack submarine of the Soviet Navy. The boat sank in 1989 and is currently resting on the floor of the Barents Sea, one mile deep, with its nuclear reactor and two nuclear warheads still on board...

    : The only Mike-class sub built sank due to a raging fire April 7, 1989. All but 5 evacuated prior to sinking. 42 perished, many from smoke inhalation and exposure to the cold waters of the Barents Sea
    Barents Sea
    The Barents Sea is a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean, located north of Norway and Russia. Known in the Middle Ages as the Murman Sea, the sea takes its current name from the Dutch navigator Willem Barents...

    . A total of 27 crew members survived.

Russian Federation

  • K-141 Kursk
    Russian submarine K-141 Kursk
    K-141 Kursk was an Oscar-II class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine of the Russian Navy, lost with all hands when it sank in the Barents Sea on August 12, 2000...

    : The Oscar II class sub sank in the Barents sea on August 12, 2000 after an explosion on board. See Russian submarine Kursk explosion
    Russian submarine Kursk explosion
    On 12 August 2000, the Russian Oscar II class submarine Kursk sank in the Barents Sea after an explosion. The investigation showed that a leak of hydrogen peroxide in a torpedo led to explosion of its fuel, causing the submarine to hit the bottom which in turn triggered the detonation of further...

    . All 118 men on board were lost. Location: sank in Barents Sea but all but extreme bow section later salvaged.
  • K-159
    Soviet submarine K-159
    K-159 was a Project 627A "Kit" nuclear-powered submarine of the Soviet Northern Fleet. Her keel was laid down on 15 August 1962 at the Severodvinsk "Sevmash" Shipyard No. 402...

    : The hulk of the decommissioned Soviet-era November class submarine
    November class submarine
    The Project 627 class submarine was the Soviet Union's first class of nuclear-powered submarines. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization used the standard radio communication phonetic alphabet to denote submarine classes...

     sank August 28, 2003 when a storm ripped away the pontoons necessary to keep it afloat under tow. 9 men perished in the accident. Location: Barents Sea.

See also

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