Crewmember tampered with temp. sensor on Russia's submarine: Repor

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Moscow, Nov 17 (UNI) The death of 20 people on board the Russian nuclear submarine Nerpa was caused by a crewmember entering the wrong data into a temperature sensor, leading Russian business daily Kommersant reported today.

Dmitry Grobov, a sailor, is suspected of having entered the wrong temperature data for the submarine's living quarters, which caused the fire safety system to release Freon gas, the paper said, quoting a source close to the investigation of the accident onboard the Akula II class attack submarine, on November 8, reportedly meant for India.

The source said that according to the information obtained from the sub's Rotor data block, similar to an aircraft's black-box, ''the temperature...increased sharply all of a sudden and the fire safety system reacted as programmed.'' The daily said at the time of the incident Grobov was on a scheduled watch and the access code to the fire safety system was written in pencil on the surface of the equipment.

The tragedy occurred when the submarine was undergoing sea trials in the Sea of Japan. Three submariners and 17 shipyard workers died in the accident. There were 208 people, including 81 sailors, onboard the vessel.

However, former Navy officers told the paper they doubt that Grobov was solely to blame as it was impossible for one person to activate the system, which is protected from unauthorised activation by multiple levels of confirmation.

Investigators last week announced that they had brought criminal charges against the crew member, and that he faced up to seven years in jail.

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