A Russian nuclear submarine malfunctioned the other day, killing twenty crew. The ghost shipped has now docked.
The ship was cobbled together with the very latest of 1980s Soviet technology, combined with good ideas from here and there. The result, predictably, was disasterous:
The Nerpa’s patchwork history may have contributed to Saturday’s disaster. “They are using bits of Soviet equipment and hardware, brushing off the rust and putting in new stuff,” says Mr. Felgenhauer. “That’s just not a good way to develop operational equipment.”
Moreover, Russia’s military establishment has a crushing shortage of qualified experts. “That submarine was being constructed over a period of 15 years, and was the only one being built at the Amur shipyard during that time,” says Alexander Goltz, a military expert with the online newspaper Yezhednevnaya Gazeta. “How many of the original specialists and skilled workers would have stayed on during that period? Very few. Everything conspired to make that ship very vulnerable.”
Captain Dyagalo said that 208 people were aboard the Nerpa at the time, including 81 servicemen plus naval technicians and workers from the Komsomolsk-na-Amur shipyard. Fourteen civilians were among the dead, he said.
Low oil prices directly weaken Russia’s military, by straining its resources and encouraging military leaders to cut costs in ways that cost Russian lives and make a mockery of Russian technology.
However, we can do more to prevent Russia from meddling in the Core and Seam than just lower oil prices. We can encourage immigration from Russia, accelerating Moscow’s demographic crisis and depriving it of the educated class it needs. We can encourage France to build nuclear power plants in eastern Europe, and encourage China to build pipelines that weaken Russia’s bargaining position.
Likewise, presuming India still wants to lease Russian nuclear subs, we can disrupt that by giving India a much better deal on more reliable technology.