The French defense minister said the 14-hour fire on a nuclear-powered attack submarine did not cause a “nuclear accident”.
The fire broke out around 10:30 am on June 12 (local time) while the La Perle submarine was undergoing maintenance and refurbishment at its base in Toulon, according to the French Navy. About 100 firefighters and 150 rescue workers extinguished the fire around 0 am June 13 (local time), the French Navy said.
“There was a fire, but no, there was not a nuclear accident”, “measures were taken in the rear area to protect the nuclear reactor compartment”, said French Defense Minister Florence Parly.
Earlier, the Navy reported no casualties and no risk of radioactive leaks because nuclear fuel was removed during maintenance of La Perle, one of France’s six nuclear-powered attack submarines.
Parly noted that the Navy is conducting an investigation into the cause of the fire and assessing the extent of the damage.
Launched in 1993, the submarine La Perle docked in Toulon in January 2020. The maintenance and upgrading process lasted 18 months to maintain the operation of the La Perle submarine until the end of this decade.
La Perle submarines can be submerged up to 300 meters deep and carry 70 sailors. This is an attack submarine used to tracking warships, escort aircraft carriers, perform near-shore intelligence gathering activities.
In addition to the six nuclear-powered attack submarines, France also owns four submarines carrying nuclear ballistic missiles.