Nukewatch Quarterly Fall 2020
Fire broke out June 12 in France’s nuclear-powered submarine La Perle while it was in drydock in the Mediterranean port of Toulon. The submarine burned for 14 hours before firefighters extinguished the blaze, Reuters reported.
The fire was doused when foam was used to flood the sub’s rear compartments. Maritime officials said the Perle’s “reactor rooms remains untouched.” The French navy said that there were no casualties and no risk of radiation release “because the nuclear [reactor] fuel had been removed during the renovation of Perle,” the Agence France Presse (AFP) reported. “There was a fire, but no, there was not a nuclear accident,” said Defence Minister Florence Parly, according to AFP. “There was absolutely no nuclear fuel aboard and not a single weapon,” Parly said.
One of six French “attack” submarines assigned to hunt other subs and guard other nuclear-armed, long-range missile submarines, Perle did not carry nuclear weapons. Launched in 1993, Perle is already eligible for decommissioning, and the fire damage may force its retirement. —CM