On the 7th of April 1989 the Soviet nuclear powered submarine Komsomolets was on a routine patrol northeast of the mainland of Norway when a fire started on board. The ship sent an encrypted emergency signal to the mainland, but help arrived too late.

Among 42 seamen that were killed in the accident was the captain on board, Y. E. Vanin. Several were probably killed by poisonous gases that entered the escape pods they were in. Of the crew of 69 only 27 survived. It is believed that many more could have been saved if the Soviet seamen had asked for help from the Norwegian government. It took eight hours for Soviet ships to reach the site of the accident and several marines may have frozen to death in the cold water while waiting for help.

The ship was in the Mike-class, and weighed a little under 6000 tons. Its reactors were water-cooled, and ran on uranium and plutonium.

The submarine is assumed to be at a depth of 2000 meters (around 6000 ft). Its position is 73 degrees 44 minutes north, and 13 degrees 18 minutes east, 190 km south east of Bjornoya (“The Bear Island” in English?) and 500 km of the coast of mainland Norway.