Poland’s sole Kilo submarine catches fire in dock

A fire broke out aboard the Polish Navy’s only Kilo-class submarine ORP Orzeł recently, as it was docked at the Polish Navy shipyard in Gdynia for repairs.

The incident was initially not reported by the defense ministry and was confirmed by Armed Forces General Command spokesman Czesław Cichy to news site TVN24 following an inquiry.

According to Polish media, four sailors were aboard the submarine when the incident occurred on September 27 but no one was hurt. The extent of damage the fire caused is yet to be revealed.

The Orzeł has spent the past three years docked for maintenance and repairs. It is now unclear whether the 31-year-old submarine will return to service as the cost of repairs could turn out to be too high for the investment to pay off.

This is not the first incident ORP Orzeł has been involved in since starting her repairs in February 2014. In 2016, the submarine was damaged while being undocked, prompting further delays in returning to sea.

ORP Orzeł is Poland’s youngest submarine, built by Krasnoye Sormovo Shipyard and commissioned into active service in 1986. In addition to the Russian-built Project 877E submarine, Poland also has four 50-year-old Type 205 submarines built by Rheinstahl Nordseewerke GmbH.