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Aftermath of Canadian submarine fire: PTSD, asthma and depression

Navy Lt. Chris Saunders later died from smoke inhalation, and two other crew members were badly injured by the toxic fumes
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Vice Admiral Art McDonald, commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, addresses a media briefing concerning the results of HMCS Chicoutimi Health Surveillance Study, in Halifax on Thursday, July 11, 2019. An electrical fire aboard the Victoria-class submarine left one sailor dead and several injured in October 2004 as it was in transit between Faslane, Scotland and Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

HALIFAX — A study says 60 per cent of the sailors who fought a deadly fire aboard the submarine HMCS Chicoutimi in 2004 were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress within five years.

The Royal Canadian Navy says the 56 sailors were 45 times more likely to be diagnosed with PTSD than a control group made up of healthy submariners.

As well, the long-awaited study found that between 2004 and 2009,  21 per cent of crew members reported suffering from asthma and 15 per cent were battling depression — rates well above what was found within the control group.

However, no cases of cancer were reported among the crew during that time period, even though the military had confirmed crew members were exposed to a nasty chemical cocktail in thick black smoke that filled the vessel.

The used British submarine, one of four purchased by the Canadian military in 1998, was on its maiden voyage to Canada on Oct. 5, 2004, when it caught fire in rough seas off the coast of Ireland.

Navy Lt. Chris Saunders later died from smoke inhalation, and two other crew members were left badly injured by the toxic fumes.

After the fire, virtually all of the submariners spent an additional five days on the sub — working on equipment covered in grey soot — as the ship was towed to safety in Scotland.

The Canadian Press




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