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Sailors suffered PTSD, asthma and depression after submarine fire

Those on the vessel were 45 times more likely to be diagnosed with PTSD, Navy report finds
| www.cos-mag.com

HALIFAX (CP) — 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.

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