Stupid is as stupid does.
I've been on subs that had chlorate candles. My guess is some basic safety precautions were violated here.
The level of ignorance about these items specifically and submarine life in general is pretty evident by the following;
"It's not a candle like you'd think - there's no open flame. It's ignited in a metal canister with a .22 bullet and they burn without any flame.
I don't know how the UK sailors ignite their candles, we always used an abrasive coated nail that was inserted through the candle furnace top, bent and given a good hard twist. The head of the nail was resting on the center of the candle which has a flammable material (potassium superoxide) that ignited from the friction. Shooting a .22 bullet? In an enviornment so confined you can't swing a cat? My ass!! Who was this guy they interviewed? Some YNSN that got disqualed after his first run, and THAT was a dependents cruise?
"Everyone on board will have been trained how to use them. They have definitely been known to explode before - high heat and oxygen is a combustible mix - but I couldn't imagine the force would have killed two men. Something else must have gone wrong.
No, no, and no! Oxygen supports combustion, it isn't combustible itself! Basic high school physics! My guess is the candle may have become saturated with a flammable substance, oil of some sort. THAT would definetly lead to an explosion! Without the introduction of such material that candle would just burn. On the boats I was on it was SOP to examine every candle before placing it in the furnace, doubt if it's really that different for the Royal Navy. And if the candle was in it's "canister" (their version of a furnace) I have to wonder just how securely the lid was fastened. I've known fools to get their faces smacked good and hard because they didn't have the lid secured. And those furnaces are built thick and strong just in case of a stupidity-fueled accident. Again I doubt it's that much different for the Royal Navy.
"The candles line the entire sub and are used in an emergency. Next to each is a pair of asbestos gloves and a bucket of water. If you see the candle is starting to flame or burn, you simply put on the gloves and dump it into the water.
I'd have to wonder about that one. Those of us who have qualified know you don't leave something potentially hazardous lying around for the "children" (sub nonquals in this case) to play with. Come to think of it, wonder if there was any adult supervision going on during the runup to this tragedy. And if a candle started to spontaneously burn you can bet there'd be more involved than "simply put on the gloves and dump it into the water". IMHO all hell would be breaking loose.
"Clean air is your primary concern on a sub and fire is the primary threat. It doesn't take a lot for things to go wrong. It's a very dangerous work environment."
I have to agree with the last. Too many damned fools take too much for granted. Hey, my hair wasn't this gray when I first joined the sub force! And it isn't all age related either!
Seriously, I'll be praying for the sailors and their families.