KURSK WILL BE LIFTED IN TWO PARTS

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Vadim Nezvizhsky (St. Petersburg), Oleg Odnokolenko Segodnya, January 13, 2001, p. 1

Academician Igor Spassky, General Director of the Central Design Bureau of Naval Equipment Rubin, announced the project of salvaging the nuclear submarine Kursk in the Barents Sea ready. Leadership of the International foundation Kursk the Rubin is an element of acquainted representatives of the European Union with the project. The operation will begin in April 2001. Apart from Rubin, the foundation includes the Norwegian branch of the company Halliburton (the United States) and two Dutch companies Heerema Marine Contractors and Smit Tak (they will provide the equipment and technologies without which Russia cannot hope to lift the submarine). The project is estimated at $70-100 million, and the foundation expects the European Union to come up with at least half of the sum.

Details of the project somehow leaked to foreign media even before Spassky’s press conference. The Dutch newspaper “Telegraaf” reports that the Kursk will be cut into two parts right on the seabed. Its major part with the command post and reactor will be the first to be lifted. The torpedo compartment damaged by the explosion (its length is about 20 meters) will be left on the seabed. Its salvation will be planned and executed by Russia alone afterwards. According to K. Schofield of the Heerema Marine Contractors, the lifting operation will take between April and August. It will include three phases.

This is what has been planned. Divers will fix twenty elastic cables 23 centimeters thick to the submarine. The following phase of the operation will be particularly risky. The floating crane provided by the Heerema Marine Contractors will try to get the submarine from the seabed. In case of a success, the hull will be attached to a huge ponton and tugged to Murmansk for an expertise. In Murmansk, both reactors, guided missiles, and whatever bodies of submariners will bee discovered will be removed from the Kursk.

The project is fairly standard. What is there so classified that the project has been kept a secret for so long a time? Neither the Navy General Staff nor the apparatus of Ilya Klebanov, chairman of the governmental commission, could answer the question. Only sources in the Rubin confirmed that the project revealed by the Dutch newspaper was authentic.

Rubin Assistant General Director Gennadi Sorokin confirms that the first compartment will actually be lifted without foreign assistance. “Lifting the whole submarine with two nuclear reactors and some ordnance that probably survived the explosion in the first compartment is too risky,” Sorokin said. According to Sorokin, Russian specialists are quite adequate for salvaging the first compartment afterwards.

Nevertheless, the first compartment may actually be left on the seabed. It will happen if examination of the lifted part of the submarine is sufficient to pinpoint the cause of the tragedy, according to Sorokin.

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