Alexander Yemelyanenko Novaya Gazeta, No. 11, February 15-18, 2001, pp. 1, 3
Specialists have come to conclusion that the Kursk sank because of an accident in the torpedo compartment. However, officials and the government commission refuse to announce any final conclusions.
Half a year has passed since the catastrophe involving the Kursk nuclear submarine in which 118 seamen perished.
Official sources give conflicting reports, and a special commission created for investigating the disaster has not yet announced its final conclusions. (…)
In the meantime, judging by statements made by Academician Igor Spassky, Director of the Rubin Design Bureau, the cause of the Kursk tragedy is not a secret to specialists. Telling the people the truth about the tragedy is another matter. The members of the commission cannot reach an agreement concerning whether or not the time for that has come. It’s very likely that people will not learn the final conclusions until the submarine is raised.
This situation is linked with the fact that the theory of a collision with a foreign submarine has been not been proved, either by the government commission or by the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office. It’s no coincidence that officials and specialists (Igor Spassky, for instance) do not mention this theory in their reports. The theory involving a terrorist act on board the submarine has been rejected. (…)
No one has answered the question of whether or not there was a possibility to rescue the crew. No one knows how long there were still live seamen on board the submarine after the two explosions.
(…) People do not know anything about the results of the forensic examinations of objects raised from the submarine during the Russian-Norwegian salvage operation in November 2000. Neither the commission, nor investigators have released that information. (…) Officials have acknowledged that there two notes written by the members of the crew were recovered. The notes are considered physical evidence and have been attached to the criminal case.
It is very likely that communication between the bridge and the bow compartments was cut off by the first explosion. Deciphering of acoustic signals testifies that the power of the first explosion was equal to 100 kilograms of TNT. The explosion ruined the bridge, hydraulic system, communication systems, and lighting systems. The reactor protection system was activated. The submarine was out of control. Two minutes later those who survived and recovered consciousness after the explosion were rocked by a more powerful explosion in the torpedo room. Both accumulators in the first and second compartments (the reserve power source) were torn off by the explosion.
As a result of the examination of the submarine’s hull and complicated scientific tests (including examination of the equipment and weapons from the first compartment raised from the submarine) experts have come to a conclusion that the explosion in the torpedo compartment (“the second seismic event”) happened BEFORE the submarine hit the seabed. In other words the second explosion was caused by interior processes in the torpedo room. The submarine came to rest on the seabed of the Barents Sea with a ruined bow.
Specialists state that only some of the torpedoes stored in the torpedo room exploded. Otherwise the entire submarine crew would have perished in the explosion. Judging by Lieutenant Commander Kolesnikov’s note, 23 people survived in the stern compartment after the two explosions.
Specialists who know the structural peculiarities of the submarine state that people could survive in the sixth compartment (the reserve reactor control post). The firm construction of the reactor compartment and special partitions could protect from the shock waves of the two explosions. It is possible that the final SOS signal came from this compartment. Comparison of the list of servicemen who were posted in the sixth to ninth compartments (24 people) with the list prepared by Kolesnikov can answer this question. These names are known, but officials refuse to announce them.
(…) The hypothesis of an exterior impact on a torpedo-tube (a collision with another submarine, a mine, a missile from a warship) is not a total impossibility. However, to all appearances the tragedy was caused by an emergency inside, not outside, the torpedo room. It is very likely that there was an accident involving a combat torpedo, rather than a training one.
It’s very difficult, but we have to be ready for the worst conclusion: the submarine sank because of defects in its weapons or a mistake on the part of the operator of those weapons. Scientists, designers, shipbuilders, and top-ranking officers who commanded the exercise in the Barents Sea assured people that the tragedy which happed on August 12, 2000 would never happen.
(…) The most important thing is to take urgent measures to prevent similar tragedies from taking place on the Voronezh, the Belgorod, and other submarines.