THE KURSK SALVAGE OPERATION IS UNDERWAY

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Vremya Novostei, June 15, 2001, p. 2

Divers will begin work in the Barents Sea, where the Kursk submarine sank, in mid-July. Preparations have already started. The State Salvage Research Institute, located in the town of Lomonosov (not far from St. Petersburg), has run an exercise for divers.

Divers will have to make holes in the hull of the sunken submarine. In addition, they will cut off the first compartment of the submarine, which was destroyed as a result of the incident. Specialists from the Norwegian company Norse Cutting and Abandonment will assist Russian divers. Recently the Mammoet company signed a contract with it.

Rear Admiral Mikhail Barskov, Deputy Commander of the Russian Navy, stated that the operation will be supported by men-of-war of the North Fleet. Command has already created a special expedition in Severomorsk. The group consists of the Peter the Great nuclear missile cruiser, the Marshal Ustinov missile cruiser, the Admiral Kharlamov and the Severomorsk anti-submarine ships, tankers, rescue, fire and hydrographic ships, five helicopters, and two planes. The expedition will be under the command of Rear Admiral Mikhail Motsak, Chief of Staff of the North Fleet.

According to Admiral Barskov, divers will begin examining the sunken submarine after the group arrives at the site of the accident. The hull of the submarine will be cut in late July.

Mammoet and the Rubin design bureau are currently discussing the final details of the operation. Another round of consultations between Russian and Dutch specialists ended in St. Petersburg on June 14. The most important thing when raising the Kursk is to prevent it from falling back to the seabed. This is why experts from Mammoet and Rubin have studied the results of tests of the lifting gear and analyzed the project of pontoons, which will be created by Sevmashpredpriyatie, Severodvinsk. Vyacheslav Zakharov, a Russian representative of Mammoet, has no doubt that the operation will be a success.

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