THE KURSK OPERATION HAS BEGUN

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Vyacheslav Gudkov Kommersant, July 5, 2001, p. 3

Special expedition of the North Fleet, which will take part in raising the Kursk submarine, is currently in the Barents Sea

The first men-of-war from a special expedition created in the North Fleet, due to take part in raising the Kursk nuclear submarine, put out to sea on July 4. Admiral Vladimir Kuroedov, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, arrived in Severodvinsk to check the readiness of the expedition. The Sevromorsk anti-submarine man-of-war and the Mikhail Rudnitsky salvage vessel left Severodvinsk for the site of the accident on July 4. The Severodvinsk is the headquarters of special expedition, which consists of military specialists from the Russian Navy, the Rubin design bureau, the ship-building industry, and representatives of the governmental commission established to investigate the cause of the Kursk tragedy. In addition, the Severomorsk and the Admiral Kharlamov anti-submarine man-of-war will have to defend the site of the catastrophe from foreign submarines. According to Kommersant’s sources, Rear Admiral Mikhail Motsak, Chief of the Staff of the North Fleet, who commands the special expedition, will fly to the Severomorsk by helicopter by the end of this week. By that time all men-of-war and support vessels involved in the expedition are to gather at the shipwreck site.

In the meantime, the Mikhail Rudnitsky, has begun preparing the operation site for the arrival of the main part of the expedition and the Mayo diving ship. The Mikhail Rudnitsky will build anchorage hardware over the Kursk and will also have to conduct continuous radiation monitoring in the zone of operations. This will be carried out by a group of the Krylov research Institute (St. Petersburg) and the Kurchatov Institute.

On the eve of the expedition the Norwegian Radiation Protection Institute expressed anxiety regarding the possible leakage of radioactive substances during the operation in the Barents Sea. Norway asked Russia to allow it access to the plans for the salvage operation, prepared by Russian experts. Russia has not reacted to this request. Moscow claims that the Kursk’s reactors have ceased to function, and that radiation monitoring will be carried out by Russian specialists. The Dalnie Zelentsy ship, which will control the radiation situation in the Barents Sea, is to put to sea on July 5. As far as specialists from the Kurchatov Institute are concerned, they intend to place equipment for controlling the state of the reactors under the hull of the Kursk submarine.

On July 4, the North Fleet was visited by Admiral Vladimir Kuroedov, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, and Presidential Aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky. The Commander-in-Chief intends to check the readiness of the expedition, and the Presidential Aide is to organize an interim international press center in the Ice Palace in Murmansk. The delegation from Moscow also plans to visit the Vidyaevo settlement, the Roslyakovo docks, and the Orel nuclear submarine in Severodvinsk, and to meet with the Command of the North Fleet and the leadership of the Murmansk region.

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