THE KURSK WILL ONLY BE RAISED IN 2002

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By Aleksei Smirnov Novye Izvestia, August 16, 2001, p. 2

The low skill level of Russian divers, and a failure by Norwegian cutting equipment, are causing the Kursk submarine salvage operation to fall two weeks behind schedule. This means it can’t be completed before the period of autumn storms, and is likely to be postponed until next May (WPS summary).

Unexpected technical difficulties have been encountered in the salvage operation in the Barents Sea. It is believed in Norway that the Northern Fleet command is desperately trying to shift the blame for its failure to keep the operation on schedule – onto NATO.

TV2 journalists report that the problems have arisen because the giant saw which is supposed to be used to cut the destroyed compartments away from the rest of the submarine isn’t up to the task. Moreover, the problems are also due to the Russian divers’ lack of skills.

The voyage of the AMT Carrier from Kirkeness has been delayed; Vyacheslav Zakharov, head of the Russian branch of the Mammoet company, vaguely attributes the delay to what he terms “technical problems”. Zakharov declined to be more explicit. The TV2 journalists then talked to some members of the crew. Insisting on remaining anonymous, they said that the saw doesn’t work. Specialists with spare parts are now expected from Rotterdam, but working out the bugs will take them a week, at least. As a result, the operation will be two weeks behind schedule.

TV2 reporters even visited the town of Polyarnye Zori. Seven British divers had been flown there after six weeks of working on the seabed.

“The Russian divers we worked with are poorly trained,” one of the British divers said. Their team leader says that the work will not be completed before the period of autumn storms, and the British have already been informed that the operation would be postponed until next May.

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