KURSK’S SOLITUDE BROKEN

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Anastasiya Askochenskaya Vremya MN, October 9, 2001, p. 1

The Kursk submarine was lifted from the seabed yesterday and is now being transported to the shore. The operation is on schedule, and all involved specialists are closely monitoring background radiation. So far, everything is going as planned.

Specialists’ worst predictions did not materialize. The Kursk was lifted from the seabed smoothly. It is now being transported to shore. If the storm which Mammoet executives have mentioned does catch up with the Giant-4/Kursk tandem, it will have to make stopovers in bays. Captain 1st Class Vladimir Navrotsky, chief of the Northern Fleet PR department, says specialists have picked out locations with “sufficient depth and high shores”. It means the tandem will be protected from bad weather.

The hull lost contact with the floor of the Barents Sea at 4:05 a.m. Moscow time. The submarine was brought to the surface at the rate of 10 meters an hour, meaning that the Kursk would reach the Giant-4 barge 10 hours later. The fear that something might go wrong was so strong that specialists made an hour-long break at 7 a.m. when the submarine was hovering 20 meters above the seabed. Divers equipped with cameras went down and examined the lifting device. At about 3:30 p.m. Moscow time the tandem had another break when the submarine was attached to the barge.

A special net was fitted to the aft. Specialists though this essential, to prevent the loss of fragments of the second compartment during transportation, these fragments being necessary for future investigation. The ship Mayo was left at the disaster site. Under the agreement with the Russian authorities, it will gather any parts of the submarine that might have broken away. Investigators may find them helpful too.

The Kursk is being transported to Roslyakovo. The operation is on schedule, and all involved specialists are closely monitoring background radiation. The ship Semen Dezhnev was also left at the site of the sinking. It will monitor the background radiation there for the next three days. Compartment Six of the submarine, with the nuclear reactors, will be thoroughly investigated when the Kursk is in Roslyakovo. Holes will be cut in the hull and all readings will be taken through these holes.

The Kursk is accompanied on its last trip to the shore by two tugs of the company Smit International, four tugs of the Northern Fleet, GS-87 hydrographic vessel, and nuclear-powered cruiser Pyotr Veliky. Everything would have been fine, were it not for the contrast with the solitude of the nuclear submarine when it was sinking in the Barents Sea last year…

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