THE KURSK NEEDS MORE PONTOONS TO GET INTO THE DOCK

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Vyacheslav Gudkov Kommersant, October 17, 2001, p. 4

Preparations to dock the Kursk were to be completed in the Kola Gulf on Monday and representatives of the Navy, Design Bureau Rubin, and Mammoet were to sign a special certificate. This has not happened. Specialists failed to fix two super-pontoons to the barge, and rumors began in Severomorsk that PD-50 floating dock cannot receive the sub altogether.

Reporters were explained yesterday that nothing extraordinary had taken place and that the dock was ready. The delay was blamed on the Mammoet’s door. Designing two super-pontoons, its specialists failed to take into account all the specifics involved in sub docking.

To a certain extent, their miscalculations may be written off because nobody knew how much the Kursk was going to weigh or what the condition of its hull in this or that part would be like. The situation thoroughly analyzed, specialists do not think that the pontoons are inadequate for keeping the barge-submarine system floating as desired.

The decision was made to use four additional pontoons 200 tons each available at the directorate of rescue-and-salvage missions of the Northern Fleet. “All preparations are to be completed by the end of the week,” said Vice Admiral Anatoly Smolyakov, the Northern Fleet Second-in-Command for armaments. “We then will get the Kursk into the dock.”

This issue of unloading the submarine was brought up again yesterday. Smolyakov cannot say at this point how the guided missiles will be unloaded (they may be cut out together with the launch tubes). The final decision will be made when their condition has been analyzed and this will be possible only when the submarine is already in the dock. The timetable of unloading depends also depends on this. Armaments specialists may unload the Kursk when investigators of the Military Prosecutor General’s Office are examining the submarine. Smolyakov says there are no reasons at this point to doubt the safety of the operation because the measures taken so far all but eliminate the possibility of emergencies. The matter concerns first and foremost the self-launch of the Granit missiles. “Not a single one of them will fly anywhere,” Smolyakov said.

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