KURSK MYSTERY UNRAVELED

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Konstantin Getmansky Izvestia, February 19, 2002, p. 2

The Kursk: End of investigation

Investigators completed their work on the Kursk submarine. “What happened in the submarine is not a mystery anymore”, Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov was quoted as saying in Roslyakovo. Ironically, investigation committee chairman Ilya Klebanov was fired from the post of deputy premier yesterday. He however remained a rank minister.

At the end of the conference he chaired in Roslyakovo was over, Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov said that the most difficult phase of the work was finally over. This involved sorting out the mess in the Kursk’s compartments, retrieving the bodies of dead crewmembers, and looking for evidence that might shed light on the catastrophe. “The work done is staggering. We’ve collected all recording devices and log books, which will be used to reconstruct the tragedy,” Ustinov said.

According to Mr. Ustinov, the prosecutor’s office is still far from knowing everything that occurred in the submarine. Not a single message left by dying submariners shed any light, Ustinov said. Neither did the log books mention anything about the cause of the tragedy.

Ninety-four bodies have so far been retrieved from the submarine. Two more bodies were identified yesterday by forensic experts. They were those of Captain Gennadi Lyachin and 1st Class Captain Vladimir Bagryantsev. The Northern Fleet prosecutor’s office does not confirm the fact of identification.

All work in the sub was supposed to have been completed yesterday but freezing subzero temperatures and polar night made their own changes to the timetable. Investigators worked three shifts every day but progress was slow.

“Seven Granite guided missiles are still there, you know. Our men encountered explosives from the torpedoes all too frequently, and all work had to be supervised by bomb squad specialists”, says Vladimir Mulov, Northern Fleet Military Prosecutor.

The future of the Kursk was discussed at the conference in Roslyakovo as well. The hull will be cut into pieces at the Nerpa facility in Snezhnogorsk. Fuel from the reactor will probably be unloaded onto a special ship with the use of traditional technologies.

Navy Commander Vladimir Kuroyedov says the Navy will probably abandon the torpedoes of the type the Kursk was carrying. All these torpedoes have been removed from combat duty, Kuroyedov said, emphasizing that a torpedo explosion remains one of the most probable hypotheses.

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