"THE TORPEDO HYPOTHESIS" AWAITING PUTIN’S SIGNATURE

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Konstantin Getmansky Izvestia, July 3, 2002, p. 2

The Kursk tragedy: investigation is officially over.

All I’s have been dotted and T’s crossed in official investigation of one of the worst underwater catastrophes of the 20th century, death of the nuclear submarine Kursk. Vice Admiral Valery Dorogin, Duma Deputy and commission member, revealed some details of the protocol on the cause of the catastrophe signed last Friday.

“Explosion of components of fuel of a 65-76 torpedo” is to be blamed.

Commission chairman Ilya Klebanov announced that the explosion in its turn had been caused by a leak of hydrogen peroxide, a component of torpedo fuel.

Klebanov had announced that the commission “agrees with a single hypothesis only, explosion of a “fat” 650 mm torpedo” after the previous meeting of the governmental commission in St. Petersburg on June 19. The official protocol the commission signed last Friday indicates that the submarine Kursk was killed by explosion of components of 65-76 torpedo fuel. The explosion caused a fire and high pressure in the first compartment, and the rest of the ordnance detonated. The commission is of the opinion that the first explosion killed all servicemen in the first compartment and some in the second. The rest got concussions. The second explosion killed the submarine.

Roman Kolesnikov (ex-submariner and father of Captain Lieutenant Dmitry Kolesnikov of the Kursk): The fact that a fat torpedo went off was known several days after the catastrophe even by wives. They merely analyzed everything they had been told by their husbands who did not want to sail out with the torpedo. According to what information I have compiled, many men knew that the torpedo was problematic. It had been dropped in the process of loading. Torpedoes like that should be ruled out immediately. Unfortunately, the Kursk was being readied for an autonomous sortie. Somebody must have wanted the submarine to be as formidable as possible.

The official act indicates the cause of the catastrophe. According to Klebanov, the explosion took place because of leaks of hydrogen peroxide, a component of torpedo fuel. This nuance kills the collision hypothesis.

A great number of conclusions of the governmental commission are classified. Kolesnikov is confident that it may mean one thing only. The commission must have found out identities of the men who directly or indirectly are to be blamed for the tragedy.

Kolesnikov: So many signatures are to be collected before a submarine sails out! Relatives of the crew asked for participation in the governmental commission. We have never even got a word in reply. We did not intend to send wives to the commission, you understand, we meant professionals who served in nuclear submarines themselves.

According to Kolesnikov, the commission never established the officials to be blamed for the failure to rescue survivors. Officials announced that survivors lasted only 6-8 hours in the crippled submarine.

Kolesnikov: The men, relatives, who visited Severomorsk when the Kursk was lifted to the surface and tugged to the shore, told me there were bodies discovered in absolutely dry compartments. Three-day long bristles were found on some faces…

According to what information the Izvestia has compiled, Supreme Commander-in-Chief and President Vladimir Putin is supposed to endorse the official protocol now. It is in his power to refuse or to accept the conclusions.

65-76 engines work on the reaction of fuel and concentrated hydrogen peroxide. The first two figures designate torpedo caliber in centimeters, the last two the year of design. The torpedo is almost 9 meters long and weighs almost 2 tons. According to some reports, the warhead weighs 500 kilograms, according to others, almost 700 kilograms. Its velocity is 70 kph. The torpedo is intended for the use against large surface and underwater combatants and powerful coast fortifications like naval bases from a distance of up to 70 kilometers. According to what information is available at this point, the decision to remove torpedoes of this type from the Navy was made two years before the Kursk tragedy.

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