Investigation Department Versiya, No 48, December 12-18, 2000, p. 2

Russian military aircraft searched for a foreign submarine on the day the Kursk ran into trouble

Only now, four months after the tragic sinking of the Kursk, the Russian defense minister has admitted that Russian military aircraft searched for a foreign submarine in the area on the day of the catastrophe. It stands to reason that Igor Sergeev was motivated to make the admission by the statement several days ago by Rear Admiral Einar Skorgen, former commander of the Northern Army Group in Norway. He told a correspondent from the TV channel TV-2 that Russian military aircraft hunting for a foreign submarine had been detected by the Norwegians (four aircraft on August 17, two more on August 18). Skorgen called Admiral Vyacheslav Popov, Commander of the Russian Northern Fleet, and enquired about the aircraft. Popov confirmed that aircraft were tracking a foreign submarine. Asked by a Norwegian correspondent whether or not it could have been the USS Memphis, Skorgen replied: “Perhaps it was. Or perhaps not.”

Russian representatives never brought up the issue of whether or not an American submarine could have been involved in the Kursk tragedy at their meeting with NATO. Instead, they concentrated on preventing future collisions and organizing joint rescue missions.

Russian ASW aircraft did take off on the days cited by Skorgen. These were aircraft from the separate aviation regiment of Northern Fleet commanded by Colonel Anatoly Zubkov. According to our information, only two IL-38 aircraft took off from the Severomorsk-1 airfield: the rest were grounded by shortage of fuel and spare parts. The ILs carried torpedoes and sonar buoys. They are part of the best ASW wing in the Russian Navy. In June 1999 aircraft of this wing discovered and tracked a US Los Angeles-class submarine which was monitoring the strategic-command exercise West ’99. The wing is commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Kozhevatov. Kozhevatov himself piloted one of the ILs detected by the Norwegians.