Viktor Baranets Komsomolskaya Pravda, June 7, 2001, p. 6

The greatest danger in the Kursk salvage operation comes from the torpedoes at the front end of the wreck. If the first compartment is actually cut off and left on the seabed, it means we will never obtain data to refute the third theory: that the disaster resulted from a malfunctioning torpedo

We asked Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov and Navy Commander Vladimir Kuroyedov at their press conference the other day what they thought presented the greatest danger to participants in the Kursk salvage operation. Klebanov and Kuroyedov were unanimous – the danger was in the first compartment, with live torpedoes. Their numbers and condition are still unknown.

When divers examined the Kursk hull last October before recovering the remains of 12 crewmen, they found the front of the submarine so badly damaged that it was impossible to enter. Some Navy officials assured journalists that they had forbidden the divers to go inside the deadly area where the torpedoes are. But if that was so, how could the Rubin Design Bureau in St. Petersburg have ended up with almost 40 tons of melted “metal pieces” from the Kursk, some of them identified as remnants of torpedo tubes? The “secret” bravery of the divers enabled Rubin chief Igor Spassky to say in February: “We have almost established the cause of the disaster, thanks to the recovered evidence.” The disaster began in the first compartment, Spassky said.

If the first compartment is actually cut off and left on the seabed, it means we will never obtain data to refute the third theory (besides “collision with another vessel” and “collision with World War II mine”), which has became the leading theory.

Our readers probably recall how the media promptly ceased all manner of fantastic speculations after we publishes an article that began: “Captain Lyachin sent a message to headquarters: We have a malfunctioning torpedo. Request permission to fire it…”

Admiral Kuroyedov recently confirmed to us that everything began in the first compartment, where the fuel of a certain torpedo ignited…

Ministers and admirals are telling the public that the front section will have to be cut off, because it is too dangerous to raise. The wreck of the Kursk could still bare its teeth. But the 20 Granit missiles, damaged by the fire but scheduled for salvage, might also explode – together with the reactor. Something seems suspicious here…