Kommersant, August 29, 2001, p. 3
Two important events occurred on August 28 on the site of the Kursk operation. Divers have cut all technological holes for fastening lifting gear, and the Carrier barge carrying equipment for separating the first compartment from the hull of the submarine arrived to the site. At the same time, the Sevmash plant has build the second pontoon designed for docking the submarine to the Roslyakovo plant.
The Giant barge, which will have to raise and tug the Kursk to Roslyakovo has left Amsterdam. According to experts of Smit Int., it is very likely that the barge will arrive at the site in less than two weeks.
Rear Admiral Mikhail Motsak, Chief of the Special Expedition, said, “The Carrier will need six or seven days to cut off the first compartment. After that we will have to prepare the space inside the firm hull of the submarine in order to fasten special ropes. This will take approximately six days. This means that we will have 18 to 19 days in reserve. I think the submarine will be raised by September 24-29 considering the possible worsening of the weather in September.”
In other words, the operation will end by late September.
The Severodvinsk plant has built the second pontoon for tugging the Kursk submarine to the dock. It is supposed that both pontoons will be transported to Roslyakovo via the Kola Bay by September 15. They will await the Giant barge with the nuclear submarine fastened to its bottom.
Marie Jose van Someren, the wife of the president of the Dutch company Mammoet, took part in launching the pontoon when she broke a bottle of champagne against the pontoon). By the way, this pontoon was named in her favor.
The first pontoon, the Mar, awaits towboats near the berth of the Sevmash plant. The Ivan Plyusnin and the Konstantin Korobotsev towboats intended to tug the MAR to Roslyakovo at the start of this week. However, the operation was postponed because of storms in the White Sea. The plant, which built the pontoons ahead of the schedule, did not venture to transport them in such weather. In addition, the maintenance of pontoons in Roslyakovo would be very expensive for the plant. Sevmash still has to decide when the MAR will leave Severodvinsk: at the end of this week or on September 3.
To all appearances, this will happen at the end of the last week of August because weather forecasts for September are not encouraging. The towboats will need three or four days to tug the pontoons to Roslyakovo.