Pavel Felgengauer Moskovskie Novosti, No 36, September 4-10, 2001, p. 7

Academician Igor Spassky, Design Bureau Rubin General Constructor, reveals the true cause of the submarine catastrophe.

Academician Igor Spassky, General Constructor of the Design Bureau Rubin, went public the other day with the true cause of the Kursk catastrophe. The Kursk did not encounter a foreign submarine or a mine. During the launch, fuel in a special training torpedo exploded and the remaining torpedoes detonated.

Until now, the culprit was looked for abroad. The defense minister and chief of the General Staff officially approached NATO for permission to inspect several submarines. The Duma also hotly discussed the idea of inspections. The West replied with a polite but firm “no”. Official Moscow knowingly nodded its head: the West does not want the Russians to inspect certain submarines; it was thought that there must be something to hide.

Navy Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Kuroyedov publicly said that a foreign submarine had killed the Kursk. “I have facts but lack evidence. I will have it, it’s but a matter of time,” he said. Russian media speculated on the involvement in the catastrophe of the USS Memphis, which proceeded to the Norwegian Naval base Hokonsvern near Bergen for repairs and replenishment.

Survey vessel Academik Mistislav Keldysh with its unique deep-sea craft Mirs was sent on at least two lengthy expeditions to the Kursk with orders to find at least some part of a foreign submarine to pin the blame on foreigners. Nothing was found and the hypothesis was gradually forgotten, particularly since it had had serious enemies in Russia itself since the very beginning.

The collision hypothesis cleared the Navy and pinned the blame of the Rubin; its submarine blew up and killed the crew when the American one left the site of the accident barely scratched and under its own power.

The Soviet Union invented multi-use training torpedoes. Launched at a target, the torpedo pursued, and its onboard gear recorded all the targets parameters. The torpedo then surfaces, is recovered, all data removed for study, and then refueled and readied for another launch.

It goes without saying that torpedoes like that require special maintenance and handling. A live torpedo makes only one voyage to the target, training ones make numerous. Unless the torpedo was not properly cleaned before refueling, its fuel could explode. And who is doing anything properly in the Armed Forces these days?

Admiral (retired) Eduard Baltin blames the Navy and the Northern Fleet for sending out poorly prepared and trained ships and crews for maneuvers when search-and-rescue services were clearly inadequate. The avalanche of technocratic catastrophes has hit the Armed Forces in general, not the Navy alone; shells go off and aircraft fall down. But death in a submarine on the seabed, in the dark, appears particularly horrible. On the other hand, we appear to have worked up immunity to catastrophes already and the powers-that-be are not responsible for anything. For the time being, only the Kursk crew itself answered for the catastrophe with their lives.